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Four friends helped by new Carmarthenshire housing initiative

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A GROUP of friends from Bristol who wanted to support each other through varying physical and mental health issues sold up and moved nearly 100 miles away to a small holding in Llandybie, Carmarthenshire.

The four friends – Roz, Heather, Chris and Jo – found that they were unable to support each other adequately while living in different areas across Bristol. They decided to move their lives, and for one of them their career, so that they could be closer together and are now living together in a terraced house in Ammanford while working on the smallholding.

Collectively, they formed the MeddwlCoed co-operative, and bought fifty acres of marginal land, on which they hope, via the One Planet Development scheme, to create a self-sustaining, community-housing initiative which will provide affordable housing and benefit the wider community through courses, workshops and retreats.

Roz Clarke, who has fibromyalgia, explained that living in Bristol wasn’t working for the group: “We used to travel back and forth through Bristol to look after each other and help when it was needed, but it wasn’t easy. It was in around 2016 that we started chatting about how difficult it was becoming, and we thought that living closer together would make it easier to support each other.

“As a group, we also had similar views on living sustainably but were finding it difficult to make this a reality in Bristol so in April last year we upped sticks and moved to Carmarthenshire. Four of us now live together in our home in Ammanford and we juggle the small holding with other work, and our medical conditions.”

Roz added that they had been welcomed with open arms by the local community: “We were worried that people would think we were raving hippies, but everyone has been so welcoming, helping us out in lots of ways and local farmers have been chatting to us about some of our initiatives such as fossil fuel free gardening and not deep ploughing on the farm.

“Now we’d like to encourage others to get involved in what we are doing at MeddwlCoed. We are planning a big tree planting event and would love people to come along and support and we can then chat to them about the joys of living in a nurturing and supportive co-housing project such as ours.”

Meddwl Coed is just one of a large movement of co-operative and community-led housing schemes in Wales that are being championed by the Wales Co-operative Centre with its Communities Creating Homes programme. The programme is funded by the Nationwide Foundation and Welsh Government.

Recent research commissioned by the Wales Co-operative Centre found that those living in community-led housing felt less isolated as they were surrounded by a supportive network, had improved mental health and wellbeing and had further developed their skills set as well as gaining improved levels of confidence.

Jocelle Lovell, Communities Creating Homes programme manager for the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “MeddwlCoed is the epitome of a supportive and nurturing co-housing project, which was borne out of a real need for those involved. The fact that they are now looking for people to network with who share the same interests and concerns to partner with to deliver mutually beneficial outcomes from the land is wonderful and we wholeheartedly support them.

“Wales is facing a housing crisis, with many people not able to afford a home to buy or to rent. The problem isn’t going away, so we need new and creative ways to work around it – community-led housing schemes are an exciting development that solves the affordability problem and helps to create strong, like-minded communities.”

Jocelle added: “Anyone who feels isolated, lonely or is struggling in their current accommodation should consider developing something similar to MeddwlCoed. A place where people will be able to live in peace, but with help and support on hand should they need it. It’s the perfect antidote to today’s remote society.”

Wales Co-operative Centre has been supporting and championing the growth of community-led housing since 2012, and in April this year, it launched its Communities Creating Homes programme which aims to stimulate demand for co-operative and community-led housing throughout Wales.

With more than 30 schemes already in place across Wales, communities can be created for various purposes and shared visions. Where some schemes have been created to make housing more affordable for residents, others have been developed for people who want improved eco-friendly lifestyles.

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Community

Eggstra special Easter treat for Carmarthenshire children

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VULNERABLE children and children of critical workers in Carmarthenshire will be getting an eggstra special Easter treat this year.

Kind donations of chocolate eggs and hot cross buns are being delivered to all the childcare hubs and food hubs in the county.

The childcare hubs have been set up to look after the children of critical workers and to support vulnerable children during the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of food hubs have also been set up by the council across the county to help families in need. Children who are entitled to free school meals also receive food supplies to feed the whole family.

Now thanks to the generosity of local businesses and organisations, the children and staff are guaranteed a very ‘hoppy’ Easter.

