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Pembrokeshire Wilko employees receive support after redundancies

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FORMER staff of the Pembrokeshire Wilko stores, who faced job losses following the retail giant’s administration, have been provided guidance on tapping into almost £7,000 of potential funding. Additionally, many have actively pursued new job opportunities.

Pembrokeshire’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) informed that Wilko employees received guidance on ReAct funding. This came about when the Pembrokeshire Employer and Partnership Team, in collaboration with Careers Wales, visited all local Wilko outlets to assist the staff impacted by layoffs.

Furthermore, these employees were enlightened about the benefits they qualify for, accessible through the DWP’s jobcentres.

Fred Hatton, a representative of Pembrokeshire’s Employer and Partnership Team, expressed optimism. “Given the thriving job market, numerous former Wilko employees are exploring job prospects in other retail businesses,” he remarked. He also emphasized the seasonal hiring surge, saying, “Retailers frequently expand their workforce during the festive season, with many transitioning to permanent roles afterwards.”

Mr. Hatton highlighted DWP’s recruitment drive, stating plans to bring on 20 more Work Coach staff at Jobcentres across south-west Wales. This is in addition to the recent advertising for 153 Universal Credit Review staff for the Pembroke Dock Service Centre.

He lauded the proactive efforts of Jobcentre work coaches and partnership teams, asserting their transformative impact on jobseekers’ lives, which consequently bolsters the broader UK economy.

Discussing the local job scenario, Mr. Hatton mentioned, “Many prominent employers regularly have job openings, addressing the inevitable employee turnover. Those on the job hunt should remain hopeful and persistent, even if they don’t immediately spot their dream job.”

He urged jobseekers to be adaptive, suggesting they might start in an alternate role to cultivate confidence and skills for their eventual career aspirations.

Jobseekers are encouraged to inquire about available training. Those not on benefits can approach Careers Wales for guidance. Assistance is extended universally, catering to various demographics and situations, including individuals transitioning from education, those aged 50 and above, individuals with health conditions, and those aiming for career progression.

In another initiative, the NHS Hywel Dda UHB Future Workforce team recently organized informational sessions at Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, and Haverfordwest Jobcentres. These sessions, which covered topics like NHS recruitment and apprenticeships, were met with significant interest, prompting plans for subsequent ones.

Mr. Hatton concluded, emphasizing the ongoing efforts in Pembrokeshire to bridge employers and jobseekers. “Recent government data is promising. Pembrokeshire has witnessed a 4% decline in benefit claimants over the past year. Notably, unemployment among the 50+ demographic has reduced by a substantial 16% during the same period.”

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Miracle pup finds her forever home after heart-wrenching journey

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AERIAL, a remarkable six-legged spaniel, has captured hearts worldwide, culminating in her adoption this week. Found abandoned in a Pembrokeshire car park and famously nicknamed after Disney’s Little Mermaid due to her unique condition, Ariel’s journey from despair to joy is nothing short of miraculous.

In September 2023, the then 11-week-old puppy was discovered outside a B&M store in a neglected state. Suffering from severe physical anomalies including two extra hind limbs and an additional vulva, Ariel faced daunting challenges. A subsequent medical examination revealed a more complicated internal scenario: a missing kidney and a malformed pelvis that jeopardised her mobility.

Despite the grim prognosis, Ariel’s plight touched many, leading to a worldwide fundraising campaign that raised approximately £15,000. These funds enabled her to undergo critical surgeries at Langford Vets Small Animal Referral Hospital, Somerset, where surgeons successfully removed the surplus limbs and preserved her four functional ones.

“Both procedures went well, and remarkably, Ariel was walking and eating by the next day,” explained Mikey Lawlor, founder of Greenacres Rescue, where Ariel was rehabilitated. “It was crucial that we avoided any post-operative infections, but she’s been in the best hands,” he added, reflecting on the complexities of her care.

Ariel’s recovery was supported by numerous vet visits, specialised surgeries, and extensive physiotherapy. Her resilience and endearing character garnered media attention globally, from radio and television appearances to newspaper features, highlighting her inspirational battle for a normal life.

“We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Ariel has been officially adopted,” announced a recent post by Greenacres Rescue. “Her journey of transformation from a discarded pup to a beloved family pet has been extraordinary.”

The post also extended a heartfelt thank you to June, Ariel’s dedicated foster mother, whose relentless support was pivotal during the rehabilitation process. “June’s care and energy have been instrumental in Ariel’s recovery,” the rescue centre noted.

Surgeon Aaron Lutchman, who led Ariel’s medical team, remarked on her progress, “She’s bounced back and is a happy little dog. We hope she goes on to lead a fabulous life.”

