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Support for those at risk from HIV

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hiv-curtHYWEL DDA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BOARD’S Blood-borne Virus (BBV) Nursing Service is marking World AIDS Day on Monday December 1. Marked on the same date every year since 1988, World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to draw attention to the HIV epidemic around the world and many people recognise the red ribbon and wear it to show their support for people living with HIV. Currently there are almost 100,000 people in the UK living with HIV and over 35 million people worldwide.

This year’s theme for World AIDS Day is ‘Getting to Zero’ meaning the aim is to get to zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths. Janice Rees, Lead Blood-borne Virus Specialist Nurse for Hywel Dda University Health Board has been caring for patients in the area with HIV and other blood-borne viruses since 1995. Janice said: “I have seen huge changes in the field of HIV since I first came into post.

Initially we had no treatments and being told you were HIV positive was like being given a death sentence. My role involved caring for people, very often young people, at the end of their life. With the advent of treatments, people diagnosed with HIV can now live a perfectly normal life, even having their own children safely and with minimal risk of transmission, which 20 years ago was something I never dreamt I would see.”

HIV is transmitted in the following ways: By having unprotected sex with someone who is infected, so always use a condom. They can be obtained free from sexual health clinics and the Blood-borne Virus nurses By getting infected blood into your blood stream. This may be through sharing any injecting equipment; sharing snorting equipment; having tattoos or piercings done in unhygienic conditions or by infected blood getting into open wounds. NEVER share any injecting equipment including filters, spoons, water.

Needle exchange is available throughout the counties and pharmacies taking part can be identified by the yellow and green arrow on their door. When having piercings and tattoos make sure that sterile equipment is opened in front of you and in the case of tattoos make sure a sterile ink pot is used and not a ‘communal’ inkpot. If in doubt – don’t have it done! Mothers can transmit the virus to the babies – but with treatments now available, this can be prevented.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding HIV. Ms Rees continued: “When I give someone a positive HIV diagnosis, I can reassure them that medically they will be fine, live a normal life and be well. However, the hardest part for someone newly diagnosed is how other people react. Most of the people living with HIV in the Hywel Dda catchment area have fantastic support from partners, parents, family and close friends.

However, most are petrified of neighbours and others finding out their status and reacting badly, not just towards them but their loved ones as well. Sadly a small number have been ostracised in their community and in a couple of cases felt forced to move away.” The zero discrimination message seeks to stamp out this discrimination. The Equality Act offers legal protection in areas such as employment, housing and education but sadly does not offer protection against social discrimination. If anyone thinks they may have been at risk of contracting HIV, tests (including a full sexual health check up) can be undertaken at your local sexual health clinic – for Hywel Dda call 01267 248674 between 9.30 and 4.30 Monday to Friday.

The Blood-borne Virus Nursing service also offer free confidential testing, call Janice Rees on 01437 773125 / 07899915835 for Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion or Nicola Reeve for Carmarthenshire on 01554 783 535 / 07977 486665. The nurses can also be contacted if you want any advice or have any questions about HIV. They are also able to give educational talks to any agencies, community groups, care homes etc who would like to know more about HIV and the other bloodborne viruses.

Ms Rees concluded: “One of my patients recently said to me that she longs for the day when disclosing her HIV status would be like disclosing she had diabetes, where people would be more sympathetic rather than fearful of her. I really hope that this World AIDS day everyone will think carefully and help us to stamp out discrimination.”

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Construction work due to begin on transforming Lampeter Leisure Centre next month

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AS PART of Ceredigion County Council’s wider Through-age and Wellbeing Strategy, Lampeter Leisure Centre will transform into a Wellbeing Centre. 

The Wellbeing Centre will provide a wide range of services that consider and improve the physical, mental and social aspects of an individual’s wellbeing. These Through-age services will include skills and employment advice, hardship and housing support, services for young people, support for carers and early support for Mental Health.

The Wellbeing Centre will also provide increased access to information, advice and assistance for residents on all council services. Providing opportunities for people to be physically active will remain a core component of the Wellbeing Centre. The proposed redevelopment will see a new fitness suite created on the ground floor, a spin studio and a multi-purpose room that can accommodate exercise classes on the first floor. 

To aid the transformation, Lampeter Leisure Centre will have to close to ensure that the essential building work can begin. The work is due to begin mid-July 2022.

An agreement has been put in place with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s to use their leisure facilities on their Lampeter campus while the work is being undertaken, meaning that all current users of the Leisure Centre will be accommodated.

The Council and the University are committed to continuing to work together even after the construction of the Wellbeing Centre, to ensure that there is provision within Lampeter for all sports and activities currently being played at the Leisure Centre to continue and develop.

Catrin M.S. Davies, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Customer Services, said: “This significant capital investment in Lampeter Leisure Centre will ensure the future of the Centre for years and will meet the growing needs of children, young people, individuals and families in Lampeter and the surrounding area.” 

Use of the facilities at the Lampeter Campus will start week commencing Monday 11 July 2022 and will continue until the building work is complete which will be early in 2023.

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New grants scheme launched to break barriers to accessing nature

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A £2MILLION funding pot designed to bolster community resilience by harnessing the power of nature is set to be launched by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) this summer.  

The launch of the Resilient Communities Grant Programme stems from calls for a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic – a recovery which places a stronger focus on action for nature and a recovery that spreads to every part of society.

 The Welsh Government’s declaration of a Climate and Nature Emergency has also galvanised communities, businesses and public bodies in Wales to work together to mitigate against and adapt to the impacts of climate change, now and in the future.

The Resilient Communities Grant will provide communities with the opportunities to restore and enhance nature in their local areas, particularly in Wales’ most disadvantaged communities, and those with little access to nature. Supporting the provision of more green space will also support the changes needed to make to society to respond to the challenges of the climate emergency and reverse the decline in biodiversity.

