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Epic return to Welsh capital for Cardiff Half Marathon

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A month on from the return of the Cardiff Half Marathon to the capital, BHF Cymru is calling on runners and walkers from across Wales and beyond to pull on their trainers and sign up for the Wizz Air Cardiff Half on October 2nd.

As this Autumn’s event coincides with the TCS London Marathon 2022, whose official partner is BHF, there’s an opportunity for anyone who doesn’t have a place in London – or doesn’t fancy taking on a full Marathon – to dip their toe in a challenge that will make a real difference, funding life saving heart research.

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Mother’s Day, March 27th, saw a triumphant return of the iconic event for thousands of runners and their supporters following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

There were emotional scenes as 426 runners and their support squads descended on the Welsh capital for the first half marathon in the city since before the pandemic, raising £68,000 to support the British Heart Foundation’s efforts to deliver the research which could save lives and discover treatments for people affected by heart conditions.

The BHF Cymru team were proud to welcome new friends and familiar faces to the Festival Village where they shared their stories about why they were taking part in the race in support of the BHF.

Brothers Sam, Ben, Tomos and Joseph Kidd (pictured top) who grew up in Swansea ran in memory of their father, Professor Robert Kidd, who passed away due to a heart condition in 1996.

The family have raised over £1,800 to fund BHF research with their run, and Sam Kidd says: “It was such a special thing to do with my brothers in memory of our dad. Everyone from BHF was lovely and it was great to have that support there.

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Sam adds, “We try to get together as often as we can and given our family medical history our heart health often comes up. We all regularly get health checks. We keep a close eye on our cholesterol and blood pressure as well as trying our best to be active and eat healthily. We’re really happy to have raised a bit of money to support BHF and the great work they do.”

Derek Williams

First-time fundraiser Derek Williams says: “It was great to meet the BHF team at the Festival Village. It was my first ever run for charity.

“It was great to raise money for such a great cause with it being personal to me as my friend Geraint Rees survived a cardiac arrest last October when his wife Jennifer performed CPR on him.

“I would urge anyone to try and raise money for such great charities as we don’t realise the work that goes into it. I would like to thank the BHF for the support on the day too.”

9 year-old Ollie Banks (right) with his big brother Jack
Ollie Banks

9-year-old Ollie Banks took part in the Cardiff Junior Half 2022 the day before the full half. He ran a mile, securing a personal best of 7 minutes and 21 seconds and raising £900 for the British Heart Foundation. Ollie has a condition called Ebstein’s Anomaly.

He says, “My heart has a ‘glitch’ that is changing as I grow, and it means that I will need an operation to fix it. I run to keep my heart healthy and happy. I want to help all the heart doctors learn new ways to fix broken hearts and be the best that they can be in helping children like me.”

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Ollie was cheered on by his big brother Jack and proud parents Kirsty and Steve.

Ebstein’s Anomaly is a condition where the valve which directs blood through the right side of the heart doesn’t work properly. Over time, the heart works harder to compensate for this dysfunction, which can lead to enlargement of the heart muscle and heart failure.

BHF Cymru volunteer Calum Matheson and Area Fundraising Manager, Nikki James

The BHF Cymru team was supported by volunteer Calum Matheson.

Calum says: “After volunteering in my local BHF shop, I wanted to see what more I could do to help out. Fitness and health are a passion of mine, so helping out at the Cardiff Half Marathon was a no-brainer. I had a lot of fun at the event, the staff were very welcoming, and I thoroughly enjoyed cheering on those who crossed the finish line. Making all of us very proud, raising money to discover the treatments and cures of the future.”

BHF Area Fundraising Manager for Wales & Northern Ireland Nikki James says, “Calum embodied the spirit of our BHF Volunteers, he really got stuck in and was a fantastic help welcoming our wonderful runners and their friends and families. The BHF Cymru team is already gearing up for the next Cardiff Half in October and we’d love to see more volunteers in the capital so our awesome fundraisers can hear the Welsh dragon roar in the capital!”

She adds: “For more than 60 years the public’s generosity has funded BHF research that has turned ideas that once seemed like ‘science fiction’ into treatments that save lives every day. But millions of people are still waiting for the next breakthrough.

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“Today in Wales around 340,000 people are living with the daily burden of heart and circulatory diseases and dozens of families will lose loved ones to devastating heart diseases. We urgently need the public’s support to keep our life saving research going, and to discover the treatments of the future. It is only with donations from the public that the BHF can keep its lifesaving research going, helping us turn science fiction into reality.”

(All images: BHF Cymru)

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Ospreys star helps kick off mental health awareness week activities

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As Action for Children marks Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 May), the charity recently celebrated its Bouncing Back Plus mental health partnership with Ospreys in the Community with a huge event at the Academy of Sport in Llandarcy.

