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Carmarthen and Llanelli leisure centres to reopen

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TWO temporary field hospitals set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Carmarthenshire are to be returned to the local authority following the end of its contract with the health board.

Hywel Dda University Health Board will hand back Ysbyty Enfys Llanelli and Ysbyty Enfys Caerfyrddin to Carmarthenshire County Council, with the latter being partially mothballed so that beds can be retained in case of a second surge.

It means work will shortly get underway to repurpose the venues back to their original use as two of the council’s largest leisure centres.

Whilst the Llanelli site is being fully decommissioned, a small part of Carmarthen Leisure Centre’s hospital infrastructure will be mothballed should it be needed again in the future.

It is planned that leisure facilities will begin a phased reopening to the public for October – specific details will be communicated directly to members and further information will be communicated via Actif Sport and Leisure website and social media platforms in the coming weeks.

Improvement works to the car park, tennis courts and athletics track have resumed in Carmarthen and it is planned that these works will also be completed for an October re-opening date.

Final decisions are yet to be taken regarding two other temporary field hospitals in Llanelli, at Ysbyty Enfys Selwyn Samuel and Ysbyty Enfys Scarlets, although the health board is in discussions around retaining some bed capacity at these locations if needed.

Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council and Parc Y Scarlets handed over their facilities to support the NHS in April as the country braced itself for the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Contractors commissioned by the county council worked tirelessly to convert the leisure centre, an indoor bowling and events centre and a rugby stadium to provide additional bed space for the NHS in just three weeks.

The ensuing Government lockdown and restrictions put in place to stop the growing spread of the virus meant that only one of the field hospitals was eventually used.

Hywel Dda University Health Board used Ysbyty Enfys Caerfyrddin to care for a small number of patients recovering from non-Covid medical treatment to ease the strain on nearby Glangwili Hospital as it resumed routine patient care.

Jake Morgan, Carmarthenshire County Council’s Director for Communities and Deputy Chief Executive, said: “We continue to work in close partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board to support them as they manage increased demand for NHS care. However, we are pleased that they are now in a position to return two of the two temporary hospitals we provided in Carmarthenshire.

“We will shortly begin work to bring them back into use as leisure centres. Robust operating plans are in place should they be needed in the future.”

Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, the council’s Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “Our members and local residents will be pleased to see these leisure centres brought back into use. I want to thank people for their patience and understanding, and for their continued support of our NHS throughout the pandemic.

“We are of course still fighting this virus – it has not gone away – and whilst we can be thankful that these temporary hospitals were largely unused it is vitally important that we continue to take extra precautions to prevent further spread as much as we possibly can.”

Andrew Carruthers, Hywel Dda Health Board’s Executive Director of Operations, added: “Firstly we would like to express our deepest thanks for the efforts of our colleagues and partners in local authorities, private businesses, contractors and our own staff. The way in which everyone came together to deliver these field hospitals in such a short space of time earlier in the year was nothing short of remarkable, and on behalf of the health board I want to extend our deepest gratitude to all for making this happen in the midst of a very serious global pandemic.

“From the outset, the biggest challenge that we and our partners have faced has been the need to balance the public health and wellbeing of our communities with the need for our society and economy to return to a form of normality, and as a health board we are pleased that our ongoing planning and response to COVID-19 has given us capacity to be both robust and flexible.

“At the same time, we must emphasise that this virus has not gone away, and that we remain at a high state of preparedness so that we can quickly reinstate beds at short notice in several localities if needed, particularly as we approach the critical point going into the autumn and winter period.”

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Police launch public appeal following Carmarthenshire burglary

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DYFED-POWYS POLICE is investigating a burglary at a property in Ponthenry.

People broke into a shed at a home in Victoria Road at around 8.30pm on Monday, 31 October, before leaving after spotting a CCTV camera.

They returned at around 10.15pm and again at around 10.55pm.

During their raids they tooka green Wolf motocross helmet with a full face with a peak and line green motocross goggles.

Officers are appealing for help to identify two people they would like to speak to over the incident.

Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DPP/0756/01/11/2022/02/C. Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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Morrisons Foundation supports children’s charity with grant for vital equipment

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The Morrisons Foundation supports registered charities that make a positive difference. They recently awarded national children’s disability charity, Cerebra, based in Carmarthen, a grant of £11,109.

This will fund the creation of writing slopes through the Cerebra Innovation Centre, which is partnered with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and designs wonderful toys and equipment to help children living with a brain condition to learn and play.

The writing slopes are designed to help children who struggle with posture and fine motor skills. They also aid children with writing, drawing and hand control. Ross Head, Product Design Manager at the Cerebra Innovation Centre explains;

‘The slopes include a lovely wipe-clean surface for children to experiment with mark making, their own set of pens and a clever lid-free pen store to remove the challenge of removing lids for some children. We are so lucky to be able to do what we do and funding like this is so important to allow us to push boundaries and provide vital equipment that looks beautiful.’

At the start of 2022, the Cerebra Innovation Centre highlighted that they anticipated the need for an additional 20 writing slopes for children. Cerebra Fundraising Manager, James Hay then worked with the grants team at the Morrisons Foundation, who were delighted to support this project. David Scott, Morrisons Foundation Trustee said:

‘Cerebra is dedicated to helping families who have a child with a brain condition to discover a better life together, that’s why I’m delighted that we’ve been able to provide this support. The specialised writing slopes will make a huge positive impact on children with sensory and mobility issues, providing a great opportunity to develop their skills, which will last a lifetime.’

Grants like this are a vital source of funding for Cerebra so that they are able to continue to support children living with a brain condition and their families who face challenges every day. The Cerebra Innovation Centre is one of the many support services provided by the charity that so many families have come to rely on. James Hay adds;

‘Thank you so much to the Morrisons Foundation for this generous grant! We are over the moon as we know how much this project will change young lives. These are particularly challenging times for charities and so this funding from Morrisons for the creation of 20 writing slopes is warmly welcomed.’

You can find out more about Cerebra and how they help children and families by visiting www.cerebra.org.uk 

Writing Slope
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White Ribbon campaign supported by Carmarthenshire County Council

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CARMARTHENSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL says it is again showing its support for the White Ribbon campaign, which takes place on Friday, November 25 and is followed by 16 Days of Action.

White Ribbon is the UK’s leading charity engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

While domestic abuse affects both sexes, the largest number of violent incidents involve men against women. But ultimately male violence against women is everyone’s issue, not just women’s.

The council was awarded White Ribbon UK accredited status for the first time in 2018 and is continuing to work to tackle such violence.

White Ribbon flags will be flying at County Hall in Carmarthen and town halls in Llanelli and Ammanford on White Ribbon Day (Friday, November 25). County Hall will also be lit up on the evening to show support.

The council is working alongside partners to raise awareness of the campaign across the county – from sports clubs, joint visits with the Police to licensed premises, our leisure centres and libraries to bus stations.

With this year’s White Ribbon Day falling on the same week as the start of the FIFA men’s World Cup, there has never been a better time to come together and start playing as a team to end violence against women and girls.

The council will be raising awareness of the campaign at special events including a Walking Football session at Amman Valley Leisure Centre on November 30 and at “An Evening with Sam Warburton” at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on White Ribbon Day (November 25).

Cabinet Member responsible for Community Safety, Cllr Philip Hughes, said: “It’s vital that we raise more awareness about domestic abuse so that anyone affected can get help and support from one of our local services.”

Support locally can be found at: Threshold (Llanelli) on 01554 752 422 or www.threshold-das.org.uk; Calan DVS (Ammanford) on 01269 597 474 or www.calandvs.org.uk; Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Service on 01267 238 410 or www.carmdas.org and Goleudy on 0300 123 2996 or www.goleudyvictimandwitnessservice.org.uk or call the Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 800 or visit https://gov.wales/live-fear-free for free advice and support 24/7

For more information on the White Ribbon campaign visit www.whiteribbon.org.uk

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