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Being homeless in Pembrokeshire

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By Tess Delaney

I HAD reason recently to get in touch with the homeless unit at Pembrokeshire County Council.
I spoke to a nice lady, and they can help me.
As I’m responsible for my son, we can be accommodated at the hostel in Pembroke. The thing is, I used to work at the Prince’s Trust, with kids that lived at the hostel, and there is no way on earth I’m taking my kid there.
Not happening.
And Pembroke? A forty-five-minute drive from my land, which I have to visit twice each day to tend my livestock. Given that one of the reasons for a Council officer’s refusal of my OPD planning permission was it involved too much driving, that’s a solution to a problem created by the Council which seems absurd, to say the least.
So now what?
Luckily, having procured a gig here at your favourite local newspaper, I’ve got a few more resources available.
So, let’s have a look, shall we?
Looking around at the prices of properties available to rent can leave one feeling pretty bereft.
What I want to know, is how does anyone afford these rents?
The cheapest two-bedroom I can find close to my land is in Clunderwen.
It looks fabulous in the pictures, but I know it’s rough because someone I know used to live there.
It’s a pretty little place, with a good amount of space, but the garden is shared – which isn’t mentioned in the particulars of course – and there are usually snails in the front room.
The fridge has to live in a cupboard under the stairs because the kitchen isn’t big enough, and there’s a washing machine, but it doesn’t work.
My point is, anything close to affordable is slightly sketchy.
It’s weird when you’re renting, and you lie there in bed, looking up at someone else’s peeling paint on the ceiling, unable to do anything about it because they don’t want you to, and you’re not really inclined to, being that your contract is at most a year long.
And who in Pembs is in a position to buy? Really? Are there any first-time buyers left? And what do they buy? There’s not much on the market locally for under 100k. How do people raise mortgages?
Some people have to rely on parents or suchlike, but some don’t have that kind of help. And there are no council houses because they all got sold.
I remember my grandad refusing to buy his council house. “They’re social houses for people in need” he used to say. The next people to live there bought it. Now, it’s a private let, with rent as high as any other three bed in that particular town.
I’ve put my name down on the council house register because the council are basically not giving me a lot of choice.
It’s daft.
I own and work on land that I have to leave at night times. I’m there all day. What’s the big deal about where you actually sleep? Why does that constitute home? What is home?
I can’t be homeless when I’ve got more of a potential home than someone who is actually proper homeless, but they’re telling me I’m homeless.
Define homelessness.
When I bought my land I tried to rent a house nearby.
Even though there are loads of empty and dilapidated properties, none are available for use. I put a shout out on the local Facebook page and got not one reply.
A week or so later, someone put a post on the same page, asking for a holiday let for their family to use at Christmas. About thirty people replied, with photos of lovely little houses that looked small enough to be affordable to a local family to rent. But they’re all holiday homes.
Every single one.
It’s no secret that many villages in our county are made up almost entirely of holiday lets and second homes.
Our prices are inflating all the time, especially when bright sparks at the Daily Mail publish articles on how you can get a house in Pembs for half the price of Cornwall, so why not move to Pembs, and buy up all the housing stock?
It wouldn’t be so bad if the housing stock got replaced, but every time someone puts a planning application in for affordable homes, or even any homes, the vigilantes come out, insisting on keeping as big a radius as possible around them, even though they’re usually people that moved here to retire, and all they’re really worried about is their property prices and the feeling that any new builds will spoil their postcard.
It’s an endless circular mess, and to be honest, who of you, reading this, would rather take your kid to the hostel than move onto your land illegally and face court? If that’s the choice, I know what I’ll be doing.
I’m lucky in that my son’s dad is letting me, as well as the kid, crash at his place while I look for somewhere, or get planning at appeal, whichever comes first.
So, ultimately, if you don’t have an ex that’s a brilliant dad and not only takes responsibility for the kid, but for me too, and steps in to help in this way, what do you do?
If you don’t have friends offering you places to stay, like I’ve had, you have the hostel as an option, and that’s it.
How can there be, as reported recently, so many homeless people wandering around Tenby that the Tenby Chippy is giving out free meals? How did that happen? When did that happen?
There was no homelessness back in my school days in Tenby. If there was one homeless person they were almost a curio, like that guy who used to wander around Whitland and tragically, and almost unnoticeably, died in that fire.
Now we have so many homeless that they’re noticeably cold and alone in a place like “Fair and Fashionable” Tenby, relying on the kindness of the chip shop?
According to the council’s reasoning, I’m eligible for free chips. Perhaps I’ll gather up everyone down there and let them live on the field.
It’s always an option…

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RNIB brings LEGO® Braille Bricks toolkits to children in Carmarthenshire

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CHILDREN with vision impairment in Carmarthenshire are set to benefit from LEGO® Braille Bricks toolkits thanks to the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) work with the LEGO Foundation.

