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Award for driving the use of Welsh in care homes

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A ONE-TIME car salesman who has been driving forward the use of the Welsh language in a group of south Wales care homes has taken silver in major national awards.

Despite starting to build up his skill in promoting the language for a busy doctors’ surgery in Carmarthenshire a few years ago, Sion Page decided to leave the job when the practice was faced with closure.

For six months he became a car salesman before rejoining the care sector as a support worker for Integra Community Living Options which provides residential care, supported accommodation and outreach services in Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Rhondda Cynin Taff and Swansea for adults with mental health issues or an acquired brain injury.

With Integra the first-language Welsh speaker has really got into top gear by actively championing the Welsh Active Offer – the Welsh Government’s plan to strengthen the language in health and social care services.

This has meant enabling clients to communicate in their preferred language and helping an increasing number of residents and staff to learn and speak Welsh.

It is this dedication to his role that has landed 26-year-old Sion a silver in the 2019 Wales Care Awards.

The glittering presentation ceremony organised by Care Froum Wales was held at City Hall in Cardiff and hosted by tenor and radio presenter Wynne Evans, better known as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads.

Sion scored silver in the Commitment to Training and Workforce Development Award sponsored by City & Guilds and WJEC Consortium.

Born and raised in the Trelech area of Carmarthenshire where he still lives with his fiancée Elizabeth and their two-year-old daughter Esme, after leaving school his first job was as a shop assistant in Carmarthen.

After four years he got a job as an administrator and receptionist with a doctors’ surgery in Llandysul.

After winning promotion as assistant to the practice manager Sion began working to promote the use of Welsh, translating letters and posters.

He said: “After a while I spoke to the doctors and asked them if they would like me to do more of this sort of thing and they told me to carry on, which meant I was then translating lots of things including blood test and x-ray results into Welsh for our patients.

“Things went so well that that in 2015 the practice won a More Than Just Words Award sponsored by the Welsh Government to promote bilingual services in primary care and I was very proud of that.”

After his brief spell in the motor trade Sion joined Integra in 2017 and last year was promoted to senior support worker and rehabiltation practitioner.

Based at Elm Lodge in Carmarthen, he is now responsible for promoting the use of the Welsh language at all 10 of the group’s homes across the south of the country, which involves helping spread the good word to about 70 staff.

In nominating him for the award, home manager Anthony Craggs said of him: “Sion as a first language Welsh speaker has taken a key leading role in promoting the Welsh Active Offer within Integra.

“As a company we have witnessed a marked increase in the use of the Welsh language within our services.

“Sion has been instrumental in promoting the usage of Welsh across our homes and recently he produced packs for St David’s Day which included information on St David, some useful phrases related to St David’s Day and some bilingual recipe cards. The recipe cards went down so well in our homes that we were able to feature photographs and stories of how they celebrated the day in our internal newsletter.

“Some feedback from this training included one member of staff stating, ‘it has reminded me to try and speak more Welsh to Welsh-speaking service users, I think it is important to know our mother tongue.”

Sion said: “I love my job, although it can be challenging at times. It’s lovely to see people coming through the system from being unwell to the point where they are well enough to be discharged and helping clients and staff with using the Welsh language means that I can go home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled.”

Mario Kreft, chairman of Care Forum Wales, said the standard of entries was extremely high.

He added : “There are only winners here tonight so it is only fitting that the finalists will receive a gold, silver or bronze Wales Care Award.

“I trust that they will continue to inspire those around them as role models and encourage others to aspire to even greater heights and in the months and years to come.

“This awards ceremony is our opportunity to pay tribute and to celebrate the talent and commitment that is improving the quality of life for thousands and thousands of people throughout Wales.

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Foundational economy funding boost for Mid and South West Wales

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PROJECTS to increase the number of local food businesses supplying the public sector and set up an apprenticeship scheme in the construction industry are among eight schemes to win Welsh Government funding from the new Foundational Economy Challenge Fund.

First Minister Mark Drakeford and Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters made the announcement during a visit to University of Wales Trinity Saint David, in Carmarthen today (Thursday, November 7).