Hundreds of primary school children joined the celebrations and were treated to rugby sessions, craft workshops, music therapy and mental health classes with Ospreys star, Lloyd Ashley.

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The charity teamed up with the rugby region’s community arm over the autumn and spring terms to deliver a combination of classroom-based Cognitive and Dialectical behavioural therapy (CBT and DBT) techniques and physical exercises such as touch rugby on the playground.

Bouncing Back Plus has become increasingly important as recent Action for Children research showed nearly a third of children across UK (32%) said that school does not provide enough emotional support for them with 28% of parents agreeing.

The children the charity polled in Wales were the least satisfied with support received in schools with 28% saying they received a great or good amount of practical support and only a quarter (25%) reporting getting the same level of emotional support.

Primary school kids from the Ospreys region enjoying craft sessions

Caryl Dyer manages the Bouncing Back Plus programme for Action for Children in the region and said: “The celebration was wonderful. We wanted to run an event to celebrate the success of the programme as we’ve worked with 15 primary schools and almost 800 children in 6 months. The programme is critical for the mental health and wellbeing of our primary school children especially in light of the Covid-blighted period they have been through.

“We wanted to invite everyone along and enjoy a bit of normality and the elements of mental wellbeing and physical exercise in lots of different workshops. It’s been a roaring success working with Ospreys in the Community, the partnership has gone from strength to strength and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” she added.

Holly, 11, from Coed Hirwaun Primary School enjoyed the celebration and said: “It’s been really good and a lot of fun. We did lots of activities and I really liked doing ‘capture the flag’ and making stress balls.”

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Tyler, also 11, from Pontlliw Primary School, added: “The day was fun, I enjoyed the rugby and the stress ball class. I enjoyed all of it, really.”

The children enjoyed a host of physical exercise activities as well as wellbeing sessions

At the end of each Bouncing Back Plus programme, each participant receives a Mental Health First Aid Kit, providing them with resources that support them to manage their mood and sustain improvements in their emotional wellbeing. The process also supports us to identify those young people who may need a higher-tier intervention.

Tom Sloane, Foundation Manager at Ospreys in the Community, said: ‘It’s really good to see that this programme is around supporting kids, building confidence, resilience and supporting mental health and wellbeing through physical and emotional sessions.

“The celebration ties off the last two years really nicely and it’s great to do that in partnership with Action for Children.

“It’s a really positive relationship we’ve got as official charity partners and we’re looking forward to the next year working together as this programme grows and hopefully, we can help even more children.’

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Kidney charity unveils new name and revamped branding

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After nine years of providing unrivalled support and care to the kidney community of Wales, the Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, is changing its name and revamping its branding.

The charity is now called: Popham Kidney Support.

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The re-brand signifies an important transition for the charity that includes a new name, logo and website. The charity opted to rebrand following a trustees meeting where the name was discussed. It was thought that the former name did not clearly explain what the charity offers. The new name, Popham Kidney Support, does exactly that, while also maintaining and recognising the historical origins of the organisation.

Popham Kidney Support was set up in 2012 and is managed by the friends and family of the late Paul Popham. The trustees felt that Popham must remain in the name, and this is also reflected in the logo, where Paul Popham’s handwriting is seen in its design. The brand colours have also stayed the same. The colour green implies new growth, vibrant health and also has connotations of rebirth and renewal, an apt description of what the rebrand represents.

The inclusion of a butterfly in the new logo design was chosen as a symbol of transformation, mirroring the sole objective for the charity which is to transform the lives of kidney patients. The butterfly wings are also made up of two kidney shapes, once again keeping a consistent theme that is relevant to what the organisation offers.

Popham Kidney Support’s rebrand journey began in September last year, and the trustees have been through various stages of feedback. This has included offering the service users and followers of the charity the opportunity to give their opinion on the new name and the logo design. Keeping an open dialogue between the charity and its service users, volunteers and stakeholders was an important aspect of the process for the trustees.

Additionally, the charity recently announced two new ambassadors: TV chef Matt Tebbutt and Welsh TV presenter Sian Lloyd, both of whom will aid the charity in reaching its fundraising goal. The goal for Popham Kidney Support is to raise £132,000 for the Children’s Kidney Centre, Cardiff and it has recently surpassed £30,000.

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Sian Lloyd, Popham Kidney Support ambassador, said: “The new name is an exciting new chapter for the charity, offering a new clear direction into its 10th year.”

Matt Tebbutt, Popham Kidney Support ambassador, said: “I wish Popham Kidney Support the best of luck with its rebrand. The new name and logo are now an appropriate symbol of what they do. I am pleased to help such a fantastic charity that provides vital support to those with kidney disease in Wales.”

