A new pilot project has been launched to support some of the most vulnerable families in the Milford Haven area, helping them to get through what is perhaps the most difficult part of the pandemic so far.
The ‘Milford Community Action’ project is aiming to help up to 100 local families who are experiencing financial hardship, require additional support from local services, or whose children care for other family members.
There will be a variety of practical support given in an attempt to help families both in the short term, and also guidance to help them build for a brighter future.
Resources will include food packs, the provision of slow cookers, cook books and live cookery sessions, educational activity packs for children, IT resources for pupils without access to digital devices, budgeting tools, and signposting to helpful organisations.
The 12-week project has been designed and developed in a partnership between Milford Haven School, Milford Youth Matters and Pembrokeshire County Council.
“There will be widespread engagement across Milford Haven, with local businesses and groups already pledging their support,” said Gemma Baker from Milford Haven School, who is co-ordinating the project with Dayle Gibby from Milford Youth Matters.
“Milford Haven Rotary Club were the first local group to contribute to the project, assisting with the delivery of meal packs as well as generously donating 30 slow cookers to be given to families in need.
“This collaborative approach is vital to enrich the experience of those families taking part, as well as strengthening community links and making the project sustainable for the future.”
Cllr Tessa Hodgson, Cabinet Member for Social Services, said it was a very welcome and timely initiative.
“This prolonged period of lockdown is difficult for everyone, but for those for whom life is already tough, it’s even harder,” she said.
“Hopefully this project will provide ongoing support for families, and hope where it is needed most.”
One aspect of the project is tackling food poverty, and so families will receive guidance on life skills such as meal-planning and household budgeting, as well as weekly food packs.
Another aspect is family wellbeing and welfare, and so the TAF (Teams around the Family) and Sport Pembrokeshire teams in the Council will put together activity and play packs, baking kits and craft kits, as well as increasing access to books and traditional games to encourage family participation.
Home-schooling will be supported by providing IT resources for digitally disadvantaged pupils, and period poverty is being addressed through the supply of feminine hygiene packs.
And alongside this, families are being signposted to useful advice and support from CAB (Citizen’s Advice Bureau) and other local organisations which can help with employment skills or training.
Darren Mutter, the Council’s Head of Children’s Services, said the aim is to create a range of positive outcomes.
“We hope that beyond their engagement with the project, families will feel more positive about their ability to improve their own circumstances; more confident in knowing where to seek support and more connected to their community,” he said.
“This isn’t just about dealing with the issues of food poverty or financial hardship but more about providing ongoing community support for the children and young people and their parents who need us.”
Headteacher of Milford Haven School, Ms Ceri-Ann Morris, said: “We are immensely proud to support this project and utilise the school facilities to help our community. Schools are at the heart of every community, they are the common link that ties everyone in the community together.
“Everyone knows someone connected to the school, and the work of Miss Baker (Milford Haven School) together with Dayle Gibby will be the driving force in getting resources out to the people most in need within our catchment area.”
Cllr Guy Woodham, Cabinet Member for Education & Lifelong Learning, said: “Once again Milford Haven School and Milford Youth Matters are demonstrating the fantastic things that can be achieved when you work with others for the benefit of the local community. Gemma Baker and Dayle Gibby continue to find ways to seize opportunities as they arise and make great things happen in Milford – they are excellent ambassadors and role models for not just young people but everyone in our community.”
The pilot project is funded by Pembrokeshire County Council with numerous contributions, both financial and time, from local groups and businesses which will further develop the positive reach of the project.
If successful, the County Council will be looking to roll it out with local partners in the Fishguard area.
Lead image: From the MCA project are Fiona Griffiths from Milford Haven School, Scott Powell from Team around the Family, and Chris Davies from Milford Haven Rotary. (Pembrokeshire Council)
Pembrokeshire’s NetLet moves into new premises in Milford Haven
NetLet UK, the fast-growing Pembrokeshire hospitality network which provides holiday accommodation as well as housekeeping and laundry services for the hospitality sector, has moved into new premises in Milford Haven Docks.
