POLITICIANS, councillors and representatives from across the fostering sector will be joining the Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford AM, at a Senedd reception held by The Fostering Network to celebrate the role of foster care onFostering in Wales Day, Friday June 12.
The special day is part of the charity The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (June 1-14), and is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that thousands of foster families do across the country as well as raising awareness of fostering and the need for 550 more foster families across Wales this year.
The charity will also use the occasion to launch its Foster Carers’ Charter, which has been developed in partnership with ADSS Cymru and the WLGA and outlines the roles and commitments of both fostering services and their foster carers. Attendees will also hear from foster carers Will Howells and Bryn Miles about their experiences, and from health and social services minister Mark Drakeford AM who, as well as reiterating the need for more people to come forward as potential foster carers, will talk about the When I’m Ready scheme and the consultation on the regulations underpinning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.
Director of The Fostering Network Wales, Dr Emily Warren, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the role of foster care with the minister, AMs, councillors and many others from across the sector.
“Foster carers throughout Wales provide stable and secure homes for thousands of children in care each and every year, often giving these children their first real experience of positive family life. To make sure that fostering services can find the right home for each of these children, first time, another 550 more foster families are needed across Wales in the next year alone.
“For the thousands who are already foster carers, we know how important it is that they feel valued and supported by their fostering service, and that’s why we are using this year’s campaign as an opportunity to launch our Foster Carers’ Charter. This charter makes clear the responsibilities of, and expectations on, both fostering services and foster carers, as they work together to care for fostered children.
“The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. For over 40 years we have been bringing everyone involved in foster care together to make life better for fostered children. We promote and celebrate foster care, influence and create change and develop and share innovative approaches to fostering. That’s why I’m delighted that we are leading Confidence in Care, a consortium funded by the Big Lottery Fund which is delivering a five-year programme aiming to improve the life chances of looked after children across Wales.
“Thank you to all the foster families across Wales for the amazing work that you do. I know that this Foster Care Fortnight you will have inspired others to come forward and make a real difference for fostered children.”
Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s an exciting time to be a foster carer or a fostering service provider in Wales as we implement our ambitious plans to transform social care. Foster Care Fortnight is a chance to celebrate our achievements and challenge us to find new ways of achieving better outcomes for looked-after children and their foster carers.
“I am particularly pleased that we are rolling out the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, which will give young people the opportunity to continue living with their foster carers beyond the age of 18, until they are ready to move to more independent living.”
Phil Evans from the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru said: “Foster carers are at the heart of our fostering service; they provide placements for over two-thirds of all looked after children in Wales. We’re delighted that the Fostering Network has given us the opportunity to acknowledge and thank them again for all their remarkable dedication and commitment.
“It’s every child’s right to live within a safe, secure and stable family environment, to be able to grow, develop and reach their potential. Foster carers offer this opportunity to children of all ages, from new born babies through to young adults. Some look after children on a short-term basis while others provide long-term permanent care. Some provide placements for children with complex needs while others care for children who are part of their extended family.
“This is an essential service provided to children and society as a whole. We’re very mindful that there are c h a l l e n g e s f a c i n g f o s t e r i n g services now and in the longer-term. The new Charter has an important role to play in providing us all with a clear statement about what foster carers need and deserve and what has to improve. ADSS Cymru looks forward to working with The Fostering Network, BAAF Cymru, Welsh Government and other partners to make this vision an everyday reality for all foster carers.”
Cllr Mel Nott OBE (Bridgend), WLGA spokesperson for social services said: “Fostering makes a huge difference to the lives of children by offering them the stable and secure home that they need to flourish. Raising awareness through events like Foster Care Fortnight plays a crucial role and we hope it encourages more people to come forward and help give a child a positive and settled family life. Local government, through initiatives like the Foster Carers’ Charter, remains committed to achieving the highest possible standards both for those children who are in need of a foster family, and also for foster families themselves.”
Ambitious community project to capture untold stories from across Pembrokeshire
MILFORD HAVEN’S Torch Theatre is launching ‘The Pembrokeshire Story’, an exciting new community project that aims to connect people across generations in celebrating the Pembrokeshire spirit.
