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Help make a child’s Christmas and give a gift

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RESIDENTS across Carmarthenshire are being asked to help make a child’s Christmas by donating a gift to those less fortunate.

The message comes as Carmarthenshire County Council’s launches the eighth Toybox Appeal which helps hundreds of children with families who can’t afford to buy gifts or toys.

Presents donated by kind people are given to families who, for a range of reasons, are not able to give their children a Christmas that most of us take for granted.

Schools, family centres and youth workers identify those who are in greatest need of support.

Last year, over 6,000 gifts were donated to 957 children from birth to teenagers.

People kind enough to donate are asked to provide gifts from babies from 18 months up to teenagers and unwrapped so that they can be easily sorted.

Council staff are joined by volunteers to sort, wrap and deliver toys in the run-up to Christmas.

The council’s Toybox Appeal co-ordinator, Nia Thomas said: “Many can’t afford to buy gifts, or toys for their children, and will go to loan sharks in desperation.  The Christmas Toy Box Appeal has ensured that local children, who might otherwise receive nothing or very little, are given a gift at Christmas. When you’re out and about doing your Christmas shopping this year, please spare a thought for those less fortunate families, and purchase an extra present to donate to the Christmas appeal. Every gift donated will make a difference for those families for which otherwise Christmas would otherwise be just another day! Let’s put a smile on a lot more faces this Christmas by being generous to those less fortunate across the county.”

Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at a number of collection points throughout the county by December 1. People can also donate gift wrap, scissors and sellotape for the volunteers. You can also give a monetary donation which will only be used to buy toys and gifts. You can send your contributions (cheques payable to Carmarthenshire County Council) to Building 2, St David’s Park, Job’s Well Road, Carmarthen SA31 3HB, or telephone 01267 246657 if you have a cash donation.

 

List of collection points:

·       Customer Service Centre, 3 Spilman Street, Carmarthen

·       County Hall, Carmarthen

·       Building 2, St David’s Park, Carmarthen

·       Natwest Bank, Carmarthen

·       Cillefwr depot, Carmarthenshire County Council, Johnstown, Carmarthen

·       Nant y Ci, Carmarthen

·       Yr Atom, King Street, Carmarthen

·       Carmarthen Leisure Centre

·       The Range, Carmarthen

·       Carmarthen Library

·       Block 1, Parc Myrddin, Carmarthen

·       Town Hall, Llanelli

·       Hub, Llanelli

·       Cathedral Hygiene, Unit 1, Dragon 24, North Dock, Llanelli

·       Jennings Solicitors, Llanelli

·       Llanelli Leisure Centre

·       The Range, Pemberton Park, Llanelli

·       Llanelli Library

·       Tesco, Trostre, Llanelli

·       Tesco Ammanford

·       The Hub, Ammanford

·       Ammanford Leisure Centre

·       Ammanford Library

·       Barclays Bank Ammanford

·       Bedol Library

·       Brynaman Library

·       Glanaman Community Centre

·       Llandeilo Community Education Centre

·       Llandeilo Library

·       Llandovery Leisure Centre

·       Llandovery Library

·       Burns Pet Nutrition, Kidwelly

·       Kidwelly Library

·       Burry Port Library

·       Cross Hands Library

·       Pontyberem Hall

·       Newcastle Emlyn Leisure Centre

·       St. Clears Leisure Centre

·       Barclays Bank Ammanford

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Wales’ hospitality sector will prepare to re-open outdoors from 13 July

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The Minister signalled the first phase of a planned reopening for bars, restaurants and cafes with outdoor spaces following a rapid review of the sector. 

A final decision about outdoor re-opening will be made at the next review of the coronavirus regulations on 9 July and will depend on whether rates of coronavirus are continuing to fall.

Future decisions about indoor re-opening will be made later and will depend on the success of the first phase of outdoor opening.

The Minister will today also confirm the timetable for re-opening outdoor visitor attractions and the partial opening of the tourism industry in Wales for the remainder of the summer season.

If the requirement to stay local is lifted in Wales on 6 July, outdoor visitor attractions will be able to reopen from Monday.

And, subject to the forthcoming review of coronavirus regulations on 9 July, the tourism sector is preparing to re-open self-contained accommodation.

