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Single mum who fought on COVID-19 frontline as nurse celebrates masters degree with daughters

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A nurse of fourteen years has advanced her career with a master’s degree at Swansea University, all while being a single mother to two young children and working on the frontline.

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Bethany Kelly, 34, from Southampton, worked as a diabetes specialist nurse for several years.

After a personal experience with the condition, Bethany successfully applied to study for a part-time degree in MSc Diabetes Practice at Swansea University Medical School.

“During my first pregnancy, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and as a result, I’ve had first-hand knowledge of how it can affect people’s lives,” said Bethany.

“I was already looking for a new challenge, and when I was asked to do diabetes review clinics when I came back from maternity leave, I knew this was an excellent opportunity to enhance diabetes care and become an expert clinical practitioner.

“I was awarded a full scholarship, without which, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.”

Bethany started her degree in 2019 and had to employ her time management skills to balance her studies with her full-time job and caring for her two daughters.

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“I struggled with mummy guilt, something I think all mother’s experience,” said Bethany. “I was fortunate that my girls are both so well behaved and understanding.

“I worked most weekends and evenings, which meant sacrificing time with them.

“Often, they would ask to go to the park, and I would have to say ‘just one more minute’ as I typed the last paragraph of an essay.

“My youngest, who was six at the time, asked if I would have a cap and gown like in High School Musical, and so every time I missed something, or they had to wait for me to finish my work, I would promise they could wear mine when I graduated; I’m so pleased I’ve been able to keep that promise.”

Bethany Kelly (Image: Swansea University)

Unfortunately, this new schedule soon unravelled when Covid hit.

“When the pandemic began, I was given additional days to cover the increased workload.

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“With Covid, the treatment is steroids, which we know causes increased diagnosis’ of T2 diabetes and also steroid-induced hyperglycaemia,” Bethany explains.

“The Diabetes Practice team were amazing and adapted to allow me to carry on with my degree.

“If it weren’t for the hard work that the course leaders and lecturers put into the course, I would never have been able to do it.

“That little bit of breathing room they provided during the first wave was essential, but soon my new normal was fitting in my studies wherever I could,” said Bethany.

“We also had to add homeschooling to the mix, and we would often be sat around the table together doing our work.”

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With national policy constantly changing, Bethany knew many patients were struggling, confused and distressed. To alleviate some of their fears, Bethany and a team of fellow healthcare professionals introduced Team Diabetes 101.

“We wanted to provide the diabetes community with a secure base to gain reassurance, access reliable resources and receive emotional support,” Bethany explains.

“The social media account went on to win two national awards, and we also published two articles in leading diabetes journals.”

Bethany has also managed to find time to take on the role of Co-Chair for the Diabetes Specialist Nurse (DSN) Forum UK.

“The DSN Forum UK aims to share best practice by providing diabetes specialist nurses across the UK with a supportive network.”

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“Our website is designed to help healthcare professionals navigate the vast amount of ever-changing online resources concerning diabetes nursing and diabetes care.”

Most recently, Bethany started a new job as Lead Community Diabetes Specialist Nurse in Wiltshire, and in a full-circle moment, Bethany has joined Swansea University’s Diabetes Practice programme as module lead for its community-based module.

On her new role, Bethany said: “The work the team do to provide nurses with access to further education is astounding, and in my opinion, there is no other university that will go this far to create equal access to higher education.

“I’m delighted to be joining the programme, helping students access the most up-to-date information about caring for people living with diabetes.”

Dr Rebecca Thomas, Swansea University’s MSc Diabetes Practice Co-programme Director, said: “Bethany has worked extremely hard. She has taken great pride in completing all tasks set to a very high standard while juggling an extremely challenging time in work.

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“It has been a pleasure to watch her grow within her roles and throughout her degree, and I am delighted that she will be joining the programme to help future students do the same.”

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Carmarthen

Save the Cinema Film make scenery at UWTSD Set & Design Production Workshop

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The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Set Design Production Scenery Workshop has revealed its involvement in the newly released ‘Save the Cinema film for Sky.

