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Welsh charity shops urgently appeal for volunteers

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British Heart Foundation

THIS Christmas BHF Cymru is urgently appealing for people to donate the gift of time at one of the charity’s 32 stores across Wales, after the pandemic led to a fall of around 20 percent in volunteers.

Currently around 480 people donate approximately 3,500 hours of volunteering support each week in Wales, where the BHF has 32 shops, selling a range of preloved and new items – from clothes, toys and books to electricals and furniture. The British Heart Foundation funds research into heart and circulatory conditions which affect around 340,000 people across Wales.

The charity is launching its Operation Elf recruitment drive, encouraging the public to give any time they can in the run up to Christmas and support their local BHF shop.  

December is one of the busiest times of year for the charity’s stores, but sadly some may be forced to reduce opening hours if they cannot recruit more volunteers ahead of the festive season. This could reduce funds that can be turned into life-saving heart research. 

Across Wales volunteers have found that giving their time to the BHF reaps rewards in their lives.

Dave Broadrick, 68, who lives in Pembrey, says he enjoys assembling flat pack furniture and breathing new life into vintage pieces which he upcycles with fellow volunteer Pete Mclveney, also 68, by adding a coat of paint or varnish and wallpapering the insides.

Their revived projects are sold in the Carmarthen Home store “It’s wonderful to be able to do something to help people, now that I’m retired,” the former London cabbie and window cleaner says. “Pete and I have a great time bringing these things back to their former glory, and improving them a lot of the time, with a lick of paint and a bit of TLC.

“I love volunteering. After I moved to Wales from London nine years ago, I had a little shop of my own in Kidwelly, where I’d refurbish furniture, and that’s where I met Pete. He’d help out, stripping things down and rebuilding them with me. We had a great time. When I gave that up, I wanted to do something positive with my time to make a difference, and my wife spotted that the BHF needed volunteers. I haven’t looked back.” 

At the charity’s Bridgend Home store, there’s a family of volunteers affectionately referred to as “The Popettes”. Nan, Chris Pope, 67, started at the BHF as a work placement in 2015 and enjoyed it so much she carried on volunteering when the placement finished.

Chris encouraged her granddaughter, Emily, to volunteer whilst at college. Emily, 24, became an employee for the BHF as a paid Sales Assistant in 2017 and progressed her career as Assistant Manager this year.

Emily’s mum Tracey, 43, and brother Jordan, 20, started volunteering soon after Emily, meaning BHF Bridgend is truly a family affair.

Jordan says, “I love volunteering at the BHF Bridgend Home Store as we are one massive family. We all support each other and work together to raise funds for this fantastic cause. I especially love Christmas time as we all dress up in festive outfits and it creates an amazing atmosphere for our customers, which they really appreciate.”

Keith Gasteen, 77, started volunteering at the BHF’s shop in Llandudno this summer after his wife passed away earlier in the year with Covid. She had suffered from vascular dementia in later life and retired teacher Keith wanted to give back to the BHF because the charity funds research into the condition, as well as finding something positive to do within his local community.

In Cwmbran, Ben Warburton, 33, says volunteering has helped with his mental health and wellbeing. He says, “I started working for the BHF in August 2020. I wasn’t able to do much when I started, but I have now become someone who can do things that I wouldn’t do before because I was scared.”

Ben’s self-confidence has grown through volunteering, and he now enjoys operating the till, doing store administration and answering the phone, something which had previously been a challenge for him.

Ben says, “My biggest fear was answering the shop phone to customers as I didn’t know who was on the other end of the line. I started battling my fears and one day when the phone was ringing, I just went up and answered it.”

The Chief Executive of the BHF Dr Charmaine Griffiths joined the team at the charity’s Crwys Road, Cardiff Home Plus store where she met volunteers and staff and found out about Operation Elf. She said “It’s a great way to spend time with our wonderful team of retail colleagues and volunteers and it’s really fun. Just put your elf hat on and get stuck in! 

Many thanks to our manager Perveen, colleagues and all the volunteers for having me, and for all that you do to help fund life-saving research, it really makes a difference.”

Head of BHF Cymru, Adam Fletcher, said, “Charmaine, thank you so much for elfing out, and I’m really pleased you enjoyed it. To the Welsh public we now say, what are you waiting for? Sign up now – I guarantee you will have a great time!”

“Volunteers are our life-blood. We simply cannot operate our shops and stores without their generous support.  Currently, our volunteering hours are down 20 percent compared to pre-Covid times, so this Christmas we’re asking the wonderful Welsh public to donate to us the gift of time and give whatever hours they can.” 

