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Virtual multi-agency meeting discusses concerns about Penally Camp

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A VIRTUAL meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council chaired by Cllr David Simpson JP took place on Wednesday at midday.

Cllr Jonathon Preston opened the meeting by saying there was a common theme was that the facility and location was unsuitable.

Next Dafydd Llywellyn, the Police and Crime Commissioner said: “It’s really important to us at a senior level to understand the decision-making notice.”
“How its suitable is beyond me!”

Mr. Llywellyn added: “For numerous reasons I cannot see how it would be suitable, and I will continue to make that view known. Having said that its also important that from a policing perspective that we support the local community.”
“We will also have mutual aid support from other sources. I am grateful that the Home Office have been able to attend and there has been a significant amount of cooperation from an inter-agency perspective especially in the last few weeks “
“Multi agency work has been outstanding between heath board, police and council,” he added.

NOT POSSIBLE TO CONSULT LOCALS

On behalf of the UK Government, Deborah Chitterden told the meeting that from a Home Office perspective its important to mention that they have a legal obligation to support destitute asylum seekers.
She said: “Because of Covid-19 the system came under pressure which led to a shortage for suitable accommodation. We had to do something fairly urgently.
Offers from MOD came in, one of which of course was Penally.
“It wasn’t possible to consult in the usual way due to the speed in which we had to act. I understand that this must have been hugely frustrating from the community on the ground.
“I am really pleased about the positive focus on meetings. It genuinely seems that everyone is here to find the best possible solutions.
“These asylum seekers are often highly educated and skilled people.
“They are not criminals, and they are not being detained.
“I think that this is understood by most, but I would just like to make that point.”

PENALLY WAS VIABLE AND IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE

Answering a question from a member of the public about why the camp was chosen, Deborah Chittenden said: “When we looked across government to ask partners for available accommodation to support us in what was an urgent need the only viable (immediately available) options were the two sites offered by the Ministry of Defence we engaged.
“The sites were chosen out of necessity.
“To be very clear they are a temporary arrangement. We have agreed a lease or rental arrangement for up to twelve months.
“We will only use these for only as long as we need them.
“The reason we have an urgent need was that at the beginning of the pandemic we took an active decision not to move asylum seekers out of their accommodation so during the national lockdown numbers kept increasing.
“That than meant we had six months’ worth of blockage in the system when no one was moving out, but we had a steady stream of people coming into the system.
“You can imagine what this did to the system.
“We have continued to see an influx to the system.
We have begun to start ceasing support for those we have decided not to provide asylum for.
“Once we are through the blockage we will remove the temporary measures we have put in place.
“The site will only house single male asylum seekers.
“We made a decision not to house families or single females in these sites.
“We only decided to house those who were healthy and not in any vulnerable categories.
“We took a lot of care to select those to make sure they were not in any vulnerable categories.
“If issues are identified with mental health or any other issues we can deal with these rapidly.
Any person brought to the camp will have spent at least 14 days insolation at on of our other camps to ensure that they are Covid-free when they arrive.
Obviously, we cannot guarantee that they will not get Covid as they interact with members of society.

NOT DESIGNED FOR THE PURPOSE

Dr Phil Kloer from Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “The site wasn’t designed for these circumstances. It makes social distancing difficult. However, we have been working closely with all agencies to support the safety of people at the site but also members of the local population. We undertook a detail comprehensive risk assessment with our professional experts and developed a plan for prevention of all infections including Covid. Plan included advice on isolation, disinfection and hyenine measures and also operation support. We continue to work with Clearsprings and all other agencies involved in the call today and of course the local population as well.

Steve Lakey from Clearsprings, which is the private company working on behalf of the Home Office to provide accommodation to asylum seekers, thanked the health team and partners for all their hard work.
In relation to a question regarding additional funding for local services he said: “In terms of services on site we have a visiting nurse at the site. There is sports equipment, TV, WIFI, various difficult activities. There has been a wonderful raft of offers of help on the site. Migrant Help is coordinating it.
“We are looking for a local coordinator at the moment. Food and all the items needed day-to-day are provided on site. People can go to the shop; they do have a small amount of money to spend.
“There is vehicles on site to take people to shops if required.”

DAILY PROTESTS, VARYING IN VOLATILITY

Police Superintendent Anthony Evans told the meeting that the last two weeks have seen daily protests, varying in volatility.
“Sadly, there has been some incidents of criminality and arrests have been made. Where we are aware of criminal offences, we have recorded those and they have been investigated,” he said.

Anthony Evans added: “Throughout this period we have brought in additional police resources.
“On occasion protests have become disorderly and we have used resources to ensure visitors to the site have been able to enter and exit freely.
“We know the community have been concerned by both the service users and the protestors.
“In the short term in many cases the protestors have been the greater short-term concern.
“We have ensured we have clear lines of communication between police and residents.”

“Of course, community safety is not just a policing matter. We have been working with other agencies such as the council and health board to ensure that we respond to the concerns of the community and that this community ad a voice into police and other partner. I hope that gives a flavour of what the police is doing to reassure the community since the inception of the asylum centre.”

