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Rail partnership funding signals new opportunities for community organisations

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Sixteen community-based organisations across South West Wales are to receive a funding boost following successful applications to an initiative delivered by the South West Wales Community Rail Partnership.

Launched in February 2021, the Partnership’s ‘Community Changemakers Fund’ is aimed at supporting people and organisations wishing to deliver improvements in communities across the region.

More than sixty applications were received from individuals and organisations seeking a share of the £16,000 fund, which was supported by Transport for Wales, Great Western Railway, Siemens Mobility and the Community Rail Partnership. 

Administered by the Carmarthenshire Association for Voluntary Services (CAVS) and the Community Rail Partnership, between £300 and £1,000 was available to apply for; with the main criteria being able to demonstrate how funding and small interventions could improve community well-being and being located near the rail network.

Organisations celebrating the awarding of grant funding include:

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  • Neath Port TalbotCoeden Bywyd Horse Project Community Interest Company.  (pictured above) A small community initiative based in Pontrhydyfen near Neath, the group delivers mentoring and well-being sessions to young people with a small herd of horses who assist and facilitate in sessions.  The group will use their grant to construct an outdoor shelter that will allow sessions to be delivered in all weathers. 
  • City & County of SwanseaGowerton School Charity Committee Safe Cycling Project.  The school successfully bid for a grant to provide both cycle maintenance and cycle proficiency opportunities at Gowerton School, in addition to the delivery of a cycle safety course for children and adults.
  • CarmarthenshireYsgol Gymraeg Parc y Tywyn PTA.  The school, located in Burry Port, will use their grant to transform an internal area into a role-play village. The village will resemble elements of the seaside town with shops and amenities within the local community.  The village will support the development of the pupils’ literacy, communication and numeracy skills as well as their personal and social skills.
  • PembrokeshireVisit Milford Haven.  Led by a group of local community volunteers, Visit Milford Haven aims to champion the town as a visitor destination and an excellent place to live and work.  The group will use their grant to introduce ‘Ambassadors’ to help improve the visitor experience and promote the town as a great place to visit.  Volunteers will attend a one-day course and all who participate will receive a certificate for their workplace/business and Ambassador badge.

Full details of all successful applications can be found by visiting https://www.southwestwales.co/changemakers-fund/

Rachel Adams, a member of the Coeden Bywyd Horse project in Pontrhydyfen, said: “Our project is about young people.  We help young people find a sense of wellbeing and gain confidence.  I help facilitate but it’s all about the horses!”

She continued; “This funding will be used to build a shelter so the sessions can continue whatever the weather and people will continue to leave feeling happy!”

GWR Community Manager Emma Morris said; “We have a specific pot of money designed to support community and not-for-profit organisations. These projects will help to enhance thousands of lives across South Wales and we know the funding will be put to good use.”

Rob Morris, Managing Director, Rail Infrastructure, Siemens Mobility UK&I said; “I’m delighted that Siemens Mobility can support the Changemakers Programme. Initiatives like these help local people proactively drive positive change – particularly important in challenging times – and I’m pleased we were able to work with South West Wales Connected to create new opportunities for community engagement.”

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Hugh Evans, head of community rail for Transport for Wales, said; “We have been delighted to support this initiative.  Supporting local community organisations during these very difficult times is so important and the passion shown by each project is really inspiring.  Good luck to all and we look forward to visiting the projects in due course.”

South West Wales Connected, “We are really excited to support changemakers within communities, who are stepping up to make a difference locally!  It has been really inspiring to hear about these projects and an honour to be able to help.”

Formed in 2020, the community rail partnership covers the rail routes west of Port Talbot to Swansea, Carmarthen, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven and Fishguard Harbour. 

Its objectives are to develop positive partnerships between the rail industry and local organisations to promote social inclusion, sustainability, health and well-being, green travel, tourism and economic development across the region.

Lead image: Coeden Bywyd Horse Project CIC – One of the groups to have received funding

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Carmarthenshire

New Year start date for new state-of-the-art Pembrey primary school

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Work will get underway to build a state-of-the-art primary school in Pembrey in the new year.

Carmarthenshire County Council has unveiled plans for its latest new school, part of its multi-million pound Modernising Education Programme, jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

The new modern purpose-built £8.25million primary school will be built next to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

On completion it will provide high-quality teaching facilities for 270 primary pupils and 30 nursery pupils.

It will also incorporate a Flying Start facility for younger children, located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

The school has been designed by Carmarthenshire County Council’s own architects and the work will be carried out by Carmarthenshire-based TRJ Construction Ltd, selected from the South West Wales Regional Contractors Framework.

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Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “Teaching staff, pupils and families are excited and looking forward to seeing our new school come to life. Our children will benefit from seeing every phase of their new school being built right alongside us – it has been designed to enhance learning and teaching and it is very much deserved.”

