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Carmarthen pork producer wins best sausage in Wales award

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RED VALLEY FARM in Carmarthen is celebrating coming first place in Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales’s ‘Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021’ competition, with their Wild Boar and Apple Sausages having been selected as the very best bangers in Wales.

Rearing their very own wild boar, Red Valley Farm is owned and run by friends and business partners Andy and Graeme and producing quality pork products has been their passion ever since they took over the farm from Andy’s parents a few years ago.

Andy said: “My parents kept a range of animals, but as they grew older they weren’t able to manage the farm anymore so it was down to me. We actually got into specialising in pig keeping by accident, as we were gifted one boar to help clear the ground following some tree planting. Everything on this farm today has literally grown from there, from our two breeding boars Minnie and Mouse and one other pig.”

Wales is home to many small scale, artisan pork producers specialising in creating a unique, hand-reared product. Their products are often only available to buy directly from the producer or in equally small scale local independent shops, like butchers, making it a more sustainable food product and generating fewer food miles.

On winning the competition, Graeme said: “We are genuinely really delighted to be recognised and have our sausages named as the best sausages in Wales! We came second in the Put Your Best Sausage Forward competition in 2019, so I am chuffed to have now made it to the top spot!

“We make a number of different flavoured sausages but overall our biggest selling, which happens to be an absolutely outrageous seller, is our boar and apple burgers and sausages. They have a really unique flavour – they’re certainly different to your everyday banger – and we find that people love to try something different while knowing they are also getting a top quality, traceable product.

“We feed our boars and pigs on the best produce available, including brewers’ grain from two local brewers, and this year we are becoming self-sufficient for the first time by producing our own hay for our pigs – they eat better than us sometimes!

“At the end of the day, this is our business, the pigs are our future, and that is what is securing us to Red Valley Farm and making sure that this place is still here for our kids, and hopefully even their kids.”

Red Valley Farm pipped Cwm Farm Charcuterie in the Swansea Valley, and Daniel Morris Butchers in Mold and Denbigh, to the post in this year’s Put Your Best Sausage Forward 2021 competition, wowing judges Scott Quinnell (ex-rugby player and sausage enthusiast) and Elwen Roberts (Hybu Cig Cymru representative).

Scott Quinnell said: “We judged the sausages in their raw state and as cooked, but right from the off we were impressed with Graeme and Andy’s Wild Boar and Apple Sausages. They looked stunning, the consistency was spot on and they cooked up perfectly. When it got to the tasting, they did not disappoint. Packed with flavour – the depth of the boar really came through – and we both thoroughly enjoyed them. Well done boys, keep up the great work!”

Red Valley Farm now automatically qualifies for the UK and Ireland Champion of Champions Sausage competition, which will take place at the Butcher Shop of the Year 2021 Awards in April 2022.

Philippa Gill, Brand Marketing Executive at Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales, said: “We are so lucky in Wales with our fantastic Porc Blasus family of producers – the standard of sausages always makes picking an ultimate winner a difficult task for us! You can visit our brand new website at porcblasus.cymru to find your nearest porc producer, and meet lots of porc enthusiasts – from farmers to chefs – not to mention try out some of our 60 tasty porc recipes at home.”

Visit redvalleywales.co.uk to buy online with courier delivery, or for direction to their farm shop which is open on Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information on pork produced in Wales, and where you can buy it, please visit www.porcblasus.cymru.

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Why some older people may need to prepare for Digital Switchover 

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CHANGES to our landline telephones are taking place across Wales 

Between now and December 2025 the UK’s telephone network is being upgraded, so the technology we currently use to make landline calls, called ‘analogue’, is being replaced with an internet-based system, called a Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP for short. 

Many of the services that lots of older people use via their landline such as telecare, personal alarms, burglar alarms and fax machines may be affected by the change. However, if people’s devices are relatively modern, they should still work fine but older ones may need to be reconfigured or replaced.  Very old handsets may also need to be changed. However, your phone provider will be able to provide advice on all these matters.  

For many people, the change will be as simple as plugging a phone into the provider’s router to link into their system. And in most cases, people will still be able to keep their existing numbers.

However, if there’s a power cut people may lose access to some of their services. Therefore, speak to your current provider to make sure you have a suitable back up in place such as a mobile phone, a battery back-up, or some other solution.   

Be scam aware  
The digital switchover will be free of charge, and no one should ask you for any payments. If they do, please report them to the Police using 101 and to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. If your bank account was used in a scam, contact your bank as soon as possible.    
  
If somebody tries to sell you equipment or get you to sign up to expensive contracts as part of Digital Switchover, don’t rush into any decisions, seek a second opinion, and speak to your phone company who will be able to advise you about what you need. 

Age Cymru’s chief executive Victoria Lloyd says: “Digital Switchover should be a simple process in most cases. But I would advise older people to contact their telephone provider if they run services off their landline or are worried about any aspect of the switchover. And of course, I would urge older people to be wary of potential scammers who may try to trick you into paying them a fee. Remember that the actual switchover is completely free of charge.”

Carmarthenshire pensioner Sandra Llewelyn says: “I recently had a VoIP phone system installed. It is just a different technology and nothing scary. The process was very simple. I called them, agreed a package and then we arranged a date for the work to be done.
“There was a period of about four weeks between agreeing to change and when the work would take place. I was updated at every stage with details such as delivery dates for the new equipment and what work needed to be done and when.

“On the day of the installation the engineer installed a new junction box outside then installed the equipment inside and that was that – it took no more than an hour.”

For more information   
Your current phone provider should be in touch with you to let you know when your services are due to change and what, if anything, you need to do. You can always contact them too, at any time, using the customer service details on correspondence such as your bill.  You may also visit Age Cymru’s website:  www.agecymru.org.uk/digital-switchover or call Age Cymru Advice on 0300 303 44 98.

