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Welsh Government

Fund to tackle loneliness and isolation launched

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A fund to tackle loneliness and social isolation will help grass root organisations bring communities together across Wales.

The three year Loneliness and Social Isolation Fund will support front-line, local, grass-roots organisations, which bring people of all ages together, helping them to build social connections in and across communities.

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£1.5 million has been split across Welsh local authorities, working in partnership with County Voluntary Councils, over the next three years and will help organisations run face-to-face activities safely and securely or continue online activities if access to venues is difficult or to reach people who are not ready to attend in-person events.

All applicants had to demonstrate how their proposal met one or more of the Welsh Government’s loneliness and social isolation strategy priority areas.

The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “Community groups are best placed to understand what their communities need and what support is required to help people re-engage and re-build social connections. The funding announced today will help small organisations support their communities by scaling up existing activities, promoting themselves more widely and helping fund the use of suitable venues.

“The pandemic caused many people across Wales to feel lonely and isolated. Even with the lifting of restrictions some people may still have some concerns or hesitations about leaving their homes and re-engaging with others.  I hope the projects funded will help alleviate some of these fears.”

Councillor Bobby Feeley, Denbighshire County Council’s Lead Member for Well-being and Independence, said: “We are delighted Denbighshire has been successful in its bid to the Welsh Government’s Connected Communities Loneliness and Isolation fund. In Denbighshire we will be calling this the “Getting Back Together” fund. Denbighshire Voluntary Services Council and the Council’s Community Support Services, Community Development, Libraries and One Stop Shops have already received requests for support for a range of activities and interventions which will help residents re-engage with friends, families and those with shared interests.

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Many people have been suffering considerably from a sense of loneliness and isolation particularly since the pandemic began and this fund will help to support those in need.”

Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Community, Well-being and Social Justice said: “This funding will really help to kickstart local community projects and support communities to turn their ideas into reality. We know that loneliness and social isolation are serious problems in our county and can affect anyone of any age or background.  We know the best way to tackle loneliness is to build thriving, inclusive communities from the ground up; this is the core purpose of our local community networks.  Building on the strong partnership between GAVO, Monmouthshire Council and other important local organisations, Monmouthshire’s community networks are a way to help people who want to take action and make positive changes in their area connect with other like-minded people. 

“Putting communities in the driving seat is at the heart of everything we try to do in Monmouthshire.  We know that local groups and citizens are fizzing with ideas for how to transform their local areas and to bring people together in the process.  This fund will be another important step in supporting them to do just that and to help all our residents to be fully included in their local communities.”

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Coronavirus

First Minister says phased easing of Covid restrictions in Wales to continue

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Wales will complete the move to alert level zero on 28 January, First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed today, unless the public health situation changes for the worse.

He said the phased plan to gradually relax the alert level two measures and move back to alert level zero will continue.

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The latest public health data suggests Wales has passed the peak of the omicron wave and coronavirus cases are falling back to levels similar to those seen earlier in the autumn. There have also been reductions in the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital.

From Friday 21 January, Wales will move to alert level zero for all outdoor activities.

This means:

  • Crowds will be able to return to outdoor sporting events.
  • There will be no limits on the number of people who can take part in outdoor activities and events.
  • Outdoor hospitality will be able to operate without the additional measures required introduced in December, such as the rule of six and 2m social distancing
  • The Covid Pass will continue to be required for entry to larger outdoor events attended by more than 4,000 people, if unseated, or 10,000 people when seated.
  • The Covid Pass is required in all cinemas, theatres and concert halls which are currently open.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The latest figures show we have passed the omicron peak and we can continue to lift the alert level two protections as part of our careful and phased plan.

“We will lift the limits on the number of people who can gather for outdoor events. We remain cautiously confident the public health situation is heading in the right direction and next week we will be able to complete the move to alert level zero, unless the situation changes for the worse.

“We are in this position thanks to the efforts of everyone in Wales and our fantastic vaccination programme. It is important that everyone continues to follow the rules and the guidance to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe, including taking up the offer of a booster vaccine if they haven’t already done so.”

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On Friday 28 January, Wales will complete the move to alert level zero.