They were met by catering staff who are part of a scheme being run by the Carmarthenshire Public Service Board, which is being awarded £100,000 to improve the procurement of local food from the area.

It is one of 52 experimental initiatives across Wales to receive a share of the £4.5m Foundational Economy Challenge Fund. The project will provide business opportunities for locally or regionally-based companies and bring environmental benefits by lowering food miles and associated carbon costs.

The foundational economy approach is being adopted by cities and regions across the world, but Wales is the first country in the world to embrace it on a national scale. It is made up of the everyday goods and services we all need and use with estimates suggesting it accounts for four out of every 10 jobs and £1 in every three we spend.

The Economy Challenge Fund aims to support a series of experimental projects which will enable the Welsh Government, with support from partners, to test how the foundational economy can best be supported.

Eight schemes in Mid and South West Wales will share almost £650,000 from the fund.

Speaking about the food procurement scheme in Carmarthenshire, Barry Liles, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Skills & Lifelong Learning), University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Chair of Carmarthenshire Public Services Board (PSB) said: “As a PSB we are really pleased to have been successful in our bid to the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund.

“Public sector procurement is an area that we as partners recognise as having scope to have a greater impact on local economic wealth and development and this something we will test and develop in our project. We will focus on public sector food procurement but we firmly believe that if we can develop a multi-agency progressive procurement methodology as part of this project, there would be scope to introduce this in other areas of procurement.

“Carmarthenshire has a rich history of food production and supply and as well as the economic benefits of enhancing the local supply chain we will also be looking at the potential health benefits for the pupils, students and staff that consume the food we procure, by promoting good food for all.

“We look forward to working with our PSB members and partners in the commercial sector to consider and develop opportunities for moving this much talked about agenda forward, learning from the other successful projects as we go.”

Another project to be awarded funding is being led by Cyfle Building Skills Ltd. It will receive £86,500 to work with construction employers and provide opportunities for apprentices to receive valuable work experience placements throughout the industry.

Anthony Rees, regional manager of Cyfle Building Skills, said: “We are delighted to receive this funding, which will be of huge benefit to our young learners.

“We see this project as providing the crucial, first stepping stone for them into the world of work and the construction industry specifically. It will both develop their skills and employment prospects, and provide a boost to the industry at the same time.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I’ve been delighted to visit University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s campus in Carmarthen to hear more about this innovative project which really puts a sense of community at its heart.

“Looking at ways of ensuring local food is used and enjoyed in the area where it’s produced will be a boost for businesses and ensure it doesn’t need to travel far which supports efforts to improve our environment.

“The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund is all about making a real difference to people throughout Wales. It aims to drive prosperity across the nation and reach out to communities.

“As a government, we are committed to supporting all parts of Wales and help safeguard and create jobs and build the economic growth that we all want to see.”

Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters said: “Supporting the Foundational Economy is a key priority for the Welsh Government. This is a vitally important part of the economy which makes a big difference to the livelihoods of many people as well as our cities, towns and villages.

“The standard of applications throughout Wales has been so high that we have been able to treble the amount available from the fund to £4.5m, supporting 52 projects.

“It’s been great to join the First Minister in Carmarthen to learn more about what it potentially a very exciting project and one which will change the way food is procured locally for the benefit of area’s communities.

“The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund is a clear demonstration of our commitment to supporting people in all parts of Wales today, tomorrow and into the future.”

More information on the successful projects can be found on the Business Wales website: https://businesswales.gov.wales/foundational-economy

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Carmarthenshire accountants celebrate staff exam success

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CARMARTHEN Accountants, Ashmole & Co, are delighted to announce Elin Daniels has completed her studies and passed all her exams to become a qualified member of the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

Elin, who lives in Penygroes, has been working in Ashmole & Co’s Carmarthen office for the past eight years, since September 2011. She started studying for her ACCA qualification through Gower College and then went on to successfully complete it on her own through self-study.

Elin started studying accountancy at Coleg Sir Gar after attending Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin. At Ashmole & Co she specialises in preparing the accounts for local sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.

Sharon George, Partner in Ashmole & Co’s Carmarthen office said, “We are very proud of Elin’s achievement, she has worked extremely hard to gain her qualifications, especially juggling her studying by herself with working full time. It is important as a profession that we help to train the next generation of accountants. Qualified staff members are the lifeblood for the future success of our firm.”

