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Recommendations to improve ambulance waiting times; Kingsbridge Community Works; Not too late for COVID-19 vaccinations; Financial support and cost of living; EV charge points ready for use

(Left to right) Thomas Janman, Emma Carter (from local fishmongers Catch of the Day) and Tristan Powlesland.

Kingsbridge Community Works celebrates first anniversary

This week, we’ve been celebrating Learning Disability Week, and an initiative that’s enjoying its one year anniversary since launch.

Kingsbridge Community Works is a unique project run by our adult education service, Learn Devon, with the aim of supporting traders in the town, while also teaching digital and work skills to learners with learning disabilities.

The project is working with more than 64 local businesses, and it’s helping people with learning disabilities gain new skills to design and produce flyers to promote those businesses, and distribute them in the local community.

Thomas Janman from Blackawton, said:

“Kingsbridge Community Works helped me get out and about after lockdown. It’s made me go into places I haven’t been in before. It has helped my confidence to speak to people I don’t know. I can now use Microsoft SWAY and Canva to design things and really like helping others to use it too.”

Some of the learners have gone on to gain employment locally. Louise Thomson from Kingsbridge says it’s helped her feel more confident.

“I am excited about starting my new job and I feel ready to work in an office because of the skills I’ve learned from my courses with Learn Devon and Kingsbridge Community Works.”

You can read more about how the project has helped others learn important work skills in the news story on our website.

An ambulance parked outside a hospital

Review makes recommendations to improve ambulance times

One of the democratic roles we have is having oversight and scrutiny of health and care services in Devon.

The independent Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee met this week to discuss the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s (SWAST) response times over the winter, which official figures show were slower than the national average.

The same data also shows that waiting times at acute hospitals in Devon were also longer than national averages over that period. 

The committee held a ‘spotlight review’ at which leaders in health and care, including NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, SWAST, and us, shared our collective knowledge and expertise.

They agreed that an urgent ‘system-wide’ commitment to improve average response times is needed, and that all of Devon’s acute hospitals should adopt the Rapid Patient Assessment and Triage model that is used by the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

The review also highlighted the importance of Minor Injury Units (MIUs), and the committee agreed that MIUs with regular service hours and minimum standards should be available across Devon.

And they concluded that a campaign to inform people how and where to access urgent and non-urgent medical support and mental health support is needed.

You can read what the Chairman of the SWAST spotlight review said in the news story on our website. 

Elderly man receiving his vaccination

How to get your COVID-19 vaccination this summer

The COVID-19 spring booster programme draws to a close this month, but it’s not too late for people who are eligible to have their vaccination, because clinics will still run over the summer.

People turning 75 on or after Friday 1 July will not be eligible for the spring booster, however anyone who is eligible on Thursday 30 June will still be able to have their vaccination during July, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has said.

Anyone who is 75 and over, immunosuppressed or a resident of a care home on the 30 June, will still be able to have their spring booster vaccination. People who are immunosuppressed include those who are undergoing chemotherapy, have leukaemia or have had an organ transplant.

If you’re in this group, you can check with your GP or consultant if you are unsure whether you are eligible. NHS Devon Chief Nurse, Darryn Allcorn, said:

“We want to ensure that the people who are most at risk of COVID-19 are protected over the summer. We know people are more likely to socialise outside this time of year, but COVID-19 is still in circulation. If you haven’t yet had your spring booster, I would encourage you to book or visit one of our walk-in sessions.”

Vaccination appointments can be made online or by calling 119 and details of walk in clinics are available here.

A further booster is planned this autumn, in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice.

You can read more about how to get your COVID-19 vaccination this summer on NHS Devon CCG’s website.

Head and shoulders photograph of Phil Norrey stood in the committee suite at County Hall, Exeter

Devon Chief Executive to retire

Our long-serving chief executive, Phil Norrey, has announced his retirement this week.

Dr Norrey has held the post since 2006 and is the longest-serving chief executive in the council’s history.

He joined the authority in 1998 as Deputy Director of Education before being promoted to Director of Education.

Dr Norrey, who will be 60 next year, said it was the right time for him to leave and hand over to his successor as a new senior management team takes shape at County Hall.

You can read what Phil Norrey said about his announcement, and what the Leader of our council said, in the news story on our website.

Make a child friendly Devon

What’s your wish for Devon?

Our ambition is to create an even better place for children and young people to grow up in – a Child Friendly Devon.

As part of this work, we are creating a new visual identity and vision for Child Friendly Devon, and we need your help!

Earlier this week we sent out a special edition of our ‘children families and education’ Connect Me newsletter with details of how you can get involved, and shape the county you want your family to live and grow up in.

There’s a survey for parents, carers and guardians to share their thoughts and opinions. 

And we’re asking all children to show us how they would make where they live an even better place to grow up! They can respond in any creative way they choose – a picture, a story or poem, a video, whatever inspires them!

If you missed it, or you don’t subscribe yet, you can catch up online 

small wooden house on top of a calculator

Financial support for households struggling to pay for energy, food and other essential items

The cost of living is affecting us all. Rising inflation and energy prices are hitting households hard, adding substantial amounts to our annual bills.

We’re keeping advice and guidance up to date on our website to help people in Devon with their rising costs.

Earlier this week we also sent out a special edition of this newsletter with information about support that is available. 

It includes details about how we’re using the £5 million allocated to us by the government to support low-income families through the Household Support Fund.

If you missed it, you can catch up online.

Members of the Celebrating Windrush in Devon group, are joined by our Chairman Ian Hall, and Chief Executive Dr Phil Norrey, to raise the flag

Devon Windrush Flag has been raised over County Hall

We marked Windrush Day this week, raising the flag over County Hall to celebrate 74 years since the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury docks, and its passengers began new lives in Britain.

The flag raising was attended by members of the Celebrating Windrush in Devon group, who designed the flag, and by our Chairman, Cllr Ian Hall, and Chief Executive, Phil Norrey.

Windrush Day is an opportunity for people to recognise the contribution of Caribbean immigrants from countries including Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent, Guyana, and Jamaica, and the role they played to help rebuild a devastated and war-weary Britain.

Faye Doris, Retired Associate Professor of Midwifery and member of the Devon Windrush Group, said:

“Windrush Day is a day of acknowledging heritage, reflecting on our arrival and the contributions that we have made to the United Kingdom – and sharing this with colleagues.”

You can read more about the anniversary in the news story on our website.

People stood posing for the camera alongside a car that is plugged in to an EV charging point.

New electric vehicle charging points are ready for use

The first of 80 Electric Vehicle (EV) charge points we’re planning for 38 public carparks across Devon over the next 12 months are ready for public use.

The charge points are at Dawlish’s Barton Car Park and Dartmouth’s Mayors Avenue Car Park. Each has at least two charging bays. 

The bays are fully accessible, and the spaces will be for the sole use of electric vehicle charging.

We have delivered the scheme thanks to our partners North Devon Council, Teignbridge District Council, East Devon District Council, West Devon Borough Council, South Hams District Council, ScottishPower, and Devon Climate Emergency (DCE).

The charge points are compatible with all makes of EVs and will fully charge a 50 kWh battery in two to four hours, providing a range of up to 200 miles depending on vehicle specification.

You can read more about the roll out of EV charge points in Devon in the news story on our website.