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Cost-of-living crisis: Workers have gone without meals or pawned posessions says Union

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Hundreds of public sector workers in Wales have pawned possessions to survive while more than 1,000 have gone without meals says UNISON

A heart-breaking survey by UNISON Cymru/Wales, which represents tens of thousands of public sector workers in Wales, has revealed the devastating impact of the cost-of-living crisis on those providing vital public services.

The news comes as the union is preparing to host a major rally against the crisis in the centre of Cardiff as well as launching a ballot of health workers for industrial action following a derisory pay award.

UNISON’s latest survey, which was completed by more than 6,000 workers including 1,555 NHS staff, found 46% of those who took part said their monthly living costs had increased by up to £300 while 1,188 people had asked for financial support from family or friends.

It also revealed 404 people had pawned possessions to survive while 1,025 have gone without meals and 274 workers had used a food bank.

UNISON heard first-hand from public sector employees facing the full force of the crisis.

Vanessa, a kitchen assistant in Torfaen, said: “My son is disabled with cerebral palsy on benefits and lives in a bungalow on his own.

“His gas and electric have gone up from £85pm to £185pm and he’s asked me when he should put the heating on.

“I am worrying how I will keep subsidising him on the money I earn. It’s not feasible. If it wasn’t for Universal Credit, I wouldn’t be able to live in my flat, but I am contemplating moving in with him.

“The government doesn’t understand the cost-of-living crisis. They don’t seem to care and are deceitful. It is heart-breaking to see my son in this position.”

Alison, a public service worker in Powys, said: “Coming towards the end of each month, I have gone without meals and made do with water, a cup of tea or hot chocolate.

“The family supermarket shop used to cost £60, now the same shop costs me £90. I’m technically disabled and I hoped to save for a bathroom adaptation, but there’s absolutely no money to put away.

“So long-term, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stay in my home. I’m hoping for a change of government.

“The Conservatives don’t care about working class people.”

Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary, said: “Our latest survey has tragically revealed the threat of homelessness, hunger and in-work poverty is now an every-day reality for public service workers and their families in Wales.

“Thousands of UNISON-organised workers across all public services in Wales are feeling undervalued, underpaid and overwhelmed.

“We are living under a Tory Westminster government whose ‘mini’ budget overtly benefits the richest members of society at the same time as undermining the needs of the vast majority of people.

“There is now a stark division between them and us and a pressing need for a broader trade union and labour movement led socialist response.”

Wales TUC general secretary, Shavanah Taj, will be speaking at the UNISON rally and said: “Workers in Wales are facing huge uncertainty this winter.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are unsure about what their energy bills are going to look like.

“It’s more important than ever that workers stand together to defend their pay and conditions at work. Everyone has a role to play in this fight.”

Cynon Valley MP Beth Winter conducted her own survey into how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting her constituents and will also address the rally.

She said: “The cost-of-living report I completed in Cynon Valley earlier this year shone a light on the level of fear and suffering in our communities.

“Over 80% of people reported that finances were having a negative impact on their mental health while 40% of people said they are simply not going to put the heating on at all in the next year.

“One person even said they felt guilty for bringing their children into the world.

“Westminster holds the purse strings, but working people can’t afford to wait around for a Labour government to get into power, we need to organise now.”

The UNISON Cymru/Wales cost-of-living crisis rally takes place at the Radisson Blu Hotel on Thursday October 6 from 5:30pm to 7pm.

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Town council to help elderly with online banking as last bank in Tenby set to close

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LOCALS in Tenby have been left reeling at this week’s news that the town’s HSBC branch is set to close next year.

The closure, announced on Thursday (Nov 30) will leave Tenby without any of the UK banks.

In recent years, Lloyds, NatWest and Santander have all left the town. Barclays has also just shut its doors for the last time, with the nearest branches being in Haverfordwest or Carmarthen.

The move comes as part of the latest round of closure, which will see 114 branches of the bank closed across the UK.

It follows 69 HSBC branches closing earlier this year and 82 HSBC branches closing last year.

