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Consultation on future of gas network for west Wales enters final week

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PEOPLE from west Wales are being urged to have their say as a public consultation on the future of the local gas network is set to close on Friday (Aug 17).

Wales & West Utilities look after the pipes that bring gas to homes and businesses across Wales and the south west of England. The company has received almost 20,000 responses to its consultation but is now urging as many people as possible to take two minutes to pipe up and shape its plans for the future. Everyone who completes the consultation will be entered into a weekly draw to win a £100 Amazon Gift Card.

The company is asking people to give their views on issues such as the gas emergency service, investment to keep the gas network safe and reliable and how it supports those most in need. It is also seeking views on preparing the gas network for a greener future, making sure it can continue to deliver essential services for generations to come.

Wales & West Utilities charge for their services through consumer gas bills. Currently, their services make up 20% of an annual gas bill – so for the average gas bill of £630, that’s £128 a year – or 35 pence per day.

Graham Edwards, Chief Executive at Wales & West Utilities, explains: “The pipes we look after are mostly underground and out of mind, but we provide an essential service in keeping people safe and warm in their homes and powering businesses. Now, as we plan for the future, we want as many people in West Wales as possible to have their say on the future of their gas network and the services we provide.”

“This consultation is about ensuring our customers’ views are heard so that we plan and work towards getting the balance right between investing to maintain and improve our services and preparing the gas network for the future, while keeping bills low.

“We understand the financial pressure households across the area are under and we remain committed to keeping our portion of the gas bill to a minimum – we have already reduced the cost of our services since 2013 from £145 to £128 today.

“We’re looking forward to hearing customer feedback from West Wales as this will play a vital role in shaping our business for the future.”

Wales & West Utilities also connects around 11,000 homes and businesses to the network each year. And, for customers in need of extra support, the company has a scheme offering low-cost gas connections and financial help for appliance repairs. There is also a priority register to make sure people in vulnerable situations are prioritised when things go wrong.

To have your say on the future of your gas network and the services Wales & West Utilities provides please go to PipeUpOnline.co.uk or Facebook.com/wwutilities and be in with a chance to win a £100 Amazon.co.uk Gift Card.

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Education

Funding for research on unarmed civilian protection in conflict areas

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South Sudan women peacekeeping team (copyright - non-violent peaceforce)

AN INTERNATIONAL research network led by Aberystwyth University is offering funding for research projects focusing on unarmed civilian protection in areas affected by conflict.

The Creating Safer Space network works with communities in conflict-affected regions to enhance and strengthen civilians’ capacities to protect themselves and others. It also aims to create safer spaces in which communities can build infrastructures for sustainable peace and development.

Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Professor in International Politics at Aberystwyth University explains:  “According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are now a record high of 82.5 million people forcibly displaced by violent conflict, and most deaths in conflicts are of civilians. The protection of civilians from physical harm in contexts of war and other political violence is therefore a pressing humanitarian issue of our time.

“Our Creating Safer Space research network focuses on the protection of civilians by civilians without the use or threat of force. Supporting and enhancing nonviolent protection provided by unarmed civilians has the potential to break cycles of violence and thus contribute to longer-term peacebuilding.

“As a research network, we are excited to be in the position to be able to invite applications for funding for research projects which will enhance our understanding of unarmed civilian protection and self-protection as effective civilian-to-civilian protection strategies; and how these practices can be strengthened to create safer space for more people living in conflict.”

The Creating Safer Space network intends to fund 15-20 research projects, ranging from £20,000 to £100,000 and varying in duration from 6 to 16 months. Projects must be led by organisations in the UK or in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).

Further information about the grants, and how to apply is available at: 

Creating Safer Space

The deadline for applications is 15 April 2022.

The Creating Safer Space network works with communities in conflict-affected regions in Colombia, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Sudan and elsewhere in the Global South. It also brings together a number of stakeholders including national and international unarmed civilian protection organisations, academics, artists, journalists and filmmakers, and the wider international policy community.

Creating Safer Space is led by Aberystwyth University in collaboration with the University of Antioquia (Colombia), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), City University of New York (USA), Durham University, Leeds Beckett University and Strathmore University (Kenya).

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Business

Applications open for emergency financial support from Economic Resilience Fund

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Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000

BUSINESSES in Wales impacted by the rapid spread of the Omicron virus can now apply for emergency financial support from the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething previously said £120 million would be available for retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism business and their supply chains affected by the move to alert level 2 announced by the First Minister on Wednesday 22 December.