The Minister will today confirm the date that owners of self-contained accommodation can accept bookings is being brought forward to 11 July from 13 July, to help with the pattern of Saturday-to-Saturday bookings.

Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan said:

“Tourism is a vital part of the Welsh economy at a national, regional and local level. I’d like to thank all our industry partners for working with us to carefully reopen the visitor economy.

“A successful, safe and phased return will give businesses, communities and visitors confidence to continue with the recovery of the visitor economy.

“We ask everyone who travels to and around Wales to enjoy their time here, but always to respect local communities. We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Wales – but we want everyone to Visit Wales Safely.”

Guidance to help businesses in Wales’ visitor economy has been published this week. Further guidance for cafes, bars and pubs will follow.

Visit Wales has also worked with the other national tourism organisations on a UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark to provide reassurance as the sector works towards reopening.

The Good To Go industry standard and supporting mark means businesses can demonstrate they are adhering to the respective government and public health guidance; have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked they have the required processes in place. The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry.

Folly Farm are ready to welcome back its loyal annual pass holders from 8 July and will open to all on 13 July.

Zoe Wright, head of marketing at Folly Farm, said:

“We’ve been preparing for our re-opening for several weeks and are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Folly Farm, safely.

“We’ve been hugely encouraged by the support we’ve received from our visitors and our local community. Lots of local accommodation providers have been sharing our staying safe re-opening guide ahead of their guests returning.

“We’ve got lots of measures in place to keep our visitors, staff, animals and our wider community safe, including the essential pre-booking of visits so we can limit visitor numbers and provide even more space across our 120-acre site. As an animal attraction, we’re naturally geared up to offer and encourage regular handwashing but we’ve added hand-sanitising stations across the park too.

“Our animals provide a fun way to encourage visitors, especially the younger ones, to follow our social distancing signage with paw prints marking out a safe distance in queuing areas and penguin and pig themed arrows for our one way systems.”

Sean Taylor, Founder & President of Zip World is making preparations to open on 6th of July and said: “As one of North Wales’s biggest outdoor tourist attractions, there is a huge responsibility in the way we restart our operations.  We have a strong sense of community and have an important role to play in rebuilding the region’s visitor economy all of which has to be managed responsibly and firmly in line with the current government guidelines.

“We have spent the last few months rethinking the logistics of our operations to keep staff, customers and the community safe.  To begin with, the reopening will be a staggered approach by only opening two of our three sites initially and 6 of our adventures. This means a reduction in capacity and we have also introduced robust hygiene regimes, clear wayfinding & signage, PPE and the use of tech where possible to reduce consumer touch points. There is now a simple 6 steps guide for all customers to follow before and during their visit – this includes signing the waiver online pre visit, contactless payments etc.”

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Welsh coffee business brew up lockdown success as sales soar

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One of Wales’ leading coffee roasteries has turned lockdown stress into business success by quadrupling its online sales during the lockdown period.

Coaltown Coffee, based in Ammanford in south west Wales, saw sales with its 275 wholesale customers stop virtually overnight as the UK entered lockdown in March. But the company, which has two café sites and was about to open two more before the pandemic hit, has seen a huge spike in its online sales thanks to a quick response in enhancing its digital presence.

Fast tracking its plans to redevelop its web shop, which was due to happen later this year anyway, Coaltown Coffee has reported a 582% rise in sales in April 2020 based on the same month the previous year. The roastery, which up until lockdown derived the majority of its sales from the wholesale market, accelerated the overhaul of its online retail platform into the space of a week. The company has seen an average of 160 orders a day during lockdown, a 220% increase on average daily orders before coronavirus.

Scott James, founder of Coaltown Coffee said: “Our online presence was established, but we never anticipated the level of traffic increase we saw during this lockdown phase. It’s been hugely encouraging to see how quickly we’ve been able to respond to this as a business, as well as the new market of customers we’ve attracted. We’ve adapted our business aims for 2020, in what should have been the year we opened two further sites, to redirecting our focus towards providing customers good quality coffee that can be enjoyed at home.”

The company also set out to diversify its offering, expanding its subscription box service by offering rolling subscriptions, gift subscriptions and an ‘espresso roulette’ where the customer is sent a random espresso flavour every week. Coaltown saw its subscription service customer base double in the first three weeks of lockdown.