We all love a good story, but they are especially good if they throw light on the place that we are from. The Pembrokeshire Story is trying to bring local artists and our community together by mapping the county through everyday stories told by the people who live here. A story might be something as simple as how life has changed over the years or it might be a special event that you would want to remember. So often these stories remain as legends within our own families, but this is a chance to share them with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and this project will facilitate these stories to be recorded and remembered for generations to come.
The inspiration behind the project originated from the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director, Peter Doran, who, whilst caring for his father who was suffering with Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic in 2020, encouraged his father to elaborate on stories which previously he had only touched on in passing.
Peter said: “My father told us of his time as an evacuee, having been sent from his home in Liverpool to the Welsh speaking village of Llamberis in North Wales. It was a fascinating tale and one that we might never have heard about had it not been for Covid-19. We’re all so busy, I feel we just don’t spend enough time with each other to allow these wonderful moments to happen, we’re all so busy it would seem.”
Peter’s father has thankfully gone on to make a full recovery from Covid-19 and is continuing to tell many more stories.
The Pembrokeshire Story is being led by Tenby based creative James Williams, who has assembled a team of freelance artists to capture extraordinary stories in different mediums from across the county. These stories are only part of the project and the Torch Theatre requires your help to capture your stories told across the generations.
James added: “Local artists have already been working to gather stories from over the county, and now we’d like to ask you to join in. We are putting out a call for videos made by young people where they interview their grandparents or older relatives about their experiences and stories of Pembrokeshire. These videos will be added to an online Living Archive which will be available for anyone to access.”
All the stories submitted will be added to the Living Archive on the Pembrokeshire Story website which will be launched in April. Videos can be made on a phone or recorded from a digital platform call (ideally filmed in landscape), they can be in English or in Welsh but must be no longer than 5 minutes.
If you would prefer not to film your submission, we would be happy to receive your story as an audio recording (mp3 format) or in writing, with an accompanying photograph.
For more information visit https://www.torchtheatre.co.uk/the-pembrokeshire-story/
If you would like to submit a story, please contact James Williams via this email address firstname.lastname@example.org
NHS worker from Pembroke Dock raises over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge
An NHS worker from Pembroke Dock has raised over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge with her husband Edd, having been inspired by the support their young niece received as a baby at Glangwili Hospital Special Care Baby Unit.
Donna Reed works in the Communications Team at Hywel Dda University Health Board and wanted to do her bit to say thanks to everyone who nursed Layla and supported the family for several weeks when she arrived very early in 2012.
Donna says, “Born at just 3lbs, Layla is now a beautiful, bubbly and full of beans eight-year-old. As a family we’d like to give something back to the staff who cared for Layla when she was so tiny.”
Donna and Edd raised over £1,000 on a JustGiving page and a donation of £500 was made by Edd’s employer, Valero Energy Ltd, where he works as a Process Operator.
Karen Jones, a Senior Nurse thanked the couple for their efforts. She said, “We really appreciate what Donna and Edd have done to support us. Donations like this are used to purchase items for parents and babies in order for their stay to be more comfortable and to help make the stay less stressful – items such as parent pamper packs, items for the parent’s sitting room and overnight room baby’s journal, items to support breast feeding and items to support premature babies development. They are also used to support specialist neonatal training for staff and purchase specialist neonatal equipment.”
Donna and Edd are planning a series of physical challenges through the year. Donna adds, “A year on since I started fundraising for Glangwili Hospital’s SCBU, and after all but one of my events last year were postponed, I decided to take on a very unique challenge to raise another £100 to get to my target.
“I ran the Narberth Nobbler’s 4 x 4 x 48 challenge between March 5-7. The event involved me and Edd running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours, a total of 48 miles over the weekend. This is an incredibly tough endurance event that will test our stamina, perseverance and mettle.”
Layla’s mother Rebeca said, “As Layla was born prematurely it was a very worrying time, however we knew she was in the best hands in SBCU as they built her up to a healthy weight and did everything they could to reassure us as parents.
“We are so grateful for the care and support that staff gave to Layla and to our family, and to my sister and Edd for raising money for the unit.”
