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Pembrokeshire Homeshare launches to tackle loneliness and the cost-of-living crisis

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THIS Summer, the second Homeshare service in Wales is starting, bringing cheer by matching older people living alone with those seeking affordable accommodation in and around Pembrokeshire, Wales.

The news comes as the true scale of loneliness in the UK is becoming understood. Older people in Wales want to stay living at home for longer. In Wales, 54% of people aged 60-74 and 49% of people 75+ years, said they felt lonely sometimes (ONS). In Pembrokeshire 26.17% of the population are over the age of 65 (Welsh Government Stats 2020).

The service, called Homeshare, works by matching people together for mutual support; a person who has a spare room and is looking for company and a bit of practical support, shares their home with someone looking for affordable accommodation. Both people benefit from the companionship and having a friendly face at home. The householder typically receives 10 hours per week of practical support provided by the Homesharer such as shopping, cooking, cleaning, gardening or even enjoying social activities together, but no personal care is involved.

Younger people are being priced out of the villages, towns, and cities they want to live in, for work or study. Latest figures again show that the average age at which people can leave home even to rent is rising along with the proportion of income spent on housing. Many people in mid and later life are also finding themselves without affordable housing options after the impact of the pandemic.

In Pembrokeshire, the programme will be called ‘Pembrokeshire Homeshare’. Homeshare UK and Pembrokeshire Homeshare, part of Pembrokeshire Care Society are launching the second Welsh pilot programme to offer more people the opportunity to live sociably and affordably whatever their age, with the right support structures in place to make it safe and enjoyable.

Pembrokeshire Homeshare was set up by the Pembrokeshire Care Society who have been supporting the people of Pembrokeshire with homelessness and tenancy issues since 1979.

Dean Flood from the Pembrokeshire Care Society will act as the Homeshare lead in Pembrokeshire. Dean has lived and worked in Pembrokeshire most of his life. He has led three primary schools as Headteacher and has been supporting adults and their families with tenancy support over the past year. Dean says:

“Throughout my working life I’ve engaged with older people who have so much to give and who provide great service to their communities. They are independent, sociable and non-reliant on social care services. Sadly, many struggle because they’re on their own. Their lives however could improve so much, just by having that bit of support and companionship that everyone needs and deserves.

“I’ve also been fortunate to work with many young people and adults – moving on into the working world with ambition and hopes to play a positive role in society. We know of the huge challenges they encounter in finding suitable, comfortable accommodation that is affordable. Increasing rental costs provide a barrier for them to move on or indeed leave their family home.

“Homeshare is a way of bringing the two groups together to solve each other’s needs by using their respective strengths and providing mutual support. It breaks down the financial barriers but most importantly it is about investing in people, to enhance their lives and promote community cohesion”.

The Homeshare match is facilitated, supported and closely monitored by Pembrokeshire Care Society (Pembrokeshire Homeshare), who have a long history of working with individuals and the community. As a member of Homeshare UK, they will draw on established national good practice guidance from Homeshare UK to ensure safety and quality.

Pembrokeshire Homeshare along with support from Homeshare UK aim to support 20 matches in the first 2 years.

If you’re interested in Homeshare and live within Pembrokeshire, contact Dean Flood, dean.flood@pembrokeshirecaresociety.org.uk 07483 917951 or visit https://homeshare.pembrokeshirecaresociety.co.uk/ to find out more.

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Controversial windfarm on edge of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park refused

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YET again, the ill-sited Rhoscrowther windfarm on edge of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park has been refused consent, much to the joy of campaigners

The Chair of Pembrokeshire Branch of The Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW), Mary Sinclair, has responded with relief to the decision by Julie James, the Welsh Government Minister for Climate Change, to refuse planning permission for the Rhoscrowther windfarm on the Angle Peninsula, on the edge of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

The Branch’s detailed objection (below) catalogued a 25-year sequence of 15 various proposals, appeals and decisions on or near the site, every one of which ultimately resulted in refusal of consent.

Mrs Sinclair said: “This must surely now be the end of developers’ misplaced attempts to industrialise this cherished landscape, and to desecrate the setting of the Angle Conservation Area, whose inhabitants can now look forward to freedom from such schemes.

“The decision justifies CPRW’s persistent argument that wind turbines are out of character with the landscape and visual qualities within and adjacent to this narrow National Park – which needs – and has – the highest level of protection.”

She added: “Nevertheless, we support the development of far-offshore wind resources in the Celtic Sea as a more realistic way to address the impacts of Climate Change – it is now high time that developers transferred their efforts to this purpose”.

