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Ammanford volunteer supports victims of crime for 26 years

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“PEOPLE let me into their lives when they are at their lowest ebb, and they open up their hearts to me.”

This is why Ammanford man Peter Stych has given up his time for the past 26 years to support victims of crime.

Mr Stych spoke of his experience as a volunteer for Goleudy, a victim and witness support service, at a Dyfed-Powys Police event celebrating the work of its volunteers.

He explained that as a youngster his dream was always to join the police, but that for various reasons it didn’t happen. As a way of experiencing life on the front line, he instead offered up his time for 27 years as a Special Constable in Birmingham.

He said: “You can only volunteer to do something if you enjoy it. I needed a bit of action and adventure – it certainly gave me that.

“When the IRA blew the door off Denis Howell’s house in 1974 I was there, just a few yards away. That was followed by the Birmingham pub bombings, and one of my jobs then was to seal off half of Birmingham.

“I wanted new experiences. I wanted something else and was eager to take on new things.”

When Mr Stych moved to Carmarthenshire, he attended a police open day and was approached about becoming a volunteer in victim support. His role now is to help victims of crime through the whole journey, from reporting the incident to police, to the investigation and criminal justice process.

He admitted that the change in role took some getting used to.

“One of the things I have found difficult was going from being a Special to being in victim support because we see things very differently,” he said.

“You see everything when you’re out on the job, and you become hardened to it in some ways. Then I changed roles and started visiting victims of burglaries and assaults.

“I was now seeing things from the other side.

“These victims might only experience crime once in their life, and all of a sudden I changed my attitude and my outlook on it.

“I realised that we have to do what we promise. If we say we will phone them with an update at the end of the week, we must, even if there is no update. It might have taken everything that person has to wait until the end of the week for our call. If we don’t do what we say, it could set them back.”

Mr Stych said volunteering his time with victims brought on a whole range of emotions – from happiness to anger, and a sense of privilege to frustration.

“It is nice to be trusted,” he said. “It gives you hope, and it gives you passion.

“It makes me sad to see people who have been victims of crime, and the impact it has had on their lives. I’m happy when they get the outcomes they were waiting for, and I feel privileged that people will let me into their lives when they are at their lowest ebb. They let me in and they open up their hearts to me. For that, I feel very humble.”

*Goleudy is a victim and witness support service funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police. It provides a single point of contact throughout the whole victim journey, from first reporting the incident to the police, through the investigation and criminal justice process. Victims of crime are offered support whether they have reported the incident to police or not.

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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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