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Drug deaths at their highest ever levels in Wales

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WELSH drug deaths are at their highest ever levels according to a new report by Public Health Wales, with deaths from drug poisoning having increased by 78 per cent over the last 10 years.

The report also highlights that drug deaths may be increasingly occurring in people using drugs on a recreational basis, with a rise in deaths involving cocaine, amphetamine and MDMA collectively accounting for 14 per cent of drug misuse deaths. These deaths tended to occur amongst younger people in their 20’s.

In a third of all drug deaths reviewed, ‘no known contact’ was reported between the deceased and any local health, social care or criminal justice services in the 12 months prior to death.

The report recommends action to influence the current legislative approach to drugs policy in the UK, as well as a medical amnesty policy to protect people seeking medical attention relating to drug poisonings.

Drug misuse deaths, a subset of drug poisoning deaths, have increased by 52 per cent over the last decade and by 12 per cent in the last year up from 185 deaths in 2017 to 208 in 2018 – with a current rate of 72 deaths per million population. Wales has the second highest rates of drug misuse deaths in England and Wales regions.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said:
“Drug markets have changed and expanded over the last few years, both in terms of availability, and range of drugs, and this trend is set to continue. One of the most distressing impacts of these changes is the rise in premature deaths.

“Across Wales there are effective interventions in place to reduce premature drug deaths including specialist substance misuse services and, for opioid deaths, the provision of Take-Home Naloxone. However, expansion of the Naloxone programme will be required to ensure widespread access to this life-saving intervention. In addition it is vital that the range of people using drugs are able to make better use of services that can support them, and reduce their risk of harm and premature death.

“Given the scale of problem drug use in Wales, it is likely that every member of the population will know someone affected by, or experiencing difficulties with drugs be they illegal or prescribed, but may be unaware. Evidence is clear that seeking support early on can prevent escalation of problem use and dependency, however, fear of stigmatisation and social exclusion may be barriers to this. Consideration needs to be given to how this can be overcome in Wales to prevent future tragic deaths.”

As in previous years, opioids including heroin were involved in the just over half of drug misuse deaths reported in 2018. Poly-drug use, the use of other drugs including benzodiazepines and cocaine, was reported in 49 per cent.

In addition, there has been a more than four-fold increase in the number of deaths involving cocaine over the last five years. In 2018, cocaine was recorded in 31 of deaths, representing 15 per cent of all drug misuse deaths.

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Energy Efficiency scheme to come to Cardigan

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If you live in a cold home in the town of Cardigan, your home may be eligible for a heating upgrade, wall or loft insulation or solar panels all free of charge under Welsh Government’s Arbed scheme.

Ceredigion County Council are working in partnership with Arbed am Byth, who manage the scheme on behalf of Welsh Government, to address fuel poverty in the County by improving the energy efficiency and reducing the Carbon Dioxide emissions from our homes. Cardigan has been identified as an area for a potential scheme. This scheme is funded by Welsh Government and European Union ERDF funds.

A cold home can have a negative impact on a person’s everyday health and wellbeing. Living in an energy inefficient home tends to have higher fuel costs due to heat loss as a result of a lack of insulation. The aim of the scheme is to make homes warmer, more comfortable and more affordable to heat. This will be achieved through installing a range of appropriate energy efficiency measures.

Homes in Cardigan are currently being assessed to see if they are eligible for free energy saving measures. If your home is located within the designated boundary of the scheme and is either owner occupied or rented from a private landlord the property qualifies for a home assessment. Every home within the designated area is eligible to apply regardless of the financial situation of the residents living in the home.

During the assessment visit the surveyor will establish whether the home qualifies for energy efficiency measures and which measures may be appropriate. The assessment is free and the home owner is not under any obligation to proceed with the scheme. Following the assessment, Arbed and Byth can advise what specific measures are applicable your home.

Councillor Dafydd Edwards is the Cabinet member with responsibility for Housing. He said, “We are pleased to work in partnership with Arbed am Byth to ensure that our county’s residents live in comfortable homes. This ensures better health and wellbeing for our people. This is a good opportunity for the people of Cardigan town to take advantage of improving their homes.”

