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Neath Port Talbot

Field hospital beds all now allocated to help tackle local bed poverty and support Ukrainian refugees

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Almost 600 new beds from the Bay Field Hospital have now been distributed and are helping Ukrainian refugees and local communities in Swansea Bay.

Three months after Swansea Bay UHB offered to donate the 595 unused beds from the Bay Field Hospital to people in need, all the beds have now been allocated.

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Sadly, bed poverty, where families do not have adequate beds, mattresses or bedding, is a concern in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. Cases of people sleeping on sofas; on home-made mattresses stuffed with old clothes, or children ‘topping and tailing’ in a shared bed are being reported.

The unused field hospital beds were meant for short-term emergency use only, and too basic in design to use in general wards in main hospitals. However, the beds are plenty sturdy enough for long-term use in domestic settings.

The beds have now been allocated to help local families who need beds, and also Ukrainian refugees, with many beds sent to camps in Eastern Europe.

Just 10 beds physically remain in the field hospital, and they will shortly be delivered free of charge by local removal company Britannia Robbins, to families with children in the health board area, along with supplies of new bedding kindly donated by our staff and local companies.

Other items of spare field hospital furniture and equipment are also now going to Moldova to a children’s hospital for Ukrainian refugees.

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Swansea Bay UHB Chair, Emma Woollett said: “We are so pleased that these beds and furniture are being put to such good use and helping people who really need them, both in Eastern Europe and here in Swansea Bay.

“The NHS is not only here to care for people when they are poorly. We want to support and promote health and wellbeing in a holistic way.

“At Swansea Bay University Health Board we are striving to be a more sustainable organisation. Donating these beds is a practical way to offer support, and it also means that the beds will not end up in landfill – so it is good for the environment as well.

“Having the beds used for refugees means they are also being put to just the kind of emergency use they were designed for.”

Jeremy Miles MS for Neath and Welsh Government Minister for Education paid a visit to the Bay Field Hospital to inspect the last 10 beds which are destined for local schoolchildren and hear about the work that has been done.

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He also had the opportunity to see other equipment like bed side units, drip stands and privacy screens, which, like the beds. were all designed for short term use and not suitable for main hospitals, being loaded up onto lorries to equip a children’s hospital in Eastern Europe. The hospital is being built as part of the ongoing support for Ukrainians fleeing their war torn country.

The lorries will be driven to Moldova by the Communications Workers Union’s charity, CWU Humanitarian Aid. The charity has already delivered 250 Swansea Bay field hospital beds to Ukrainian refugee camps.

Some of the Bay Field Hospital beds being used by Ukrainian refugees in Moldova (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The health board was put in touch with the charity through Mr Miles, who said: “The heroism of the Ukrainian people humbles us all. At the borders, hundreds of thousands of refugees, the vast majority of whom are women and children, are in desperate need but here in Wales we can play out part too.

“I am proud that my office could facilitate the links to make this happen and through a true partnership approach, enable beds and furniture acquired for one crisis, being used to support another.”

MS for Neath and Education Minister Jeremy Miles, (front left) with the Chair of Swansea Bay, Emma Woollett (far right) and staff members from Swansea Bay UHB with Carl Webb and Lenny Crook from the CWU Humanitarian Aid charity (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Amanda Davies, Swansea Bay UHB Service Improvement Manager, said: “The health board has been able to work with our partners in helping us identify vulnerable people in our community who are in need of a bed. Between us we have been able to help address the issue of bed poverty in our area.”

She added: “The rising cost of living crisis is impacting upon so many families. People’s priorities are to buy food and to pay bills in order to keep a roof over their heads. Purchasing items of furniture such as a bed is placing added financial pressures on families who are already struggling.

“We know that in Wales, one in three children live in poverty and it is estimated that in the UK, 500,000 children do not have a bed to sleep in. Being able to have good quality sleep is important for everyone’s health and wellbeing.

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“Children who are sleep deprived as a result of not having a bed to sleep in will struggle to concentrate in school and this has a direct impact on their education which will affect their future life chances.

“The Wellbeing and Future Generations Act requires us to think about the long term impact of our decisions, work better with people, communities and each other to bring about long lasting positive change. Donating these beds is very much prevention in action.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Business

Energy intensive industries could get further relief under new Government proposals

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High electricity using businesses like steel and paper mills could see further relief under new proposals to help subsidise their electricity costs.

The UK Government is consulting on the option to increase the level of exemption for certain environmental and policy costs from 85% of costs up to 100%.

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This reflects higher UK industrial electricity prices than those of other countries including in Europe, which could hamper investment, competition and commercial viability for hundreds of businesses in industries including steel, paper, glass, ceramics, and cement, and risk them relocating from the UK.

The proposal would help around 300 businesses supporting 60,000 jobs in the UK’s industrial heartlands. Looking at ways to reduce the cost of doing business for key industries would help secure the future of domestic manufacturing and maintain a competitive business environment in the UK, ensuring economic growth and protecting thousands of jobs across the country.

The Energy Intensive Industries Exemption Scheme provides businesses with relief for the costs of renewable levies, including Contracts for Difference, the Renewable Obligation and Feed in Tariffs, in their energy bills.

UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “British manufacturers are the lifeblood of our economy and central to our plans to overcome this period of economic uncertainty.

“With global energy prices at record highs, it is essential we explore what more we can do to deliver a competitive future for those strategic industries so we can cut production costs and protect jobs across the UK.”

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Director General of UK Steel Gareth Stace said: “The publication of this consultation is a significant step forward in delivering competitive electricity prices for the UK steel sector and should provide some much-needed relief in the face of extremely challenging circumstances at the current time. While there remain difficulties, this announcement demonstrates that UK Government understands the challenges of British industry and continues to support steelmakers and steel communities across the country.”