The new name and logo were unveiled at the charity’s Supporters Celebration on April 29 at the Mercure Hotel, Swansea. In attendance were the trustees and employees of Popham Kidney Support, its service users, volunteers and stakeholders, all of whom have helped the charity support everyone affected by kidney disease in Wales, and a guest appearance from former Swansea City footballer, Lee Trundle.

Joanne Popham, CEO of Popham Kidney Support, said: “We are extremely pleased with the result of the rebrand. It was important to the trustees and myself to recognise the history of the charity, and we have done that by keeping Popham in the name and my dad, Paul Popham’s handwriting within the logo, keeping his legacy alive.

We believe the new name and logo clearly signifies what we do, it says, no one is alone in their journey, the charity is here to support them. Though we have seen a rebirth of the charity, our aims remain the same: to ensure our community of people with kidney disease can experience life to the fullest!”

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Welsh family charity encourages mums to ask for help if they are struggling as part Maternal Mental Health Week campaign

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A Welsh family support charity is encouraging mums to talk about their wellbeing and reach out for support if they need it as part of a campaign for Maternal Mental Health Week (May 2-8).

Home-Start Cymru is raising awareness among local mums to let them know that in addition to clinical services, vital peer support is available in their area through the charity’s network of confidential, trained volunteers.

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Bethan Webber, Chief Executive of Home-Start Cymru, said: “For Maternal Mental Health Week, we are encouraging families to talk about their wellbeing and not be afraid to ask for help. There is still a real stigma around talking openly about parental mental health.

“We would love to encourage mums who are feeling overwhelmed to take the brave decision to reach out for support.  Parenting is hard. It can be wonderful, but it can also be lonely and relentless. That is why Home-Start Cymru is ready to stand alongside families when they need us most with compassionate, non-judgmental support.”

Home-Start Cymru supports mums’ mental health with trained volunteers through a range of activities, including wellbeing walks in the community, 1-2-1 support in the home, weekly group support groups and virtual catch-ups.

Leanne Joy, a Home-Start Cymru volunteer who has experienced perinatal mental health herself, said: “After rounds of IVF, I fell pregnant with my first, and after giving birth, I had everything I wanted, but I didn’t feel how I should be feeling. I felt the loneliest and most vulnerable I had ever felt. I was lucky to be referred by my GP and supported by the perinatal mental health team.”

The mother of two from Cardiff continues, “After my diagnosis and treatment, I wanted to give back and found Home-Start Cymru by chance. This was my opportunity to help parents who are experiencing the same as me. I really wanted to help others feel less alone and make a difference for those who feel there is no way out. Because there’s a way out. You just have to reach out.”

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Meirwen Jones, Head of Operations for Home-Start Cymru, said: “Home-Start plays a vital role in providing non-judgemental peer support in people’s homes alongside group support. This year’s theme of Maternal Mental Health Week is fitting as it is ‘The Power of Connections’.

“We know only too well how not being able to see family and friends has been difficult throughout the pandemic. Home-Start harnesses the power of human connection to support families facing mental health challenges in the perinatal period.

“The excellent support our staff and trained volunteers provide has an amazing impact on families – because we truly are stronger together.”

Meirwen continues: “We understand the value of face to face connections, especially for first time mums. Reaching out for support either to family and friends, a professional such as your midwife or health visitor, or getting in touch with a local community organisation such as Home-Start Cymru could be the first step to make a positive difference. 

“The impact on families can be amazing – because we truly are stronger together. In the meantime, we want to remind mums to remember they are brilliant, remind them to take breaks, remember self-care, know that parenting is tough and most of all remember that parenting is not always the picture-perfect lifestyle often portrayed on social media.”

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Another mum who was supported by Home-Start said: “Please don’t shy away from asking for help. We all have limits and it’s important to recognise them. Looking back I probably had post-natal depression but didn’t realise it at the time.

“To me, Home-Start support was like taking the weight off your shoulders for a while, so you can be the parent you want to be. Without Home-Start I think I would have fallen into a deep depression, but I didn’t and that’s thanks to my volunteer.”

Home-Start Cymru works across 18 local authorities in Wales providing compassionate support to local families who are facing a wide range of challenges including mental health, bereavement, isolation, multiple births, domestic abuse, financial hardship or supporting a parent or child who has a disability or health issue.

Once a family is matched, their trained volunteer visits once a week for two hours to support in a wide variety of ways that meet the individual needs of that family.

Maternal Mental Health Week, which is into its eighth year, is a campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems during and after pregnancy.

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The week focuses on raising public and professional awareness of perinatal mental health problems, advocating for women affected, changing attitudes and helping families access the information, care and support they need to recover.

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