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Food bank appeals for supplies

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A FOOD bank in Llanelli has appealed for members of the public to donate much-needed supplies, at a time when concerns have been raised about the levels of homelessness in the town.

The Herald recently visited the Llanelli Food Bank in Myrtle House to meet with local coordinator Claire Childs and local councillors Fozia Akhta and Sara Griffiths, who are concerned with the staggering cases of people in need of supplies.

Llanelli Food Bank opened in 2011 and has been an invaluable asset to the local community. It is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10am-1pm and 5:30pm-8:30pm. The food bank is always in need of donations, and members of the general public who are willing and able are urged to donate tins, dry food, cartons, toiletries, and nappies, which are an urgently sought after item.

Eligible individuals with food tokens are able to use the service up to three times within a six-month period, and the number of visitors is increasing in the run-up to the festive period.

All the ladies share a passion for helping the homeless community. This is at a crucial time when many other food banks are currently unable to supply stock.

Claire Childs, Co-Ordinator at Llanelli Food Bank said that they would be open on an on-call basis over the Christmas period.

“All other agencies are closed so we’re on-call so to speak for anyone that’s referred to us, we’ll help them straight away,” she added.

“There are local Housing Charities involved, Social working teams, doctor’s surgeries, Mind, Age Concern, Citizen’s Advice, to name but a few. These are agencies that can support others in their time of need through vouchers so they can have direct access to us. We ask for people to be referred so they’ve got the continued agency support that they need, it’s vital.

“We can supply three to four days of food during three visits spread over six months which works out at around three to four meals per day. It’s not just tins that we supply, it’s also snacks, tea, coffee and milk. If they need long-term support, their caseworker can assess that need and we’ll try to help. Usually, after a week and a half, lots are out of their rut as a result of help,” she added.

“We are always looking for food that can be kept at room temperature such as tins, pasta, rice, and cereal. UHT milk and fruit juice are sought after, they don’t require refrigeration until open, and a lot of our clients don’t have fridges and freezers.

“Our focus is mainly on food, but we are always thankful for items such as nappies, wet wipes, sanitary products, toilet roll and any other toiletries. When we have, we give.

“We’ve had Harvest stock in from local schools and churches. We’re currently quite buoyant but we fly through stock, a couple of tonnes of food per month. The Gallery Art & Coffee Shop and Myrtle House (during office hours) also take donations. There is also a donation bin in Tesco in Llanelli that we empty at least once a week. At least a third of our clients are babies.

“We help in areas from Loughor to Kidwelly and from Llanelli to Pontyberem and Carway. We sometimes deal with people further up, it just depends on circumstances. Sometimes the support workers will come to us to fetch the products.

“We have 10-15 volunteers here at the food bank. We have carers and volunteers who come from Coleshill who are wonderful to work alongside, they’re pleasant and fun. We value them.”

Cllr Fozia Akhtar told us that her niece, a paramedic, saw the issue of homelessness in the area ‘all too often’
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“A homeless man was sleeping outside West Wales General Hospital recently, the police were called to remove him and he had nowhere to go. The homeless aren’t even allowed to stay outside buildings anymore,” she added.

“The Ambulance isn’t insured to take the homeless anywhere and they see a lot of this. The man was removed in a riot van, how sad is this? My niece saw this. Where are these people meant to go? This man was tucked away in a corner of a hospital and there was just no help available.”

Cllr Akhtar added that the space available at Myrtle House could only house a moderate supply of stock.
“Ideally if anyone has any larger premises or a spare unit that they’re willing to donate free to Claire to use, it would be wonderful, it’s for a good cause,” she added.

“There are always dreams of being able to do more and the option of relocating would be something to consider possibly. It’s all about helping the community and we’re passionate to help everyone. We want everyone to support Claire in Llanelli and the Carmarthenshire area.”

Cllr Sara Griffiths said: “There are more homeless people around than we actually realise. It’s also a concern for people who live in rural areas and might not get to see others. A lot of work needs to be done.