Other HSBC branches closing in Wales include Abergavenny, Chepstow, Port Talbot, Pontypool, Brecon and a branch in Cardiff – Rhyd y Penau.

HSBC says its customer numbers have fallen rapidly since the pandemic and that some of the branches that are being shut now serve less than 250 customers a week.

Jackie Uhi, HSBC UK’s managing director of UK distribution, said: “People are changing the way they bank and footfall in many branches is at an all-time low, with no signs of it returning.

“Banking remotely is becoming the norm for the vast majority of us.

“Not only can we do it anywhere at any time of day or night, many more things can be done at the customers’ convenience and don’t rely on a branch visit.

Speaking to The Herald by telephone on Wednesday evening (Nov 30), Mayor of Tenby, Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall said: “This is really bad for the town of Tenby, and it’s just very, very said. This is a case of where are banks going?

“We have always looked after our banks here in Tenby, and it feels like no one is looking after us. Its as if no one in the banks cares anymore.”

Pointing out the number of retired people living in the area, she said: “We have a lot of elderly people in town who do not use online banking, and depend on the branch being open.

“I am talking to the Post Office and other people with the aim of looking to the hub system, which is happening in other towns where they are also loosing their banks.

“Its very sad that we will losing another cash point. How is a busy town expected to function without a bank or cash points. Where do people go for money?

Asked if she thought it was possible that the branch would be saved, as Tenby HSBC was one of the few banks without a confirmed closure date, Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall seemed to think that the decision had been firmly made. She said: “They have to give six months notice, so we could be looking at May or June 2023 for the closure.

“I don’t think the branch could be saved.

“Barclays officially finished the other week.

“Banks don’t care about residents and people don’t matter [to them] during these very worrying times.”

Town council is planning to offer struggling Tenby residents help with online banking from their offices, creating a kind of drop-in-service, The Herald has been told.

Like in any time of difficulty the people of Tenby will rally together as they always do, but no matter what is done in the face of the closure of the last bank in the historic town, nothing will fully replace traditional face-to-face banking services.

Tenby Mayor Cllr. Sam Skyrme Blackhall: These are sad times for Tenby
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Pembs CBD UK’s first high street store partnered with medical cannabis clinic

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THE PEMBROKESHIRE CBD CENTRE has become the first high street CBD company in the country to be in partnership with Sapphire Clinic the leading medical cannabis clinic in the UK.

Cannabis can be legally prescribed in the UK to people who suffer from a range of painful and debilitating conditions – including anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, and fibromyalgia. Having recently gone through the FSA’s novel food process, Pembrokeshire CBD Centre and Infinity CBD are among the few businesses on the UK market with fully compliant CBD products.

Thanks to its new partnership with http://sapphireclinics.com”Sapphire Clinics Medical Cannabis, Pembrokeshire CBD Centre is the first CBD dispensary in the UK where members of the public can walk in off the high street to talk about accessing medical cannabis in an official capacity, to arrange a an appointment with a medical cannabis clinic.

Rowan Bailey, Director and Product Developer at Pembrokeshire CBD/ Infinity CBD, said, “To have achieved this partnership from such a small start four years ago is incredibly humbling for us, and proves that our ethos of taking things slow and steady with a focus on compliance, quality and customer care has paid dividends in this ever evolving and competitive market.

“For a small shop in the heart of Pembrokeshire to be the first official high street partner with Sapphire is a massive achievement not only for us as a business, but ultimately for the community of customers who come to us for their needs. We can now work with them to access their first medical cannabis consultation, as well as provide ongoing support with clarifying the legislation, accessing over the counter CBD to complement their prescription, and supply the necessary equipment and materials they need to maintain their medical cannabis devices.”

“We owe our success to our customers who have supported us from day one, as well as our families who have stood by us taking these leaps and working through the difficult past couple of years with Covid. We look forward to seeing how this industry continues to unfold and this partnership develops.”