BHF Cymru has plenty of exciting volunteering roles available for those looking to support their local community, improve their wellbeing and widen their social network while supporting a good cause and helping the environment.    

  

 “You can commit just a few hours each week or a few days,” says Adam. “Volunteering at the BHF is a great opportunity to meet new people, boost your confidence, gain retail experience and help us give unwanted items a new lease of life. Every hour given will help us raise funds to support those living with heart and circulatory diseases.” 

  

Volunteers can get involved in tasks such as telephone and logistical administration, operating tills, merchandising on the shop floor and answering customer queries. The charity also offers online roles for those keen on honing their tech skills, by helping to research, photograph and list items for BHF’s online shops.   

  

Behind the scenes volunteers can take on warehouse assistant or specialist roles which can provide transferrable skills that are perfect for future job applications. There are also opportunities to become volunteer stock collection drivers, stock generators and volunteer recruiters who get out in the local area.     

Currently, heart and circulatory diseases cause around 1 in 4 deaths in Wales. The BHF funds around £4 million worth of research in Welsh universities aimed at finding cures and treatments, and ultimately saving lives. The charity says that the support of volunteers is more vital than ever as it hopes to inspire the local community to give the gift of time to save and improve lives.  

The coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on the BHF’s income, which is why the charity is now urging communities to support their nearest shop by taking up flexible volunteering opportunities.  

This year, the BHF will save around 71,000 tonnes of goods from going to waste, by selling over half a million pieces of living room furniture and 14,000 tonnes of preloved clothes.  

  

Every pound raised in BHF shops helps the charity to support those living with heart and circulatory diseases. Your gift of time can help the BHF, help them.   

  

For more information on how to get involved head to www.bhf.org.uk/elf or find your local shop at bhf.org.uk/shop 

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Business

Christmas pop up shops available in prime locations

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Spaces are free of charge and limited, so apply early to avoid disappointment.

SMALL local businesses are being given the opportunity to display and sell their goods amongst big high street chains in Carmarthen and Llanelli Town centres in the run up to Christmas.

As part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s 100% Sir Gâr initiative the council has secured two prime locations in both towns for four weeks – former Debenhams in Carmarthen and number 1 Stepney Street (next door to Andrew Price Hairdresser) – ahead of the festive season.

The dates available for Carmarthen are:

Week 1 – Wednesday, December 1 – Sunday 5

Week 2 – Wednesday, December 8 – Sunday 12

Week 3 – Wednesday, December 15 – Sunday 19

Week 4 – Monday, December 20 – Thursday 23

In Llanelli:

Week 1 – Wednesday, December 1 – Saturday 4

Week 2 – Wednesday, December 8 – Saturday 11

Week 3 – Wednesday, December 15 – Saturday 18

Week 4 – Tuesday, December 21 – Thursday 23

Anyone interested in taking part will need to commit to the full week and email 

100Carmarthenshire@carmarthenshire.gov.uk with the preferred location and dates.

Spaces are free of charge and limited, so apply early to avoid disappointment.

100% Sir Gâr was developed during the Covid-19 pandemic as a virtual shop window on the council’s Discover Carmarthenshire website, as a way of supporting local businesses to recover from a long period of lockdown and restrictions on retail.

It is part of the council’s overall Economic Recovery Plan which aims to safeguard and create jobs, support businesses and bolster the local economy over the next two years.

100% Sir Gâr has been supported by Carmarthenshire’s town and community councils, local business and retail groups, and the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2014-2020, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to come together and showcase their products in one place, in two prime high street locations.”

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Business

Concern over process to select next Chair of Ofcom

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PROFOUND concerns have been jointly expressed by the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government over the process to select the next Chair of Ofcom, and how it could have a detrimental impact on public service broadcasting in the UK.

In a letter to the UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries, Ministers from both Scotland and Wales have asked to be included in the process and to be given a role that ensures the selected candidate is “someone who can work impartially and independently in the interests of all the nations.”

It has been signed by the Scottish Government’s Culture Secretary Angus Robertson and Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes and the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Arts Dawn Bowden and Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters.

It says both governments are “extremely concerned about the perceived lack of impartiality and transparency of the current appointment processes at Ofcom.”

The letter adds:

“Given the importance of public service broadcasting to our nations and the real impact for our nations of any decision on selecting the Ofcom Chair which is not transparent or impartial, we urge you to involve us fully in the process as is right to protect a system which is so important to the public in Scotland and Wales and all the UK.”

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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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