A BOOK written by author and returning Welsh exile Peter Daniels, and published this week, is a celebration of Welshness and Welsh people.
’Finding Wales’ identifies in the Welsh a distinct personality, born of their humanity and natural friendliness, an image designed to counter the almost dismissive attitude towards Wales adopted by both the ‘British’ press and the UK government in Westminster.
As a Welsh exile in England, Llanelli-born Peter Daniels had a successful career in market research, but the strong ties he retained with his homeland through the London Welsh RFC and the London Welsh Association led to a fascination with national identity, especially amongst those living outside of Wales.
”In my own case, it was the move to London which actually raised my consciousness both of my own Welshness and of the disregard for Wales held by British institutions,” said Peter.
In his first book, ’In Search of Welshness’, which was published in 2011, Peter charted the ways in which exiles living in England preserved their Welsh identity. In this latest work he delves into the reasons many of them one day return.
”Some are forced to return because of family responsibilities or economic necessity. Others speak of ‘the good life’ to be had against the scenic backdrop that is the hills and coastline of Wales,” explained Peter, ”Many returning exiles also yearn for the friendlier community spirit they feel exists in Wales. And there are those with an even deeper hiraeth for either the Welsh language and culture, or for a more socialist, less class ridden, way of life.”
”And finally there are those who want to more proactively contribute to the challenges facing Wales in the 21st century, to the preservation of the language, the culture, and the economy. ”Our returning exiles must play their part, however small. They must give something back.”
Whilst Peter admits that they are not all of the same political persuasion, he discovered that they mostly believe that Wales should have more of a say in its own destiny than has previously been the case.
But national politics, unless it directly affects their livelihood, or previously their faith, has never been that important to the Welsh. For them, living is about people and not politics.
And in this regard, to quote one returning exile, ‘Wales: the best country in the world’.
‘People are booking the test when they’re not ready, and the pass rate is actually declining’
THE CEO of one of the UK’s biggest driving schools has revealed that learner drivers are still facing massive driving test delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to GB News presenters Esther Vey and Philip Davies, Seb Goldin said: “It depends where you are in the country, but the backlog is really not being got through at any rate from Covid. We’re hearing six, seven, eight and nine months now.
“It’s made worse because people are just trying to book a test when they’re perhaps not even test ready. And then the pass rate is actually declining at the moment, so then tests are just not available for those who would be ready, which is exacerbating the problem.
“We’d say take your lessons, book the test but only when your instructor tells you that you’re test ready.”
Discussing the possible introduction of self driving cars on UK roads and into driving lessons, Goldin explained: “I think with all technology, where there’s such a step-change from human behaviour to machine behaviour, if we could flick a switch overnight and say everyone’s driving autonomous cars then it would be a very easy segway and move on through. But when you’re gonna have human behaviour on the road with semi or fully autonomous cars, that’s where the challenge is gonna be. We expect to be very busy for the next few years at least.”
He added: “Your car even now compared to what you had ten years ago has so much more technology. One of the challenges that we think is that people are not given instruction or coaching in what a car can do and what it can’t do.
“So for example, if you got a new car with cruise control with a radar at the front which manages the distance which is fine if you get used to it. But if you get a bit of road grime on the front of the car it packs up and then suddenly you have to drive normally again, and if you’re not ready for it or not used to it it can be a challenge. So we’re really excited about integrating technology into driving lessons and we’re working with the government and DVSA to help improve and change the curriculum as technology comes through.”
Whilst self driving cars are not fully on the roads, Goldin explained a driver would still be needed behind the wheel: “There are various steps of autonomy. So at the moment, we have cars on what we call Level 1 and Level 2. What the government is taking about is Level 3, where the car can actually be fully in control of the vehicle without the driver needing to have hands on the wheel or control.
“An analogy is if you think of pilots in big ships or aeroplanes, they still have to be trained in how to manually control them if the technology fails. It’s exactly the same with driving.