Scott continued: “We haven’t invested in targeted digital advertising or large-scale social media campaigns during lockdown, but relied on organic marketing through videos and blog content which has helped to raise the profile of the web shop.”

The Drinks Cluster, funded by the Welsh Government, is the body that represents Wales’ alcohol and soft drinks producers. Mark Grant, associate director at Levercliff who leads the Drinks Cluster, commented: “Coaltown are a prime example of a business here in Wales that has faced the challenges of lockdown head on and moved rapidly to ensure it can still make a success of this time. Thanks to streamlining their digital presence efficiently, the company have unlocked new custom and seen their sales soar. Clearly consumers are keen to get their hands on great coffee, even during lockdown.”

Coaltown Coffee roasts and packs its coffee at its roastery in Ammanford, the hometown of founder Scott James. Coaltown employs local people from the town in south west Wales and focuses on ethical and sustainable trade with small farms across the world’s coffee growing regions.

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South West Wales Virtual Open Day 8 July

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Welsh local authorities, schools, colleges and work-based learning providers will be hosting
a series of Virtual Open Days for Year 11 pupils for the first time this month.

An event specifically for pupils from Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Neath
Port Talbot, Llanelli, Swansea and Powys will be held on Wednesday 8 July and will cover a
series of sessions on post-16 options including A Levels at sixth form or college as well as
work-based qualifications.

Jonathan Davies OBE will host the sessions on apprenticeships and traineeships and will be
on hand to field questions about how to apply and get the most from industry-led training
opportunities.

Other sessions will be led by Pembrokeshire College, NPTC Group of Colleges, Coleg Sir
Gar and Coleg Ceredigion as well as Careers Wales and local authorities.

The spread of COVID-19 has not only meant a break in students’ learning, but also the
cancellation of many planned events like open days which were scheduled to take place
throughout the summer.

Open days are vital ways of helping Year 11 pupils to understand all their options for
continuing their education and deciding on the right path for them. It’s also the way pupils
make connections with new people and different environments to support them in making
their decision.

With no indication yet of when face-to-face events might be able to go ahead again, over
220 schools, colleges and work-based learning providers across Wales are partnering with
the Welsh Government to hold virtual sessions for all Year 11 pupils in Wales to make sure
nobody misses out.

Organised by Welsh Government and hosted by Working Wales, the Virtual Open Days will
enable young people across Wales to discover the options for furthering their education in
their area, including what school and college courses are available, as well as training
opportunities like apprenticeships and traineeships, and access to careers advice from
Careers Wales.

Live sessions will be held for each region across Wales from 7 – 10 July, with lots of
additional content available throughout the second week of July and beyond. There will also
be the opportunity to put questions to local careers advisors and learning providers who
know about the provision in your area.

Virtual Open Days will be hosted online, but those without internet access at home will have
the option to phone and speak directly with schools, colleges and work-based learning
providers.

Welsh Government will be providing information about the full range of Virtual Open Days,
as well as links to partner websites and content, on Working Wales where there will also be
advice for those students who are unsure of what they want to do next.

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Now more than ever, it’s vital that young
people are equipped with the skills, information and training they need to find fulfilling work.
“If you’re a young person, you may be unsure of what you want to do after school, or
whether you want to continue in education at all. Open days can play a vital role in helping
access the right education or training, providing a vital insight into the different courses and
ways of learning that are available to young people considering their next options.

“Virtual Open Days are a really innovative way to explore options digitally and will help
young people in deciding what to do next. Whether you are shielding at home, returning to
school to say goodbye for the summer, or are not sure what to do next, our national virtual
open days will ensure learners in every region of Wales have the opportunity to engage and
ask questions at this important time.”

Nikki Lawrence, chief executive of Careers Wales, said: “Deciding what the next step is with
your education is an important time for young people across Wales and we want to make
sure that they are still able to explore the different options that are available.

“During the four days we will be offering additional support from our expert careers advisers
who will be available via our live web chat. This will enable young people who are not sure
what the next step is to get the advice and guidance they need.”

To find out more about Wales’ Virtual Open Days, call Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or
go to www.workingwales.gov.wales/start-your-story.

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