The toolkits have so far been distributed to Ceredigion Council, Swansea Council, Conwy Sensory Support Service, Carmarthenshire Council, Bridgend Council, Neath Port Talbot Council and Rhondda Cynon Taf.

LEGO Braille Bricks introduce a new way to help children with vision impairment develop tactile skills and learn the braille system. The kits are made up of approximately 300 LEGO bricks that are specially moulded so that the studs on top reflect individual letters and numbers in the Braille alphabet. The bricks also feature printed letters, numbers and symbols so that they can be used simultaneously by sighted peers, classmates, and teachers in a collaborative and inclusive way.

The kits are being brought to the UK by RNIB, which worked with the LEGO Foundation to develop and test the Braille Bricks and will distribute toolkits to schools and home-schooled children in Carmarthenshire from September.

RNIB Director of Services, David Clarke said: “We are excited to bring the LEGO Braille Brick toolkits to UK classrooms to help children learn how to read and write braille in a fun and engaging way. Braille is an important tool and these inclusive toolkits will make a real difference to children with vision impairment, allowing them to play and interact with their sighted classmates.”

RNIB has also trained teachers and support staff working with children with vision impairment in the teaching concept. Although the toolkit is intended as a playful introduction to braille for younger children aged from four up, it has also proven to have learning opportunities and benefits for children in secondary school.

Senior Play & Health Specialist at the LEGO Foundation, Stine Storm, said: “We are thrilled to launch the first wave of the LEGO Braille Bricks program and get the toolkits into the hands of children. With LEGO Braille Bricks, students and educators can tailor their activities in countless different ways to meet their needs and learning goals in a fun and inclusive manner. The possibilities for learning through play are endless, and we look forward to seeing how LEGO Braille Bricks can inspire children of all ages along their journey to learn braille.”

The UK is one of several countries that LEGO Braille Bricks will launch in this year. The toolkits, or sets of bricks, are not on general sale and can only be ordered by heads of service from local sensory services. Heads of service can also nominate an education professional from schools for children with vision impairment, or a QTVI (qualified teacher of children and young people with vision impairment), to place an order on behalf of their area. For more information visit www.rnib.org.uk/legobraillebricks

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Police appeal for witnesses after 20-year-old pedestrian tragically killed on A40

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is appealing for witnesses to a fatal road traffic collision on the A40 west of Carmarthen on Saturday (Sept 26) in which a 20-year-old man, a pedestrian, lost his life.

The police have asked The Pembrokeshire Herald to publicise this appeal.

A spokesman for the police told this newspaper: “At around 9.40pm, a white VW Transporter was in collision with a pedestrian on the A40 westbound, near the junction of Llangynog, Carmarthen.

“The pedestrian, a 20-year-old male, died as a result of his injuries.

“It appears the pedestrian had left his vehicle, a black Seat, following a single-vehicle collision further along the westbound carriageway shortly before.

The police have asked that if anyone has any information on either or both collisions, or may have been travelling along the A40 at the relevant time, please contact the serious collision investigation unit, quoting reference DPP-20200926-339.

This can be done by email: contactcentre@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, by phone on 101 or by text: If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Tir Coed build outdoor classroom for Cross Hands Primary

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The local charity Tir Coed teamed up with Cross Hands Primary School to design and install a locally
grown woodland shelter to enable primary school pupils to benefit from outdoor lessons-even when
the rain pours!

Last year Cross Hands Primary School received funding from Carmarthenshire is Kind for their
intergenerational project. The project brought the schoolchildren together with older people in the
community. Through intergenerational activities, everyone involved increases social connectedness,
reduces social isolation, learns from one another and has a great time!

Before the lockdown, Tir Coed was contracted to lead a group mainly made up of parents from the
school on a shelter-building course. The attendees would gain knowledge and skills and the children
and the older people would be able to use the shelter, a third generation now included in this
fantastic project. The plans, however, had to change due to restrictions and in an effort to have it
ready for the children when they returned to school, three intrepid Activity Leaders braved the wet
August weather to build the beautiful shelter .

Studies have shown that being in the outdoors significantly reduces the risk of spreading the Corona
Virus. With this addition to their already impressive outdoor area, it is hoped that more learning can
take place outside the classroom. Deputy Head, Emma Walters said, “It looks amazing! I am very
impressed with the shelter and I cannot thank Tir Coed enough for organising this. Additional
covered space in the outdoors will mean that we can take more learning into our lovely nature
area.”

If you would like to find out more about the work of Tir Coed or have a project you would like our help
with you can contact Nancy, the Carmarthenshire Coordinator: carms@tircoed.org.uk

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