Following an online Hearing under the new procedure by Planning and Environment Decisions Wales (PEDW) the Inspector’s Report also agreed with CPRW’s Hearing Statement (below) that industrial scale (126m = 413ft) turbines could not be justified in this location because of the nearby oil refinery.

The applicants’ attempt to down-play the adverse impact of the rotating blades on the Grade 1 listed St Decumanus church was also countered by the Inspector who concluded that ‘the visual change in the tranquil and peaceful setting of the church would result in a substantial level of harm’.

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Fflecsi Pembrokeshire bus service is set to expand

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TRANSPORT FOR WALES (TfW) is expanding the fflecsi service in Pembrokeshire, allowing more communities across the county to benefit from demand responsive transport.

Working in partnership with Pembrokeshire County Council, the new fflecsi zone replaces the current 315 bus service and will connect villages and hamlets in the Dale Peninsula to Milford Haven and Haverfordwest – integrating with wider public transport routes.

The expansion begins on Monday 30 January and will link up with the highly successful fflecsi service in north-west Pembrokeshire, which has seen an increase in passenger demand since it began operating in September 2020.

Together, the two zones will cover a large portion of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, offering visitors to the area an accessible, environmentally friendly transport alternative to some of the county’s most popular destinations, including the Wales Coastal Path.

TfW also supports the operation of the fflecsi Bwcabus service, which connects rural villages in central Pembrokeshire to Haverfordwest, Fishguard and its ferry port, as well as operating zones which serve parts of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

fflecsi Pembrokeshire is a demand responsive bus service which does not have a fixed route and timetable but an operating zone which enables passengers to be picked up and dropped off anywhere within that fflecsi zone.

Rather than passengers waiting at a bus stop for a bus to turn up, they can book a journey in advance using the fflecsi app, or by calling 0300 234 0300.

Passengers are informed where to catch the bus and at what time it will be arriving – the pick-up point will be near as possible to the location of the passenger.

Andrew Sherrington, Head of Bus Network and Service Development, said: “fflecsi has grown to become a dependable public transport choice in rural Pembrokeshire and its expansion will now allow more people across the county to access the service for everyday journeys and to make important travel connections.

“Passenger numbers continue to grow and in August and September of this year, figures were more than double what they were for those months in 2021.

“We know that fflecsi is highly valued by the rural communities it serves across Pembrokeshire, and it is a vital part of TfW’s commitment to providing a multi-modal transport network that encourages more people to make use of public transport.”

Rhys Sinnett, Cabinet Member for Residents’ Services for Pembrokeshire County Council said: “This is a really positive intervention by the County Council in order to protect a service for rural passengers in this part of the county and ensure that they continue to have access to key urban areas.

“The fflecsi Pembrokeshire scheme has proved extremely popular in the north of the county both for tourists and local people and we hope to see this success maintained when the new zone is introduced.”

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Community

Grant to renovate a community swimming pool in Cardigan

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CARDIGAN Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall have received a Capital Grant to undertake much needed renovation work.

The Sport Wales Capital Grant of £207,000 from Welsh Government was secured by Ceredigion County Council to fund essential capital works at Cardigan Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall.

The grant will enable the Swimming Pool to upgrade its Pool Plant Equipment and Air Handling Unit, insulate the roof above the toddler pool and purchase new Pool covers.

Matt Newland, Chairman of Cardigan Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall Trustees, said: “The swimming pool and hall trustees are delighted to announce that we have received a grant from Sports Wales to carry out much needed works to the pool to enable it to continue running. The trustees would like to thank Ceredigion County Council for their assistance and support. Cardigan Swimming pool and hall is run by the trustees committee for the benefit of the community. It is an essential resource and this grant will help secure our future.”

Katie Proven, the newly appointed manager of the centre also welcomed the news: “This investment will help us make much needed efficiency savings, reducing our energy costs and environmental footprint. This is excellent news for the people of Cardigan”

Councillor Catrin M.S Davies, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Customer Services, said: “Ceredigion’s leisure facilities which are run by the community are an important part of the opportunities available for our residents to be active and have fun as a family, group of friends or individually. By working together, Cardigan Memorial Swimming Pool and Hall and the Council have secured a significant investment that will enable the pool to continue to contribute to improve the health and wellbeing of the residents in the county.”

More information on the plans can be seen on Ceredigion County Council’s website: https://council.ceredigion.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=291&LLL=1

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