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Narberth: New group formed to welcome Syrian refugees

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Mallory Carlson: From The International Organization for Migration

Mallory Carlson: From The International Organization for Migration

A TEAM has sprung into action in Narberth to help three Syrian families settle locally.

The war in Syria continues and millions of people are without homes as a result. Many have valuable skills and could be an asset in our local communities.

The Narberth team are responding to the UK government’s recent announcement that it will allow pilots of ‘Community sponsored settlement’. This is where a group of neighbours working under a charity takes full responsibility for one or more refugee families to live among them for five years.

The UK has not allowed this in the past, but Citizens UK and Citizens Cymru have been in discussion with government for years, saying that we should learn from countries like Canada where community settlement is a huge success. There people are allowed to invite in and finance named refugees who join the host community leading to full and productive integration.

West Wales refugee support organisation, Hiraeth Hope, is a member of Citizens UK and hopes to pilot community settlement for the UK and is helping to set up the Narberth group.

Narberth has a long history of creative invention, it recreated its own destiny from a dying town to a UK music and shopping top destination. Some of the old pioneers of those days have teamed up with newer arrivals to address the refugee crisis through a Narberth community solution.

The group will meet regularly to plan how to raise the money and to provide homes, meet and greet and integrate Syrian families into the town.  Once their plan is approved by the Home Office and Council’s, the hosts plan to communicate remotely with possible guest families, so all sides can find out if the area and the refugees would suit each other.

“We want to ensure we find the people who will thrive in our rural small towns.” says Vicky Moller of Hiraeth Hope.

She continues: “When they arrive their new friends will meet them at the airport and settle them in their new homes. They will introduce them to everything from banks to buses, activities and jobs, and provide services from cultural transition to trauma therapy, including a year’s language teaching”.

Anyone wanting to help in any way is most welcome attend the next meeting which is at the Span building next to the car park today (Sep 5).

A good opportunity to learn more is on Thursday, September 22, when Ms. Mallory Carlson and a Syrian doctor will speak about Syrian culture and history.

Ms. Carlson, Senior Project Support – Resettlement, from The International Organization for Migration has detailed knowledge of Syria’s cultures, family life, diet, education before the war and of its impact and the refugee experience. She is employed nationally to prepare local authorities for settlement.

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Hywel Dda encourages vaccination as flu expected to be a major public health issue this winter

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HYWEL DDA University Health Board is urging anyone who is eligible for a free flu vaccine to take up the offer.

It comes as Public Health experts have warned that they are expecting a significant flu season this winter for the first time since the pandemic.

There are concerns that it may start earlier this year and affect more people.

In addition, the Covid-19 autumn booster programme is now live and many people including everyone over 50 years old, and those at risk of severe disease are among those being offered a Covid-19 booster to reduce their chances of getting seriously ill with Covid-19.

If you are eligible for an autumn COVID-19 booster, please wait to be invited by either your GP or the health board. Everyone eligible will be offered an appointment by November.

GP practices are also preparing to invite eligible patients for their seasonal flu vaccine and aim to offer an appointment to everyone eligible by December. Again, please do not contact your GP practice at this time, you will be invited when it is your turn.

Cases of flu (also known as influenza) are already being detected in Wales. Public health scientists say that the flu season could be as severe as the 2017/18 flu outbreak, where 16.5 thousand people in Wales were diagnosed with flu by their GP, and 2,500 people were hospitalised. There was also a high level of seasonal excess deaths that year – the worst for around 20 years.

Since March 2020, the Covid-19 lockdowns and international travel restrictions have disrupted the amount of respiratory viruses in circulation, but as our lives are going back to normal, viruses are returning in higher numbers. This year, Australia experienced a flu season which was earlier than usual and saw the highest case levels in five years. It is possible that the UK – and Wales – will experience similar flu activity.

With Covid-19 also in circulation, and added winter pressures on the NHS, it is more important than ever that those who are eligible for a free flu or Covid-19 vaccine get vaccinated to help prevent them becoming seriously unwell and protect the NHS this winter.

Dr Joanne McCarthy, Deputy Director of Public Health at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “Flu is caused by the influenza virus. It can be a very unpleasant illness and also lead to serious problems, such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

“The pandemic has made us much more aware that vaccination saves lives and reduces hospitalisations. Vaccination may not stop you from catching flu or COVID-19, but it makes it far less likely that you will be severely ill or need hospitalisation.”

Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services, said: “We are encouraging everyone to get both their jabs this winter, when flu and COVID will be at their peak, to protect themselves, those around them and the NHS during what will be a busy time for healthcare in Wales.”

