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Older people in Carmarthenshire face misery as cost-of-living increases, warns local charity

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OLDER people will face the real possibility of not being able to heat their homes or even afford food, as the cost-of-living crisis intensifies, warns local Carmarthenshire charity.

Care & Repair Carmarthenshire supports thousands of older homeowners in the county and have raised the alarm for what they describe as an “escalating situation”.

Care & Repair Carmarthenshire Chief Officer, Mark Warren said: “We believe that everyone deserves to live independently for as long as they’d wish to. Yet, with the cost-of-living rising, the situation is becoming desperate. So, with the local elections taking place, we’re calling on newly elected local councillors to do everything they can to ensure our older residents aren’t forgotten.”

Latest figures for the county show that it now costs up to £1,455 every year on average to heat our homes. Even before the cost-of-living crisis, 16% of our over 65’s were already in poverty. With few options to offset this increase in cost, it is older people who will often struggle the most with the sudden rise in bills.

Richard Leahy and Mark Warren

With the cost-of-living so high many will turn off their heating altogether, yet evidence shows that living in a cold home worsens health conditions associated with later life, such as Alzheimer’s and respiratory conditions.

Rising costs of materials are making repairs harder, and some households have put off repairs in recent years because of Covid. The condition of a property impacts on the well-being of those who live there, with a cold and damp house likely to cause significant health issues.

For vulnerable older and disabled people, there is support available. Care & Repair Carmarthenshire’s Caseworkers can visit older people at home and provide free advice and support on home energy saving techniques and housing improvements. They also run a Handyperson service for the county’s older residents.

Home Maintenance Officer, Richard Leahy, said: “We see a lot of older people who are afraid of being scammed by rogue traders or simply don’t know where to go for help with small repairs and adaptations. It’s a very rewarding job as people are always very grateful for our help’’.

A Care & Repair client from Llanelli, recently said: “I have had a stair rail fitted today, and can I just say how courteous and efficient the gentleman was. I believe in praise when you get staff like this. I felt very comfortable and at ease with him in my home. Also, my 21-year-old son was very impressed with him and said, ‘top man he is mam’! So, Thank You.”

Care & Repair Carmarthenshire can often help with the cost of works using funding received from Welsh Government, Carmarthenshire County Council and other sources, accessed by the Agency on behalf of their clients. During the 2021/22 financial year, the Agency helped over 2,000 older people complete vital repairs and adaptations so that they could continue to live safely and independently at home. These repairs and adaptations cost over £1 million, carried out by both local contractors and the ‘in-house’ Practical Services Team.

A major piece of advice being given by Care & Repair to older people is to make sure to claim the benefits they are entitled to. According to the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, over £200 million of Pension Credit went unclaimed in Wales last year. Each year, Care & Repair Carmarthenshire help hundreds of older people claim the benefits they are entitled to, raising around £380,000 extra income per year for their clients.

If you or an older loved one needs repairs, adaptions or help with keeping the home warm, contact 01554 744300 or visit www.careandrepair.org.uk/carmarthenshire.

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Community

Cost of living support available at Carmarthenshire’s customer service Hwbs

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FROM Thursday, December 1, Carmarthenshire County Council’s customer service Hwbs in Carmarthen, Ammanford and Llanelli will offer an enhanced range of support, advice and services to residents. 

This additional service has been introduced from an action taken at a recent cost of living collaboration event that was hosted by Carmarthenshire County Council that saw stakeholders gather to discuss ways of helping the people of Carmarthenshire with the increasing cost of living. 

The Council’s team of Hwb advisers will be available every day, along with housing officers and employability advisers, to provide tailored packages of support to residents, with advice and guidance on what our residents are entitled to claim, based on their individual circumstances. Visitors to the Hwbs can also access information on the services available to support them as the cost of living increases.

The aim is to also work closely with specific third sector organisations such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Careers Wales to support this work and by also being present in the Hwbs to provide even further advice to residents.

Targeted support will also be available at every Hwb, with each day dedicated to a service area that matters most to residents. Officers from various Council service areas, will be on hand to answer questions and offer support and advice to residents in need.

