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Police Commissioner welcomes impact of offender pilot scheme in Ceredigion

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AS PART of a recent Community Engagement Day in the county of Ceredigion, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn visited one of the County’s temporary emergency accommodation premises, made available as part of an Integrated Offender Management pilot project he has funded in the last year.

Over recent years there had been recognition by both Dyfed-Powys Probation and Dyfed-Powys Police, that the existing housing projects did not provide the best environment, or opportunity to rehabilitate many offenders.

Dafydd Llywelyn (Image: Herald)

Quite often, offenders may lose motivation and disengage from various support and interventions due to negative influences within their environment. Several offenders declined emergency housing options, preferring to remain homeless due to concerns around the negative factors often associated with some multi-occupancy projects.

In 2021, the Integrated Offender Management Team within Dyfed-Powys Police identified the need for a suitable, central, all year-round self-contained property in Ceredigion to be used as a short-term temporary emergency accommodation unit for placement of clients whilst alternative more suitable and long-term accommodation solutions were found. It was intended that placement would be on a licence basis for no more than 4 weeks at a time, thereby being readily available for continued use as the need arose.

On its first-year anniversary this month (April 2022), following an initial investment of £11,000 from Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, this Ceredigion based initiative appears to be leading the way in terms of targeting re-offending and crime prevention.

During his visit to one of the premises, Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said, “The project has proved to be hugely beneficial to a number of offenders, all of whom had complex needs and were involved in a number of ‘neighbourhood’ type crimes.

“The current multi-occupancy style emergency accommodation doesn’t offer the same benefits as this pilot. Each of the offenders housed have stated this and were keen to move away from the peer pressure they encountered whilst living in such accommodation.

“The project has brought agencies together, with Police, HMPPS, Care Society and Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Services doing weekly home visits to the offenders. The work provided by all partners is intense, but provides the offender the focus to rehabilitate. To date, none of the offenders have gone on to commit further offending which is just one of the positives of this project.

“It is inevitable, that not all outcomes will be positive. However, by looking at individual outcomes of relevant offenders over the last year, along with feedback from partner agencies, I am confident and pleased to say that this pilot has proved to be a success.

Dyfed-Powys Police Detective Inspector Leon Lewis said; “Secure accommodation is widely seen as the stepping stone to long term rehabilitation. For many of the offenders that my team work with this isn’t possible. For some this could be down to previous behaviour preventing them from obtaining accommodation from typical sources. The result often sees them being placed in multi-occupancy buildings in busy town centres where there is often more temptation than support.

“The IOM Housing Project provides a better environment and opportunity to rehabilitate offenders. The robust multi-agency working offers support and motivation for offenders to rehabilitate. It offers them an opportunity of a place that they can call home, and although the design and use is temporary it allows the users the opportunity to show potential landlords that they are tenants of the future and are working towards rehabilitation.”

While the PCC visited the premises as part of a Community Engagement Day in Ceredigion recently, the occupier notified him that; “It has changed my life and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It has allowed me to have stability in my life, and has led to me getting a part-time job offer, that I hope will develop into something more permanent. It has given me access to support services and given me a different perspective of the Police.”

Following the success of the pilot scheme in Ceredigion, learning will be disseminated and discussed between Dyfed-Powys Police and Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn, and consideration given to rolling out the initiative across other areas within the Dyfed-Powys Police area.

Offender X Case Study

Offender X came onto IOM almost immediately upon returning to Aberystwyth from his bail accommodation in Swansea after serving custodial sentence for Supply Class A.

Upon returning to Aberystwyth, Offender X was identified associating with other pro drug associates and reported himself that although he has lived primarily in South Ceredigion, he found a lot of old associates from the South of the County were in supported projects in Aberystwyth, and that he was struggling to break links to them because of their close association to him. This was affecting his mental health and emotional coping as he was struggling to stay motivated to address his drug misuse problems because of these close associations, and he knew this would impact on his ability to have access to his daughter who was taken into foster care.

Offender X tried to avoid these associates by spending as little time as he could in Aberystwyth, however found himself under enforcement action for Breach of his Licence as he would attempt to stay away to avoid associates and subsequently miss appointments. He received formal warnings for failure to reside where directed and failure to attend probation as instructed.

Joint agency meetings were undertaken with Dyfed-Powys Police IOM Officers, Social Services, DDAS and a prison charity called ‘Invisible Walls’. All were reporting that associates and accommodation were significant factors to his poor compliance, his negative drug test results, and his failure to reside where directed.

Given a shortage of suitable accommodation in the county both by the local authority and private sector, Offender X was going to be recalled to custody imminently which would have had a profound negative impact on his relationship with his daughter and his motivation to desist from drug misuse and obtain employment in the community.

The Police then explored the opportunity of the IOM Housing project with the IOM Team and Probation. Offender X was keen to engage with this and understood the consequences should he have failed to make changes in the IOM Housing Project or bring it into disrepute. On arrival Offender X quickly adapted to the property keeping the project clean and tidy and engaging with the services offered to him through the Ceredigion Care Society. There were no further records of Class A substance use on his drug testing results and his engagement with DDAS/ IOM / Probation improved significantly. His emotional wellbeing visibly improved and he stated this was because he was able to avoid associates and focus on looking for work and finding somewhere to live where his daughter could visit.

