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Three Swansea communities set to benefit as part of £25m full fibre broadband investment

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Broadband network provider Openreach is set to invest £25m in the roll-out of full-fibre broadband to 9 more Welsh communities – three of those in Swansea.

When work is complete, the majority of premises in Sketty, Gowerton, Ravenhill, Culverhouse, Llanrumney, Llanedeyrn, Cwmbran, Risca and Maindee will be able to contact their broadband provider and upgrade to full fibre broadband.

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Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS said: “The impact of fast, affordable broadband for homes and businesses across Wales cannot be underestimated, supporting a thriving and sustainable vision for our future. Openreach is helping to realise faster speeds, greater access and better support for places that have previously found it harder to connect.”

“This news is especially important at the moment with so many people working from home where a reliable broadband connection is vital”.

Connie Dixon, Openreach’s regional director for Wales, said: “Nobody in Wales or the UK is building full fibre faster, further or at a higher quality than Openreach. We’re reaching more communities than ever and our team of highly-skilled local engineers, alongside our build partners, are working hard to deliver some of the fastest and most reliable broadband available anywhere in Europe.”

“In 2021 our engineers built around 770 metres of new broadband cables every minute – making Ultrafast broadband available to another home every 13 seconds. We’ve already reached six million homes and businesses across the UK with ultrafast full fibre technology including more than 425,000 in Wales but we know there’s more to do and we’re committed to doing it.”

Full fibre broadband is up to ten times faster than the average home broadband connection and around five times more reliable than the traditional copper-based network, providing more predictable, consistent speeds.  

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Across Wales more than 100,000 homes and businesses have already ordered a full fibre service from a range of retail service providers using the Openreach network. But this means that thousands more could be benefiting from some of the fastest, most reliable broadband connections in Europe and have yet to upgrade.

Recent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) highlighted the clear economic benefits of connecting everyone in Wales to full fibre. It estimated this would create a £2 billion boost to the Welsh economy.

Openreach say their engineers have been working hard to make the technology available to as many people as possible throughout the UK and the company’s plans are fundamental to the UK Government achieving its target of delivering ‘gigabit capable’ broadband to 85 per cent of UK by 2025.

The company say they will invest billions of pounds to reach a total of 25 million premises by the end of December 2026, including more than six million in the hardest-to-serve parts of the country defined by industry regulator Ofcom.

(Lead image: Openreach)

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Arts and Entertainment

University joins in special celebration of Swansea’s support for migrants

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Swansea University is playing a key role in helping shape youngsters’ knowledge about migration at a unique new city exhibition.

Home Away From Home, at Swansea Grand Theatre’s Multicultural Hub, is not only a celebration of the people and organisations who have been involved in making Swansea a City of Sanctuary for more than a decade but also hopes to shape public opinions about migration.

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Visitors will be able to find out more about the processes involved in migration as well as sharing touching migrants’ stories and displaying the work of Swansea City of Sanctuary (SCoS).

The University is one of 25 international partners in the EU-funded PERCEPTIONS Project which examines how Europe and the EU are seen by people who have immigrated there or intend to do so. The project will be using the exhibition as a chance to highlight its work as well as hosting special creative workshops for children aged from 7 to 11.

These workshops will allow pupils to interact with migration themes raised by the PERCEPTIONS project – faith, hope, loss, uncertainty, and disorientation – and create artworks based on those themes. It is hoped these can then be shared with EU partners.

The University’s involvement in the exhibition has been led by Professor Sergei Shubin, who heads Swansea’s PERCEPTIONS team and is director of the Centre for Migration Policy Research and his colleague Harrison Rees.

The event is part of Swansea University’s bid to become a University of Sanctuary, and many of schools who will be attending are also seeking to become Schools of Sanctuary.

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Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Stringer, who leads Swansea’s bid to become the University of Sanctuary, said: “Swansea University’s commitment to developing a culture of sanctuary and creating a safe welcoming place for everyone draws on its institutional values and civic mission.

“We are dedicated to working with our wide community, including sanctuary seekers to support diversity, inclusivity and equality for the service of others.”

The exhibition had originally been planned to mark the 10th anniversary of Swansea becoming a City of Sanctuary but had to be postponed because of Covid-19 and Alan Thomas, co-chair of the Swansea City of Sanctuary, is delighted it was finally able to go ahead.

