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Help for homeless people in Swansea this Christmas

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Measures are being put in place to help homeless people across Swansea through the holiday season.

Swansea Council is working hard with partners to ensure that all will be fed, can have a roof over their head and will be helped in other ways.

The Swansea Together food delivery and takeaway service plans to cater for all those in temporary accommodation or sleeping rough through Christmas week.

The aim is to ensure that those unable to collect meals on any day – including December 25 – will receive a delivery.

Swansea Together is an emergency network of volunteer groups, agencies, healthcare professionals and council departments that provide regular support for the vulnerably-housed in our city, and particularly the homeless.

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It sees food prepared and distributed safely seven days a week. The Matthew’s House charity is a driving force in this network, with the council a key partner.

The council is also helping to distribute clothes to the homeless. The distribution is being coordinated by the charity Zac’s Place which seeks donations of only new socks and underwear as the Swansea public have generously donated a sufficient quantity of other clothes items.

Additionally, the council is working with Zac’s Place to arrange for other important supplies to be delivered by volunteers to homeless people in B&B accommodation during Christmas week. A number of people are currently in this accommodation.

The deliveries, part funded by the council, could include gift vouchers for high street food retailers and items donated by the public. Christmas cards will be sent from partner organisations that have supported the individuals this year. Tenants of the council’s supported housing projects have already received similar supplies.

Andrea Lewis, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for homes, energy and service transformation and joint deputy leader, said: “People in our communities who are homeless through no fault of their own – or who are living in temporary accommodation – will be very much in our thoughts this Christmas.

“We want to ensure that they will be fed, can have a roof over their head and will be helped in other ways.”

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Alyson Pugh, cabinet member for supporting communities, said: “We’ve worked hard all year to get people off the street and to give them a roof over their heads. This work will not stop now.

“We’re thankful to partners who are working with us to ensure that there is help for the homeless this Christmas.”

Homelessness and rough sleeping in Swansea is being drastically reduced thanks to ongoing efforts by the council and partners.

Concerns about a rise in figures when the pandemic hit were met with a pledge by the council to do all it could to prevent people becoming homeless.

A survey of rough sleeping has shown that up to five people are rough sleeping each night at present, compared to 2019 when figures were around 18-20.

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Despite the impact on services since the start of the pandemic and the lockdown in March, the council and partners have continued to prepare empty properties for those needing homes.

Latest figures show that more than 200 households have left temporary accommodation for more secure safe housing since March.

Thom Lynch, of Matthew’s House, said: “We have been blown away by the partnership support this year whilst coordinating Swansea Together.

“We hope for it to continue and strengthen as we do our best to remember the vulnerably-housed in our city.

“We will continue this support all through Christmas, with support from truly wonderful partners.

“We thank everyone who has supported Matthew’s House and Swansea Together this year, your kindness for our community is inspiring!”

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Sean Stillman, of Zac’s Place, said: “Our shared efforts continue to be effective and thrive in the city due to the generosity of the community we are part of – I thank supporters so much for this.

“One of the ways we can be most effective in offering the best support we can is to receive donated items that are needed right now.

“This Christmas, we need new underwear, new socks and vouchers that can be used in shops that sell toiletries, clothes, food or takeaways.

“People who’d like to donate this Christmas are asked bring in these items only. Our team of volunteers will be pleased to receive them. I thank people across our communities so much for their support – it is appreciated by those who benefit.”

Those wishing to donate new socks, new underwear or food shop vouchers should contact Matthew’s House – friends@matthewshouse.org.uk, 07708115903 – or drop them off at the Zac’s Place van in George Street on either December 21 (7-8pm) or December 28 (1.30-2pm). No other clothes, toiletries or food can be accepted at this time. Covid-safe procedures mean that guests cannot enter the building.

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Meanwhile, the annual Together for Christmas event hosted by JR Events at the Brangwyn Hall and supported by the council can’t go ahead this year due to pandemic restrictions.

JR Events will consider hosting an event when it is safe to do so in line with future government guidelines.

The firms’s Jessica Rice said: “At JR we love hosting this event and seeing the benefits it brings to vulnerable people in our communities – it’s without doubt our favourite of the year, and something we feel privileged to be able to host.

“We’re sure that people will understand that it has not been possible to hold it this year due to the pandemic. We gave it a great deal of thought before making the difficult decision.

“Now, we’re considering a similar event once the pandemic ends.

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“In the meantime, we’re working hard this year to bring some cheer to children on the wards of hospitals in Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The JR team will be delivering wrapped selection boxes to children who face Christmas Day in hospital.”

Measures are also being put in place to ensure that there is support for other vulnerable individuals such as tenants of sheltered accommodation across Swansea.

The council wants to ensure that difficulties with loneliness and mental health issues are addressed.


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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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