Offender X has successfully moved on from the IOM Housing Project and continues to engage with DDAS providing negative tests for Class A substances and his attendance with Probation and IOM remains good, he has explored different work options and remains working with supporting services, his contact with his daughter has improved and he is able to see progress to achieving his goals compared to that at the time he was living in Aberystwyth and is thankful for the support the IOM Housing Project has provided.

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News

Wales stands firm in support for Ukraine

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IN THE latest update on the Ukraine crisis, Wales’s Minister for Social Justice Jane Hutt thanked all those households across Wales who have come forward to offer their homes to Ukrainians fleeing the War and encouraged more households to provide this vital support.

APPEAL FOR MORE HOST FAMILIES

The Minister for Social Justice said: “I’m delighted to say that over 5,650 people from Ukraine, sponsored by the Welsh Government and Welsh households, have already arrived in the UK.
“More than 8,200 visas have now been issued to people from Ukraine who have sponsors in Wales, so we expect the number of arrivals to continue to grow in the coming weeks.
“Thousands of Welsh households sponsored Ukrainians to arrive in Wales and committed to hosting them for at least six months.
“As we move into the autumn, we approach the end of that initial period.
“We hope hosts and Ukrainians will agree to extend many of those placements, but we need additional hosts to support those who cannot continue living where they are.
“To ensure a warm welcome to Wales, I’m inviting households across Wales to come forward and open their homes to welcome those seeking sanctuary.
“We’re immensely thankful to all those across Wales acting as hosts to Ukrainians, but more households must come forward.
“I completely understand that there are those who want to help but may not have the resources to do so, given the circumstances we’re all facing with the cost-of-living crisis.”

WALES WILL STEP UP TO THE PLATE

Jane Hutt continued: “What we all know, and has been proven countless times, is that the people of Wales are one of the most generous across the globe, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate once again.
“The idea of hosting can be daunting. That’s why we have funded Housing Justice Cymru to provide a Host Support service which includes expert and reliable information, training, advice, and guidance for people hosting, or those considering hosting, Ukrainians in Wales.
“More information on sessions and training can be found on the Housing Justice Cymru website. We also publish regularly updated guidance for hosts and sponsors at gov. wales/ukraine.
“We still need many more households to consider whether they could provide a home for those in need. This would normally be a commitment to hosting for 6 to 12 months.
“If anyone is considering this, we encourage them to register their interest at gov.wales/offerhome, and to attend one of the ‘Introduction to Hosting’ sessions, facilitated by Housing Justice Cymru. You won’t need to continue the process if you decide it is not for you.
“We have also partnered with Airbnb.org to ensure very short-term emergency placements can be provided to prevent homelessness.
“If you cannot host for more than 6 months but you could offer your property for up to 30 days at a time, you may also be able to contribute. Visit gov.wales/offerhome and follow the link to the Airbnb.org platform.”
Finally, the Minister stated: “We will continue to communicate with those who host Ukrainians, with updated guidance and information to support the valuable role you are undertaking.
“To all those that are already hosting and to those that are considering hosting, thank you, we owe you all a huge debt of gratitude.”

WESTMINSTER MUST BACK HOSTS
DURING COST-OF-LIVING CRISIS

Conservative MS Mark Isherwood raised how the cost-of-living crisis affects Ukrainian refugees.
Where families had taken in those fleeing Russian aggression, he noted a risk of sponsorships not continuing beyond six months because the hosts cannot afford the rise in fuel costs.
He asked the Minister what discussions she’d had with the UK Government about increasing the £350 contribution to households who’d taken in Ukrainian refugees.
The Minister agreed with Mark Isherwood that ending a specific ministerial post dealing with refugees was regrettable.
She noted a lack of information from the UK Government over the summer months and since Liz Truss replaced Boris Johnson as head of the Conservative Government.
Ms Hutt said: “We asked for an increase at least to £500, or up again, doubling to £700 per month. An urgent decision is needed regarding this as they reach the end of their six-month period.
“That period is underway, so we’re writing to all hosts to see if they will continue.”

UK GOVERNMENT URGED
TO PICK UP THE PHONE

The Minister thanked Mark Isherwood for introducing her to a charity offering support in North Wales, Link, and hoped that he and his colleagues would bring pressure to bear on their Westminster colleagues to ensure those in need from Ukraine and those in Wales helping them received support.
She added: “I look forward perhaps that we might have some telephone calls from the Prime Minister and other Ministers to us in Government. We must engage with them and follow this through.
“There is a huge job of work to be done here. We’re taking responsibility in the way I’ve outlined, funding our welcome centres and paying thank-you payments to hosts if they support a family who initially arrived in Wales under the Ukraine family scheme.
“That’s not happening in England. The commitment that we’re making is considerable.
“I hope everyone will join us today, saying that we need to press for those answers in terms of financial support.”