Food wholesaler Bookers in Carmarthen have given 50 boxes of Cadbury’s crème eggs to share out between the food hubs for children receiving free school meals – that’s a total of 1,968 eggs!

And the Co-op stores in Ammanford and Burry Port, Morrisons in Llanelli, Carmarthen and Llanelli Rotary Clubs, and Llandeilo Town Council have donated Easter eggs to give out to all the children attending the care hubs.

Morrisons in Carmarthen are also providing Easter eggs for all the staff working in the hubs on Good Friday; and Carmarthen-based Hafod Bakery will also be making a special delivery of hot cross buns and loaves of bread.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I would like to thank everyone involved for their generosity, both the children and staff will be delighted.

“It is particularly important at this difficult time that we remain positive and take joy in all that we can. These Easter eggs will put a big smile on all the children’s faces, and it also shows how much we appreciate the hard work of all the staff.

“This is an excellent example of what we are trying to achieve as part of our SirGâredig campaign – the incredible community spirit and kindness that is taking place throughout Carmarthenshire during the pandemic.

“It is at times like these that we see the good in people, and I am proud of the people of Carmarthenshire for the support and kindness they are showing one another in these challenging times.”

Thanks also to Morrisons in Carmarthen for delivering Easter eggs to our bin collection crews at the Cillefwr depot today (Thursday, April 9), they were very happy indeed!

If you have an act of kindness you would like to share, please tweet us @CarmsCouncil using the hashtag #SirGaredig or post on our Facebook page @CarmarthenshireCC

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Supporting vulnerable children and their families

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SUPPORT for vulnerable children and their families is continuing during the coronavirus crisis.

Staff from Education and Children’s Services are continuing to offer wellbeing support as well as respite to families that need it.

With schools closed, headteachers and staff at specialist settings are making regular contact to make sure children are receiving the support they need and that the family is coping.

Other families with children that require individual support have been contacted directly by one of the council’s family liaison officers to find out what support is needed and how best it can be delivered, either through one of the childcare hubs, or through alternative arrangements.

Some pupils who need additional support are having their needs met through the childcare hubs and the feedback from parents is that it is working well.

Although schools are closed, Area 43, the school-based counselling service can still be accessed by children and young people from Year 5 upwards. Staff are available to provide information, support and counselling remotely; either online, by telephone or text and through its social media pages. Visit Area43.co.uk for more details.

Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “Respite and support services are continuing for vulnerable children, and will continue to do so as long as staff remain well, and families want and need it.

“It is more important than ever that we have this support in place for families, and it is also important that our young people can still access the counselling service whilst the schools are closed. This is a very difficult and uncertain time for everyone, and this type of support is essential.

“I am also very pleased to receive positive feedback from parents of children with additional learning needs that are using the hubs.”

If you have any concerns about a child or young person, please get in touch by emailing CRTChildren@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or by calling 01554 742322. If a problem occurs out of office hours that cannot wait, please call 0300 333 2222.

More information and support for parents can be found at newsroom.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/coronavirus

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Community

Lottery win for local neighbours

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Two people in Ferryside are celebrating today after winning £1,000 each thanks to their lucky postcode.

The neighbours netted the windfall when SA17 5YP was announced as a Daily Prize winner with People’s Postcode Lottery on Wednesday 8th April 2020.

People’s Postcode Lottery ambassador Judie McCourt sent her well-wishes to the winners. She said: “Congratulations to our winners! What a great surprise for them, I hope they enjoy their winnings.”

A minimum of 32% of ticket sales goes directly to charities and players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised over £500 million to date for thousands of good causes in Britain and beyond.

This draw was promoted by Maggie’s which has received over £16.1 million in funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Maggie’s runs a network of cancer support centres across the country. These centres bring people together to help combat the isolation and distress that often accompanies a cancer diagnosis.

Many good causes close to the winners have also benefitted from players’ support, and local charities can next apply for funding in August.

For more information on People’s Postcode Lottery, please visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk or Facebook and Twitter.

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