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Government’s ‘Back to Work’ schemes failing

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Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind: “These schemes are not appropriate for people with mental health problems.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive
of Mind: “These schemes are not
appropriate for people with mental
health problems.”

THE MENTAL health charity, Mind, has called for all people with mental health problems to be taken off mainstream Government backto- work schemes and moved onto a specialist programme. Research from the mental health charity claims they have found that support provided through the Work Programme and Jobcentre Plus is damaging people’s health, and making them feel less able to work than when they started.

At the same time, these schemes, they say, are ineffective for people with mental health problems, as they quote a figure of only 5 per cent of people that have actually been helped into work. In addition to this, figures for Preseli Pembrokeshire reveal that, in a three year period, no one with mental health problems on the Work Programme was helped back into work. Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “Just five per cent of people with mental health problems are being helped into work, while the vast majority tell us their health has worsened and they feel less able to work as a result of being on these schemes.

“It’s perverse that programmes which are supposed to help those who are unwell and struggling to get into work are having the opposite effect, damaging their health.” He continued: “These schemes are not appropriate for people with mental health problems. If someone is out of work because of depression and anxiety, simply asking them to attend a CV writing course is a waste of time and money, as it doesn’t address the real problems they are facing.

“Forcing people to engage in these activities, and cutting their benefits if they struggle to do so, is inappropriate and counter-productive. This approach assumes people don’t want to work and the only way to motivate them is to withdraw financial support, which only causes greater anxiety and stress, and makes returning to work less likely.” Mr Farmer expressed the opinion that everyone out of work due to their mental health problem needs to be placed onto new, locally commissioned schemes, which reflect individual and local needs.

He added: “Such a scheme would take a personalised, tailored approach which really understands and addresses the complex nature of mental health problems and how they can impact someone’s ability to find and keep a job.” The Herald spoke with a representative from Mind in Pembrokeshire, who have been involved in just such a local scheme.

A spokesperson said: “The Creating Opportunities and Skills Team (COAST) scheme that was funded by the Council did get people back into work. That was run in conjunction with people like ourselves and Frame, which finished in the early part of this year. “People that were on a work program couldn’t be on COAST which we were using, because they wouldn’t fund the two things. People wanted to enrol on our COAST projects, and do the courses, but couldn’t because they were on a Work Programme or Work Choice.

“COAST had a huge range of courses; emotional well being, anger management, bricklaying, motor mechanics, etc. If people came to us they could gain funding through COAST but not if they were on the Back to Work scheme”. They went on to question whether the Government schemes even offered effective back to work courses, such as those that could give them experience of job interviews or just what to wear at these interviews. They said that they had got many people into work through the COAST scheme.

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Appeal after woman sexually assaulted on cycle path near Haverfordwest

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POLICE officers in Haverfordwest are appealing for witnesses after a woman was sexually assaulted at approximately 4.30pm on Sunday (May 16).

The woman was walking along the cycle path between Haverfordwest and Tiers Cross when she was approached by a man who threatened and assaulted her, before walking away towards Haverfordwest town.

The male is described as a white male, between 5ft 4 and 5ft 11 tall , normal build with a welsh accent. He has short dark hair, a beard and a moustache, brown eyes, and wearing light blue jeans, navy/dark blue jersey with grey sleeves. Anyone who saw a man matching this description in the area between 3.30pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

A 35-year-old man has been arrested and is currently in police custody.

The cycle path is currently closed while the investigation continues.

Detective Superintendent Jayne Butler, who is leading the investigation, said “Incidents of this nature are extremely rare in the Dyfed-Powys area. The public may see an increased presence of police officers in the coming days as police investigate the incident. Anyone with concerns or information that could help our enquiries can speak to those officers or contact police. While a man was quickly arrested we would still like to speak to anyone who saw a man matching the above description in the area yesterday afternoon.”

Anyone with information which could help the investigation is asked to contact police. This can be done online at bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

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Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet endorses STEP Fusion application

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PEMBROKESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL’S Cabinet have today endorsed proposals from Cllr Paul Miller (Cabinet Member for Economic Development) to further progress the nomination of a Pembrokeshire site to host a Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) fusion power station in the county.

Working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the proposed site is adjacent to the existing energy facilities on the South Shore of the Haven waterway.

If approved, the facility will initially host research with the ultimate aim of developing this technology which could offer a virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.

Cllr Paul Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “I am pleased my Cabinet colleagues endorsed this important programme of work. The Haven Waterway has provided livelihoods, underpinned by fossil fuels, for thousands of Pembrokeshire families, mine included, for more than 50 years. It’s my job to help ensure the waterway continues to provide high skilled, engineering, science and technology jobs for the next generation of this county – and so linked to our focus on climate change (and in addition to our existing multi-million pound commitments to supporting wind, wave and tidal clean power generation) my team have been exploring whether we can also support the development of clean, green fusion technology.

“It’s very early days in the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s site selection process but we’ll provide regular updates as things progress.”

•       STEP is an ambitious programme to design and build a prototype fusion power plant;
•       It is a UKAEA programme, currently with £222m funding from the UK Government to produce a concept design by 2024: https://step.ukaea.uk/

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Re-opening of indoor hospitality and attractions at Milford Waterfront

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RESTAURANTS and indoor visitor attractions in Milford Waterfront are welcoming the return of indoor services from today.

The re-opening of indoor dining allows all restaurants at Milford Waterfront to seat customers indoors. As well as all restaurants on the Waterfront now being able to offer this service, the brand-new Foam Domes overlooking the Milford Haven Waterway are able to open, with bookings being taken from the 19th May.

Indoor visitor attractions are also allowed to re-open. This includes the Waterfront Gallery, which is open today and Phoenix Bowl & Pirate Pete’s Adventure Play which is making preparations to open from Wednesday 19th May. Also, Milford Museum, which has had a new rendered exterior finish, is preparing to open for the end of May.

Lucy Wonnacott, Marketing Manager for Milford Waterfront commented: “We are delighted to see the re-opening of indoor hospitality and visitor attractions here at Milford Waterfront. Each business has their own safety and social distancing measures in place and we kindly ask that you respect and adhere to these for your own safety, and that of others. We hope you enjoy your visit to Milford Waterfront and stay safe!”

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