THE THREAT OF HOMELESSNESS

Sioned Williams of Plaid Cymru raised the spectre of Ukrainian refugees becoming homeless in Wales due to a lack of financial support and the end of existing hosting and housing placements.
The Minister praised the work of local authorities across Wales supporting refugees.
She said: “There are very imaginative programmes. That includes a whole range of issues like repurposing empty buildings.
“Local authorities are really coming up with a whole range of ways in which we can support people, perhaps, from a welcome centre, or a host family, into that intermediate accommodation, and then on to other longer-term accommodation.”
Pembrokeshire currently houses around 200 Ukrainian refugees, with the demand for assistance outstripping the availability of suitable accommodation.

NOT ONE PENNY FROM WESTMINSTER
TO SUPPORT FAMILIES FLEEING WAR

Responding to a question from Mabon ap Gwynfor about problems housing family groups, Jane Hutt hit out at the lack of support from the UK Government and how it’s u-turned on a commitment to help families.
“The UK Government has never given a penny towards the family scheme.
“The former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, in one of his last PMQs, actually said that he thought the Ukraine family scheme should get the same funding and support as the Homes for Ukraine scheme. It’s never happened.
“We have provided thank-you payments to people who are hosting Ukrainian families. It’s all Welsh Government money; it’s not UK Government, because they don’t provide a penny. And also, the British Red Cross—£246,000—who are actually supporting Ukrainian families who are hosting family members under the Ukrainian family scheme.”
On Wednesday, September 28, Eluned Morgan, Wales’s Health Minister, announced the continuation of free healthcare in Wales to Ukrainian residents displaced by the ongoing conflict.
The exemption will continue to apply unless there’s a significant change in circumstances in Ukraine.

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Prince and Princess of Wales to visit Wales

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THE PRINCE and Princess of Wales have planned a trip to Wales to visit a variety of communities across the nation and learn about the work of key charitable organisations. 

The Prince and Princess have a deep affection for Wales, having made their first family home in Anglesey, and have thoroughly enjoyed their previous visits and the warmth and kindness shown by the Welsh people. 

Their Royal Highnesses are looking forward to spending more time in Wales over the next few years, they hope to strengthen their relationship with communities in all parts of Wales. 

During their first engagement, Their Royal Highnesses will visit the RNLI Holyhead Lifeboat Station, where they will meet crew, volunteers and some people who have been supported by their local unit.

Holyhead is one of the three oldest lifeboat stations on the Welsh coast and has a remarkable history of bravery, having received 70 awards for gallantry. 

Their Royal Highnesses will then take a short walk to the Holyhead Marine and Cafe Bar, where they will meet local people, including representatives of small businesses and organisations, including the Coastguard and Sea Cadets. 

In their second engagement, the Prince and Princess of Wales are expected to visit Swansea. 

Their Royal Highnesses will visit St Thomas Church, a re-developed church in Swansea which supports people in the local area and across the City and County of Swansea. 

Over the last two years the church has been transformed into a thriving community hub and is home to a vast array of services, including:

  • A foodbank which supports over 200 people per week
  • Swansea Baby Basics which distributes essential items for vulnerable mothers across the city, such as toiletries and clothes
  • Facilities for the homeless including food, showers and toilets
  • A not-for-profit cafe and community training kitchen
  • A surplus food distribution network which collects food from supermarkets at the end of each day and distributes it from the church to prevent food waste and to help end food poverty

As part of their visit, Their Royal Highnesses will meet those volunteering at the church across different initiatives including Baby Basics and the foodbank. Their Royal Highnesses will also spend some time meeting members of the public gathered outside the church. 

The Princess of Wales has previously worked with Baby Banks and the in summer of 2020 brought together 19 British brands and retailers to donate over 10,000 new items to more than 40 baby banks nationwide, operated by Baby Basics, Little Village and AberNecessities. 

Her Royal Highness has visited a number of baby banks across the UK, including in London, Sheffield and West Norfolk where she has spent time speaking with families about their experiences of using their local baby bank services, as well as helping unload donations. 

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Charity

Elin Jones raises a mug in support of Macmillan’s coffee morning

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ELIN JONES MS joined the Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales team at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to mark the charity’s annual Coffee Morning fundraising event.

The event also offered an opportunity to find out more about how Macmillan in Wales is supporting people living with cancer, as well as research from the charity on how people living with cancer are being affected by the cost of living crisis. Macmillan’s annual Coffee Morning usually sees millions of pounds donated to help support people affected by cancer.

The money raises vital funds for Macmillan services to make sure people living with cancer can get the physical, emotional and financial support they need. This is the 32nd annual Macmillan Coffee Morning but as with so many charities, Macmillan saw a huge fall in its fundraising income as a direct result of the impact of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis.

Elin Jones MS said: “We know that a cancer diagnosis can turn someone’s world upside down. One in two of us will face cancer, and the money raised by hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning will help people with cancer to live their life as fully as they can. Macmillan, alongside our NHS and other partners, works tirelessly to do whatever it takes for people with cancer.  The demand for Macmillan’s services and support is high, while its income is down.

“I’m very proud to help support Macmillan’s coffee morning, and to help let people know that this important fundraising event. I would encourage anyone to get involved, and to sign up to organise a Coffee Morning or contribute to a local coffee morning in the way that suits them best.”

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