“We have a couple of projects going where we’d like to do a lot more fundraising. There is so much poverty which is being dismissed in a sense, people don’t realise how many are suffering, it’s heart-breaking to see. If there are any local businesses that are willing to donate to us as local councillors then we are on the council website, we’d genuinely appreciate it.

“We don’t want anyone to fall through the gaps, it’s not just adults who are suffering, it’s the elderly and children and babies.”

On Thursday (Nov 16) there will be a community collection throughout Llanelli and Carmarthenshire at Myrtle House from 10am-1pm and 5:30pm-8:30pm. There is also a national collection by the Trussell Trust, a national organisation that runs over 400 food banks.

There will also be a massive collection during the first week of December in Tesco Llanelli for three days, where the supermarket has offered to add 20% to every pound-worth of food donated.​

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Baby died an hour after birth following ‘failings’ by Health Board

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A BABY died just minutes after being born following failings by Hywel Dda Health Board, a damning report by the Public Services Ombudsman has found.

Callum James was born at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen on May 5, 2016, but died less than an hour later despite attempts to resuscitate him.

His parents, Ellie and Christopher James from Haverfordwest, complained that there had been a failure to monitor Callum’s development during pregnancy and to provide a birthing plan.

Mrs James also complained that the Health Board failed to respond to unusual pains during labour and to conduct necessary tests.

The report states there were also delays in Callum receiving treatment after he was born due to the First Consultant being sent to the wrong ward, delaying emergency treatment by 12 minutes.

The Health Board said that, in its view, there were no unnecessary delays in the attempts to resuscitate Callum, as the midwives in attendance had been trained in neonatal resuscitation.

In addition, the Ombudsman found that Callum’s death was also incorrectly registered as a stillbirth rather than neonatal death.

The report says Callum was ‘pale’ and ‘floppy’ at birth and immediately transferred to a resuscitation table where a team of medics worked for over half an hour to save his life.

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint that there had been a failure to monitor Callum’s development during pregnancy and labour and to provide a birthing plan.

Hywel Dda agreed to implement all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations, including providing Callum’s parents with an apology and £4,500 for the distress caused.

The Board also agreed to change Callum’s cause of death from ‘stillborn’ to ‘neonatal death’.

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3,000 Welsh landlords still unregistered

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JANET FINCH-SAUNDERS AM has called on the Welsh Government to urgently work to improve landlord registration under Rent Smart Wales, as estimates released indicate around 3,000 remain unregistered.

Ms Finch-Saunders said: “Rent Smart Wales estimates that still 3,000 landlords are unregistered here in Wales.

“Whilst that makes up a small percentage of our total landlords, it is most concerning for those living in properties leased to them by those who have not yet registered.

“The Welsh Government has confirmed that a landlord who is not registered with Rent Smart Wales is unable to serve a valid Section 21 eviction notice – so where unregistered landlords do indicate that they want tenants to vacate a property, this is not recognised by local housing associations, which can cause stress to tenants who may not be aware of their full rights under the law.

“By focusing on ensuring that all landlords are properly registered, the Welsh Government can alleviate such concerns, and I will be urging the Cabinet Secretary to act to ensure all landlords are abiding by this legislation in full.”

The Minister for Housing and Regeneration told Ms Finch-Saunders that the latest figures released by Rent Smart Wales show that 90,812 landlords are now registered. Rent Smart Wales’ latest estimate for the number of unregistered landlords is approximately 3,000.

This is based on the dwelling stock estimates recently published by StatsWales, and an estimation of the average number of properties owned by each landlord.

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Care home honour Armed Forces Day

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PLAS Y DDERWEN in Johnstown will be celebrating Armed Forces Day on Thursday, June 28, with a big brew up supporting SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity.

SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, formerly known as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association, provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families. Armed Forces Day is a chance to show support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.

Janet Williams, Activities Coordinator, said: “It is very important that we keep the memories of those who fought alive and that we also think about those involved in conflicts around the world today. We welcome anyone that wishes to attend and will have the chance to meet the team and look around the home.”

Plas Y Dderwen is part of Barchester Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest care providers, supporting older people living independent lives over the last 25 years.

Barchester services include residential care and nursing care as well as expert dementia care.

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