 With applications set to open in July, NRW is urging projects from across Wales to develop and submit proposals that have at their heart:

  • Opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion, particularly amongst communities that have less access to quality green spaces.
  • Creative ways to reconnect people with nature and their local environment to improve physical and mental health, confidence, self-esteem and encourage ‘green behaviours’.
  • Promoting health and wellbeing through therapy and nature, particularly interventions that tackle health inequalities.
  • Nature-based solutions that help communities feel safer and secure, for example improving greenspaces blighted by criminal activity.
  • Creating more opportunities to access nature, especially where this need is reflected in future development planning.
  • Opportunities to improving community awareness and understanding of climate risks, empowering communities to be involved in decision-making and taking action to tackle climate change impacts.
  • Ensuring communities feel a sense of connection and empowerment with their natural environment and have an active role over how it is managed and improved.
  • Creating opportunities for education and involvement in citizen science so communities have a better connection and greater understanding of their local environment and the benefits that a healthy environment can bring.

Gareth O’Shea, Director of Operations for NRW, said: “We have seen people connecting with nature during the Covid-19 pandemic and a greater appreciation of the way in which it underpins our health, our economy and our wider wellbeing.

“There has also been increasing recognition that the climate and nature emergencies are upon us, and its impacts are being felt amongst the parts of society that have contributed least to its acceleration. More needs to be done to mitigate and adapt now.

“Our Resilient Communities Grant Programme seeks to support that effort – providing communities with the opportunities to meet these challenges in a number of ways.

“From promoting the benefits of greater access to nature, tackling loneliness and exclusion and empowering people to influence the decisions made in their local areas, we’re encouraging people to submit proposals that can make a significant difference to the health, wellbeing and resilience of current and future generations.”

The Resilient Communities Grant Programme can provide 100% funding and applications are welcomed for amounts from £10,000 to £250,000. Applications can be made across different places and address multiple themes. Applicants who collaborate with other partners to submit joint applications are also warmly welcomed.

For further information on NRW’s Resilient Communities Grant Programme and the upcoming webinar, please visit: Natural Resources Wales / Current grant funding opportunities or contact grants.enquiries@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

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Ceredigion man runs Cardiff half marathon as thank you to Wales Air Ambulance

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A CEREDIGION man has raised just under £2,000 for the Wales Air Ambulance as a thank you after its crews flew to the aid of him and his brother-in-law following an accident in 2014.

Jason Jarrams from Llwyncelyn was involved in a road traffic collision outside Llanarth, which resulted in him and his brother-in-law Jordan Wilson, being cut out of the wreckage.

Two air ambulances were sent to the scene and both patients were treated by the Wales Air Ambulance medics. Jordan was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff due to his head injuries and Jason went to hospital via a road ambulance. It is believed that Jordan was the first Wales Air Ambulance patient to receive a general anaesthetic at the roadside.

As a thank you – Jason, 34, set himself the huge challenge of running the Cardiff Half Marathon for the lifesaving Charity, whilst also trying to lose weight.

Jason, who now lives in Llangeler said: “I’ve run the Cardiff half for the air ambulance because unfortunately their services were required when we had two of their amazing choppers loaded with the best crews there are at our road traffic collision. My brother-in-law required extensive medical care at the roadside with slipped discs in his back, broken ribs, broken eye socket and with loads of cuts and bruises. I suffered with a broken fibula and tibia which required surgery to correct and two broken ribs on the sternum.”

Jason spent 11 days in hospital and Jordan was discharged after four days, Jason said: “Jordan was flown to the University Hospital of Wales due to his head injuries, it took less than half an hour to get there by air ambulance which to me is hard to get my head around.

“This service in Wales is absolutely critical to access remote areas and the speed in which the patient can get to the required specialist hospital is critical. Every second counts and I’m glad to say we can count on Wales Air Ambulance.” 

After the accident Jason lost an incredible six stone and then set his eyes on completing the virtual Cardiff half marathon, which he did in 2 hours and 25 minutes.

He added: “I had two friends run it with me and I set a very respectable time and found it fairly easy. The other two who took part with me are not much short of athletes with one just retired from rugby and the other training to swim the Chanel this year for charity, I kept up well and thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Jason is grateful to everyone who contributed to his fundraiser or supported him with his training or during the virtual Cardiff half Marathon and the recent Cardiff half marathon. He ran the last race by himself.

The utilities operator said: “The support I’ve had from everyone has been nothing shy of incredible, my amazing other half has been with me all the way fully supporting what I’m doing and listening to me rant about my bad runs. My family have been totally amazing with my mum, sister and my other half all coming to Cardiff for the event to watch me start and finish, they all said it was very emotional to see me finally complete the event that had been on my lips for over a year.” 

The Wales Air Ambulance celebrated its 21st anniversary on St David’s Day 2022. Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its emergency helicopters flying and its RRV’s on the road.

Jason’s employer Volac facilitated £1,000 from a charity fund set up by the company’s founder he added: “I was totally taken aback by it and respect the company I work for doing this.”

Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for Wales Air Ambulance, said: “It is always heartwarming when we hear stories of former patients who go on to fundraise for the Charity after they’ve experienced how essential our service is. A huge thank you to Jason for completing the Cardiff Half Marathon in aid of our lifesaving Charity and to everyone, especially his employers, who have supported him in his fundraising and weight loss journey. Donations like this one will help us to continue to be there for the people of Wales when they need us most, whether that is by air or via our rapid response vehicles. Your support is much appreciated.”

Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.

The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia, and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.

There’s still time to show your support to Jason by donating to his Just Giving page Jason Jarrams www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jason-jarrams

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