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Welsh Government

New funding to increase defibrillator access in Wales

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Health Minister Eluned Morgan has announced a further £500k to improve community access to defibrillators.

Increasing the availability of defibrillators in community settings will help to improve the survival rates of people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.

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The funding will enable community groups, sports grounds and public organisations to access a defibrillator and is a further boost to the £500k announced in September last year.

The previous funding saw more than 400 applications for defibrillators approved, including from local and town councils, residents’ associations, gyms, schools, sporting venues, childcare venues and places of worship.

Each year in February, a month-long #Defibuary campaign takes place to raise awareness and equip people with the skills and confidence to save a life.

A person’s chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest decreases by an estimated 10% with every passing minute. Every year in Wales around 6,000 people suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

Save a Life Cymru, a Welsh Government-funded campaign, also helps to raise awareness, fund new educational and CPR training resources and improve public access to defibrillators.

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There are currently 6,188 public access defibrillators registered with the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust and the Circuit (the national defibrillator network).

Minister for Health, Eluned Morgan said: “I am pleased to announce a further £500k in funding, bringing our investment in community defibrillators to £1m in the last six months.

“I am committed to raising awareness of lifesaving skills and ensuring better community access to defibrillators across Wales.

“It’s important we have a comprehensive network of defibrillators, people are aware of that network and have the confidence to use them. The work of Save a Life Cymru will help support this.

“Every second counts when someone suffers a cardiac arrest. We can all help raise awareness of the importance of early CPR and defibrillation.”

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Community Defibrillator

Neville Eden

Neville Eden, 61, applied to Save a Life Cymru for a community defibrillator on behalf of the residential estate where he lives and set up a fundraising page to cover the cost of the defibrillator cabinet.

Within 12 hours of setting up the page the residents of Parc Hendre, in Abergele, raised more than £500.

The cabinet has now been installed on an electrical sub-station, after permission was granted by SP Energy Network, and the defibrillator is set to be installed next week.

Neville, who previously trained as a first aider with the Red Cross, said: “The idea came from a local Facebook group set up in lockdown and really brought everyone together. They’re all amazing for raising the money in such a short period of time.

“I’ve shared a few training videos in the group about how to use it, but I know the 999 operator would talk through it with anyone who needed to use it.

“We’re also hoping to organise a CPR and defibrillation skills session with a partner from Save a Life Cymru, so people feel confident to use it too.”

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Transport

£48m ‘gap funding’ support package for Welsh bus industry

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The bus industry in Wales is set to receive a support package worth £48m to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic and deal with emerging financial challenges, the Welsh Government has announced today.

The Bus Emergency package will provide ‘gap funding’ until the end of this financial year for bus operators to maintain the necessary bus services and routes in their area, in return for greater public control over Welsh bus services.

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This funding is one of a number of short-term measures that have been taken by the Welsh Government to support bus operators at a time when they needed it the most. With the longer-term future of the bus industry in mind a review of the existing Bus Services Support Grant (BSSG) scheme will also be taken to consider how it can be used to move the industry away from a reliance on emergency funding schemes and bridge the gap to franchising.

Announcing the latest emergency funding package, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, with a responsibility for transport, Lee Waters said: “The bus industry is emerging from some of its toughest times, and we need to continue to provide support to help the industry recover and secure a healthy future.

“During the pandemic passenger numbers fell by around 90% and have still only returned to between 50% and 70% of pre-Covid levels, leaving operators struggling with reduced revenue and contending with the latest challenges of rising fuel and operating costs.

“The funding I’ve announced today will provide a short-term solution to help the industry to begin to recover from the challenges it has and continues to face whilst we develop a longer-term solution to tackle the gradual decline in passengers over the years.

“In March I set out our plans to bring forward legislation to change the way bus services are delivered across Wales. Throughout this process we will be working closely with local government, the bus industry and passengers, to design a system that is ‘easy to use, easy to access and well connected’ providing people a ‘real sustainable transport alternative’ to the private car.

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“We will provide an update on how these plans are progressing later this year.”

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Money

Over 500 teenagers in Wales to get £1600 a month in basic income trial

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The Welsh Government has launched its basic income trial scheme that sees it giving more than 500 people leaving care in Wales £1600 each month for two years – with no strings attached.

