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Wales braced for record winter food crisis: Trussell Trust appeals for aid



AS WINTER sets in, Wales faces its most severe hunger crisis yet, with over a million emergency food parcels anticipated to be handed out between December 2023 and February 2024. The Trussell Trust, a leading food bank network, warns of an unprecedented demand, translating to an average of one food parcel distributed every eight seconds.

This concerning projection surpasses last year’s figures, which saw the support of over 220,000 children and 225,000 individuals accessing food banks for the first time during the same period. It is feared that these statistics may climb even higher this winter.

While the generosity of the public has maintained donation levels, the accelerating need has forced nearly 93% of 282 surveyed food banks to purchase additional stock at skyrocketing prices. A third of these establishments fear they may not sustain their current operational levels in the near future.

The Reverend Canon Mark Owen, Chair of Rhymney Valley Foodbank, highlighted the gravity of the situation: “Last winter marked a staggering 94% increase in individuals seeking our aid. We anticipate even greater numbers this year. We earnestly appeal to our communities to rally behind us and ensure no one goes hungry this winter.”

Echoing the sentiment, Jo Harry, Network Lead at the Trussell Trust in Wales, expressed her frustration, stating, “It’s disheartening to witness worsening conditions each winter. While food banks offer immediate relief, they aren’t a long-term solution. A fifth of our population is struggling to make ends meet. This is not the Wales we envision.”

Emphasising the collective strength of the community, she added, “While an individual facing hunger might feel powerless, the combined efforts of thousands can bring about monumental change. It’s high time we eliminate hunger across Wales, ensuring no one relies on a food bank for survival.”

Residents eager to contribute can support their local food banks through food donations or monetary contributions to address the donation shortfall. For more information on how to donate or locate a nearby food bank, visit the official Trussell Trust website.


King’s speech highlights focus on economic growth and defence



ON WEDNESDAY (Jul 17), the King delivered his Speech, outlining the government’s priorities for the coming year. Central to the government’s agenda is a commitment to economic stability and growth, along with bolstering national defence and forging stronger international partnerships.

Opening with a focus on the economy, the King emphasised that stability will be the cornerstone of the government’s economic policy. “Securing economic growth will be a fundamental mission,” he stated, pledging to establish a new partnership with both businesses and working people. The government aims to address recent cost of living challenges by prioritising wealth creation for all communities.

The speech introduced several bills, including the Budget Responsibility Bill, which mandates independent assessments of significant tax and spending changes by the Office for Budget Responsibility. This move is aimed at preventing a repeat of past economic mismanagement. Additionally, the Draft Audit Reform and Corporate Governance Bill and the Pension Schemes Bill will be introduced to strengthen audit practices and corporate governance.

The King underscored the government’s unwavering commitment to NATO, pledging to maintain strong Armed Forces and a nuclear deterrent. A Strategic Defence Review will be conducted to ensure the UK’s defence capabilities are matched to evolving global threats. The government also reaffirmed its full support for Ukraine and its aspirations for NATO membership, and announced plans to reset relations with European partners, improve trade and investment relationships, and seek a new security pact with the EU.

Further, the government plans to introduce several significant domestic policies. House of Lords reform will be addressed through legislation to remove hereditary peers’ right to sit and vote in the Lords. In Northern Ireland, measures will be brought forward to repeal and replace the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act 2023. A Duty of Candour for public servants, known as the Hillsborough Law, will be introduced to impose a legal duty on civil servants to speak out about issues.

Healthcare improvements will include measures to reduce NHS waiting times, focus on preventive care, and improve mental health provision for young people. The government will also legislate to progressively raise the legal age to buy cigarettes and impose limits on vape sales and marketing through the Tobacco and Vapes Bill.

Social and educational reforms are also a priority. The government will legislate to end no-fault evictions and reform grounds for possession through the Renters’ Rights Bill. Educational reforms will include removing VAT exemptions on private school fees to fund new teacher positions and establishing Skills England to partner with employers. Additionally, legislation will address race and disability equality, and modernise the Mental Health Act.

The government is committed to tackling climate change, with plans to establish Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean power company headquartered in Scotland, and to support sustainable aviation fuel production. Infrastructure and housing delivery will be accelerated through the Planning and Infrastructure Bill.

Law and order measures will include the Border Security, Asylum and Immigration Bill, aimed at modernising the asylum system and establishing a new Border Security Command. Community policing will be strengthened, anti-social behaviour addressed, and support for victims enhanced. Public safety measures will include the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, part of broader efforts to combat terrorism.