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New plan to support people with complex barriers to find work in Wales

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A KEY Welsh Government-funded programme to help people most disadvantaged in the labour market into work will be expanded in 2023, following the winding-up of two existing EU-funded programmes, Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, has announced today.

The Welsh Government is stepping in to fund the expansion of the Communities for Work Plus (CfW+) employability programme following the UK Government’s failure to honour repeated promises Wales would not be a penny worse off following the UK departure from the EU.

Under the EU Structural and Investment Funds, the Welsh Government invested funds in a range of schemes led by the public, HE/FE, third and private sectors, including those to help people into work.

Two of those schemes are Communities for Work (CfW) and Parents, Childcare and Employment (PaCE). Since 2015, £135m has been invested in the schemes which have, to date, provided intensive community-based employment support and training to 41,000 individuals with complex barriers. Over 17,500 of these individuals have been helped into employment.

The UK Government had pledged to replace and “at a minimum match the size” of former EU funding in each nation of the UK. However, the UK Government’s actions for replacement EU funding means the Welsh budget is more than £1 billion worse off.

At the same time, the UK Government is deliberately overriding Welsh devolution by directly allocating replacement EU funding, at a dramatically diminished level, through the UK-wide Shared Prosperity Fund – which means the Welsh Government now has less say over less money.

This means the Welsh Government and other institutions across business, higher and further education and the third sector who have used EU funding to support vital investments in Wales’ economy and labour market, including support for vulnerable people, will need to make difficult decisions about how budgets are spent.

In response, the Minister has today confirmed the Welsh Government is stepping in to fund the expansion of the Wales-wide CfW+ programme from April 2023. The expansion will see a doubling of its original £12m annual budget.

The CfW+ programme has been hugely successful, having already provided intensive employment support and training to over 30,000 individuals with complex barriers to employment, with over 13,000 being helped into employment.

The Minister also announced the Welsh Government has secured an extension of the delivery of the EU-funded CfW and PaCE to 31 March 2023 to ensure a smooth transition to the enhanced CfW+ programme.

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:

“Despite the promise made by the UK Government that Wales would not be worse off from the UK leaving the EU, the reality is we are facing a loss of more than £1 billion in un-replaced funding. The Welsh Government cannot fill the massive hole the UK Government has created in the Welsh budget, which means we and our Welsh partners – who have previously benefited from EU funding – will need to take tough decisions on what to fund in future.

“This Welsh Government is determined to help people into and remain in good quality jobs. That’s why we’re taking action to fund a new Wales-wide programme to support people to do just that. By funding this expansion of Communities for Work + and focussing on people who are under-represented in the labour market and those who face disadvantage and inequity in accessing work, we will create a more equal Wales – a society that enables people to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances.

“While UK Ministers talk about “levelling up” the UK, it’s this Welsh Government that’s delivering for people across Wales by funding transformative programmes that help to change their lives for the better.”

The Welsh Government’s new Employability and Skills Plan, launched in March 2022, confirmed employability support will focus on those most disadvantaged in the labour market, and on improving labour market outcomes for disabled people, Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people, women, young people, older workers over 50, carers and those with low skills.

The expanded CfW+ programme will align with ReAct + and Jobs Growth Wales +, to meet the Plan’s commitment of delivering a single operating model of Welsh Government employability support from 2023.

Further details on the programme will be announced in due course.

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Graduate opens vintage clothing store in the heart of Carmarthen

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A GRADUATE from The University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Business School has created a new business venture by opening a new vintage clothing store in Carmarthen.

Mathew Kilgariff is the owner of ‘The Dandy Lion Vintage’ in Carmarthen. It is an independent business that specialises in vintage/retro clothing and accessories, whilst also offering customers sustainable, affordable & unique styles.

The idea originated from the fact that there were no good quality vintage clothing shops according to Mathew in the Carmarthenshire area (especially for men). He had visited vintage clothes shops in Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff and realised that a similar business could be viable in Carmarthen, and popular online platforms such as Depop and Vinted showed there was a demand for vintage products.

‘The Dandy Lion Vintage’ in Carmarthen

He told The Carmarthenshire Herald: “I believe that people still value physically shopping on a high street because it is possible to see and feel the quality, size, fit of a product (even try it on). A carefully selected collection of clothing can provide new ideas and there is knowledgeable staff to advise on what fits and suits each individual.

“I personally no longer shop at chain clothing shops as their “fast fashion” business model is unsustainable, the quality of clothes is often poor and there is no individuality.”

As Mathew’s grown up in Carmarthen, he felt that he knew the town’s demographic well, and felt that within the last 10 years it has become a shopping destination for both Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

“Many of the big chains have struggled to maintain their premises with the fight against a growing online-savvy consumer, but this has created an opportunity for independent shops to create a new dynamic on the high street. Also, with a thriving art college & university on our doorstep, I believe that young creative adults are underrepresented within the shops in the town.”

Mathew decided to study BA Business and Management at UWTSD Carmarthen as he knew that the university had an award-winning business department.

“As the classes were small you would have one to one teaching in a way that a larger university could not offer. When going to speak to my lecturers I also realised that they were running a course with much more emphasis on sustainability, which would give us an advantage over more traditional courses.

“I believe that the hands-on skills I learnt during the degree i.e., bookkeeping, marketing strategies, data analysis etc have been very beneficial to me in running my own business and the support that my lecturers gave me helped give me the confidence to make this a reality.”

Lecturer Jessica Shore is proud of Mathew’s venture and wishes him well for the future.

“It has been a pleasure to be involved in Mathew’s educational journey. Mathew was an excellent student and a keen entrepreneur. It’s wonderful to see he has turned his dream into reality.”

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