This means:

  • Nightclubs will re-open.
  • Businesses, employers and other organisations must continue to undertake a specific coronavirus risk assessment and take reasonable measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
  • The general requirement of 2m social distancing in all premises open to the public and workplaces will be removed.
  • The rule of six will no longer apply to gatherings in regulated premises, such as hospitality, cinemas and theatres.
  • Licensed premises will no longer need to only provide table service and collect contact details.
  • Working from home will remain part of advice from the Welsh Government but it will no longer be a legal requirement.

The Covid Pass will continue to be required to enter larger indoor events, nightclubs, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.

The self-isolation rules for everyone who tests positive for Covid and the face-covering rules, which apply in most public indoor places will remain in force after 28 January.

The next three-weekly review of the coronavirus regulations will be carried out by 10 February, when the Welsh Government will review all the measures at alert level zero.

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Welsh Government

£1m for new projects to promote the use of Welsh

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The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, has announced over £1 million for projects to encourage more widespread use of Welsh.

As part of the funding, £600,000 will be provided to the National Eisteddfod towards hosting the 2022 event in Tregaron. The funding will support the organisation’s preparations for this year’s event, due to take place between 30th July and 6th August, and help achieve its aims of opening the Eisteddfod to a wider audience.

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Funding will also be provided to the National Centre for Learning Welsh, for projects which include creating on-line taster courses for refugees and asylum seekers to learn Welsh, without needing to be fluent in English.  The Centre, in partnership with Say Something in Welsh, will also create courses provided in the most commonly-spoken languages among refugees and asylum seekers in Wales.

The funding will also be used to provide tutor support for a self-study entry-level course for teachers. There have been 2,700 enrolments on the taster course for teachers since its launch in February 2020. The new course, suitable for both primary and secondary teachers, aims to provide a pathway for teaching professionals into more advanced and intensive courses. 

Funding will also be provided to Rhieni dros Addysg Gymraeg to develop information about Welsh-medium education in minority languages.  The aim is to support families whose children attend Welsh-medium education, but neither Welsh nor English are the main languages spoken at home, as well as promoting Welsh medium education among minority ethnic communities.

There will be changes to our Helo Blod service, which supports businesses to use more Welsh. Helo Blod will continue to operate its ‘one stop shop’ in Business Wales, while Helo Blod Lleol will come to an end.

Jeremy Miles said: “Today’s announcement is about making our language and culture easier to access than ever. We’re investing in opportunities for more people to learn, use and teach Welsh, wherever they are in Wales and whatever their background.

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“Welsh belongs to us all, whether we speak it or not. We’re delighted to work with our partners on such wide-ranging projects, which all support our aim of reaching a million Welsh speakers and doubling the daily use of our language by 2050.”

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Welsh Government

£1 million made available to support Wales’ fishing industry

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Wales’ fishing community is being invited to submit applications to a £1m fund to primarily help mitigate the ongoing impact Covid is having on the industry and adapt to the rapidly changing market conditions for seafood products.

The European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is co-financed by the Welsh Government and the European Commission and has supported many projects in Wales since being introduced in 2014.

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The funding will support investments in the small scale coastal fleet and aquaculture, together with improvements to the marketing and processing of fishery and aquaculture products. However, any project selected and supported under the programme will have to be completed within a 12 month period starting from July this year.

The EMFF application window opens today. Guidance is available for those interesting in applying and a Project Outline Form should be submitted to Rural Payments Wales as soon as possible. A full application will then be issued and will need to be completed and returned by the closing date of 25 March.

All project proposals received will be assessed on the information provided in the application and will only be considered once the application window has closed.

Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths said: “I’m pleased to be able to make £1 million available to support the fishing industry in what remains an incredibly challenging time.

“More than £15 million in approved grant awards has already been made for projects across Wales through the European Maritime Fisheries Fund, and a further £1 million of projects are under consideration.

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“As the European Commission funding is only available until 2023, this £1m will primarily focus on providing support to help the industry mitigate the ongoing impact of Covid and adapt to the changes in the market for seafood products.

“I encourage all with an interest to submit a Project Outline Form to Rural Payments Wales as soon as possible, before completing a full application by 25 March.”

Details of the EMFF programme and scheme guidance can be found on the Welsh Government website: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund | Sub-topic | GOV.WALES

For any additional help and support, applicants should contact the RPW Customer Contact Centre on 0300 062 5004.

The long term EMFF replacement scheme is currently being developed and is expected to be available later this year.

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