TRADE UNIONS at Ceredigion County Council have responded to the consultation on the future of Bodlondeb residential care home by calling on council officers to work positively to identify ways to overcome the financial difficulties facing the home.
The unions are clear that everything should be done to keep the care home open for the existing and future residents, and to maintain services and employment in the area.
Owain Davies, UNISON Ceredigion county branch secretary, said: “Bodlondeb is a highly regarded and well-loved care home, providing a very valuable service to the elderly residents of Aberystwyth and North Ceredigion.
“We were very alarmed and disappointed when the council decided to consult on its future with only one option being presented – the of closure and disposal of the home.
“Their proposal is a short-sighted response to the immediate budgetary pressures faced by the council and provides no vision or strategy as to how the services currently provided by Bodlondeb will be replaced. The closure of this care home would leave a big gap in the provision of elderly social care at a time when we expect demand on services to rise rapidly.
“The response from the local community are angry over these plans. Hundreds have attended public meetings and rallies stating that they do not want this care home to close.
“The trade unions continue to highlight the reasons for the current under-occupancy of the home and how they can be addressed. We have set out clear and practical suggestions as to how the home can be adapted and developed to meet changing needs and requirements and so secure its long-term future.
“UNISON is aware of the financial challenges facing all councils at the moment, but we the response to those challenges should not be to run down and then close essential public services that so many in the local community rely on.
“With the appropriate expertise and investment, Bondlondeb could become a real asset for the council and could even generate income.
“The dedicated staff at the home are very much committed to its future, there is a clear business and service needs case for keeping the home open, but what is missing is the will of Chief Officers at the council to do so.
“In our consultation response the trade unions have set out a clear way forward for the home.
“It is our expectation to meet with council officers and hold ‘open book’ discussions with them to identify the practical steps that need to be taken to secure the future of Bodlondeb.
“At the very least, councillors should be presented with a range of options – showing the costs, benefits, and risks of each option – before they are asked to make a decision that clearly goes against the will of the local population, and will risk significantly the ability of the council to deliver its statutory responsibilities in the coming decade.”
Young women in Ceredigion make their voices heard
PERIOD poverty, access to mental health services and equal pay were among the issues raised by young women on International Women’s Day 2019.
On 8 March, in collaboration with the Young Women’s Trust, Ben Lake MP hosted a ‘Real Talk’ workshop aimed at young women aged 16 to 30 years old. Young women from all walks of life came together at the Coliseum Coffee House to voice their concerns and share their hopes for the future with the local MP.
Ben Lake said: “It was great to hear new ideas for change and to discuss ways in which we can improve the lives of young people in Ceredigion. The experiences of women and girls must be heard, both locally and nationally. After all, it is impossible for policies to be truly effective if they do not reflect the wishes, and address the challenges faced by all in society.”
The young women set out three priorities for Ben Lake to campaign for on their behalf at Westminster:
1. Education: ensure that equality issues and mental health awareness training is included on all PGCE courses
2. Increase the national minimum wage for apprentices and roll out National Living Wage for under-25s
3. Period poverty: campaign, raise awareness and look to introduce policies to mitigate the effects of period poverty
Period poverty in particular, was an issue that the young women felt needed tackling as a matter of urgency. A recent report from FreedomforGirls* found that period poverty has a direct impact on education, with pupils in the UK missing class every month due to their periods. A RightsInfo investigation** discovered thousands of women were relying on food banks to get through their monthly periods.
In an attempt to tackle period poverty, the UK Chancellor confirmed in his Spring Statement that secondary schools in England will start providing menstrual products free of charge to girls from September onwards. Ben Lake MP has encouraged the Welsh Government to follow suit.
Ben Lake said: “All women, regardless of age, social status or background, should be able to easily access the menstrual products they need.
“Too many girls miss out on vital education each month as a lack of access to menstrual products forces them to miss school. Even those pupils who do not suffer period poverty will benefit from free access to sanitary products, ensuring no child is without protection during what can be a very stressful and vulnerable time.”
New Welsh language resources for Ceredigion childminders
FROM April this year, childminders across Ceredigion will have the chance to use the special Welsh ‘Sach Stori’ resource. This aims to promote Welsh language skills to children in the county.
Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion has been working with Ceredigion County Council’s Childcare Unit to develop story packs which include a Welsh/bilingual story and a pack of resources that will be available to registered childminders in Ceredigion. The project has been in development for the last two years. The finished packs will be available to the county’s childminders from 18 March. The resource will be officially launched at a story session in Awen Teifi, Cardigan on 3 April at 10am.
Llinos Hallgarth, Cered’s Development Officer said, “This is an exciting project based on a period of co-operation with the county’s childminders to ensure a package that will be of particular benefit to them. The pack contains a story as well as educational materials that can reinforce the story or message of the story, all of which are in Welsh.”
“In order to encourage their use, we will be holding practical sessions for childminders across the county so that they can familiarise themselves with the finished pack and methods of presenting it.”
Emma Poole from the Childcare Unit said, “Sach Stori will be a great help to the Welsh and Non-Welsh speaking childminders to try and integrate the Welsh language into everyday life. This project will help childminders to deliver the Welsh language in an enjoyable way within the home.”
This project reinforces the work the Childcare Unit is aiming to do to raise awareness of the use of the Welsh language within childcare settings. This project will help settings to meet the requirements of the Care Inspectorate Wales and also support Welsh Government’s efforts to reach a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
The 10 ‘Sach Stori’ will be available to childminders and will be regularly renewed to keep them updated.
For further information contact Llinos Hallgarth at Cered: Menter Iaith Ceredigion on 01545 572 358 or call the Contact Centre on 01545 570 881 and ask to speak to Emma Poole at the Childcare Unit.
Council preparing for Brexit
WITH Brexit discussions ongoing and regularly in the headlines, Ceredigion County Council has been preparing for a range of potential impacts of Brexit. The preparations are designed to minimise any negative effects that Brexit could have on Ceredigion residents.
Eifion Evans is the Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council. He said, “We don’t know how Brexit is going to pan out. We hope that there will be little or no disruption to residents or council services. However, we are making careful preparations to minimise any negative impacts that Brexit could have.”
The council has been preparing in many different ways. Some of these include:
Working with companies that provide food to schools and canteens to see how different kinds of Brexit could affect their ability to provide ingredients. Plans have been made to replace ingredients that can’t be sourced to others if Brexit affects food coming into the country.
Council Social Care Officers have been working closely with companies who carry out social care services for the council. The officers have been helping companies to plan for Brexit situations with or without a deal. Common themes that the companies have been discussing surround medical and food supplies and staffing.
Human Resources have been identifying EU nationals who work for the council and who work for services commissioned by the council. Plans are being made to help them apply for settled status when the process starts on 29 March. Plans are also being made to help residents from EU countries to apply.
Environmental Health Officers have looked into the likely impact on officers to provide additional export licensing to companies exporting certain foods to EU countries after Brexit.
The council is contributing fully as an active member of the Dyfed Powys Local Resilience Forum. The multi-agency forum covers the Dyfed Powys Police area. It is responsible for managing serious risks to the community on a joint basis.
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