Working with Ceredigion County Council, Arbed am Byth hope to support around 150 homes through the scheme. The Managing Director of Arbed am Byth, informs us that “the Cardigan Arbed scheme is a fully funded scheme which will help residents reduce their heating bills and improve the efficiency of their homes. It is a great opportunity to get much needed help at no cost, but the scheme can only address 150 homes, so I urge residents to apply quickly.”

Delivering a home energy efficiency scheme while the coronavirus pandemic is still with us is challenging. Arbed am Byth’s Service Excellence Manager, Jordan Price said, “We have introduced very robust measures to ensure we can work safely in your home through the Covid-19 pandemic. Our assessors and installers complete daily symptom checkers, work in bubbles, wear gloves and masks at all times and sanitise regularly. They always call ahead to check nobody has symptoms before they come to your home. While in the house, they will ensure social distancing.”

For further information on the scheme contact Arbed am Byth at info@arbedambyth.wales or call them 03300414647.

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Connect to Kindness Calendar launch

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Showing acts of kindness is now more important than ever, and this is why a kindness calendar has been launched as part of the Connect to Kindness campaign in Ceredigion.

Connect to Kindness is a regional campaign that was launched in July 2020 across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. The campaign aims to create more understanding about the benefit and impact of kindness to ourselves and others in our community.

As part of the kindness calendar, members of the public are asked to send in their photographs, artwork, or even prose of poetry, or anything that represents kindness and its power. The chosen piece will then be included in the calendar for a particular month in 2021.

Entries can be sent in via post or e-mail and must be submitted by noon on 22 November 2020. Full details can be found at: https://connecttokindness.wales/calendar/.

Cyra Shimell, “We hope the calendar will bring some fun at this unprecedented time. It will be interesting to see peoples various interpretations of what kindness means to them. Get as creative at you like!”

If you would like more information about this campaign, visit https://www.connecttokindness.wales/. You can also take a look at the Facebook page ‘Cysylltu â Charedigrwydd Ceredigion – Connect to Kindness Ceredigion’ to see some stories of random acts of kindness.

For more details contact Cyra Shimell, Community Connector Plus Development Ceredigion on cyra.shimell@ceredigion.gov.uk.

Share the message, as it all starts with one person, YOU!

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Business offer WG help in ‘non-essential’ shopping row

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THIS morning (Tuesday, October 27), the Wales Retail Consortium, CBI Wales and Association of Convenience stores presented the Welsh Government joint recommendation to resolve the confusion over non-essential items. The three industry bodies’ statement expresses the hope that the Welsh Government, ‘will agree to these recommendations and the people of Wales can refocus all their energies on respecting the Fire Break’. The recommendations come in response to confused and confusing messaging from the Welsh Government, which allowed its public health message to be drowned out over the weekend by rows over whether toasters, Lee Childs novels, and size 16 jeans were essential items for customers. The confusion was not helped by a mistaken tweet by supermarket giant Tesco which claimed women’s period products were not essential items when they are and always have been. The WRC, CBI Wales and ACS believe their recommendations will fulfil retail’s role in tackling the spread of the virus while allowing for discretion to be used on an individual basis – as recommended by Health Minister Vaughan Gething in a tense press conference yesterday, http://pembrokeshire-herald.com/61929/welsh-health-minister-defends-retail-restrictions/. The business bodies recommend:
  • To limit the spread of the virus and allow for individual discretion, retailers will prominently display Welsh Government approved signage in front of known non-essential items and in communal areas. The signage will make clear the government’s regulation and the need to abide by it.
  • This message will be reinforced through in-store announcements and social media messaging. Advising customers to put off non-essential purchases
  • We recommend the individual customer is trusted to make their own decision as to whether a product is non-essential or not, taking into account the notices displayed throughout the store and their immediate needs
  • If the customer goes ahead with the purchase of the item the final liability ought to rest with the customer
  • Retailers will remove special in-store promotional displays of non-essential items in order to minimise browsing and avoid triggering a non-essential purchase.
  • These recommendations would mean non-essential items are not removed from shelves – or cordoned off in stores – but large notices are placed in front of the products and in communal spaces informing customers of the Welsh Government’s regulations and the Welsh public are trusted to make the right decision.
They also say they ‘look forward to engaging with Welsh Government again this morning and we hope consensus can be reached’.
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