(Lead image: Gareth James / Geograph / Creative Commons 2.0)

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Lifestyle

Gardening and litter-picking brings joy to our post-covid neighbourhoods says new research

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person in brown shorts watering the plants

Finding joy and wellbeing are phrases we are all familiar with, whether it’s ways to avoid working from home burnout or how to combat the stress of changes over the last few years, many of us have looked for ways to build happiness.

But new research has shown that the key to happiness is within our local communities and through getting involved in local groups we can not only create joy for ourselves but also give back to those around us. 

Most of us will have joined the local pub quiz or aerobics class once or twice, but a recent poll of 3,000 adults by community retailer SPAR revealed it is group activities with shared interest and local charity causes that bring us together and make us feel part of something larger. 

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The activities that had a particularly strong impact on those saying they were very happy in their community included groups where we are giving back or connecting with others on our passions:

  • Dog walking groups (53%)
  • Book clubs (50%)
  • Community gardening clubs (50%)
  • Public walks (49%)
  • Litter picking groups (49%) 

When looking at the types of activities we get involved in and a snapshot of our community groups, the most attended events across the UK included: 

  • Jumble sales – 16.7 million attend
  • Fitness groups – 13.5 million attend 
  • Baby & Mum Clubs – 10.8 million attend 
  • Community get togethers e.g. pub quiz – 9.7 million attend 
  • Local charitable causes – 9.1 million attend 

The report studied how we feel about our community and what positive effects it can have on us and our neighbours. A third of those surveyed (32%) said it was important to them to feel like they were needed in the community, and 21% added that they want to feel they are a part of something. A huge 57% added that they want to make a positive difference to the local area and 42% said that the community takes care of each other. 

The research also found that an impressive 31% of us are involved in activities for local causes including improving the area for others, with the top events attended including coffee mornings (49%), jumble sales (43%) and community fun walks or runs (39%). Gen Z came out top as the most charitable, with 18-24 year olds most likely to be involved with local community projects, such as litter pick-ups, with nearly a quarter (24%) helping others.

New community activities have also taken the nation by storm in recent years so if dog walking or book clubs aren’t your thing now is the time to sign up to a new group.  Bird watching groups have become more popular with 16% saying they attend and groups like Flock Together taking the twitching world by storm. Even activities such as vintage fairs and jumble sales are a way to get involved, and it seems we are a nation of bargain hunters as boot sales came out top as the most popular activity across the UK (31%).

John Drury, a social psychologist, specialising in the study of collective behaviour at the University of Sussex, commented: “These findings underline the role that local community plays in people’s lives, finding a strong association between the number of groups that people were involved in and their increased happiness in living more locally.”

“It’s no coincidence that the activities that were found to drive happiness most – such as gardening clubs and dog walking – are all activities that allow people to extend their social circle and form new friendships. It’s also worth noting that some of the most popular activities locally, such as litter picking and community gardening, serve to improve the community environment and produce a virtuous circle of happiness in the local community.”

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The best way to stay up to date with events and groups in your area is to join local Facebook pages – 53% of people find out what is going on in their community via these groups, followed by the local paper (48%) and details in local shops and cafes (41%). Joining is simple and you will soon get to grips with how things work in your neighbourhood. 

SPAR, who have over 2,600 stores across the country, commissioned the poll which also revealed the most community driven locations in the country, including: 

  1. Neath Port Talbot
  2. Norwich
  3. Dunfermline
  4. Swansea
  5. Barnsley
  6. Hackney
  7. Derry/Londonderry
  8. Plymouth
  9. Chelmsford
  10. Preston

Find out more at https://www.spar.co.uk/community-cashback

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Port Talbot

Port Talbot panto princess search over as Princess Royal Theatre make ‘royal announcement’

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The search for a princess has come to an end, as MTAZ Productions announces a princess for the forthcoming Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime at Port Talbot’s Princess Royal Theatre has been found.

MTAZ productions has welcomed Briony Harris to the cast of the eagerly awaited show which goes ahead in December 2022 at The Princess Royal Theatre.

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Briony is currently in her second year of a three-year course at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom, Surrey, where she is studying Musical Theatre and Dance, having been awarded a full scholarship.

Briony previously trained at Bridgend College, in Musical Theatre and Dance as well as attending TDM Stage School in Port Talbot, and Caroline Brown Ballet School in Bridgend. She is also vocally trained by Porthcawl singing teacher, Patricia O’Neill-Wheatley.

Anthony Argyle, the artistic director of MTAZ Productions, said: “I believe we have found a star of the future and I’m proud to see that she will be beginning her career locally at The Princess Royal Theatre.”

MTAZ Productions are looking forward to bringing the traditional family pantomime to Port Talbot from the 1st until 10th December. Jack and the Beanstalk will tell the classic story of poor Jack, who is sent to market by his mother to sell the family’s treasured cow.

Little does he know that swapping his dear cow for a bag of magic beans will lead to an adventure he will never forget. From fighting to save the beautiful Princess, outwitting the evil giant and winning riches beyond his wildest dreams.

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And does he gain the hand of the girl he loves?

Applications are now open for the children’s chorus. MTAZ Productions is now offering the opportunity for children aged 7-16 to take part in Jack and The Beanstalk. The show producers are looking for three teams of 10 children to take part.

An audition day will be held on September 18th from 10am – 2pm at The Princess Royal Theatre. The audition will require applicants to dance, sing and take part in acting workshops. An online booking form is in place for people wanting to book a place at the audition.

Cllr Jeremy Hurley, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Wellbeing said: “I’m delighted the princess has been found and also very pleased that Jack and the Beanstalk is building up to be a great production this year for our residents to enjoy.”

Jack and the Beanstalk is at The Princess Royal Theatre from 1 to 10 December 2022.

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