The film ‘Save the Cinema’ is a true story looking back at Liz Evans’s campaign to save the Lyric Theatre from closing in Carmarthen. Stars such as Jonathan Pryce, Samantha Morton, Tom Felton, Adeel Akhtar and Susan Wokoma feature in the film.

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As the production started, art director Gwyn Eiddior visited UWTSD’s Carmarthen Campus to see if there were any props or scenery he could possibly use for the film as it was being filmed in Carmarthen. After requesting on social media later that day for use of a workshop to build sets for the film in Carmarthen, Lecturer Dave Atkinson suggested for them to use the facilities at UWTSD.

As a result of this, the film’s construction team were based at UWTSD’s Set Design Production Scenery Workshop, meaning that all of the construction work and scenic art created for the film was made on campus. Along with Dave who was employed as the workshop manager, two graduates from the BA Set Design & Production course, Mari Hullett and Ashley Phillips were fortunate to gain work from this project in the scenic art and graphics departments.

They worked alongside the experienced production designer Jonathan Houlding who has  worked on high-end screen productions such as ‘Love Actually’, ‘Band of Brothers’ and ‘The Martian.’ Dave adds,

“We created a variety of scenery for the film. Largely dressing for the Lyric Theatre, and the theatre scenery they were filming on. The hairdresser’s salon was the largest build which was an empty shop. We had to reinstall a whole salon in there. One fun element to make was the Big Breakfast set – we made the bedroom where they interviewed people.”

UWTSD Lecturer Dave Atkinson at the University’s set design workshop (Image: UWTSD)

Graduate Mari Hullett said, “Working on ‘Save The Cinema’ as a scenic artist was an amazing opportunity and I will always value my time being involved in the production as an experience to take further into my career.

“I am extremely grateful for the chance of working alongside the friendly and highly skilled scenic and construction team as I was able to learn so much from them. I was also able to work on different roles within the art department such as graphic props, which I greatly appreciated as I got to experience a broader spectrum of skills involved on a film set.

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“As a whole, it was a really heart-warming experience to be a part of a project that involved my university town and the wider community.

“This was also my first professional role on a film project which has opened my eyes to the growing opportunities within the film industry in Wales. I am very excited to see this on-screen!”

An experience like this has been a fantastic opportunity, and a chance for the students to have an insight into the industry.

Dave Atkinson adds: “Welcoming Sky Cinema onto campus has given UWTSD Carmarthen the opportunity to not only showcase the high-quality practitioners that graduate from the Set Design & Production course, but to also exhibit the facilities we have, such as the scenery workshop which is equipped with top of the range tools and machinery.”

(Lead image: UWTSD)

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Education

Neath Port Talbot’s Home Library Service has an electric new recruit

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Neath Port Talbot Libraries’ Home Library Service has celebrated the New Year with a brand new addition. 

The council say that the delivery of a new electric vehicle will mean the invaluable service is now even better than it was, delivering to more people than ever before.

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The Home Library Service is an essential part of Neath Port Talbot Libraries the council says, delivering books and information to residents who have difficulty, or who are unable to visit their local library.  

This can be due to a variety of reasons such as long term illness or disability, for people who have recently returned home from hospital and are recovering at home and for carers where finding the time to get to the library is not easy. 

The service has also played a vital role in helping with loneliness and isolation and during the pandemic has continued to operate, following strict Covid guidance, helping to support the mental health and well-being of residents in Neath Port Talbot.

The service provides free regular scheduled visits (usually every six weeks) by a trained member of library staff, who will provide a selection of books in all formats (large print, audio books) to your front door. There is a vast range of books available, including the latest best sellers. And if the service does not have the book you want, staff will do their best to get it for you. 

The service can also help with accessing a wide range of digital resources online, including e-books, e-audio books and your favourite newspapers and magazines, all available for free. The Home Library Service is also an agent for British Wireless for the Blind and can arrange free loan of audio equipment.

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It is free and available to residents of all ages.

The Department also provides library services to nursing homes, residential homes and hospitals as well as supporting community libraries in Neath Port Talbot. 

Cllr Peter Rees, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Culture said: “Crucially this new vehicle will be better for the environment, helping to meet the aims of the council’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy (DARE) Strategy and the goal of a cleaner, more prosperous and healthier County Borough.”