As Ariel embarks on this new chapter with her adoptive family, her story remains a profound testament to the power of community support and the unwavering spirit of animals overcoming adversity. Greenacres Rescue encapsulates this sentiment in their message, “Ariel is symbolic of everything we stand for—love, hope, and the chance for a new beginning.”

For further updates on Ariel and other rescue stories, follow Greenacres Rescue on their social media platforms.

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Withyhedge Landfill faces political allegations and regulatory enforcement

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STEPHEN CRABB MP has vociferously criticised the Welsh Labour Government for its management of the Withyhedge Landfill in Pembrokeshire, claiming it has turned the area into a “dumping ground” for waste from across Wales. Mr. Crabb, supported by Paul Davies MS, alleges that substantial lorries deliver waste daily to the site, causing significant distress to local residents. The MP has repeatedly written to the First Minister, demanding immediate intervention, yet claims to have received no response.

Compounding the controversy, Mr. Crabb highlighted a substantial £200,000 donation to Vaughan Gething’s recent election campaign from the landfill’s owner, questioning the impartiality of regulatory practices. Despite ongoing political efforts, Mr. Crabb asserts that resolution lies solely with the Welsh Government, which has the ultimate authority to address these grievances.

Meanwhile, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has escalated its enforcement actions against the site’s operators, Resources Management UK Ltd (RML), amid persistent community complaints about odour and gas emissions. A recent Regulation 36 Enforcement Notice demands a series of remedial actions by RML, with deadlines stretching into May 2024. These measures focus on improving the site’s gas management infrastructure and capping exposed areas to mitigate odour issues.

Huwel Manley, Head of South West Operations at NRW, expressed understanding of the community’s frustration, emphasizing the urgency of the required actions. “We are committed to ensuring RML Ltd. deliver these actions rapidly and effectively. Continued non-compliance will lead to further measures, potentially including a suspension of the environmental permit,” stated Mr. Manley.

Pembrokeshire County Council, represented by Chief Executive Will Bramble, also voiced disappointment over the ongoing issues, affirming full support for NRW’s stringent enforcement steps. The Council and NRW are working closely to monitor the situation and have encouraged the public to report any odour incidents promptly to aid in effective resolution.

As the deadline approaches, all parties involved are under increasing pressure to demonstrate tangible improvements and ensure the health and well-being of Pembrokeshire residents are prioritised.

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Police issue update on the search for Luke, missing from Pembroke Dock

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POLICE have made the difficult decision to end the search for Luke, following a joint decision by all the agencies involved.

The police said: “After careful consideration of all the information and expert advice that has been made available to us, a joint decision has been made by all agencies involved that the search for Luke will now conclude and will consist of intelligence led enquiries in the coming days.

“Whilst this is an extremely difficult decision to make, we are satisfied that we have done absolutely everything we possibly can to try and locate Luke. His family have been informed of this decision and our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

“I would also like to reassure the public that in addition to the searches that have taken place at the estuary, a team of Police Officers have been conducting extensive enquiries in Pembroke Dock since Luke was reported missing.”

Meanwhile the family has made a heartfelt plea for any information that might help trace his last known movements.

Emma Dewhurst has issued an urgent appeal for information that could help track her nephew Luke’s whereabouts, last seen in the early hours of Saturday morning. Describing Luke as “jovial, kind, soft, and timid,” she reflects on his vibrant personality and gentle nature, noting his resilience and determination to push forward in life. “He is strong. He didn’t give up easily and kept going in his life,” she affirmed.

The family is reeling from the shock of Luke’s sudden disappearance. “We are all so shocked and upset,” Emma stated. “It’s profoundly distressing.”

In an effort to find Luke, his father has made the long journey from the north of England to Pembrokeshire. The emotional toll is evident, as Emma revealed, “His dad is devastated, and my mum [his grandmother] is in pieces.”

Luke was last recorded by CCTV at 6am, four hours after he left his accommodation. Emma is desperately calling on residents to review their CCTV or doorbell footage, hoping for any clue that might explain his movements during those critical missing hours. “Where has he been in that four hours?” Emma implored. “We need to fill these gaps to piece together the facts.”

She recalls Luke’s last day before he vanished, spent with his mother, ending with future plans unfulfilled. “It isn’t in his nature to just disappear,” she said. “We can’t give up. We all love him, miss him, and want him back safely.”

Emma also expressed a poignant message for Luke, should he be out there, feeling unable to come home: “If you don’t want to come home, at least reach out to someone. Let us know you are okay. That’s what my brother would want.”

If you have any information on Luke’s last known whereabouts, please contact Dyfed-Powys Police at 101, email [email protected], or reach out online at https://orlo.uk/RlB5o. For those wishing to remain anonymous, you can contact the charity Missing People at www.missingpeople.org.uk.

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