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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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Business

Business Wales delivers vital support

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MORE than 20,000 jobs have been created since April 2015 by enterprises that have received support from the Welsh Government’s flagship Business Wales service, Economy Minister Ken Skates has revealed.

Business Wales makes it easier for Welsh micro-businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as aspiring entrepreneurs of all ages to access the information, advice and support they require to start and grow their businesses.

In addition to helping Welsh enterprises create more than 20,000 new jobs since April 2015, the service has handled over 60,000 enquiries and advised over 30,000 individual entrepreneurs and firms across Wales. It has also helped Welsh entrepreneurs create more than 4,000 new businesses across Wales with an impressive four year survival rate of over 80 per cent.

The Welsh Government continues to proactively support entrepreneurs at each stage of the business lifecycle from raising awareness of entrepreneurship with more than 200,000 primary school pupils right across Wales through to idea generation, start-up and on to sustainable growth.
In November, the Economy Minister announced proposals to build on Business Wales’ success to ensure its high quality is maintained and developed so even more firms and entrepreneurs can benefit from the service.

This includes how the service can prepare businesses for what the economy will look like after Brexit.

Business Wales also has an increasingly important role in supporting firms to rise to the challenges set out in the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan of preparing for digital developments, improving productivity, increasing the incidence of fair work, decarbonising and promoting inclusive growth.

Ken Skates said: “As we enter the New Year, it’s fabulous news and a great achievement that our flagship Business Wales service has supported the creation of more than 20,000 jobs since April 2015.

“That’s 20,000 people given an opportunity to work, earn a wage, make a living and help drive a productive Welsh economy. I am delighted we, as a Welsh Government, have played our part in helping Welsh entrepreneurs and SMEs to make that happen.

“Although 92 per cent of Business Wales customers say they would recommend the service to a friend, we’re certainly not resting on our laurels and I’m already looking at ways Business Wales can directly support more firms and entrepreneurs over the coming years.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Welsh economy and vital to our economic outlook and the way communities throughout Wales operate from day-to-day.

“We will continue to support our SMEs and be on hand to provide the high-quality information, advice and guidance they need to thrive.”

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Business-savvy students from Carmarthenshire claim second prize at entrepreneurial competition with planet saving idea

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Two teams of entrepreneurial school pupils from across Carmarthenshire have been named runners up in the ‘Young Business Dragons’ national competition for their creative solution to tackling the climate change crisis.

Students from Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen and St. John Lloyd School in Llanelli were named runners up at the Young Business Dragons competition out of over 4,500 year 9 pupils from schools across south west Wales who all took part in the three competition rounds.

The annual Young Business Dragons competition, which is organised by Young Dragons and this year was sponsored by Welsh Government, University of South Wales Trinity St David’s and Swansea Bay Business Club, gives year 9 students the opportunity to think creatively and put a business idea into practice.

With this year’s theme being ‘Save the Planet’, each team was challenged with the idea of coming up with a business plan for a product or service that could have a positive effect on the environment while also being a profitable business idea.

Held at Swansea’s Village Hotel, Queen Elizabeth High School in Carmarthen came up with the idea of a device that can be fitted onto exhaust pipes to reduce carbon emissions.

St. John Lloyd School in Llanelli pitched to the judges an innovative irrigation system to capture and reuse rainwater in food production.

Picking up the top prize, Ysgol Bae Baglan from Port Talbot won the judges over with their business idea ‘Ecotel’, an app that enables hotel guests to monitor their carbon footprint during their stay and receive reward points for minimising their energy usage which they can redeem against hotel services.

Sue Poole, Co-Director of Young Dragons said “Each year we continue to be amazed by the creativity and initiative of the young people who take part in Young Business Dragons. This year, the schools came up with some really innovative solutions to address global challenges, many utilising technology to exploit potential green business opportunities. They learn so much from the competition and develop the valuable skills that employers will be looking for such as team working and problem solving. It’s a privilege to help nurture this young entrepreneurial talent.”

To help the students develop their entrepreneurial mind-set, each team was assigned a mentor, these are made up of local business owners, passionate educationalists and Role Models from Welsh Government’s youth entrepreneurship service, Big Ideas Wales. Role Models are entrepreneurs and business owners, some of whom have received support from Big Ideas Wales in setting up their own enterprise, and provided students with advice in financial planning, marketing and business development.

Kathryn David, Co-Director, Young Dragons said: “Young Business Dragons helps find tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and promotes the pool of talent that exists across Wales. The schools in this year’s final have shown real entrepreneurial flair to tackle an existing problem that we’re all facing today. That made it difficult for the judges to pick the overall winners from some excellent ideas, but left us feeling extremely excited about the promising future business talent in Wales.”

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Carmarthenshire jeweller is seventeenth day of NatWest social media advent calendar

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A CARMARTHENSHIRE jewellery business is behind the seventeenth day of a Twitter advent calendar celebrating Britain’s independent high street retailers in the run-up to Christmas.

The social media countdown has been launched by NatWest as part of its support for Visa’s #WhereYouShopMatters campaign, which aims to encourage more shoppers to visit their local high street and shop locally this Christmas.

From gift shops to bakeries, the calendar will profile a different local retailer from across England and Wales each day.

Tuesday’s (Dec 17) festive treat is Mari Thomas Jewellery on Rhosmaen Street in Llandeilo.

Mari is a contemporary designer jeweller and goldsmith who established her first workshop in 1998. During her career she has won numerous design awards including the Gold Medal for Craft and Design at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and is listed in the prestigious who’s who directory of leading jewellery designers at the Goldsmiths Company London.

She opened the doors of her gallery and workshop in Llandeilo in 2012 and it is one of the many independent high street retailers that the campaign hopes to help.

Mari said: “The high street is absolutely essential for UK business. Its more than just a row of shops, it’s the place to find individual and interesting goods and products. It’s the heart of the community, somewhere to socialise, an outlet for supporting local talent, manufacturers and suppliers. It supports and grows the local economy, provides jobs and shopping locally reduced the carbon footprint which is good for the environment.”

The business has been supported by Paul Dunne, one of NatWest’s Business Banking Relationship Managers for Mid and West Wales.

He said: “The advent calendar is about celebrating the amazing work of independent retailers like Mari who make our high streets what they are. They work tirelessly throughout the year and bring so much creativity and diversity to our local towns and cities. That is why we’re really proud to support these businesses and just as importantly, the people behind them.”

Research commissioned by Visa found that seven out of ten consumers (73%) say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with two fifths (42%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason why.

You can follow the NatWest advent calendar at @NatWestBusiness.

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