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Robots invade Aberystwyth!

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Robots display at the Bandstand: Lots to see

ABERYSTWYTH PROMENADE was dominated by robots and mechanics over the weekend as the Beach Lab landed for another year.

The summer weather boded well for the free entry event which took place on Saturday (Jul 1) as visitors, families and local residents flocked to the Bandstand where they were able to observe the fantastic range of interactive entertainment robots created by members of Aberystwyth Robotics Club.

There were also robots at the Bandstand built by local schoolchildren at Aberystwyth University.

Some of the machines on display were developed at the University’s award-winning club for 12-18 year old pupils from Penglais and Penweddig schools including Joseph the 3-D Printed Robot, Laser Harp with infra-red laser beams instead of strings, Idris the car-sized all-terrain robotic platform, Lego Mindstorm Sumo platforms, Valiants teaching robots performing synchronised dance routines and Blackbot the four-wheeled drive robot which is operated by a handglove system.

A familiar feature to all there was Doris the Dalek, who patrolled the promenade throughout the day and a familiar collection of Droids inspired by characters from Star Wars which included C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8.

Additionally, Infinity from Series 1 of the BBC’s Robot Wars was also on display to keep the visitors company.

Patricia Shaw, a Computer Science lecturer at Aberystwyth University, spoke with The Herald and explained about Miro the robot that was on show: “Miro the Robot is a cross between a rabbit and a dog (or a donkey depending what you see in it) and is designed as a social companion.

“It has quite a few sensors inside and its’ behaviour is modelled on an animal. It responds to being stroked which keeps it happy, and if it is scared it will go and hide in a dark corner.

“It is there as a companion, particularly for elderly people, and it can interact with them. If anything were to happen to a person, it would be able to raise an alarm.

Miro is connected to the internet so it can actually alert people as necessary if anyone has an incident.”

The Herald asked Patricia about the response Miro the robot received at the Bandstand:

“The response has been really positive. We have had a lot of children interact with it as well as the adults who have really loved it.

“They have all had natural responses to the interaction of the robot and Miro has received a lot of attention from everybody”.

The event was organised by Stephen Fearn, of the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer Science (IMPACS) at Aberystwyth University.

Speaking to The Herald about the event, Stephen explained more about his role at Aberystwyth University:

“My main role is teaching laboratories technician for the Institute of Mathematics, Physics and Computer science which is to look after the technical aspect of busy undergraduate teaching laboratories”.

On what highlights he took away from the Beach Lab at the Bandstand, Stephen described to The Herald:

“The highlights were definitely the delights on people’s faces as they were engaged with the exhibits and robots that were designed and built by the children in the Aberystwyth Robotics club”.

Stephen told The Herald what goes into organising and planning an event such as the Beach Lab:

“A lot of work goes into organising an event like this, and getting support from so many willing volunteers who give their time to show the magnificent creations they have built.

“From the simple robotic quad spider to the latest research instrumentation development for the next Mars mission”.

Stephen said how he felt the event was successful for members of the public:

“Social media play a lot these days in advertising to the masses, and people came especially to see this event as it something different, yet it caters for all age groups”.

“How important do you feel it is to highlight what Aberystwyth has to offer through this type of event and the work of the Aberystwyth Robotics Club?” The Herald asked Stephen, to which he responded:

“The Aberystwyth Robotics club is very unique. There is not another weekly club that specializes in robotics as an afterschool club.

“We have been so successful that we are now the leading Welsh STEM hub and won a National award for university student ambassadors in a STEM club.

“Apart from the awards, the main aim is to introduce school children, boys and girls to robotics in a controlled environment so giving them transferable skills as they go through their school life”.

The Herald concluded the interview by asking Stephen how he feels the Beach Lab succeeds in bringing the whole community together during the summer period:

“Beachlab succeeds because it brings exciting technological development, designed and built at the University to the members of the public in a friendly and understandable way.

“What better than seeing exciting robotic platforms driving along the prom on a sunny day- did you see the Dalek trying to order an ice cream!!!!”.

Members of the public were also able to visit the Old College to see and discuss some of the pioneering research being carried out by Aberystwyth University’s postgraduate students on robotics and other subjects.

More than 20 of the postgraduate students displayed their research in a series of posters in the main hall of the Old College

Along with robotics, some of the other fields of study included the ExoMars mission, green energy, the DNA of yeast, Alzheimer’s disease and the hippy movement in rural Wales 1968-1980.

Professor Reyer Zwiggelaar, Head of the Graduate School at Aberystwyth University has said:

“This display of posters is an excellent opportunity for the public to get a glimpse of the range and depth of research being carried out in Aberystwyth, as well as put their questions directly to those carrying out this ground-breaking work”.

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Community

A reminder to residents and visitors as the number of Delta cases increase

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CEREDIGION is starting to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Ceredigion and across Wales over recent days. The Delta variant has been detected in Ceredigion; a different variant which causes a wider range symptoms than previously, the Council has said.

We are becoming increasingly concerned about this increase; the current rate per 100 thousand of the population is 33 and this is likely to increase further over the coming days. This is a significant rise, considering at the beginning of June the rate per 100 thousand of the population was as low as 2.8 per 100 thousand.

The new variant of COVID-19 is in all parts of Wales. It spreads faster and we need to be more vigilant and ensure that we follow the most recent guidelines which are as follows:

·       Only members of your extended household can enter your home.