The larger premises bring the whole NetLet operation together under one roof and have increased its laundry capacity in line with its growth. This has also enabled NetLet to offer more than 30 new job opportunities.
The new site includes a laundry, stores, offices, a boardroom and a training centre. The company, which saw 47% growth last year, specialises in fully managed self-catering holiday accommodation. As well as having its own in-house housekeeping department, it also provides laundry and housekeeping services for independent holiday homes and the whole hospitality sector, ensuring year-round employment for its staff.
NetLet managing director Emma Taylor says the new premises have streamlined the company’s operations.
“It enables a much better workflow: laundry is dropped off in our drop off zone, goes straight into the laundry and straight from there into the stores, where it can be packed up ready to go out, with no crossover,” she says.
Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, NetLet’s rapid growth last year enabled it to invest not only in new premises but also in new equipment.
“We invested heavily into the state-of-the-art laundry equipment including a 25kg washing machine and an automatic iron and fold press, which have increased capacity,” says Emma. “We’re bringing in some more crew vehicles this year too: all of our profits are being reinvested back into the company.”
This means the company is now seeking to recruit two new full-time managers and three senior housekeepers. It also has up to 20 part time seasonal positions available between May and September.
To support its recruitment drive, the company has redesigned its training package, raised its wages and introduced new bonus packages and rewards for staff.
Other developments are designed to support the company’s long-running commitment to sustainability. It has bought new auto dosers for its washing machines, which cut the amount of chemicals used in each wash.
“We’re very conscious of the green aspects, which is why we make sure we stay as eco-conscious as possible and will be continuing to work on our sustainable development policy,” says Emma. “Even the welcome packs we provide in all our holiday properties are eco-friendly and sustainable.”
Looking to the future, further growth is already on the cards with the company taking on an adjacent building in order to expand its overall operations to facilitate ongoing growth.
“Growth was the main aim for us last year and now we’ve been able to invest to accommodate further growth again,” says Emma. “We have different revenue streams and can mould them into different packages for our clients. This gives us the ability to adjust to market demands and specific needs.”
New Milford Haven waterfront hotel opens
The Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront, Milford Haven’s latest destination, has opened its doors to welcome its first guests.
The Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront is the latest addition to the expanding Celtic Collection, which will manage the new hotel as part of a partnership with the Port of Milford Haven.
Located at the heart of the new Milford Waterfront development, the hotel is described as an ideal base for exploring all the incredible sights, sounds and sensations Pembrokeshire has to offer.
The 46,000 sq ft property features 100 bedrooms across four floors, where guests can enjoy unbeatable picture-postcard views across Milford Marina. With a range of stylish, contemporary bedrooms, including family rooms, the hotel is suitable for all types of travellers, from business to leisure.
A vibrant brasserie restaurant, private dining area and bar all take advantage of the spectacular location with floor-to-ceiling windows serving up beautiful views right on the water’s edge. The ground floor also houses a welcoming lobby and an activity suite for fitness.
Inspired by the fresh seafood and sparkling tides of his Pembrokeshire childhood, Executive Head Chef Simon Crockford (former Wales National Chef of the Year) is the heart and soul behind the restaurant.
Named dulse, after the edible variety of seaweed which grows in abundance around the Pembrokeshire coast, here guests can enjoy crowd-pleasing dishes using the very best of local produce from the land and the sea.
The Tŷ Hotel is managed by Adrian Andrews, who has returned to his native Pembrokeshire roots after forging a successful career away from West Wales as a multi-site manager for Premier Inn in Birmingham, Bristol, and Cardiff.
Mr Andrews, Manager at Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront, said: “It is wonderful to finally welcome our first guests to this fantastic new hotel, which provides the perfect place for visitors to stay and enjoy this amazing location with all its exciting redevelopment.
“I am so proud to call Pembrokeshire home. I can’t wait for guests to discover the vibrant community of Milford Waterfront and the stunning West Wales coastline during their visit.”
As part of a major redevelopment of the waterfront, the Tŷ Hotel will provide a significant draw for new tourists to Milford Haven and Pembrokeshire. The hotel has already created 40 permanent jobs in operations, with many more supported in the supply chain.
