A REPORT published by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) has revealed that the Executive Board member charged with oversight and scrutiny of the safeguarding of Carmarthenshire’s children has had little or no training as to what his safeguarding role means in practice.
The hard-hitting report, which rates the council’s safeguarding as no better than ‘adequate’ – equivalent to a bare pass – reveals that neither Keith Davies, the Executive Board member for Education and Children Services nor Chair of the Scrutiny Committee, Cllr J E Williams, ‘could report on having received safeguarding training, which raises concerns about their ability to effectively deliver their responsibilities’.
In addition, the report comments that Carmarthenshire lack a corporate safeguarding policy, with a lack of coherence in its approach to the issue.
The most devastating revelation is that when members of the council were questioned about their understanding of risk management, the Wales Audit Office concluded that those interviewed were unfamiliar with risk management as a concept’. In addition to the report by the WAO, a report by Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) into Rhydygors School has revealed that the unit is failing to reach minimum standards.
The CSSIW report said: “Overall, we found that young people and their representatives cannot be confident that due care and attention has been paid to the national minimum standards for residential special schools in the period since our last inspection, as the service has not fully met these standards.”
CSSIW head, Imelda Richardson – in the Wales-wide Annual Report, released earlier in March – said: “Minimum standards are not enough and our focus must be on supporting all sectors to achieve excellence.”
Ms Richardson went on to say: “We place the children and adults who need and use services at the heart of our work by listening to their views during inspections and responded to 2,170 concerns raised by residents, relatives, staff and professionals. This resulted in 284 additional inspections. We encourage and thank people for bringing concerns to our attention and are committed to involving people in every aspect of our work and to improve our connection with local services and communities.”
A previous report by Estyn also found significant shortcomings at the council-run residential unit. In September, Estyn reported that the school’s performance was ‘adequate’ but that prospects for improvement were unsatisfactory.
Chair of the Board of Governors, Matthew Harries, responded to the CSSIW report on Rhydygors: “Rhydygors was inspected by Estyn in September 2014 and, as the new chair of governors, I will be looking to build on the progress that has been made to address the recommendations of the report. Indeed, we are pleased that progress has been made in many of these areas as noted in the more recent CSSIW report.”
Carmarthenshire’s sensory garden: why locals should embrace this wellness trend
WITH ‘#sensorygarden’ 499.1k views on TikTok – locals have the advantage of experiencing a sensory garden on their doorstep at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Wildlife experts explain why you should visit.
Wildlife expert Sean McMenemy shares how sensory gardens can do wonders for our wellness whilst providing a safe haven for wildlife and encourages Carmarthenshire locals to visit their local sensory garden this autumn.
A sensory garden is an outdoor space that stimulates the five senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, and can be created in your own garden. Sensory gardens at home remain relatively rare, but the trend is growing with the TikTok hashtag ‘#sensorygarden’ amassing 499.1k views*.
Carmarthenshire, dubbed the Garden of Wales, has a huge array of beautiful green spaces to explore. It’s home to the National Botanic Garden of Wales which spans a huge 568 acres, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The stunning Great Glasshouse features a sensory trail that explores the largest single-span greenhouse in the world! From fluffy flowers from South Africa to a strongly scented Australian plant, it’ll engage all your senses.
Having recently gifted King Charles with a beautiful oak sapling, the National Botanic Garden of Wales care deeply about the nation’s natural heritage. For those visiting the garden, the paths are wheelchair accessible with manual wheelchairs available on site. Open 10am – 6pm every day of the week.
Wildlife expert and founder of bird food provider Ark Wildlife, Sean McMenemy, explains the benefits of sensory gardening: “Sensory gardens provide a great deal of physical and mental benefits for different people and purposes. From getting vitamin D from sunlight to improving physical fitness by maintaining a garden, there are several physical benefits. Mentally, you can benefit from a mood boost and relaxation by spending time surrounded by calming stimulation.
“Sensory gardens can also have huge benefits for children, older people, those with learning disabilities and those who struggle with their physical and mental health. You can also create a sensory garden for your pets and garden wildlife!”
Top tips for creating your own sensory garden
If you do have the outdoor space, creating your own sensory garden is therapeutic in itself and doesn’t need to be a complicated process. The most important thing is to ensure that the garden engages all five senses.
Melody Estes, landscape design gardening supervisor, says: “Whether you’re new to gardening or a seasoned pro, you can always improve your garden by adding some sensory elements.”
Here are some tips from Melody for creating a sensory garden:
Sight – Plant colourful flowers that change with the seasons.
Sound – If you have a fountain or water feature on your property, consider adding some relaxing music to play alongside it. You could also place chimes near your front door to welcome people in.
Smell – Use scent. Consider planting scented flowers or herbs like lavender, rosemary and thyme that will give off a lovely aroma when they bloom.
Touch – Mix textures. The texture of plants can be as important as their colour and shape. Try using plants with soft leaves like ferns or grasses that are texturally different.
Taste – Planting herbs, fruits and vegetables not only provide tasty treats, but is a sustainable source of food.
Sean McMenemy adds: “Sensory gardens are an easy way to engage with wildlife and the outdoor environment. Growing your own plants and vegetables provides countless ways to learn about the natural world.
“You can bring your sensory garden to life by using bird feeders to attract beautiful feathered friends into your garden. They’ll bring the sound element to your sensory garden naturally. Fragrant flowers will attract colourful butterflies and other pollinators to your garden, giving you something to observe whilst helping nature to thrive.”
Some people may not have the time, money or space to create their own sensory garden. However, those with balconies and window ledges can still plant colourful, sweet-smelling flowers and edible plants. This mini sensory garden can still provide the benefits and satisfaction of an outdoor garden.
Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales
THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations.
The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people.
Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales.
During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.
Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry.
Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets.
In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea.
Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea.
Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:
- A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
- Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
- Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
- A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
- A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty
As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church.
The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities.
Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations.
Carmarthenshire farmer dies following attack by bull near Llandeilo
A FARMER has died following an incident with a bull on a farm in Llandeilo.
The 58-year-old, named locally as Maldwyn Harrier, was attacked by the animal during a TB test on Friday morning.
Police have confirmed that they were called to a farm in the Penybanc area of Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, and are investigating alongside the Health and Safety Executive.
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