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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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Police release new CCTV image of murder suspect

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE has released a new CCTV image of Steve Baxter, who detectives are keen to speak to in connection with the murder of Simon Clark from Pendine, Carmarthenshire.

The image was captured in Glynneath on Saturday, September 29. He is believed to have traveled to the west Wales area shortly afterwards and is believed to be in the Haverfordwest area.

Baxter, also known as Steve Tidy, Steve Rowley, Wayne Tidy or William Tidy, is aged 52, 5’5” (1.65cm) tall and has tattoos on his forearms – the name Chez and entwined circles on his left arm and a serpent on his right arm.

He is bald, but was last seen wearing a hat and wig, as shown in this image. He may have made other attempts to alter his appearance such as growing facial hair or wearing glasses.

Detective Superintendent Huw Davies said: “We’re releasing this CCTV image from the latest confirmed sighting of Steve Baxter to give people the most up to date example of how he may be dressed and how he may currently look.

“Time is passing and we really need to speak to Steve Baxter to build a more accurate picture of what happened in Pendine.

“To anyone that may know where he is, please pass this vital information to police.”

The independent charity Crimestoppers is offering a reward of up to £5,000 for information leading to Steve Baxter being found. Information would be taken by the charity anonymously.

If you see Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 999.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Steve Baxter call Dyfed-Powys Police on 101 immediately.

To pass on information anonymously, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or through the non-traceable anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Carmarthenshire counting the cost of Storm Callum recovery

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CARMARTHENSHIRE is beginning to count the cost of the clean-up that is needed to get the county back on track after Storm Callum.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were affected by the worst flooding seen in the area for over 30 years, and whilst a clear picture is yet to emerge about the true cost of the recovery, Carmarthenshire County Council said it will take millions to put right.

It is now calling on the Welsh Government to assist.

An initial assessment estimates that £3million will be needed to repair highway infrastructure alone, although all bridges and roads – other than the A484 at Cwmduad which was closed due to a landslide – have been re-opened.

The council set up an immediate flood recovery relief fund of £100,000 to support residents whose homes were damaged, offering a £200 advance to anyone in need, and offering practical help to people by collecting damaged furniture and household items, support to complete insurance claims, electrical safety testing, and in some cases temporary accommodation.

It is also working with Xcel Furniture in Carmarthen to appeal for donations of household items to help those affected get back on their feet.

Officers visited over 100 businesses in affected areas on Monday and is continuing to support them, including around 40 businesses who will be applying for grant support from an additional £200,000 fund established to assist businesses.

Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “Over the last few days our teams have visited hundreds of people and businesses to let them know that help is at hand. We will do everything possible to help those affected get back on track.

“However the true cost of the recovery is set to run into millions. Our initial impact assessment of highway infrastructure alone estimates that there is around £3million of repairs needed.

“Whilst we have already made two hardship relief funds immediately available to homes and businesses, we are now seeking assistance from Welsh Government to ensure that appropriate resources are available.

“I will be pleased to meet the First Minister later today to put our request to him in person.”

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Help for businesses affected by flooding in Carmarthenshire

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CARMARTHENSHIRE Council is pulling out all the stops to help businesses affected by flooding over the weekend.

Eight teams from the council’s regeneration department have been out and about, visiting businesses across the county to offer advice and support, if needed.

Over 120 businesses were visited on Monday (October 15) in areas including Carmarthen town centre, Pensarn, Abergwili, Nantgaredig, Llanybydder, Lampeter, Pontweli and Newcastle Emlyn.

Other areas visited included Llanelli, Capel Dewi, Johnstown, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Garnant and Dryslwyn.

Council officers are now making contact with those businesses once again, following-up on their concerns and liaising with other council departments to address issues as soon as possible.

Over 40 Carmarthenshire businesses are already being helped.

A council funding pot to help businesses in the county affected by flooding is also being made available. Details and information on how businesses can apply will be confirmed in coming days.

Cllr Emlyn Dole, Carmarthenshire Council Leader, said: “Council officers in many departments have been working around the clock alongside outside agencies and our partners in the emergency services to help residents and businesses affected by flooding over the weekend.

“Face-to-face contact with businesses means we’ve been able to quickly identify what we can do to best address all issues raised. This has already included signposting businesses to our environment team for contamination issues, tackling concerns related to the collection of waste, and arranging for skips and cages to be despatched to areas that have been badly affected by the flooding for the collection of ruined carpets, furniture and other waste.

“But despite the ongoing clean-up operation, Carmarthenshire is very much open for business, with county residents and businesses showing a huge amount of resilience in the face of adversity.

“I’d urge people to continue to support their local businesses while we help those worst affected get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Other council work has included highways, cleansing and refuse staff removing debris left by the flood waters. Inspections of all affected road surfaces, verges and bridges are also taking place.

Council housing officers are visiting homes across the county to help people with insurance claims, a hardship fund has been established for residents most in need of financial support, and rate relief for affected businesses is being sought from the Welsh Government.

A flood support form for residents and businesses is also now available on the homepage of Carmarthenshire Council’s website.

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