*This post is no longer being updated*
Links to and brief overviews of up to date info on what's happening in Torfaen.
For council services information, check out Torfaen's special coronavirus webpage. All customer care centres are closed, instead you can apply for things online, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or ring 01495 762200.
For business advice click HERE.
Wales is currently on a 'soft' lockdown for three weeks with all non-essential high street stores (essential = supermarkets/food shops, newsagents, pharmacies, bicycle shops, banks, post offices, home and hardware stores, pet shops, vets, funeral homes, laundrettes/dry cleaners, and petrol stations) closed and bans on public gatherings of more than two people not from the same household. If you are not a key worker you can still go out once a day to exercise, buy food and / or medicine, attend medical appointments, and to look after vulnerable people. Police have the power to fine and disperse public gatherings, but for the moment it is essentially operating on a trust basis. For updates follow @fmwales.
For more on the general situation follow Nick Thomas-Symonds, Lynne Neagle, and Anthony Hunt - Torfaen's MP, AM, and Council Leader.
Most areas have regular and coronavirus community pages on Facebook too. I'm on Northville Community Group, Pontnewydd Park and Village, and Cwmbran Coronavirus Support. Also check out Communities for Work and Building Resilient Communities Torfaen. Torfaen also has its own community radio station - Vitalize Radio - they're on air 24/7.
If you have any info you want added / have anything I can help with drop me an email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet me at @jess__powell.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
Torfaen comes under Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. Vaughan Gething (Welsh Government Health Minister) has announced that the new Grange University Hospital in Croesyceiliog will open a year early to provide an extra 350 beds for Covid-19 patients. Meanwhile, all ABUHB hospital visiting has been stopped, bar a single parental/guardian visitor for children on in-patient wards and a birthing partner for deliveries.
Public Health Wales posts an update of Welsh cases and deaths every day at around 2pm, along with the latest guidance on social-distancing and testing - you can find them on THIS PAGE.
If you think you have coronavirus the advice is to stay home for at least 7 days and drink plenty of fluids. If your symptoms grow worse and you feel you cannot cope at home, ring 111. There may be a considerable wait on the line, but please only ring 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.
For other issues, most GP surgeries are operating a triage system for urgent appointments only, and many of the appointments that do go ahead will be taken over the telephone or video link. Similarly nursing appointments will only be given for essential services - e.g. Cwmbran Village Surgery lists those as INR/Warfarin & High Risk Drug Monitoring, Urgent or clinically needed Blood tests, Urgent ECG's, Depo-Provera Injections, Dressings/Packings/Removal of Stitches, B12 Injections, Prostate Cancer Injections, and Childhood Immunisation. Check your GP's website for individual restrictions.
Repeat prescriptions are generally operating normally but if you need to change / update / renew you should probably brace yourself for long wait times on the phones if you're registered at a surgery without a dedicated online prescription service. Pharmacies remain open, albeit with social distancing restrictions, and if you have a scheduled hospital, etc, appointment they ask for you to wait to be contacted with details rather than clogging up the phone lines with enquiries.
Abersychan Pharmacy can deliver if you call 07519581862.
Mayberry Pharmacy (Pontypool) can deliver if you call 01495 228040.
For details of Welsh Government's social shielding scheme click HERE.
Disability reviews and reassessments for the DWP have been suspended for three months.
Gwent Drug & Alcohol Service are still operating on a reduced basis. The needle exchange at The Lighthouse in Pontypool is staying open.
Domestic violence, sadly, is only more of an issue right now. Wales has a 24 hour free helpline, Live Fear Free, on 0800 80 10 800. For more information on local services - and to report concerns to social services - check out the Gwent Safeguarding website.
Anyone over 70 in Wales can register with Age Cymru, free of charge, to receive a regular telephone call from the charity in either English or Welsh. All you have to do is call the Age Cyrmu advice number on 08000 223 444 or email email@example.com. For other third sector initiatives, check out TVA's - Torfaen Voluntary Alliance - website.
For those wanting to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01495 365617.
The Salvation Army in Pontypool are also available for those needing someone to talk to. Call them on 01495 767998.
Deaths (inc. still-births) are being registered over the telephone for the time being. Call 01495 742132. Birth registration is suspended at the moment; new parents do not currently need a birth certificate to apply for child benefit.
If you are in Pontypool between April 20th and April 24th, consider making an appointment to give blood. The Welsh Blood service will be at Pontypool Active Living Centre 9:30-5:30 each day. To make an appointment click here.
For real time updates follow @AneurinBevanUHB, @PublicHealthW, @TheGDS, and @VaughanGething on Twitter.
