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Further funding for WellBeing Facilitators in Wales’ screen sector announced



A PILOT programme supporting people working in Wales’ screen sector with their mental health is set to benefit from additional £150,000 funding following a successful first phase, the Welsh Government has announced this week.

Funded through Creative Wales, the WellBeing Facilitators programme  is a partnership between CULT Cymru – the Creative Unions Learning Together programme and mental health and wellbeing specialists 6ft from the Spotlight CIC.

The programme has been driven and shaped by an Advisory Group of employers, unions and industry bodies to respond to issues and challenges that people working in the sector have raised.

In the first phase of the pilot that ran from September 2022 to March 2023, ten production companies accessed grants of up to £15,000 to place a specially trained WellBeing Facilitator on their productions to promote mental health and provide wellbeing advice in the screen sector.

Feedback from back both employers and the workforce showed that the facilitators made it much easier to resolve welfare issues and helped to improve the working culture. A number of productions also reported that having a Wellbeing Facilitator on set helped to increase their overall productivity.

Phase 2 of the pilot will build on the lessons learnt over the last six months and enable a new cohort of production companies to benefit from the support and advice on offer with the aim of increasing well-being on set and improving staff retention.

As part of phase 2 of the pilot six new Well Being Facilitators from under-represented groups including people from Global Majority Backgrounds, Disabled people and the LGBTQ+ community will be trained. There are also plans to open the pilot out to other creative sectors such as music.

Announcing the funding during Mental Health Awareness Week, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, Dawn Bowden said:

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to secure funding for the second phase of this important programme – and as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week  – it’s a good time for us to  think and talk about mental health, tackle stigma head on, and find out how we can create a society that prevents mental health problems from developing and protects our mental well-being.

“The first phase of the WellBeing Facilitators programme has had a significant impact on fair, safe, inclusive and supportive working practices in the sector – and we look forward to working with partners on the second phase.”

Head of Bectu Philippa Childs, said:

“Bectu has consistently campaigned for workers’ mental health and wellbeing to be a key priority for employers and engagers, and I am delighted that the union is working in partnership with other creative unions, Creative Wales and industry stakeholders on such an important and successful initiative.

“The role of a WellBeing facilitator not only provides guidance and support for employees and freelancers, but demonstrates a commitment from employers to prioritising mental health and wellbeing at work.

“The impact of the pandemic on the industry’s workforce followed by the cost of living crisis means that, prioritising mental health at work has never been so important. Through consistent and continued industry collaboration, we can better support the workforce and ensure that film and TV production is on a path to improving its working practices.”

Ruth Ballantyne – Regional Officer, Musicians’ Union & Chair of CULT Cymru, said:

“Working with union members in the creative industries everyday we can appreciate the need for WellBeing Facilitators and the important role they can play. This pilot has helped to highlight the need within the sector for wellbeing support and following its success we are looking forward to extending these roles for those working in music and live events.

“Many musicians work in isolated, high stress environments where access to WellBeing Facilitators would be a very welcome addition. These roles are a vital step to ensuring that mental health and wellbeing is a priority and the creative industries are accessible to all”.

Feedback from the first pilot by employers and workers identified the benefits of having a trained WBF on a production. It showed that:

  • Having access to a Wellbeing Facilitator (WBF) was seen as demonstrating the employer’s positive commitment to supporting the wellbeing of its workforce.
  • The workforce was more confident in raising often relatively easy to resolve welfare issues via the anonymity of the WBF.
  • Voicing concerns around poor behaviour could help de-escalate issues.
  • Highlighting sensitive issues in scripts helped alert cast, crew and management to potential trigger points for individuals.
  • Being able to discuss in confidence personal challenges such as family issues, bereavement, poor mental health, financial problems, not getting enough work etc. & being sign-posted to appropriate support was seen as invaluable.
  • Training around mental health & wellbeing, management and equality and diversity needed by employers and the workforce.
  • Employers sought guidance on accessibility e.g. around disability, religion etc.
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PATCH Celebrates 15 Years of Helping People in Pembrokeshire



SATURDAY, 3rd June 2013, marks the 15th anniversary of PATCH, a remarkable milestone in the organization’s journey of aiding individuals in overcoming hardship. Tracy Olin, the general manager, established PATCH with humble beginnings, and it has since flourished into a well-established institution. In 2022 alone, over 30,000 food parcels were distributed, illustrating the tremendous impact of their efforts. However, this year has posed new challenges, with a surge of approximately 30% in the demand for food parcels, and donations failing to meet the levels of the previous year. Dave Golding, the acting general manager, emphasizes the constant battle to ensure an adequate food supply.

The majority of the food distributed by PATCH is sourced from public donations. Individuals can either deliver contributions directly to our headquarters on Robert Street or place them in conveniently located collection baskets at local supermarkets. In addition to public support, PATCH also receives significant assistance from prominent local businesses, including Valero, Ascona, Milford Haven Port Authority, and various others, for which we are immensely grateful. Moreover, ordinary members of the public, who have experienced firsthand the challenges of putting food on the table, offer vital support. Previously, Pembrokeshire County Council has also provided financial aid.