Artist’s impression of the new Primary School in Pembrey (Image: Carmarthenshire Council)

Cllr Glynog Davies, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, added: “We are proud to be delivering yet another fantastic new school in Carmarthenshire as part of our Modernising Education Programme.

“The new Ysgol Pen-bre will provide an excellent learning and teaching environment and will also benefit the local community, with many features built into the design that can be used by local people when it opens.

“We look forward to seeing construction start in January.”

By the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Carmarthenshire County Council will have invested £295million in transforming its network of nursery, primary and secondary schools.

Since the programme was launched, 12 new primary schools and two new secondary schools have been built and a number of other schools have been remodelled and refurbished to provide top-class learning and community facilities.

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(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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Carmarthen Primary school issues warning after pupils as young as EIGHT are watching graphic violence on viral hit Netflix TV show Squid Game

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Richmond Primary School in Carmarthen has issued a warning to parents after reports of Year 4 children attending the school had either watched Squid Game on TV or had downloaded third-party apps associated with the show.

Squid Game has become a viral hit TV show for streaming platform Netflix – and is currently the service’s most-watched ever series.

The South Korean show however has high levels of gore, death, violence, and physical assault. It also has graphic depictions of suicide, murder, and sexual assault.

The plot is based on a group of adult debtors, thieves, and gamblers competing against each other in a series of childhood games for a grand cash prize. However, there is a dark twist to these seemingly innocent games – losing competitors are violently killed off in ways that grow more twisted as the games grow more intense.

A statement on Richard Primary School’s social media said that while Squid Game has a rating of 15+, children and young people are likely to know about the show via word of mouth and because it is so popular on social media. They may be unaware of the extent of gore, death, and violence the show contains. It also focuses on adult themes that are not appropriate for younger sensibilities.

For young people who live with mental health issues, they may be triggered by some of the content

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Mobile App

The “Squid Game Challenge” (also known as K-Game Challenge) is an app for smartphones and tablets that has been released for Android and iOS, and the two systems differ significantly on their age ratings for the game. The iTunes Store rates the app as 12+ (advising of “mild/infrequent horror/fear themes”), while the PEGI rating for Android is just 3+, which means that very young children might be able to download and play the game even with parental controls activated on their device or through Google Play.

The gameplay is frequently interrupted by pop-ups and ads (sometimes appearing while the user is rapidly tapping their screen while attempting to complete the challenge). This could easily lead to unwanted purchases or accidental visits to inappropriate sites beyond the app.

Warning for parents

Richmond Primary School warns: “As a parent or carer, keep a watchful eye on the content that your children are viewing. Speak to them openly and chat about how they have been spending time on their devices; let them ask questions too. Ensure that the parental controls are activated on your child’s device and that age-restricted child profiles are properly set up, as well as any on-demand services available through the family TV (such as Netflix, in this case) to prevent inappropriate content being streamed.

“If you see your child replicating the challenges from the show or hear them talking about scenes and characters from Squid Game, it would be a timely opportunity to discuss with them that the programme is not intended for children, that much of the content would be inappropriate for their age, and that the violence in the series is very realistic and often upsetting.”

(Lead image: Netflix)

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Carmarthenshire

Pembrey Country Park retains prestigious Green Flag award

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Pembrey Country Park has once again received the prestigious Green Flag Award.

The international award has been given to the popular tourist attraction for its amazing green space for the last three years.

The award is recognised for having the highest possible standards, being beautifully maintained and boasting excellent visitor facilities.

Around £4 million is being invested into the park as part of a masterplan to continue its development as a major tourism destination within Carmarthenshire and Wales.

This is the second award for Pembrey Country Park after it celebrated winning the Blue Flag status for Cefn Sidan earlier this year.

Since the Blue Flag awards were first introduced in 1988, Pembrey Country Park has won more Blue Flags than anywhere else in Wales. Cefn Sidan was also the first Welsh beach to win the accolade.

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Much of the investment has been completed with upgrading and extending camping and caravanning including the installation of a new amenity block and the opening of Yr Orsaf restaurant.

Work has already been completed on a national closed road circuit, a BMX pump track, an adventure golf course, a changing places facility at the ski and activity centre and new accessible toilets.

Improvements will soon be underway to upgrade the outside area surrounding Yr Orsaf restaurant and hub to give visitors a better experience.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Sports and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths said a lot of effort has been put into making the park what it is today. He said: “We are thrilled to be receiving this award once again which is only given to those green spaces that have demonstrated high standards. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important our green spaces are and they clearly provide health benefits for everyone.”

The Green Flag Award programme is delivered in Wales by environmental charity Keep Wales Tidy, with support from Welsh Government.

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Lucy Prisk, Green Flag Coordinator at Keep Wales Tidy said: The pandemic showed us just how important high-quality parks and green spaces are to our communities. With more visitors than ever enjoying our green spaces, I’d like to congratulate the hard work of staff and volunteers who have maintained excellent standards at these sites.”

Wales still holds more than a third of the UK’s Green Flag community sites.

(Lead image: Carmarthenshire Council)

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