Donna also plans to take part in Broad Haven Triathlon, Cardiff Half Marathon and Snowdon Marathon Eryri, providing they go ahead.
Donna would like to thank everyone who’s supported her fundraising so far and is encouraging people to donate if they can, “Any amount, no matter how small, will help make a difference and 100% of funds raised will go towards helping babies like Layla and their families,” she says.
Great Western Railway and the Fishguard Ocean Port – How WWI dashed ambitious plans for Fishguard
by Doug Evans
ALTHOUGH Fishguard Port is best known now for its easy route to Ireland, it was once part of an ambitious plan to take trans-Atlantic passengers away from the likes of Plymouth and Southampton.
In 1889, the Great Western Railway rook over the North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway, and in preparation of turning Fishguard into a purpose-built ocean liner port, the GWR opened its first station, Fishguard & Goodwick railway station, in 1899 while work on the new port began with the construction of Fishguard Harbour’s East breakwater.
The overlooking village of Harbour Village was built to accommodate workers and the necessary 27 acres site and 900 metre breakwater were provided by blasting 1.6 million tonnes of rock from the cliff face.
A new line would connect the proposed liner terminal on the East Breakwater to the West Wales line. The new 2 mile route, which would have bypassed the steeper gradients and curves on this part of the original line, would have included a deep cutting, embankments and two tunnels.
However, the project to build a breakwater and an ocean-going terminal was abandoned after it became clear silting (which could not be prevented by dredging) would stop large ocean-going ships from using the port.
Local legend has it that the engineer responsible for this mistake committed suicide after realising the port was not suitable for its intended purpose. Another local myth suggests that the breakwater was deliberately built this way as locals didn’t want the harbour to become too large.
The East Breakwater was left unfinished. Two short sections of the planned railway to the new port terminal were completed before the project was ended.
In 1906, Fishguard and West Wales was visited by the largest ship in the world at the time the RMS Mauretania.
An archived pamphlet for the Fishguard Port from 1913 provides a fascinating insight into the journey from America to London at the time.
It reads: “Fishguard is situated on the south-west coast of Wales, and is the nearest British port to New York used by Atlantic liners. It affords the quickest means of reaching London, and is also a convenient port for the Continent.
“In addition, many parts of England and Wales are within easy access of Fishguard; the Metropolis is 262 miles away and this distance is covered in under five hours.
“Tickets for seats in the special train from Fishguard to London will be furnished to Saloon passengers holding railway coupons. Passengers who do not hold coupons can purchase same at Purser’s Office before leaving the steamer.
“Single tickets and outward halves of return tickets between Fishguard and London are available for three months if purchased in America, or if issued in exchange for vouchers obtained in America. In other circumstances they are available for ten days.
“The baggage of London-bound passengers is ready labeled, “London, via Fishguard,” the lettering being white on a purple ground, the bold lettering and the distinctive coloring precluding the possibility of confusion.
“The route from Fishguard to London, passing through the industrial centres in South Wales and the charming scenes of the Thames valley, is full of interest.
“The speed at which the run is covered is the most potent tribute to the excellence of the Great Western’s iron road and their rolling stock. Only one stop is made, and this of a very short duration, at Cardiff.
“Between the Fishguard of today and that of even a decade ago there is a great difference. A bay which boasted but of a departing or rather departed fishing industry, and was visited by only a few coastwise traders and fishing craft seeking shelter, has been converted into a splendid harbour, a harbour in which great natural advantages have been ably supplemented by the works which the Great Western Railway Company have constructed.
“At the quay by the railway station the splendid fleet of turbine steamers running between Fishguard and Rosslare (Ireland) are berthed, and here are the most modern appliances for the speedy transfer from ship to train, or vice versa, of goods and baggage.”
Although the ambitious plans for Fishguard were not to be, the Port continues to this day, providing crossings to Rosslare with the Superferry Stena Europe providing two daily crossings all year round.
Transport for Wales operate from Fishguard Harbour and have special trains to connect with the arrival and departures of the Stena Line Superferry Stena Europe that operates to/from Rosslare.
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