To promote the vaccinations, Public Health Wales has launched a campaign encouraging those eligible to ‘power up’ their protection against serious illness this winter by getting the flu and Covid-19 vaccines. The campaign launches on 27 September with digital and social content as well as stakeholder outreach and radio adverts.

Vaccination is particularly important for those who are older, pregnant, or have a health condition and are more vulnerable to complications as a result of the infections. It is also very important that frontline healthcare workers and those who work in care homes or providing care in peoples own homes get their vaccines to help reduce spread.

To help stop flu and other viruses spreading, remember to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it.’

For more information about how to get the vaccines, please visit https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/immunisation-and-vaccines/flu-vaccine-and-covid-19-autumn-booster/.

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Pembrokeshire Sibling Group thanks Valero Energy Ltd for second major donation

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VALERO first supported Pembrokeshire Sibling Group back in 2018 when they were blessed to be chosen as their charity of the year. 

Throughout 2018 Valero staff, through the Valero Volunteer Council, took on various challenges and organised fundraising events with all the funds going to their group. In total, Valero raised close to £20,000 for them that year which as they said at the time, was enough to sustain them for a couple of years on its own! 

After 2019 came and went, Covid-19 meant that they had to suspend their activity programme and like many others, they didn’t restart normal activity until well into 2021.

This meant that they still had some of the Valero money in their bank accounts towards the end of 2021 and this meant that they were able to take 10 young people on the voyage of their lives on the tall ship, Johanna Lucretia. Even though voyages on this training vessel are partially subsidised by the Island Trust, it’s true to say that without Valero funding, this would definitely have remained a dream for the Sibling Group.

This trip was an amazing experience for all who sailed, and it was life changing for a couple of the young people who have since enquired about further sailing experiences.

They are incredibly grateful to Valero for enabling them to be able to give young people this fantastic experience.

Now again, Valero have chosen Pembrokeshire Sibling Group as one of the recipients of the Valero Benefit for Children Classic golf event and they are delighted to announce that they have received £10,928 donation from this event.

As in 2018, this donation cements their existence and will allow them to both enhance what is already planned but also to provide additional treats to the young people they support that would be otherwise unaffordable. They would like to publicly thank Valero for their continuing and unwavering support.

Lee Hind, Pembrokeshire Sibling Group Chairman said “Once again, I find myself here thanking Valero for an amazing donation. This means the world to us, and we are honoured to have been selected to receive this money. This will enable us to plan in another residential experience later this year or early next and not have to worry about funding for it. Thank you to everyone at Valero!”

Stephen Thornton, Valero Refinery Public Affairs Manager said: “We are delighted to support Pembrokeshire Sibling Group, children are in need of respite and following the Covid Pandemic, it is essential that a service of this nature continues. We hope that many more children in our community benefit from the service”

If you’d like to know more about Pembrokeshire Sibling Group, including their referral criteria for a child and opportunities to volunteer, please visit www.pembrokeshire-sibling-group.org.uk or email psg.enquiries@gmail.com 

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£200 Fuel Support Scheme payments begin

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AROUND 7,000 Pembrokeshire households will receive payments direct into their bank accounts this week under the Welsh Government’s Wales Fuel Support Scheme, 2022-2023, Pembrokeshire County Council has said.

The £200 payment per household is to provide support towards paying fuel bills and is available to all eligible customers, regardless of how they pay for fuel.

It is in addition to the Energy Bill rebate being offered by the UK Government and the Winter Fuel Payment normally paid to pensioners by the Department for Work and Pensions.

From the information the Council holds on its Council Tax and Council Tax reduction records, it has been possible to identify thousands of people who are likely to be entitled to the payment.
If you have recently received a cost of living payment and you are in receipt of a means tested Council Tax reduction, you are eligible for this payment and it will be made automatically to the bank account that the cost of living payment was credited to.
Please check your account to see if a payment has been made before applying.
Who can apply?

The scheme will be open to eligible households, where an applicant is responsible for paying the fuel costs for the property and they or their partner are in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits between 1st September 2022 and 31st January 2023:
• Income Support
• Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
• Employment and Support Allowance
• Universal Credit
• Working Tax Credits
• Child Tax Credits
• Pension Credit
• Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
• Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
• Attendance Allowance
• Carers Allowance
• Contributory Benefits
• Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS)
The full criteria, decided by the Welsh Government, is available on the Pembrokeshire County Council via the link below.

Please read the full criteria before applying.

Applications are open now and can be made online at https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/benefits-support-and-grants/welsh-government-fuel-support-scheme-202223 until 5pm on Tuesday 28th February, 2023.

If you have problems filling in the application form, please call 01437 764551 for assistance.

After application there will be some checks to confirm eligibility.

Payments are likely to start in October 2022 and will continue until the end of March 2023.

Please be patient as payments are made.

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