Mr Andrews added: “As the hotel has taken shape, we’ve been blown away by the positive reaction from the local area. I’m excited about what this hotel will bring to Milford Haven, both for the community and for business.”
Andy Jones, CEO at the Port of Milford Haven commented: “All of us at the Port are so excited about the hotel opening this week. The new Tŷ Hotel is great news for Pembrokeshire and is momentous for Milford Waterfront, marking the next phase in our hospitality and tourism strategy. An investment of this kind creates a ripple effect, building even greater positivity among local businesses and the local community. We are a proud Pembrokeshire business and are delighted to have brought this high-quality investment to the area in partnership with The Celtic Collection.”
Local hero, Mr Eric Harries, council member and a former Mayor of Milford Haven on no fewer than five occasions, was invited to be among the very first guests to experience the Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront.
Mr Harries has been unable to return home since his house tragically caught fire on Guy Fawkes Night 2021. The team were thrilled to welcome their guest of honour to the hotel on the opening day.
Mr Harries said: “As a native of Milford Haven, having been in local government for many years, I welcome with open arms the investment that’s been made in the town with the new Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront. It is my sincerest wish that it will be a huge success and assist our town in economic recovery.”
Rooms at the Tŷ Hotel Milford Waterfront are available to book now, with rates starting from £86 bed & breakfast per room, per night.
Pembrokeshire’s NetLet appoints new managing director
Milford Haven-headquartered hospitality network NetLet UK has a new managing director. Emma Taylor, who joined the company three and a half years ago, has stepped into the role while the company’s founders Penny and Paul Hows stay on as active members of the board.
NetLet provides fully managed holiday accommodation and laundry and housekeeping facilities for the hospitality sector across Pembrokeshire. The company saw 47% growth last year and is currently seeking to recruit two managers, three housekeepers and 10-20 seasonal staff to support further growth.
Emma Taylor grew up in Pembrokeshire and gained a degree in equine studies from Aberystwyth University before travelling the world working in equine reproduction. She went on to work as a product manager for a biotech company, travelling internationally to build the company’s supply chain. After returning to Wales, she completed a diploma in procurement and supply chain and starting work at NetLet, where she has helped to drive the company’s growth.
“I love anything analytical and anything strategic,” she says. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity the other directors have given me and that all the hard work is now paying off and we are seeing the rewards. We’ve built an infrastructure over the last three years that means we’re ready to take on this growth. We’ve invested a lot into systems software and hardware facilities. Everything is in place now and we’re ready to ready to go.”
The company’s recent successes include the launch of four new websites each tailored to each of the company’s main departments: Holiday Home Owners, Self-Catering Holidays in Pembrokeshire, Laundry Services and Housekeeping Services. Significant investments into the laundry operation have included the purchase of new machines, all of which are HACCP (Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point) accredited, which is a guarantee of high hygiene standards. The new purchases have also helped to increase the company’s green credentials – a commitment that runs through the whole operation.
Last year NetLet won best holiday home rental company in the SME awards 2021, and its strong focus on client satisfaction has been reflected in its online reviews.
“We know how much customer service matters and we plan to maintain our brand continuity and high standards,” says Emma. “We like to have a really good relationship with our property owners and we have the facilities to control all aspects of their holiday homes.
“We also have the facilities and capacity to take on larger clients. Because we manage properties ourselves, we understand how the housekeeping and laundry should run in holiday homes, B&Bs and hotels. That means we can make everything work well – for example, making sure we have an excellent response rate, and that laundry is delivered in bed packs so that changeovers and services times are optimised.”
The company also has a strong focus on staff satisfaction and career progression: it is raising wages for many roles and introducing new bonus and reward schemes. As a member of The British Institute of Clean Science (BICS), it is also supporting some of its mangers to gain qualifications that will enable them to train housekeepers under the BICS (British Institute of Cleaning Science) standards and provide this as a service to outside clients. The business is keenly aware of its place in the local community and aims to have a positive impact on Pembrokeshire as a whole.
“We want a steady 30% growth this year and towards the end of next year I want to work closely with local businesses and give them opportunities to showcase products and become a local driver to support other businesses,” says Emma.
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