“All technology that we work with, trust has to grow and we need to understand what it does, and there’s very much back to the point of teaching people and coaching people to drive. Even when people have passed the driving test, you’re not necessarily a ‘safe driver’ you’ve just passed the driving test. So there’s very much a coaching and a learning role as technology comes on.
“When you get a new car from a car dealer, a lot of them are very good at selling you on the finance but perhaps not so much on what the car can do and more importantly, what it can’t do.”
Communities for Work Plus is on hand to assist with disability support
CONGRATULATIONS to Tina Evans who has recently joined the BBC Wales presenting team and is currently covering the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
In preparation for starting her new job, Tina sought the services of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Communities for Work Plus programme to help overcome multiple barriers such as access to work and communicating with social services.
Tina, who is from Pontyberem originally, faces numerous challenges, due to long-term health conditions and disabilities, and requires a lot of support in relation to mobility and everyday care, as she is a wheelchair user.
Writing ahead of starting her new role with the BBC, Tina said “I had been offered work with BBC Wales, as part of the presenting team, and needed to sort out support during my role. As I was tight against time, I accessed the Communities for Work Plus hub in Carmarthen with the hope to speed things up. This was the best decision I made. After speaking with their team, I felt a big weight had been lifted off my shoulders as I, now, wasn’t sorting things alone.
“I would especially like to thank Desiree from the Communities for Work Plus team. She supported me through telephone calls with access to work and social services and liaised with them to make sure we met the deadlines required. There were a few barriers to overcome along the way, but with Desiree’s support and determination, we hurdled over them. I must admit, her support was invaluable in gaining access to work and without it, I would have given up.
“I can now look forward with excitement for this opportunity, knowing that I have the support I need.”
Desiree De Mouilpied, Community Employment Officer/Disability Specialist said “It’s been a privilege to assist Tina with her journey to accessing work. Her character and determination, to pursue her dreams and overcome complex barriers into employment, have been inspiring. We all wish her the best of luck in her new job.”
Communities for Work Plus provides the infrastructure to support the ongoing delivery of Communities for Work. The programme enhances the employment-focused support for those, often with complex barriers, who are furthest from the labour market into training and future employment with a holistic and person-centred approach.
Carmarthenshire County Council coordinate employment support from its Llanelli Hwb and office, which are based in the middle of Llanelli Town Centre.
For further information about the Communities For Work Plus programme, please visit https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/jobs-careers/help-to-find-a-job/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01554 784847.
Cllr Gareth John, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism said “We’re delighted for Tina and proud of her success in gaining employment with BBC Wales.
“I would urge people in our county, who are looking to get into work, to take advantage of the support that Carmarthenshire County Council can give to you. Our employment support teams can help you identify training opportunities, provide you with a personal mentor, work with you to develop a job action plan, help you to build your confidence and help with writing a CV and completing job applications.
We want to support more people, like Tina, to overcome barriers to get into work.”
Community Shop holds Queen’s Volunteer Award ceremony
ON AUGUST 12, at 10:30am the popular and successful Dryslwyn Community Shop will at last celebrate the Queens’ Award for Volunteers, which they received in 2021.
Sara Edwards, Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, will present the award.
“There will be cake and light refreshments,” explains volunteer coordinator Michele Powell, “with speeches from directors and as always, everyone is welcome.”
“The shop and post office were due to close in 2009,” explains one of the directors of the shop, “ending a by then 157 years run of a post office in the location. However, the local community pulled together and took over the shop and post office by forming a non-for-profit company. This is run by 35 friendly volunteers on the counter and behind the scenes, for our community.”
The shop deservedly received recognition for its service to the community, saving the residents a 12m journey to the next shop or post office and reducing rural isolation by providing a community hub. The shop also aims to stock locally grown, healthy and environmentally friendly stock.
Last year land was donated for a new building for the shop, next to its current location, with more scope for seating and parking.
“Details of the planning application, which is about to be submitted, were presented to the public recently,” explains project chair Nigel Jones. “We look forward to providing more feedback and discussion with residents over this as well as efforts to gain funding, when we are able to.” The shop is also always keen to add to its pool of volunteers.
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