LOTS OF OFFERS OF HELP

Juliet Halstead from Migrant Help said: “We help via a telephone service with full translation services. We are issuing SIM cards to people to help them get access to our services for access of help and advice.
“We are working with the accommodation provider to ensure that the centre is as comfortable as it can be for people. We are helping service users access legal support. We are making daily welfare calls to those in the camp who are worried about the situation, especially the protestors.”

Steve Lakey added that those with mental health issues will be screened out and those individuals will be taken back to core accommodation centres where there are health teams which can deal with that.

Juliet Halstead spoke again to the meeting and said there have been so many offers of support.
She told the conference: “I would like to say a huge thank you. We have been asked to coordinate all of those kind offers of help.
“We are working to ensure we can do that.
“We are trying to understand that service users’ issues and priorities are at the moment.
“If you can send offers of help, we will come back to you at penally@migranthelpuk.org”

Cllr David Simpson JP asked Simon Hart MP and Cllr Jonathan Preston, member for Penally, to close the meeting.
Cllr Preston said that the meeting gave more of an idea of “where we are”.
He said: “its good to hear that there are opening for volunteering and getting involved with the camp.”

WE DESERVE PROPER ANSWERS, SAYS MP

Simon Hart MP said: “That has been a useful round up of questions and answers – divided into operation activity and the implementation element on the ground. The other around policy decisions. We have had lots of answers on the former not the latter. Everyone does deserve proper answers around the process that was pursued.”
“Deborah has set up the background, but we have not quite got to the bottom of and the manner and speed in which engagement took place – if it took place at all -is something we absolutely want to understand. Not just for Penally but anyone else who may end up in this situation.”

Councillor Simpson said afterwards that he thought the meeting had been extremely useful in answering some of the concerns raised by Penally residents and many others.
He said: “I understand the webcast was viewed live by around 400 people so hopefully it addressed some of the myths and wild speculation that has surrounded the presence of the asylum seekers in our community.”
A list of questions and the panel’s responses will be published on the Council’s website in due course.
On the panel were:

• Simon Hart (Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP)
• Deborah Chittenden (Director, Borders, Immigration and Citizenship System, Home Office)
• Superintendent Anthony Evans (Local Commander, Dyfed-Powys Police)
• Dafydd Llewelyn (Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner)
• Steve Lakey (managing director, Clear Springs Ready Homes Ltd)
• Juliet Halstead (Deputy Director of Asylum Services, Migrant Help)
• Dr Phil Kloer (Deputy CEO and Medical Director for Hywel Dda University Health Board)
• Jon Preston (Penally County Councillor)
• Ian Westley (Chief Executive, Pembrokeshire County Council).

The webcast will shortly be available to view at: https://pembrokeshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcasts

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Public engagement exercise over new hospital between St Clears and Narberth

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HYWEL DDA is asking the people of Pembrokeshire to help it further shape and deliver future services by taking part in a six-week engagement exercise.

Since the publication of its strategy, A Healthier Mid and West Wales: Our Future Generations Living Well in 2018, the health board has worked with partners to provide care and develop services. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on health and care services. As a result, the health board now wants to learn from the public about how the pandemic has affected their health and care, and access to it.

This week, Hywel Dda UHB has been distributing a discussion document for the public to consider, along with a questionnaire for completion.

Hywel Dda UHB is also asking for the public’s feedback in relation to its long-term strategy to develop and build a new hospital in the south of the Hywel Dda area, somewhere between and including St Clears, in Carmarthenshire, and Narberth, in Pembrokeshire.

This location is the most central for most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area, and it was determined through the public consultation held in 2018.

The public is also being asked to nominate sites for a new hospital based four criteria:

The nominated site must be within the zone between and including St Clears in Carmarthenshire and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. This location is the most central to most of the population in the south of the Hywel Dda area.

The nominated site should be a minimum of 35 acres of reasonably developable land.

The nominated site should have realistic prospects of obtaining planning permission for a new hospital.

There should be appropriate transport infrastructure for a major hospital site.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The global pandemic has had a major impact on all areas of our lives so it’s crucial that the health board considers, reflects and learns from this extraordinary period. This engagement exercise will allow the public to tell us in their own words how COVID-19 has affected their health and care, and access to it.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to participate because the feedback we receive will play a major role in helping shape future services. This in turn will allow us to deliver on our long-term commitment for a healthier mid and west Wales.

“I would also stress that this engagement exercise is part of an ongoing process. Over the coming months and years, we plan to engage with the public, stakeholders and partners on a wide variety of issues, such as service models. Everyone will have their chance to give their views and opinions because we are committed to continuous engagement with the public to ensure we provide the best possible care.”

The engagement exercise will run until Monday June 21.

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Paul Sartori taking action to support climate with National Lottery grant of nearly £14,000

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LOCAL hospice at home charity, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, is taking action to support the climate with the installation of solar panels at its main head office in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.