Equating to £19,200 a year before tax, it’s believed the cash offered is the highest amount provided on a basic income pilot anywhere in the world.

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The £20m scheme is controversial, and previous universal basic income trials in Kenya, Finland and California failed.

Welsh Social Justice Minister Jane Hutt says this particular scheme is a direct investment in the lives and futures of some of Wales’ most vulnerable young people.

The minister added that those taking part in the pilot will also receive individual advice and support to help them manage their finances and develop their financial and budgeting skills.

Local authorities will play a key role in supporting them throughout the pilot. Voices from Care Cymru will also work with the young people to give them advice on wellbeing, education, employment and help them plan their future after the pilot.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We want all our young people to have the best possible chance in life and fulfil their full potential. The state is the guardian of people leaving care and so has a real obligation to support them as they start their adult life.

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“Our focus will be on opening up their world to all its possibilities and create an independence from services as their lives develop.

“Many of those involved in this pilot don’t have the support lots of people – myself included – have been lucky enough to enjoy as we started out on our path to adulthood.

“Our radical initiative will not only improve the lives of those taking part in the pilot, but will reap rewards for the rest of Welsh society. If we succeed in what we are attempting today this will be just the first step in what could be a journey that benefits generations to come.”

The Welsh Conservatives however have criticised the scheme as “giving out free money” and say it won’t help tackle the problems some vulnerable young people face.

Joel James, the Welsh Conservative shadow minister for social partnership said: “Whilst I wholeheartedly support helping the poorest and most vulnerable in our country, the Labour Government is not even close to living in reality with this trial.

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“Countless trials from across the globe have found basic income does not have the expected outcomes as it fails to incentivise work and proves time after time to be a waste of public money.

“If rolled-out across the board with every adult in Wales receiving £1,600 a month it would cost nearly £50 billion a year, and at the same time reward the wealthiest in society rather than helping those who need it most.

“Our NHS is at breaking point and our economy is in a fragile state, but instead of tackling those issues head-on, Labour are more interested in Basic Income – which will cost the country an absolute fortune.”

Welsh Government Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt said: “We’re in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis like no other and we therefore need new ways of supporting people who are most in need.

“Our Basic Income pilot is an incredibly exciting project giving financial stability to a generation of young people. Too many people leaving care face huge barriers to achieving their hopes and ambitions; such as problems with getting a safe and stable home, to securing a job and building a fulfilling career. This scheme will help people live a life free of such barriers and limitations.

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“We will carefully evaluate the lessons learnt from the pilot. Listening to everyone who takes part will be crucial in determining the success of this globally ambitious project. We will examine whether Basic Income is an efficient way to support society’s most vulnerable and not only benefit the individual, but wider society too.”

Tiff Evans of Voices from Care Cymru, speaking on behalf of young people who have experienced care, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for care leavers in Wales. It is good to see that care leavers in Wales are being thought of and Welsh Government are providing this opportunity for them as young people to become responsible, control some parts of their lives and have a chance to thrive and be financially independent.

“We thank Welsh Government for investing in them and their future and we look forward to other changes and developments for care experienced young people in Wales in order for them to reach life aspirations.”

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Food & Drink

Proposal to ban tea and coffee for under 16s in Wales branded ‘illiberal’

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photo of person s hand pouring liquid to cup

Proposals to consider banning the sale of tea and coffee to under-16s in Wales have been labelled ‘outrageously illiberal’ by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The Welsh Labour Government reportedly confirmed that it is considering the move as part of plans to make young people healthier and stop rising obesity rates.

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The move comes as the Welsh Government raise concerns of the rising consumption of high-caffeine energy drinks among young people is also causing concern about the effects on their education.

Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said: “It is beggars’ belief that this is even under consideration.

“We are all aware obesity is a serious problem in Wales and it is important that we take action to reduce the levels across Wales.

“However, it doesn’t take an expert consultation to realise that tea and coffee are not responsible for high obesity levels.

“It would be outrageously illiberal to ban the sale of coffee and tea to under 16-year-olds, something which they regularly drink themselves at home.”

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(Lead image: Elina Fairytale / Pexels.com)

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