The award-winning Infinity CBD range includes skincare items, chocolates, and oil drops. All products are formulated using high-quality, traceable ingredients in labs powered by carbon neutral energy.

For more information, visit http://www.pembrokeshirecbd.co.uk or http://www.infinity-cbd.co.uk”www.infinity-cbd.co.uk.

About

Opened in 2018, Pembrokeshire CBD Centre is committed to enabling access and education around CBD products in the UK. It offers legally compliant and safe products through its brand, Infinity CBD, entirely made in Wales. The range of products include skincare, oil drops, massage therapy, balms, edibles, tablets, and more. Each product is developed by experts and daily users of CBD to ensure that only the best, most effective products are brought to market – whilst maintaining a cost effective CBD solution that doesn’t compromise on quality.

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Dakota Digital

Media contact: Rebecca Appleton

Email: Rebecca@dakotadigital.co.uk

Tel: 01623 428996

Tel US: 1 917-720-3025

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New facilities to support the growth of Celtic Sea FLOW take another step forward

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LAND management works have begun at Pembroke Port signalling the start of another important phase in the £60 million Pembroke Dock Marine project. Contractors, the Walters Group, have mobilised on site tasked with creating 17,000 sqm of laydown space by the end of 2024.

The new laydown space complements construction work being delivered by BAM Nuttall to create a new supersize slipway and new workboat pontoons, as well as onsite office facilities being constructed by R&M Williams. These new facilities and spaces are a key part in expanding Pembrokeshire’s proposition for the floating offshore wind and marine energy industries.

During the lifespan of the works, the Walters Group aims to create three full time jobs including an engineering apprenticeship, five work placements and one graduate placement, and they will be engaging with local schools to educate and inspire pupils about careers within the construction industry.

Jason Hester, Senior Project Manager at the Port of Milford Haven, said “It’s fantastic that Pembroke Dock Marine is making such significant leaps forward. Creating 17,000 sqm of laydown space means we’ll soon be able to handle much larger devices and vessels. We want to support the growing floating offshore wind industry and its supply chain so that companies can mature and benefit from our advantageous proximity to the Celtic Sea.” He added “Pembroke Dock Marine is a unique and significant opportunity for the region to play a key role in reaching Net Zero targets.”

Project Manager at the Walters Group, Gerrard Northey, commented “This is a brilliant opportunity for the Walters Group to engage with the Port of Milford Haven in providing a critical facility by means of the remediation works and laydown space for future innovative development of the Port. The Walters Group also brings with it a wealth of expertise and experience in the field of civil engineering which will assist the Port in achieving its end goals in making it a forerunner with environmental sustainability and marine works.”

Part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal, Pembroke Dock Marine will create a world-class centre for marine engineering and is set to generate around 1,800 highly skilled, year round jobs, as well as generating extensive opportunities for the local supply chain.

Councillor Paul Miller, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Place, the Region and Climate Change, said “This announcement to develop capacity at Pembroke Port is further evidence of the building momentum behind the rapidly developing green energy industry in Pembrokeshire.” He added “It is vital to ensure we position Pembrokeshire and the South West Wales region at the heart of Wales’ renewable energy push and we will continue to invest to that end.”

Councillor Rob Stewart, Chairman of the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, said “We welcome the Walters Group onboard to work on the exciting developments happening at Pembroke Port which will regenerate the port area, as well as further supporting the proposition for FLOW in the Celtic Sea. The City Deal is making significant progress in the Pembroke Dock Marine project by creating local employment opportunities, infrastructure to support the blue-green economy and its ambition of creating a centre of excellence for renewable energy technologies in Pembrokeshire which will not only benefit the county, but the entire City Deal region and whole of Wales.”

Pembroke Dock Marine is funded by the UK Government and Welsh Government through the Swansea Bay City Deal, and through the public and private sectors. It is also part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Pictured: (L-R) Jason Hester – Project Manager, Port of Milford Haven, Gavin Perry – Senior Quantity Surveyor, Walters Group and Wayne Scott – General Foreman, Walters Group

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