For more information about the service contact 01639 899829 or npt.libhq@npt.gov.uk .

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Property

New study shows Swansea is the best city in the UK for students looking to rent

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Research by Admiral has shown that Swansea is the most student-friendly city in the UK for renters, with 87.3 rentals per 100 available to renters looking for a student-friendly household.

Glasgow and Bristol are the least student-friendly cities in the UK, with only 22.7 and 36.6 available rooms per 100.

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Students looking for student-friendly households have to pay £20 more per month to rent than the average renter in the UK. Wales has the lowest difference with £6 per month, whilst Scotland has the most significant difference with £141 per month.

Top 10 friendliest UK cities to rent for students

RankingLocationMost rentals per 100
1Swansea87.3
2Newcastle83.8
3Sheffield81.7
4Nottingham78.9
5Leicester77.4
6Exeter77.2
7Coventry76.6
8York75.2
9Birmingham74.2
10Liverpool73.4

*The number of rentals available for each demographic was found using search filters on popular online room rental sites in the UK.

Top 10 least student-friendly UK cities to rent 

RankinglocationMost rentals per 100
1Glasgow22.7
2Bristol36.6
3Aberdeen37.2
4Chelmsford38.9
5Wakefield39.4
6Peterborough41.8
7Edinburgh43.2
8Derby50.6
9Gloucester53.1
10Portsmouth53.4

How much more does it cost to rent student-friendly accommodation?

We’ve discovered that in the UK, students looking for student-friendly households have to pay £20 more per month to rent than the average renter. Scotland has the most significant difference, where renters have to pay £141 more. 

LocationAverage rental price per demographicAverage rental price in the locationPrice Difference
Scotland£653£512£141
England£570£553£17
Wales£440£434£6
UK£569£549£20

Tips for renters

Admiral have some top tips for renters to help you find and negotiate for the perfect place.

Budget for what you can afford

  • The most important thing you need to think about before finding a property is how much you can afford to pay each month in rent. A popular rule of thumb is to allocate about 30% of your monthly salary to your monthly rent. This figure doesn’t include what you’ll pay for utilities.
  • The 30% rule means if you earn £1,300 a month (for example), you should look for a property that costs about £390pcm (per calendar month).
  • Set some money aside for your security deposit, which should be equivalent to up to six weeks’ worth of rent. It’s returned back to you at the end of your tenancy.
  • You’ll also need to think about your monthly costs for utilities. These include council tax, water, energy, internet, landline, your TV licence, and any property service fees. Energy costs will differ depending on your chosen energy company, the size of your property, and how much energy you use. Council tax will depend on the property’s tax band, which a letting agent or landlord should be able to tell you.
  • Don’t forget to budget for home and contents insurance, too. Both types of insurance will help to protect you financially in the case of something happening to the home (for example, a fire) or to your belongings (like a burglary).

Look for properties that will cater to your needs

  • If you have a car, find out whether the property has a driveway or a dedicated parking space you can use. If you don’t drive, it may be useful to check out the local transport links. Fully or half-furnished properties (meaning they contain all or some of the furniture you’ll need) are ideal if you don’t have much of your own furniture.
  • Pet-owners will need to make sure that the landlord is okay with you keeping your furry friend at the property. Though it may be tempting, it’s best not to sneak a pet into a house without clearing it with your landlord first and potentially have it written into your rental agreement.
  • Some properties don’t have a garden, so make sure to check this if it’s important to you to have access to an outdoor space. If you have kids, be sure to research the catchment areas of local schools.

Negotiate with your landlord before you sign a contract

  • Your landlord may be open to negotiation when it comes to particular aspects of your tenancy agreement. Always read it through before signing and make sure to highlight anything you’d like to discuss.
  • If a rental price is slightly out of your budget, it may be worth asking the landlord if the price is negotiable. Landlords are often more willing to accept a lower rental price if the property has been empty for a while and they are keen to get someone moved in.
  • Previous landlord references can be used to demonstrate to a prospective landlord how desirable of a tenant you are. Plus points include being able to move in quickly, having a history of paying your rent on time, and personal attributes like not being a smoker or having pets (as these have the potential to cause damage to the property).

(Lead image: Google Maps)

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