The services available at Hwbs on particular days are:

Monday – Recycling and waste advice

Tuesday – Trading Standards

Wednesday – Employability

Thursday – Housing

Friday – Various services

The information and advice offered on a Friday will differ from week to week and will be dictated by the needs of residents and other factors.

Cllr Linda Evans, Deputy Leader and Cabinet lead said: “Since April, our Hwb Advisers have helped over 800 Carmarthenshire residents by providing advice and support on accessing a range of council and third-party support schemes, including blue badges for disabled parking, council tax discounts, school meals and uniform grants, referrals to employability schemes and much more.

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Carmarthenshire Archives’ new building officially opened

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ON MONDAY, November 28, Cllr Rob Evans, Chair of Carmarthenshire County Council, unveiled a specially designed plaque to commemorate the official opening of the brand new Carmarthenshire Archives building.

The official opening was attended by year 6 pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, along with their Headteacher Mr Dylan Evans, who designed the plaque by compiling various artwork and sketches that are housed at the Archives.

Established in 1959, Carmarthenshire Archives is the local authority archive service for the County of Carmarthenshire and the new building is located at St Peter’s Street, Carmarthen. 

The service is home to our extensive collection of historic documents that date from the 13th century to the present day. The collection includes archives, maps, books, photographs, videos and sound recordings. It is the Archives’ mission to preserve and make its documents available for general study and research.

Admission to Carmarthenshire Archives is free and open to anyone who wishes to use the Council’s records. Most of its services are free, but we do charge for some extra services and help.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Leisure, Culture and Tourism, Cllr Gareth John commented:

“Congratulations to the pupils of Ysgol Y Dderwen, they have designed an excellent and appropriate plaque that is inspired by the treasure troves of our archives. It was wonderful to welcome them to the official opening so that they can see their work take pride of place at a building that holds great significance to us in Carmarthenshire. 

“This is a brand new and modern building that is fit to keep and protect our county’s most precious historical documents. 

“But of course, these documents are meant to be viewed and studied by school children, students, academics and anybody who has an interest in Carmarthenshire’s rich history; and this excellent facility provides the perfect space for people to come and view these treasures.”

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Community

Llandeilo Festival publishes its Entertainment schedule

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“CHILDREN AND families are at the heart of our festival this year,” announces festival vice chair Debbie Ince. “On Friday 18th November the festival stalls will start trading at 10am but in the evening there will be the official opening, followed at 6:15pm by Santa coming through the town on his sleigh. A children’s Lantern procession from CK to King Street led by Llandeilo Primary School’s Samba group will meet Santa on King Street to tunes by the Llandeilo Town Band and bilingual hymn singer Ffion Haf. Once the children had their fill of Santa, the Christmas Lights will be switched on by Mayor Gordon Kilby. Local legend singer and actor Harry Luke and Ffion Haf will entertain the crowd until 8pm.”

People enjoying the festival

A spectacular and pet-friendly Laser Show will replace the controversial fireworks at 8pm. “There’s also a tea cup ride on King Street for kids,” adds Ince. “On Saturday and Sunday kids can go to Santa’s Grotto 10 – 4, and on Saturday to St Teilo’s Church or Hengwrt for activities. At our park and ride on Beechwood Estate ‘Sgiliau’ will be open for our youngest visitors.”

“There is of course plenty of entertainment for adults, too,” adds festival chair Christoph Fischer. “From Davies & Co Station Road to Flows on Market Street, most Llandeilo venues will play indoor music, many day and night. The stage will host a variety of acts: from school and adult choirs, bands, solo singers and dance groups, such as Mixed Youth Group, Lotus Sisters Belly dancers and Sunflowers Wales. Cooking demonstrations on Saturday and a Santa Run on Sunday morning round up the festival programme. You can find updates on the Llandeilo Town App Dyma Llandeilo.”

Santa at the Parade

“With our wide selection of street food, arts-,crafts-, fashion- and food stalls there should be something for everyone,” adds stalls coordinator and treasurer Mered Williams. “See you all on the 18th.!”

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