If your child is eligible for free school meals, from April 6th money will be paid directly into your bank account instead; you need to fill out a form HERE.
Crownbridge, the Pupil Referral Unit and the SNRBs are remaining open, while mainstream provision is being restricted to Blaenavon Heritage, George Street, Llantarnam and Blenheim Road primary schools and Croesyceiliog Secondary for the children of key workers - Health Care staff, Social Care and Care Home Staff, and Police, Fire and Armed forces personnel. For more details on eligibility see THIS PAGE. (From March 30th applications from other key worker categories will be considered.)
Pre-school childcare is also available for keyworkers. Please see the Council's Childcare Info Page for full details.
Most exams have been cancelled and grades will be awarded based on teacher assessment, predicted grades, and potentially other measures. More information will be announced by Welsh Government in due course.
Individual schools are providing online learning resources for pupils.
The Children's Commissioner for Wales has set up an online hub with hints and tips for activities, etc.
I've put together a list of 50 free online Welsh language resources.
CCYP (Cwmbran Centre for Young People) are offering online courses on a range of topics for people aged 16-25. Email email@example.com for more info.
For real time updates follow @wgmin_education, @torfaencouncil, and individual schools on Twitter.
Stagecoach South Wales are operating on a temporary timetable until further notice; the X24 will run every 30 minutes. There are no Stagecoach buses running on Sundays. Phil Anslow Buses are operating emergency timetables for all their services. Newport Bus are also operating all services on a Saturday timetable, but if you're an emergency services worker in Cwmbran they are offering free alternative transport if it means you can't get to work - email your contact details, workplace and shift times to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transport for Wales are running reduced rail services (aka Sunday timetables) - insert joke about not knowing it could get any worse here - for essential travel only. NHS workers travel free.
Taxi operators are currently running services more or less as normal. See Dragon Taxis for more info. NHS workers get a £1.50 discount on every journey.
For real time updates follow @StagecoachWales, @anslowcoaches, @NewportBus, @transport_wales, and @DragonTaxisNPT on Twitter.
HOUSING & BILLS
Landlords - social and private alike - will not be able to evict tenants for at least the next three months. Homeowners and landlords with buy to let mortgages can apply for a three month mortgage holiday by contacting their bank directly. There is still no word on rent protections for tenants, though if you are with a RSL (registered social landlord) speak to them and they will be able to put a support plan in place.
For Melin email email@example.com or, if it's an emergency, ring 01495 325333. They are regularly updating their temporary service webpage HERE. For Bron Afon you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or they have a non-emergency contact form; you should get a reply within three days. For emergency issues, call 01633 620 111. They are updating their news pages HERE.
If you are facing homelessness or need urgent advice contact the Torfaen Gateway Team on 01495 766949. For help with benefit applications and such you can contact Torfaen Citizen's Advice on 0300 330 2117 to arrange a telephone appointment.
All current Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) entitlements ending at the end of March or beginning of April will automatically be extended until October 4. Renewal applications will be in September. If you are struggling to pay your council tax contact Torfaen (email@example.com / 01495 762200) so they can look into your potential eligibility for council tax reduction and other benefits.
If you're struggling to pay your energy bills, ring your supplier as you may be eligible for emergency credit. Similarly, if you're on a key or card meter they can take payments over the phone and / or send out preloaded credit for those unable to purchase any.
The DWP has set up a coronavirus and Universal Credit advice page HERE. You can receive up to a month's advance without attending a jobcentre. If you're already on UC make sure you update your online journal if your rent amount has changed for the new financial year or you claim might be underpaid.
Another avenue might be financial grant support. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com at Building Resilient Communities for advice. An example of one of the places they might signpost you to is The Cwmbran Trust - they are providing small grants for people in financial difficulties.
Waste and recycling collections are currently running as normal - though tissues and wipes must go into general waste bins, not recycling boxes. Bulky item and green bin (garden waste) collection has been suspended for the duration. Please make the collection crews' lives as easy as possible by separating your recycling as best you can and sanitising your bin and box handles.
Post Office Opening Times:
Cwmbran WHSmith = 9-3pm.
New Inn = 9-5:30 (9-2pm on weekends)
Pontnewydd = 9-12.
Pontypool = 9-12.
For real time updates follow @MelinHomes, @BronAfon, and @torfaencouncil on Twitter.
If your child is eligible for free school from April 6th money will be paid directly into your bank account instead; you need to fill out a form HERE. It's £19.50 per child, per week.
Community meal services are running as normal.
