A SOCIAL WORKER for Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) has achieved first-class honours alongside a prestigious award for being the highest-performing student in Wales.
Sarah Handley, 38, of Haverfordwest, achieved this outstanding feat whilst working full-time and balancing family life.
Having completed her three-year course, Sarah was awarded the Andrew Cornwell Prize (Wales) 2015 from the Open University for receiving the highest results of her graduate cohort in the BA Honours in Social Work.
In order to undertake this qualification, the mother-of-two applied for and received an annual bursary from PCC in 2012, without which Sarah says she wouldn’t have been able to do it.
Sarah said: “I’m just very grateful that Pembrokeshire County Council invest in their staff and give them the opportunity to progress in their career. It was the only way I could have studied for a professional qualification without stopping work – which wasn’t possible.”
PCC’s new Director of Social Services and Leisure, Jonathan Griffiths, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Sarah on a personal level and demonstrates a real commitment to achieving this qualification. The Open University also recognises this excellent achievement by making this award.
“I can also say that Pembrokeshire County Council is very proud of this level of attainment. To be recognised nationally in this way must be a source of great joy to Sarah and her family, making all the effort worthwhile.”
Before becoming a trainee social worker, Sarah worked for five years as an assessment coordinator in the council’s joint discharge team based at Withybush Hospital. Prior to that, she had various roles within healthcare and health promotion.
Sarah said: “I had found a profession I felt passionate about, and with the children getting a bit older, I wanted to do something for myself. I used to start working at 9am and carry on late into the evening, and every weekend. You have to put your life on hold. I missed a lot of telly!
“But I was motivated, and my mindset was to do it properly, or don’t do it at all. And the girls were studying for GCSEs and A-levels at the time, so we just became a studying household.”
She added: “It was completely worth it. Even though it was hard, I loved it.”
As part of her degree, Sarah spent six months with PCC’s social services family intervention team and six months with the mental health team. Her role now is Continuing Health Coordinator specialising in adult care, which includes a substantial amount of work with dementia patients and more complex cases.
Sarah said: “It’s a hugely rewarding career. You work with people when they are at their most vulnerable, when they are going through traumatic experiences. If you can alleviate that and make it easier for them, it’s very rewarding.
“The most important thing is to be very open-minded, very non-judgemental – and honest. People have such varied lives and society is changing so much.”
Sarah said how her family had been incredibly supportive while she was studying and are very proud of her achievement. She is now hopeful that her experience might encourage other young parents to be positive about what the future might hold in terms of their career.
She said: “I didn’t do well in school, and I had my eldest daughter at the age of 19. But you should never write somebody off because they are a young parent. Good things can happen to you.”
The Range’s Swansea Store Shortlisted for ‘Best Christmas Display’
Christmas has arrived early for The Range stores in Wales, boasting gigantic displays of all-things festive! The Range is well known for going all out during the Christmas season to create a fun and magical experience full of trees, lights, decorations and much more for their customers to enjoy and this year is no exception. The Range in Swansea surpassed expectations with a display so great, it’s left them shortlisted for ‘Best Christmas Display’ out of all The Range’s 182 stores.
Local coronavirus restrictions imposed to control outbreaks in South Wales
Coronavirus laws are being tightened in four more Welsh authorities – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport – following a sharp rise in cases, Health Minister Vaughan Gething today announced.
The new measures will come into force at 6pm on Tuesday 22 September 2020, to protect people’s health and control the spread of the virus in the four local authority areas.
The new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport:
People will not be allowed to enter or leave these areas without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education;
People will only be able to meet people they don’t live with outdoors for the time being. They will not be able to form, or be in, extended households;
All licensed premises will have to close at 11pm;
Everyone over 11 will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public areas – as is the case across Wales.
From 6pm on Tuesday 22 September, the requirement for all licensed premises to close at 11pm will also be extended to Caerphilly borough.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“Following the decision to place additional coronavirus restrictions in place in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, we have seen a worrying and rapid rise in cases in four other south Wales council areas – Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Newport.
“In many cases, this is linked to people socialising indoors without social distancing. We are seeing evidence of coronavirus spreading. We need to take action to control and, ultimately, reduce its spread and protect people’s health.