Ashmole & Co Chartered and Certified Accountants have been established since 1897 and are one of the largest accountancies and auditing practices in Wales, operating from twelve offices throughout South and West Wales including Haverfordwest, Swansea, Carmarthen and Llandeilo. The firm combines high quality audit, accounting, and taxation services with business consultancy, financial services and corporate planning.

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Beacon Bursary £5,000 winner named as 18-year-old Cameron Reardon

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THE WINNER of this year’s Beacon Bursary entrepreneurship competition goes to an 18-year-old who has set up an online entomology business, selling bugs and other creepy crawlies.

Cameron Reardon will receive a cash prize of £5,000, free office space for a year within the Beacon Centre for Enterprise in Dafen, Llanelli, and business mentoring support to help develop his business Bug Box UK.

The 18-year-old from Felinfoel has just completed his BTEC Level 3 in Public Services in Coleg Sir Gâr and will be studying Business Management with Marketing at Swansea University from September.

“With the money I’m going to buy a shed,” said Cameron. “At the moment my stock is in my bedroom, which my mum doesn’t like! Now I’m going to be able to increase my stock and the money will also help me go to different shows to sell.”

Cameron was a finalist in last year’s competition, and said the mentoring which comes with the prize would also be very beneficial. He added: “Last year I received some mentoring and that was amazing. It’s really opened my eyes.”

Cameron was one of five entrepreneurs to reach this year’s final and get the chance to pitch their proposals to a panel of judges including Carmarthenshire Council Leader Emlyn Dole; Chris Jenkins from Gerald Thomas Accountancy; Angharad Harding from Yr Egin and the winner of last year’s competition, Amanda Thomas from Biscuit Barkery.

All five entrepreneurs who made it through to present their business ideas at this year’s final in the Beacon Centre, were students from Coleg Sir Gâr.

Second place and receiving £2,000 and six months free office space at the Beacon, went to Dante Diana and his alcohol beverage business Oddball Moonshine.

Third place and receiving £1,000 and six months free office space at the Beacon for one year, went to Imogen Mills and her swatch fabric design business Cloth.

The other finalists were Simon Thomas with his business Particip8 and Charlotte Voaden of Charlotte Voaden Design.

The Beacon Bursary is an annual competition run by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Coleg Sir Gâr and University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Council Leader Emlyn Dole, who is responsible for Economic Development, said: “I look forward to this competition every year. SME’s are the backbone of our businesses here in Carmarthenshire and to see the entrepreneurs come to this competition with such passion and turn those ideas into a business is a pleasure.

“This year’s standard of entries was high once again, but as judges we were unanimous that Bug Box UK is a great business idea and a worthy winner. I would like to wish Cameron, and indeed all the finalists, the best of luck in the future with their businesses.”

Amanda Daniels, Coleg Sir Gâr assistant principal said: “The development of effective Enterprise and Employability skills with learners in post compulsory education and training is so important to ensure a vibrant and successful Welsh economy.

“The Beacon Bursary has helped a number of Individuals start-up successful businesses over the last seven years.

“This year I am absolutely delighted that all three of the successful Bursary winners are Coleg Sir Gâr learners, their passion and drive to succeed is infectious and I am confident that their businesses will contribute positively to the Carmarthenshire economy.”

Roger Maidment, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) said: “UWTSD would like to congratulate Cameron Reardon on winning this year’s Beacon Bursary. UWTSD is delighted to collaborate on the Beacon Bursary which is aimed at encouraging future entrepreneurs within Carmarthenshire. As a dual sector University, our mission is ‘Transforming Education, Transforming Lives’, developing employment focused educational programmes and contributing to our vision of transforming, shaping and developing futures by stimulating economic development in the region and across Wales and beyond. Working in collaboration on initiatives such as the Beacon Bursary Award is central to achieving this as it offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their creative and entrepreneurial skills and develop real business ideas which have the potential to contribute to the economy of the region. We wish Cameron the best of luck with his business and look forward to seeing the development of Bug Box UK.”

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