Foodbanks are delivering to those with food vouchers, but struggling for donations. Email the Eastern Valley Foodbank at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone on 01495 76060.
CoStar Cwmbran has emergency food parcels available (no voucher needed); ring them on 01633 869227 for more info.
Thornhill Community Centre also have emergency food; ring 07734 929741.
Northville Community Group have food parcels; email email@example.com.
For Croesyceiliog and Llanyrafon contact your local councillor who will pass your details on to Woodland Road Social Centre Food Share.
In Blaenavon contact Victory Church on 07746 229204.
For Abersychan contact Noddfa Church on 01495 448902.
In Trevethin there's Trac2 on 01495 764078.
The Garnsychan Partnership can also help in the Abersychan area; call 07519 581862.
Local restaurants still offering delivery include:
- Domino's Cwmbran.
- Elachi Cwmbran. (Closed on Tuesdays)
- Family Kebab Cwmbran.
- Four Seasons Catering.
- Kaspa's Cwmbran.
- Khan Tandoori Cwmbran.
- Mr. Chippy Cwmbran.
- Page's Fish and Chips Cwmbran.
- Papa John's Cwmbran.
- Pizza Hut Cwmbran.
- Prep 'n' Gane.
- Tamarind Cwmbran.
- The Gate.
- Two Simmering Pans.
- Yummies Cwmbran.
The Queen Inn, Cwmbran, are offering a collection only service.
Cwmbran Fresh Produce - 01633 833856 - can deliver fruit and veg.
Torfaen council is putting together a directory of local shops and food businesses who are offering home delivery. For inclusion, send your business name, website address, contact number, type of food on offer, and delivery area to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Supermarkets and Grocers (check links for vulnerable and NHS hours):
- Albert Store Talywain. They'll deliver locally if you call 01495 773232.
- Aldi Cwmbran.
- Asda Cwmbran.
- Farm Foods Pontypool.
- Heron Foods Cwmbran.
- Iceland Cwmbran. (9-10am for the vulnerable; 5-6pm for NHS)
- Iceland Pontypool.
- Lidl Cwmbran.
- Morrisons Cwmbran.
- Sainsbury's Cwmbran.
- SPAR New Inn. Will deliver to vulnerable customers if you call 01495 763631.
- SPAR St Dials. They will deliver to vulnerable customers if you ring them on 01633 484604.
- Tesco Pontypool.
Older people struggling to go shopping can contact Age Connects Torfaen for support. Call 01495 769264 or email email@example.com. Follow them on Twitter @ageconnectstorf.
Other places you can still get food home delivery from:
- Approved Food.
- Balance Box.
- Clearance XL.
- Cut Price Barry's.
- Hello Fresh.
- Jane Plan.
- Marco Meals.
- Mindful Chef.
- Morris's of Usk Farm Shop.
- Muscle Food Meat.
- No. 1 Food Prep.
- Nourish Fit Food.
- Star Bargains.
- The Fish Society.
Pet food subscription services are mostly operating as normal so if you're struggling to get it locally they might be a good alternative. E.g. You can get a month's worth of free dog food for £1 delivery at Tails.com, and you can get 75% off your first Butternut dog food box (month's worth), or a week's worth of dog food from Edgard Cooper for £3. Blink! are doing a cat food trial box for £1 inc delivery.
The Dogs Bollox pet shop in Pontypool will deliver pet food in the local area; give them a call on 01495 761915.
It's all closed...
Library books will be automatically renewed, and you can still access a number of online library resources. The library blog is also worth checking out for further info of literary resources around the web.
Torfaen Leisure Trust are posting full length workout vids to their YouTube channel - so far they have pilates, tai chi, weights, and zumba. The staff at TLT are also available to chat to vulnerable and older customers for reassurance - give them a ring on 01633 627100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you see any anti-social behaviour or large groups of people together, report it to email@example.com
Playparks, etc, are locked but canalside walks and so on are still accessible. Cemeteries are remaining open from 9am to 5pm.
Torfaen Museum are asking residents to write up their school memories and email them in - along with any photos they might have - to firstname.lastname@example.org as part of an ongoing project.
Gwent Archives is asking people to keep a diary or journal over the coming weeks and months - pen and paper, art, audio, video, typed, photographical, whatever you like - to deposit with the archive when it's all over. They want to hear about how current events are impacting on you and your local area, what things you are hearing in the news, how it is affecting people you know, etc. If you have any questions or queries, please email email@example.com.
For real time updates follow @TorfeaenLibrary, @TorfaenLeisureT, and @Torfaen Museum.