The King’s Speech reflects a broad legislative agenda, focusing heavily on economic stability, defence, and social reforms. Notably, it aims to redress past economic mismanagement and improve public services and governance. The emphasis on modernising the constitution and tackling climate change indicates a forward-looking approach to governance, while the extensive social policies show a commitment to fairness and opportunity for all citizens.

As the government sets out its legislative priorities, the coming year promises significant changes aimed at fostering economic growth, enhancing national security, and improving the quality of life across the United Kingdom.

Responding to the King’s Speech, Andrew RT Davies MS, Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said: “While there were parts of the King’s Speech to be welcomed, people in Wales are crying out for an end to economic unfairness.

“That can begin if the new UK Government urgently delivers for our steel communities and sends a message that no community in Wales will be left behind in the drive for growth.”

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St Davids Lifeboat launches to assist 40-foot schooner



ST DAVIDS RNLI were requested to launch all-weather lifeboat Norah Wortley at 5.44pm on Thursday (Jul 11) after a 40 foot schooner issued a PAN-PAN message.

The schooner had broken its bow sprit and was unable to recover it from the water. Still attached to the vessel and now rolling up and down the boat’s side, the skipper was worried that it could damage the hull and cause a leak. On passage to the Isle of Man from Falmouth, the schooner was some 4-6miles west of the Smalls lighthouse when the call for urgent assistance was made.

In order to minimise possible damage to the hull, the skipper elected to steam down-sea until St Davids lifeboat arrived on scene. Once on scene, the charity’s lifeboat began an escort towards Milford Haven waterway.

Angle RNLI all-weather lifeboat arrived on scene later and the escort was handed over to them just south of the Hats and Barrels islands. St Davids crew returned to station and rehoused at around 10:45pm.

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RSPCA reveal 160 animal cruelty reports in Pembrokeshire



THE LATEST figures from RSPCA Cymru reveal a troubling increase in animal cruelty cases, with 160 incidents reported in Pembrokeshire alone this year. This alarming statistic is part of a broader surge in cruelty reports across Wales, where 3,059 cases have been recorded from January to June 2024.

Pembrokeshire’s figures contribute to a national concern, as RSPCA Cymru braces for a busy summer following a 2% rise in cruelty reports across England and Wales. Last year, intentional harm and beatings of animals rose sharply during the summer months, and this year seems poised to follow the same distressing trend.

The cruelty figures in Pembrokeshire place it among the top counties in Wales for reported abuse. Rhondda Cynon Taf leads with 266 reports, followed by Cardiff with 255, Swansea with 237, Carmarthenshire with 189, and Caerphilly with 186.

Karen Colman, head of the RSPCA welfare oversight team, highlighted the concerning rise in cruelty reports: “Sadly, animal cruelty reports are on the rise this year – and across Wales, we’ve seen more than 3,000 animal cruelty reports already this year.”

One particularly disturbing case in Pembrokeshire involved a hedgehog found with an air gun injury in Haverfordwest. Ginny Batt, who runs the Pembrokeshire Hogspital, responded to a call about the injured animal. The hedgehog, wandering during the day, was found with a pellet wound near its neck and shoulder. Despite efforts to save it, the animal had to be euthanised due to the severity of its injuries.

Batt said, “The pellet missed his head and caught the shoulder. There was no bone injury, but the impact had dislocated his shoulder.”

In response to the rising cruelty cases, the RSPCA has launched its ‘No Animal Deserves Cruelty’ summer appeal. The charity is seeking public support to fund rescue operations and care for abused animals during the peak summer period.

“Summer is a really challenging time for us – and we’re braced for another busy season on the frontline, but we cannot do this alone,” added Colman.

The RSPCA is also advocating for tighter controls and better education regarding air guns. The organisation calls for mandatory basic safety training for anyone purchasing an air gun to prevent wildlife from being targeted.

Among the many animals rescued from cruelty, Loki’s story stands out. The puppy was found covered in bruises and fractures, but after being rescued and rehabilitated by the RSPCA, he now lives happily in a new home. RSPCA Inspector Zoe Ballard, who rescued Loki, recently reunited with the transformed dog, expressing her joy: “Seeing him today, there is a twinkle in his eye. So different from that little puppy I met that first day.”

As the RSPCA marks its 200th anniversary, it underscores the ongoing need for vigilance and support to combat animal cruelty. The charity’s summer appeal aims to raise the necessary funds to rescue and rehabilitate animals facing abuse.

For more information on the RSPCA’s No Animal Deserves Cruelty Appeal, visit the charity’s website.

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