Eligible businesses can apply for grants of between £2,500 to £25,000, with grants dependent on their size and number of employees.

The application window will be open for two weeks, with payments starting to reach businesses within days.

Vaughan Gething

Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:

“Following positive engagement with businesses, trades unions and other partners, we recently changed the eligibility criteria for the ERF support. The ERF grant is a Wales-only top up payment that currently supports eligible businesses who have seen a 60% drop in their income between December and February compared with the same period two years ago. The new criteria means that businesses in these sectors who have seen a 50% reduction in their turnover will now also be able to access the ERF.

“This means more businesses will receive more support from the Welsh Government.”

Non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism businesses in Wales can also receive support from the Non Domestic Rates (NDR) linked grant which is being administered by local authorities. Businesses will be entitled to a payment of £2,000, £4,000 or £6,000 depending on their rateable value.

Local authorities are also administrating a discretionary fund for sole traders, freelancers and taxi drivers and businesses that employ people but do not pay business rates. Last week this was doubled to £1,000.

The Welsh Government has provided in excess of £2.5bn funding to Welsh businesses since the start of the pandemic. Focused particularly on backing small businesses and Welsh communities, it’s targeted approach has helped protect in excess of 160,000 Welsh jobs which might otherwise have been lost.

Apply for Economic Resilience Fund support here:

COVID-19 Support for Business | Business Wales (gov.wales)

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Health

Same Day Urgent Care at Cardigan Integrated Care Centre

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CARDIGAN’S Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) and Same Day Urgent Care service (SDUC) will once again open for walk-in appointments this weekend (22/23 January 2022) after providing care and treatment for nearly 30 patients who would otherwise have gone to A&E or their GP.

As part of a new trial to help relieve pressures on our hospital A&E departments, the nurse-led services – which are based in Cardigan Integrated Care Centre – opened for weekend walk-ins without prior appointment between 15 and 16 January, with our staff seeing and treating a number of patients over the two days.

The services are led by Advanced Nurse Practitioners who can assess, diagnose and treat walk-in patients who are then able to return home the same day, with a plan of care involving referrals to other services if necessary.

Our hospitals are currently dealing with unprecedented demand, which is leading to significant delays in care provision and long waits in A&E. If you have a condition which could be seen and treated at Cardigan’s Integrated Care Centre, we would strongly encourage you to attend as you can be seen more quickly, as well as helping to relieve pressure on the hospital system.

The type of conditions our Advanced Nurse Practitioners can see and treat include:

  • Chest Infections
  • Wound Infections
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Tonsillitis / sore throat
  • Ear Infections
  • Minor Chest/Hip/Pelvic/Back injuries – Patient must be able to mobilise
  • Minor Head Injury
  • Non-cardiac chest pain
  • Skin complaints including rashes, infections, and sunburn
  • Sprains, strains & soft tissue injuries
  • Hay fever, Mild allergic reactions
  • Minor injuries – cuts, wounds
  • Minor eye injuries, complaints and irritations requiring irrigation, and Chemical eye injury
  • Emergency contraception
  • Suspected fractures and injuries to knee, lower leg, ankle, and feet
  • Suspected fractures and injuries to arms
  • Animal, insect, or human bites
  • Minor burns & scalds
  • Removal of foreign bodies from eyes, ears, nose & skin

In patient feedback given to our nurses over the weekend of 15 and 16 January, all patients agreed or strongly agreed that staff had explained the service; that they were satisfied with their treatment plan, and that they had the opportunity to raise questions or concerns.

Patients also reported feeling more confident about managing their symptoms and being satisfied with the service to the point of recommending it to others. 

Sian Lewis, Clinical Lead Nurse for Ceredigion Community, said: “Our Advanced Nurses were really pleased to be able to see and treat so many patients last weekend – particularly given that many of them would have otherwise faced long waits in A&E for the type of conditions that our teams here are well equipped to deal with.

“Please give us a call, or come down to the Integrated Care Centre in Cardigan if you need care and you think we can help – you don’t need an appointment, we can provide a quick service and you can be on your way home on the same day with a care plan if you need it.”

Cardigan Integrated Care Centre is located at Rhodfa’r Felin, Cardigan SA43 1JX. If you would like to speak with a triage nurse at the centre first to discuss your condition, please call 01239 803 075. 

If you have a more urgent care need or in a medical emergency, please dial 999.

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