He said: “It is fitting that this comes just as there is a huge outpouring of support for refugees from Ukraine. There has also been a big increase in the numbers of people seeking asylum here from other world trouble-spots.

“We have always known that people in general are welcoming towards all who have had to flee their homes because of war or persecution, especially once they meet or hear directly from them.

“This is why a major element of our exhibition features stories of individuals who have been forced to leave their home and are now contributing to Swansea. Another part is about the ways in which Swansea has given people sanctuary and a warm Welsh welcome.”

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He said the exhibition is now set to go on display at other venues over the next year, inspiring as many people as possible to put their sympathy for those fleeing trauma to practical effect.

The exhibition will be running until April 7 and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm, Saturday 11am to 3pm. Closed on Sundays.

(All images: Swansea University)

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Education

£6.7m Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr revamp complete

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A major investment to build an impressive new teaching block complete with canteen, kitchen and hall, together with new outdoor sports facilities and refurbish some existing classrooms, has been completed at Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr.

Minister for Finance and Local Government, Rebecca Evans, officially opened the £6.7m project this week.

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It has been jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government under the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme and is part of a £170m investment in new and improved school facilities in Swansea.

Council Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Robert Smith, welcomed Ms Evans to the school.

He said: “It is yet another fantastic schools project that has been delivered safely despite the pandemic and will benefit thousands of pupils.

“More pupils are attending the Welsh medium primary feeder schools for Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr so this investment is needed to ensure we can meet the demand for when pupils move on to secondary school.

“Swansea Council is committed to providing our young people with the best education possible and this investment at YG Gŵyr is part of a much wider £170m being spent on improving schools across Swansea, which is the biggest investment of its kind that Swansea has ever seen.”

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Rebecca Evans said: “I am delighted that the Welsh Government has supported the new facilities at Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr through our Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme. The changes will create a fantastic learning environment, with outdoor facilities which will also be accessible to the wider local community.

“This investment will also help to meet the increasing demand for Welsh medium school places in the area, helping us on our journey to one million Welsh speakers by 2050.”

Contractors Kier Construction delivered the project which has eight new classrooms along with a new hall providing a vastly improved dining area and served by a new school kitchen.

New state-of-the-art sports facilities including a multi-use games area, running track, 2G and 3G training pitches, are also proving popular and are being well used.

There has also been improvements and remodelling to some existing buildings.

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Acting Headteacher Jeffrey Connick said: “The new build is already making a really positive difference and our staff and pupils say it has changed the vibe at the school.

“The classrooms are bright and modern and the dining area is such an improvement on the facilities we had before.

“The new sports facilities are being very well used by our PE department, by our sports and athletic teams and by the pupils during their break times.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Education

New teaching block and sports facilities open at school

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Pupils and staff at Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr have moved in to a brand new two storey teaching block as part of a £6.7m investment in facilities at the school.

Contractors Kier Construction have completed the first phase of the project which has eight new classrooms along with a new hall providing a vastly improved dining area and served by a new school kitchen.

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New state-of-the-art sports facilities including a multi-use games area, running track, 2G and 3G training pitches, are also proving popular and are being well used.

The project has been jointly funded by Swansea Council and the Welsh Government under the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme.

The new 3G pitch at Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr (Image: Swansea Council)
The new MUGA at Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr (Image: Swansea Council)

Headteacher Dafydd Jenkins said: “The new build is already making a really positive difference and our staff and pupils say it has changed the vibe at the school.

“The classrooms are bright and modern and the dining area is such an improvement on the facilities we had before.

“The new sports facilities are being very well used by our PE department, by our sports and athletic teams and by the pupils during their break times.”

Phase two of the project will see further improvements and remodelling to existing buildings which have now been vacated and are on track to be completed by the spring.

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Once finished it will increase the capacity of the school by around 195 pupil places, meeting the growing demand for Welsh medium education in Swansea.

Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Robert Smith, said: “I’d like to thank the school, Kier and our education building services teams for working so well together in delivering the first phase of this exciting project and it is very pleasing that it is already being so well used.

“More pupils are attending the Welsh medium primary feeder schools for Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr so this investment is needed to ensure we can meet the demand for when pupils move on to secondary school.

“Swansea Council is committed to providing our young people with the best education possible and this investment at YG Gŵyr is part of a much wider £170m being spent on improving schools across Swansea, which is the biggest investment of its kind that Swansea has ever seen.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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