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Women on Wales frontline feeling pressures at work and home during pandemic, says UNISON

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WOMEN in key worker positions across Wales are losing sleep, spending more on household bills, and worrying about the pandemic’s impact on their children’s education and mental health, according to a survey published today (Wednesday) by UNISON.  

The findings are based on responses from over 2,700 women including teaching assistants, nurses, council workers and police staff. They provide a comprehensive insight into the emotional, physical and financial impact of Covid on critical public services staff who are keeping Wales running.   

The report Women Working Through the Pandemic includes the experiences of those providing a wide range of essential services in Wales including education, health, social care and policing, either in their usual workplace (51%) or from home (36%).   

It shows the desperate situations key workers are facing and why they need proper time off and a pay rise, says UNISON.  The findings are released ahead of UNISON’s Empowering Women virtual conference, which opens later today with a keynote address from new general secretary Christina McAnea.

Some have described being left to pay all the bills after the death of their partner from Covid or resorting to wrapping themselves in blankets to save on electricity bills.

The results show the huge strain of working during the Covid crisis with nearly two thirds (67%) not sleeping well, more than half (51%) not taking regular breaks and a significant number (58%) feeling stressed most of the time.   

The impact of the pandemic on children is also a source of anxiety for many. Of the women who are parents, three in five (62%) are worried about the mental health of their children and more than two fifths (48%) are concerned about how their education is being affected. 

The emotional impact of not being able to see friends or colleagues face to face – or look after themselves properly – is a major issue. The vast majority (92%) miss catching up with close friends in person, and many (50%) do not have time to reflect and destress. More than a third (37%) say they are experiencing loneliness.

Women who can least afford it are paying the biggest price, according to UNISON. Of the 2,700 who took part in the survey – half (53%) – earn £18,000 a year or less, and a more than a third (38%) have an annual salary of £15,000 or less.   

More than two fifths (44%) have seen their spending increase – especially on energy, food, technology, transport and housing. Reasons include having children off school all the time, a partner working from home or being furloughed.   

Three in ten (30%) say they had to dip into savings to cope with financial difficulties. One even revealed they had bought a caravan to live in to protect their vulnerable family members from catching Covid.      

More than half (53%) said being unable to get a regular hair cut or colour is affecting how they feel about themselves. Almost half (44%) are not exercising regularly.     

UNISON is calling on the government to ensure employers offer staff more flexibility over when they work and not to take long hours for granted, fund childcare properly so it’s affordable and accessible for key workers and maintain the £20 increase to the universal credit allowance.       

UNISON Cymru Wales regional secretary Karen Loughlin said: “Public services would have come to a standstill without the vital jobs done by women in our schools, hospitals, police forces and local councils.  

“But employees are exhausted. They’re worn out from meeting work demands during Covid while caring for relatives, looking after children and dealing with debt. Those on low wages are the ones shouldering these burdens most of all.  

“All women deserve better and this country’s economic recovery depends on them. But their mental and physical health is at stake.   

“The government needs to step up by providing the funding and support to make their working lives easier.”   

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“Significant” heroin dealer to pay back £40,500 in criminal gains

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A MAN jailed for possessing heroin with intent to supply and money laundering has been ordered to pay back £40,500 gained through criminal activity.

Grzegorz Kramp, of Commins Coch in Ceredigion, was sentenced in February to three years and nine months in prison following a Dyfed-Powys Police investigation.

A court heard how the 45-year-old was a “significant street dealer” in the area after police stopped his car and found heroin worth £10,000 inside.

Following sentencing, the force’s Economic Crime Team began Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) proceedings against Kramp to strip him of the funds earned through illegal activity.

Financial investigator Rob Thomas said: “Financial enquiries were carried out as part of the investigation, and it was revealed that a significant amount of money had gone through the defendant’s bank account in the period leading up to his arrest.

“This gave us grounds to pursue a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation as it was clear Kramp had financially benefitted from his criminal activity.”

