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Helping the homeless with empty crisp packets

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Students and staff at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) are working on an innovative project to help the homeless, turning crisp packets into bivy bags to keep people warm and dry on the streets during the winter.

Natasha John, a technician at UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art, came up with the idea after discovering The Crisp Packet Project on Facebook. Founded by Hastings-based artist Pen Huston, the project began life last year and teaches people to make the bags via online workshops. The bags are designed to be placed over a sleeping bag to keep it dry and increase warmth.

“I thought it would be a great thing for the students to do this alongside their other projects,” she says. “It’s a way of using up things that would otherwise go to landfill and benefiting someone else at the same time.”

Natasha has gathered a group of students to help with the project and they aim to give the bivy bags to local homeless charities over the Christmas period. It takes 150 crisp packets to make one bivy bag, so Natasha is appealing to the public to provide as many as they can.

“This project is about giving back to the community, being more aware of vulnerable people and more aware of recycling,” she says. “These packets are usually seen as rubbish but can be used to make a valuable survival blanket. It’s unfortunate that people are sleeping on the streets and need these blankets, but it feels good to be able to help.”

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Caroline Thraves, Academic Director, Art & Media at UWTSD is impressed by the initiative: “I am extremely proud of the staff and students who are working on this project,” she says. “This demonstrates what a positive impact art and design can have on the city and its people. Our students and staff are utilising their creative talents to support some of the most vulnerable people whilst also having a positive impact upon the environment which is an issue that is very important to them. Such a brilliant project, such brilliant students and staff.”

Pen Huston, founder of The Crisp Packet Project, said that the Swansea initiative was “just beautiful.”

“I just love the fact students are getting involved,” she said. “It’s such a productive project: great for one use plastics, great for our less fortunate communities to help and save lives this winter. This project brings people together and is really helping, at this time of the pandemic, with mental well-being. It’s a wonderful project helping people to feel positive. You always get a sense of joy when you help someone. This project does this in a nutshell, giving new life to one use plastics and helping so many people along the way. Just magic.”

Anyone who would like to donate crisp packets is asked to contact Natasha at: natasha.john@uwtsd.ac.uk.


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South Wales Police

Cash and mobile taken in late night Carmarthen Road assault

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South Wales Police are appealing for information after an alleged assault between 1am and 2am on Carmarthen Road in Swansea on Tuesday 12 October.

A 60 year-old man was reportedly attacked while walking up Carmarthen Road near to the first bus stop after Dyfatty lights.

A woman is alleged to have approached the man, then assaulted him before making off with money and his mobile phone.

Police are appealing for anyone with dashcam footage, anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have more information to contact them online, by emailing SWP101@south-wales.police.uk or by calling 101 quoting reference 2100358315.

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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Coronavirus

Health board using converted shipping containers as ‘local vaccination centres’

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Swansea Bay University Health Board say they are making it easier for older people to get their Covid-19 booster vaccinations with the use of converted shipping containers.

Three containers, known as Local Vaccination Centres (LVCs), have been located in communities across the Swansea Bay area for those who may find it difficult to get to a mass vaccination centre.

The containers build on the success and experience of the Immbulance, the health board’s mobile vaccination unit.

And they are able to free up the Immbulance to be deployed to cover new areas.

The units can be located in one place for several days and include staff facilities, which means they can stay there longer and don’t have to be driven away each night and be brought back the following morning.

Staff are providing Covid booster vaccinations for those with an appointment only and aim to deliver 60 jabs every day.

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People can then wait the usual 15-minutes after a vaccination either in their cars or in the container itself.

One of the units has been placed in Seven Sisters Rugby Club car park to serve those in the Dulais Valley and neighbouring communities.

Another of the LVCs has been placed near the Guildhall in Swansea, which has proven to be a popular location for the Immbulance.

James Ruggiero, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Assistant Head of Operational Planning for the vaccination programme, said: “This project is part of our ongoing effort to increase access to vaccinations across the Swansea Bay area. 

“These units are helping us in our aim to get as many people vaccinated as possible, particularly those who may have difficulty in travelling to our mass vaccination centres.”

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Lead image: Matthew Armstrong, immuniser; Andrea Howells, clinical supervisor; Ian Worthing, immuniser (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Food & Drink

MP pledges support for local pubs in Gower

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Tonia Antoniazzi MP has pledged her support for the Long Live the Local campaign to help pubs and breweries in Gower recover and thrive.

Tonia joins over 125,000 people who have signed the petition so far, including 137 in Gower alone.

Ms Antoniazzi is calling on the Government to lower VAT for pubs and for an overall reduction in Beer Duty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on brewers and pubs throughout the UK and continues to do so as the sector tries to kickstart its recovery.

The campaign argues that the sector needs an immediate boost and the fact that a local pub adds £100,000 to its local economy, creates jobs and acts as a social hub, underlines how directly investment in the form of lower VAT and an overall cut to beer duty can help pubs and their communities to recover. It will also boost Britain’s world class brewing sector, a homegrown manufacturing success story that brews over 80% of the beer we drink.

Brewing and pubs in Gower supports 1344 jobs and contributes £29m to the local economy. With £1 in every £3 pounds spent in UK pubs going to the taxman, British drinkers and pub goers are overtaxed and this is hampering the recovery of our cherished locals and Britain`s brewers.

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Commenting on the campaign, Tonia Antoniazzi MP said: “Pubs are at the heart of communities across Gower, but with pubs bearing a disproportionate burden as a result of the pandemic the Government should consider cutting unfair taxes on pubs that are hampering their recovery. I’m supporting the Long Live the Local campaign and calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall at this year’s Budget to support the recovery of pubs.”

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said: “85% of pubs are based in community and rural areas, bringing jobs to the parts of the UK that need them most. They employ over 600,000 people, of which 43% are under 25. Cutting VAT and an overall reduction in Beer Duty would go a long way to helping pubs and brewers across Gower that are desperately trying to recover.

“We are very grateful to Tonia Antoniazzi for her support for the Long Live the Local campaign, and hope that the Government listens to MPs across Parliament and the thousands of people across the country who are calling on the Chancellor to lower VAT & Business Rates for pubs and reduce Beer Duty overall.”

Lead image: Emma McClarkin with Tonia Antoniazzi. 

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