Despite purchasing large quantities of food using financial grants, the demand for sustenance remains insatiable. This year, we are compelled to purchase food to maintain the support we provide, highlighting the urgency of our cause.

In addition to year-round food parcel distribution, PATCH organizes an annual Toy Appeal during the Christmas season. Once again, the success of this initiative hinges on the generosity of the public and local businesses, including Valero, Milford Haven Port Authority, Stena, and several supermarkets. The Toy Appeal aims to provide each referred child with at least five age-appropriate toys, along with the necessary wrapping paper, tags, and sellotape, all kindly delivered by our partner organization, FRAME. We are immensely grateful for their invaluable assistance, as well as the support of every individual who stands by our cause.

During the pandemic, PATCH was compelled to close all its outreach posts and shifted its focus to delivering food parcels with the aid of a dedicated team of volunteer drivers. While this approach was necessary at the time, it has become evident that it is not financially sustainable. Consequently, PATCH has recently made the decision to reopen its outreach posts, making it more convenient for referring agents and service users to collect food parcels. Currently, we have outreach Food Banks situated in “The Old Chapel” on Lower Frog Street, Tenby (open Tuesday to Saturday), and at The VC Gallery in Pembroke Dock, located in the old St Mary’s School near the Fire Station in Pembroke Dock (open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm). Additionally, we have plans to open a Food Bank in “The Hive” on Goshawk Road, Haverfordwest, with the official date to be announced soon.

In addition to the Food Banks, we also operate a Charity Shop that opened its doors in September 2022. Once again, the success of this venture heavily relies on the generous contributions from the public. We are overwhelmed by the support we receive in the form of donated goods that we are able to sell, generating valuable income for the Food Bank.

Apart from relying on food and item donations for the shop, we are immensely grateful for the assistance of our volunteers. These dedicated individuals not only help prepare the food parcels but also contribute to the smooth operation of the shop. If you are reading this article and are able to spare a few hours to volunteer at one of our Food Banks or in the Shop (either on the shop floor or in the back room for sorting), please do not hesitate to contact us.

PATCH has come a long way since its inception, but the journey is far from over. As we celebrate 15 years of dedicated service to the community, we remain committed to our mission of supporting those in need. Together, with the collective efforts of Tracy Olin, Dave Golding, our partners, volunteers, and the kind-hearted members of the public, we strive to make a tangible difference in the lives of individuals facing adversity.

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Child swept out to sea rescued by kayakers as lifeboat launches



THE KATHLEEN ANN, embarked on its second call-out of the day at 3.55pm on Sunday, 28th May, following reports of a child being swept out to sea near Amroth.

The distressing incident prompted the immediate launch of the lifeboat, with its dedicated crew racing to the scene.

However, as the lifeboat made its way towards the location, reassuring news arrived that the child had been successfully rescued by alert kayakers and was now safely back on the shore.

With the child out of harm’s way and in the capable hands of the kayakers, the lifeboat crew received the stand-down order.

Grateful for the swift response and the fortunate outcome, the lifeboat returned to its station.

Angela Thomas, who witnessed the entire event, took to Facebook to share the remarkable tale of heroism. Delme Thomas, affectionately known as Del by many in the community, was the unsung rescuer who stepped forward without hesitation to save the day. Despite being unaware that the coast guard had already been alerted and the challenging conditions of the sea, Delme took it upon himself to ensure the young girl’s safe return.

Equipped with a life jacket and a commendable sense of bravery, Delme powered through the tumultuous waters towards the stranded girl, who was perilously far from shore. The distance between them only grew as time passed, but Delme’s determination and unwavering resolve never wavered. Reflecting on the incident, he humbly remarked that he would willingly embark on a similar rescue mission in the future. However, he also issued a plea to beachgoers to remain vigilant, emphasising that the outcome could have been vastly different.

Fortunately, the girl emerged from the ordeal shaken, frightened, and chilled to the bone, but physically unharmed. As she was brought back to safety, the gathered crowd erupted in applause and offered shouts of appreciation.

The RNLI said that this incident serves as a reminder of the ever-present dangers posed by the sea and the importance of remaining vigilant while enjoying coastal activities. The quick actions of the kayakers, who selflessly intervened and rescued the child from the perilous situation, are commendable and a testament to their vigilance and competence.

They said: “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Delme for his selflessness and wish him well as he continues to be an inspiration to us all.”

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Community unites to honour the memory of Zac Thompson



AS SUMMER approaches and the county prepares for another holiday season, the community of Pembrokeshire stands determined to ensure that the tragic passing of 11-year-old Zac Thompson on West Angle beach last year does not become just another statistic.

One year has passed since Zac, described as “cheeky, mischievous, and loyal,” lost his life in a devastating drowning incident.