On Friday, June 18 a POCA hearing was held at Swansea Crown Court, where HHJ Huw Rees declared that Kramp had benefitted by £77,179.66.

He imposed a confiscation order requiring the defendant to pay £40,500. This will be split between £5,000 seized from Kramp, and equity from his home address, which is to be sold within three months.

Mr Thomas said: “To explain the difference in the amount gained by Kramp against the amount he has been ordered to pay back – proceeds of crime are split into two figures – the benefit figure, which is the amount gained, and the available amount, which is the amount of cash seized or assets which can be sold.

“In this instance, the benefit amount is over £77,000 that related to unexplained income in Kramp’s bank account over a number of months, but the available amount that could be recovered in cash or assets was calculated to be £40,500, which is what he will now pay back.

“This order is another success on top of the original sentence as by taking out the profits that fund crime, we can help disrupt the cycle and prevent further offences from taking place.”

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A group of Year 9 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais asked to self-isolate as COVID-19 case confirmed

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A GROUP of Year 9 pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Penglais, Aberystwyth have been asked to self-isolate for 10 days following the confirmation of a COVID-19 case at the school.

In addition, pupils travelling on the same bus as the confirmed positive case have also been contacted and asked to self-isolate for 10 days again. These pupils come from more than one Year Group from Ysgol Gyfun Penglais.

All confirmed contacts of the positive case must remain at home for 10 days to reduce the possible spread of the virus to family, friends and the wider community. The pupils will be taught remotely for this period.

The parents of all these pupils have been contacted by the School and will also be supported by Ceredigion Contact Tracing Team.

The Council urges all parents to refer their children for a test if they develop any of the following symptoms, which are:

·       a high temperature

·       a new continuous cough

·       a loss or change to sense of smell or taste

  • mild summer cold type symptoms – including sore throat, runny nose, headache
  • flu-like symptoms, including myalgia (muscle ache or pain); excessive tiredness; persistent headache; runny nose or blocked nose; persistent sneezing; sore throat and/or hoarseness, shortness of breath or wheezing
  • any new or change in symptoms following a previous negative test.

In addition, parents should book a COVID-19 test if their children feel generally feeling unwell and have a history of being in contact with a known COVID-19 case.

You can apply for a test on https://gov.wales/apply-coronavirus-covid-19-test or by phoning 119.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Ceredigion has increased significantly over recent days and we are urging people to continue to maintain 2 metre social distancing, wear a face mask indoors, wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds and keep inside spaces well ventilated. Following these rules will stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ceredigion.

No further details will be provided regarding this matter.

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Three services in two days for New Quay RNLI

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NEW QUAY RNLI’s inshore lifeboat was called into action three times in two days last week, firstly to a surfer near New Quay while on a training exercise on Thursday evening (17 June), then to a windsurfer in Aberaeron on Friday (18 June) and, while returning to station, a passenger boat in New Quay with a fouled propeller. 

On Thursday evening Dylan Price, New Quay RNLI’s helm was taking crew on a training exercise when they were requested by HM Coastguard to assist a surfer in difficulty in Llanina, near New Quay. Dylan said, “On arrival we found them safe and well so a false alarm with good intent. We then continued with our training which included search patterns, a man overboard scenario and boat handling drills.” 

Next, on Friday afternoon, in a strong northerly wind, the inshore lifeboat was tasked on service once again. Pete Yates, New Quay RNLI’s helm said, “We were requested by HM Coastguard to launch our inshore lifeboat at 1.40pm to a windsurfer in difficulty off Aberaeron. We made best speed up the coast in difficult conditions and arrived just as the casualty made it safely ashore, to be met by the New Quay Coastguard team. 

“On returning to New Quay we assisted a passenger boat with a fouled propeller. We were able to free the rope from the propeller and then returned to station. Good outcomes all round! Remember if you see if you see anyone in difficulty or you find yourself in trouble on the coast call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

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