·       Face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that are open (subject to certain exemptions and exceptions), and on public transport and in taxis.

·       People should try and work from home if they can.

·       People should maintain social distancing, including outdoors, and don’t mix with too many different groups of people.

·       People should wash their hands regularly and follow other advice on hygiene.

·       People must self-isolate when told to do so by NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect or as soon as you develop symptoms

·       Book a test if you experience any of the symptoms.

Symptoms of the Delta variant of coronavirus include a headache, followed by sore throat, runny nose and fever. We are urging people who feel unwell with ANY of these symptoms to book a test, be extra cautious, social distance, and maintain good hand hygiene.

As everybody is making the most of a summer with more relaxed restrictions than at the start of the year, it’s still vital for everyone to remember we’re still battling this virus and trying to prevent the threat of a third wave. Limiting your contacts is essential for keeping the infection rate down and it’s how we will ultimately protect each and every one of us.

In Ceredigion, over 68% have received the first vaccine and over 44% have now received the second vaccine. A first dose of the vaccine is now available to everyone over 18. The second vaccine significantly improves your immunity, so it is important that you get your second dose to complete your course of vaccinations.

Getting both vaccine doses and following COVID-19 guidelines will protect us all against the new variant. Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDdUHB) are now running walk-in clinics for first and second dose vaccination from Monday 21 to Sunday 27 June. More information on the HDdUHB website.

Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.

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Community

Youth Work Week – Support for young people from a flexible and devoted team

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THIS YEAR Youth Work Week is from 23 to 30 June. It is an opportunity to celebrate the positive stories and successes from the last 12 months – highlighting the innovation, resilience and resourcefulness that the sector has shown during an exceptionally difficult year.

Ceredigion Youth Service have utilised their provision since the beginning of the pandemic to offer digital spaces and opportunities for young people to socialise, receive education and take part in online activities and workshops.

During Youth Work Week, the Youth Work Sector will be highlighting their success stories on social media and recognising the contribution that all those working in Youth Work Services have made to young people and communities. There will be opportunities for young people to take part in various activities, workshops and competitions to celebrate the week. This year, Youth Work Week is based around the theme ‘Expressive’ where each day of the week there is an opportunity to highlight achievements, say thank you, and increase understanding around youth work – covering youth work services in the broadest sense.

One of our young member’s said: “Through having the support of a Youth Worker during the pandemic it has meant I have had opportunities to receive a phone call or text whenever I want or need, I have been offered to go for a walk if needed and I was offered the oppportunity to go into school several days a week during lockdown. Being able to have these resources at my hands has meant that I have been able to cope emotionally during this lockdown, but also being able to stay on top of school work which also contributes to coping better emotionally”.  

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer – Porth Cymorth Cynnar said “I have seen first-hand the value and the impact youth work can have on young people’s lives here in Ceredigion. For many young people Youth Work is their lifeline. Youth Work provides young people with a safe space, a doorway to opportunities and prepares them for their future, but most important of all, Youth Work allows young people to be heard, to relax, to have fun, to learn, to socialise, to grow and to develop. Ceredigion Youth service strives to provide young people with experiences and skills, which will last a lifetime”.

For more information about the work of Ceredigion Youth Service, visit their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page @GICeredigionYS or visit their website at www.giceredigionys.co.uk.

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Update for Multi-purpose Community Centres following First Minister announcement

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TODAY, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced that multi-purpose community centres including community centres, village halls, church halls and other community facilities can reopen from 03 May. This decision has been brought forward from 17 May.

Welsh Government announced changes during today’s briefing, and the guidance for multi-purpose community venues is being updated to ensure compliance with developments in regulations, including greater emphasis on ventilation. Welsh Government continue to advise authorities that the regulations on social gathering will still prevent a number of activities from taking place at community venues, and only organised activities for up to 15 people will be permitted.

The panel strongly advise you to make every effort to carry out your activity digitally or make contact by phone. If not, consider whether it is possible to hold your activity outdoors, in-line with Welsh Government guidance. Holding your activity indoors should be considered as a last resort. If this is the only option and it’s essential that you meet then please keep the session brief and involve as few people as possible, with all necessary procedures and protocols in place.

Those responsible for community activities should remember to;

  • maintain a social distance of 2 meters.
  • wear a face covering in indoor public spaces.
  • regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer provided.   

A multi-agency panel has been set up to advise and support around the safe and proportionate reopening of facilities in-line with national guidance. The panel has been created under Ceredigion’s Public Services Board Sub Group; Understanding our Communities. Leading on the development of the group is Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations (CAVO) and Ceredigion County Council in partnership with Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service. The panel includes representation from Health & Safety, Environmental Health and Community Safety.

The panel encourages anyone responsible for community facilities to seek advice to ensure that arrangements are safe and secure and that compliance is in-line with national guidance. Prior to re-opening any community facility those managing centres must ensure that they are ‘Covid-Free Zones’.

The panel will aim to host another briefing session on April 28 at 13:30 to support those in charge of community venues with the latest developments. If you would like to join the next briefing session, please register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cyfleusterau-cymunedol-ceredigion-community-facilities-information-session-tickets-152071456821?aff=ebdssbonlinesearch or get in touch via the contact details below.

The multi-agency panel will continue to support and advise Community Groups and Organisations, and questions or information requests can be submitted to the group which meets on a weekly basis via CAVO on gen@cavo.org.uk or by phone on 01570 423232.

Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.

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