“It’s always a difficult decision to introduce restrictions but coronavirus has not gone away – it is still circulating in communities across Wales and, as we are seeing in parts of South Wales, small clusters can quickly cause real issues in local communities.
“We need everyone’s help to bring coronavirus under control. We need everyone to pull together and to follow the measures which are there to protect you and your loved ones.”
The restrictions are being introduced following a rapid increase in the number of confirmed cases in coronavirus, which have been linked to people meeting indoors, not following social distancing guidelines and returning from summer holidays overseas.
The Welsh Government will call an urgent meeting of all local authority, health board and police forces from Bridgend to the English border tomorrow to discuss the wider situation in South Wales and whether further measures are needed across the region to protect people’s health.
The new local restrictions measures will be kept under regular review. They will be enforced by local authorities and by the police.
Keep Wales safe by:
Always keeping your distance
Washing your hands regularly
Working from home wherever you can
Following any local restrictions
Following the rules about meeting people
Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.
Welsh legislation will restrict those travelling from hotspot areas
MARK Drakeford, First Minister of Wales, has today announced legislation which will restrict those coming from coronavirus hotspot’s from travelling to Wales.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has refused to impose rules which prohibit those from areas where the infection rate is high from entering low virus rate areas’s.
Mr Drakeford has made two requests to the Prime Minister requesting to impose rules which will mean those from high virus areas in England be prohibited from travelling to Wales, a request which has been denied by Mr Johnson.
The powers set by Mr Drakeford will come into force by the end of the week, unless Boris Johnson takes action sooner.
Speaking at the Plenary today, Mr Drakeford made the announcement, stating if Mr Johnson does not reply to his request by Friday then The Welsh Government will bring in legislation to restrict travel from those in English lockdown areas travelling to Wales.
Mr Drakeford said this was not a case of all those from England being restricted travel to Wales, just hotspot areas.
He said: “Evidence from public health professionals suggests coronavirus is moving from east to west across the UK and across Wales. As a general rule, it is concentrating in urban areas and then spreading to more sparsely populated areas as a result of people travelling.
“Much of Wales in now subject to local restriction measures because levels of the virus have risen and people living in those areas are not able to travel beyond their county boundary without a reasonable excuse. This is designed to prevent the spread of infection within Wales and to other areas of the UK.
“We are preparing to take this action to prevent people who live in areas where there are higher Covid infection rates across the UK from travelling to Wales and bringing the virus with them.
“I am determined to keep Wales safe.”
The legislation, which is understood to come into force Friday, October 16 at 6pm, will mean those travelling to Wales from areas of England which are classed as virus hotspot’s will be restricted.
The new legislation also restricts those travelling into Wales from high virus prevalence areas from Northern Ireland and Scotland.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Parliament – Paul Davies MS – has rounded on the First Minister over a ban on people entering Wales from England, and the Labour Party’s inability or unwillingness to publish comprehensive data proving that transmission rates are accelerating due to travel.
Mr Davies took the First Minister to task during Plenary today (October 14), and referred to a statement made by the leader of the Labour Party on September 23 when he said that the Welsh Government was not seeing any spikes at all in infection due to travel and tourism.
Mr Davies said that the people of Wales deserve to have sight of the data that underpins the Welsh Labour-led Government’s position on this matter, so that they can be confident that the Government’s actions are proportionate to the threat of the virus in their area.
Mr Davies also referred to a paper that accompanied the First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, a paper – that was not peer-reviewed – that confirms the data “…does not constitute definitive proof” in favour of a travel ban.
Mr Davies said: “The First Minister and his Government have acted rashly and without examining a range of other factors before a conclusion on whether to impose a travel ban or not is reached, while at the same time seemingly ignoring the fact that transmission rates in relation to travel had already peaked in August and September.
“It is incumbent on the First Minister to explain just why he has chosen to act in this way, and what supporting evidence he and his Ministers have seen to justify a ban and then publish it so it can be properly scrutinised.
“If he cannot or will not, then he must review and rescind this ban immediately.”
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