The charity which delivers end of life care services across Pembrokeshire, has been awarded a grant to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at Paul Sartori House, Winch Lane. This investment is part of an ongoing commitment to address the climate emergency and the charity joins many others who are taking action. Paul Sartori was one of 35 community groups, who were selected to take part in the Climate Action Boost scheme, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.

Working alongside Renew Wales, a partner in the initiative, the group explored methods to help tackle the causes and consequences of climate change, and to operate more sustainably. A number of options were discussed to reduce their impact on the environment and Renew Wales helped the charity to develop an environmental action plan, which is to be implemented over the coming months. The scheme available to cover a variety of environmental reduction activities, including renewable energy, reducing consumption, local food and reduced or less impactful travel.

Paul Sartori Hospice at Home wouldn’t normally be associated with environmental activity. Through regular consultation over many months, the charity has been really encouraged by what they have learnt.

“We have invested a lot of time in developing the plan; discussed a number of alternatives along the way, but feel that the solar panel installation will have the biggest impact for the charity in the long term”, said Sandra Dade, Charity Manager. “The National Lottery Climate Action Boost has really inspired our charity to minimise our impacton the environment and we will continue this journey,” added Sandra.

Jemma Nurse, Funding Manager at The National Lottery Community Fund said, “The climate emergency is everyone’s business, which is why The National Lottery Community Fund is acting to support and inspire communities to minimise their own impact on the environment. We are proud to be a significant funder of environmental projects and Paul Sartori Hospice at Home, along with the other groups participating in Climate Action Boost, will play a valuable part in building our knowledge so we can share our learning with other funders across Wales and the UK.”

The services provided by the Paul Sartori Hospice at Home enable people in the later stages of any life-limiting illness to be cared for and to die at home with dignity, independence, pain free and surrounded by those they hold most dear, if that is their wish.

All of the services are free of charge, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, thanks to the generosity of the Pembrokeshire Community. Further information on the charity and its services can be obtained by visiting their website www.paulsartori.org, or by phoning 01437 763223.

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New nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia

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HYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD, in partnership with Dementia UK, is launching a new nursing service to support carers of people living with dementia.

The Admiral Nurse service will be a significant addition to the current support available to people living with dementia and their carers. The initiative is in line with the Dementia Action Plan for Wales 2018-2022, a Welsh Government strategy that aims to recognise the rights of people with dementia, make them feel valued, and help them live as independently as possible in their communities.

The team will cover Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire with a focus on delivering person–centred and relationship-centred dementia care. The Admiral Nurses will work collaboratively in a family-centric manner, across health and social care pathways, to provide support, expert guidance & practical solutions to enable families/carers, including the person living with dementia, to maximise their wellbeing and improve the experience of those affected by dementia.

Dementia UK is the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses.  When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them, giving the compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions that can be difficult to find elsewhere. They are a lifeline, helping families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.  

The service launched on 29th March 2021 and is now accepting referrals.

Charlotte Duhig, Admiral Nurse Clinical Lead, said: “I am honoured to be leading this new service to support carers and families of people living with dementia across the counties served by Hywel Dda University Health Board. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for people living with dementia and their carers but I’m confident that this much-needed service will make a difference to the lives of those affected by dementia.

“Having previously set up an Admiral Nurse Service, I know the benefit of working as an Admiral Nurse as families can get the emotional and practical support to allow them to plan for the future. Health and social care professionals can also take advantage of our in-depth knowledge of dementia.”

Dr Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK, says: “We are delighted to announce this new Admiral Nurse service in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board. The fact that this service extends to a large rural area within West Wales, with the support of two Welsh-speaking Admiral Nurses, means that we are improving access to dementia specialist support for families.”            

To be able to access this service, the following referral criteria applies:

  • The person being supported/cared for by the carer has a diagnosis (or likely diagnosis) of dementia.
  • The person with dementia and/or carer lives in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion or Pembrokeshire (or is registered with a GP in those areas).
  • The carer agrees to their referral to the Admiral Nurse
  • The carer should have identified need(s) that impact upon their caring role or as a consequence of their caring role*

If you are a health or social care professional or 3rd sector working with someone you believe this service could benefit, or you are a carer of someone living with dementia and would like to be referred to the service, please contact a health or social care professional who can refer you. 

For further information, contact the nursing team direct:

Clinical Lead: Charlotte.Duhig@wales.nhs.uk

Admiral NurseContact detailsLocality covered
Bethan BulmanBethan.Bulman@wales.nhs.ukCeredigion North
Donna Phillips Ceredigion South
Emma VenablesEmma.Venables@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire North
Rosie BellRosie.Bell@wales.nhs.ukPembrokeshire South
Siriol DyerSiriol.Dyer2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (3Ts)
Liz WrightElizabeth.Wright@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Amman Gwendraeth)
Donna OwensDonna.Owens2@wales.nhs.ukCarmarthenshire (Llanelli)
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