His family and friends, joined by a small group of coaches and parents, have established Forever11, a charity aimed at finding solace and promoting sea safety awareness in Zac’s name.

On that fateful evening in July, Zac, a pupil at Pembroke Dock Community School, had no intention of venturing into the sea. Accompanied by his elder brother and their 11-year-old cousin, they had gathered on the beach to witness the beauty of the sunset. Tragically, an unexpected “freak wave” swept the boys off the rocks, and Zac found himself caught in a powerful whirlpool.

Although his two family members managed to scramble to safety on nearby rocks, Zac succumbed to the water’s grasp.

A vigilant member of the public brought him to the shoreline, where emergency services were waiting. He was swiftly airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, but tragically passed away the following day.

This heartbreaking incident had a profound impact on the close-knit community, particularly Zac’s rugby team.

In response to this senseless loss, a dedicated group of coaches and parents formed Forever11, aiming to bring forth positivity in the face of tragedy. Natalie John, aged 35, and Lucy Cawley, both trustees of the charity, refer to their group as “one big family.”

Since its inception, Forever11 has managed to raise £11,000 through a family fun day held last August, as well as an additional £5,000 from various events.

The charity’s simple yet powerful mission is to educate the local community about sea safety and awareness.

This message carries profound significance in Pembrokeshire, a region marked by one of the highest rates of water-related fatalities in Wales. Natalie highlighted that a significant portion of these incidents involve individuals who had no intention of entering the water.

Lucy, a mother of two boys herself, struggles to comprehend the loss: “You just can’t imagine living without your children.” Zac was an enthusiastic sportsman and a capable swimmer.

Lucy described him as “cheeky, mischievous, very, very loyal to his mates, incredibly kind and compassionate.” Natalie, a mother of four boys whose husband coached Zac’s rugby team, added that he was protective, ensuring fairness and kindness towards others. He possessed a gentle and caring nature.

These sentiments echo the heartfelt tribute shared by Zac’s mother, Carli Newell, a journalist at The Pembrokeshire Herald. During the inquest she said: “Zac was a complete one of a kind. He was funny, cheeky, kind, caring, courageous, and a big ball of fun with mischief running through his bones.”

Zac’s magnetic charm, coupled with his striking features and piercing blue eyes, left a lasting impression on all who knew him.

Natalie and Lucy fondly remember how he had the innate ability to bring a smile to anyone’s face. “He was one of those kids who could walk into a room not knowing anyone but he would walk out with 100 new friends,” they remarked. “You were just drawn to him.”

A talented sportsman, Zac excelled in various disciplines, with football being his greatest passion. He played at county level and represented the Swansea City academy. Lucy attests that he possessed the talent to pursue a professional football career.

Additionally, he demonstrated his sporting prowess in rugby, where he was regarded as a superstar within his team. In August following his passing, Zac’s teammates organized a memorial football and rugby match to honor his memory and facilitate healing through open conversations.

Zac’s circle of friends had been together since the age of four, and their memories of him are cherished. Reflecting on the tragedy,

Natalie emphasised that it struck a chord with everyone, as it could have happened to any of them. Determined to ensure Zac’s memory endures, she intends to make this year’s fun day, scheduled for July 22 to coincide with Zac’s funeral anniversary, even more significant than the previous one.

Image credit: RNLI David Barrett

Originally intended as a one-off event, the inaugural fun day garnered overwhelming support from the community, raising over £10,000, which was split between the Wales Air Ambulance and Angle RNLI, organizations that provided aid during Zac’s rescue. Subsequently, Forever11 attained official charity status, enabling them to focus on water safety and drowning prevention in Pembrokeshire.

The charity’s efforts thus far have included identifying and replacing broken or missing life-saving equipment, such as life rings and throw ropes, along the coastline.

Additionally, they conducted their first free water safety awareness course for 32 schoolchildren. However, their ambitions extend further, recognizing the importance of educating children in real-world beach scenarios.

Natalie observed that despite living in a coastal region, many children have not experienced the beach. While it is impossible to shield children from all dangers, raising awareness and providing knowledge about tides, winds, and water conditions can make a significant difference.

Natalie shared, “Living on the coast, it’s surprising the number of children who haven’t been to the beach.” Through their initiatives, Forever11 aims to instill a sense of vigilance and preparedness among young beachgoers.

Reflecting on the establishment of Forever11, the team stated, “Forever11 started out as a saying by Zac’s school and teammates. It’s something that resonated across the community as a symbol of our love and heartache – a loss that impacted and shocked everyone who knew him. We often talk about the rugby family, and for us, Zac was part of that family.”

This year’s fun day promises to be an engaging event, featuring a samba band, performances by the Kelly Williams school of dance, axe-throwing and archery by Paddle West, and music by Honey Fungus. Traditional stalls, a display by the Pembrokeshire fire spinners, and various inflatable attractions will also be available for attendees.

More details can be found on the Forever11 website as the community rallies together to honor the cherished memory of Zac Thompson and prevent future tragedies in the waters surrounding Pembrokeshire

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