It’s hot, and staying hot this weekend
It’s hot and staying hot this weekend, with a high temperature alert in place until 9am on Tuesday 16 August, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
The public are asked to look out for family, friends and neighbours who may be more vulnerable to prolonged periods of hot weather, especially older people who live alone and people with underlying health conditions.
And for all those attending the Boardmasters Festival this weekend, a special request to you to stay safe in the hot weather.
The UKHSA recently published the top ways for staying safe in the hot weather, linked to in the story on our news page.
Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:
“Many of us enjoy the warmer weather and it’s good for the body and mind to get out of the house. But in hotter weather like this, we need to take extra care.
“For the many Devon residents attending Boardmasters this weekend, enjoy yourselves but be sensible about the hot weather. Wear a hat; regularly apply a high factor suncream; try to keep in the shade where you can; and keep hydrated with water, not excessive alcohol. If you’re feeling faint or unwell, seek assistance. And look out for your friends and those around you.”
For more information on the common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, visit NHS.UK.
Help reduce the risk of wild fires during dry weather
With the very dry weather, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue has issued a warning about the risk of wild fires, and are asking people to help prevent them occuring.
Dartmoor National Park Authority has also introduced a temporary ban on open fires and barbeques on all common land within the National Park.
They’re urging people who plan to spend time in the National Park to be extremely vigilant to the increased risk of fires.
A wildfire can start rapidly from things like disposable barbeques, a cigarette or a match thrown out of a car window, or empty glass bottles left in blazing sunshine.
All can cause catastrophic damage to natural habitats, as well as killing animals and endangering other people.
Their Director of Conservation and Communities, Richard Drysdale, said:
“We would like to thank everyone who is being responsible but our Rangers are still reporting incidents of people having open fires and barbeques on the open moor or common land. This is a danger to life and the environment, hence the need for the temporary ban.”
Devon declared a drought area
The Environment Agency has declared Devon and Cornwall, as well as other parts of the country, a drought area.
It follows the driest July on record for parts of the country.
It means that the Environment Agency and water companies in drought areas will step up their actions to manage the impact, and to implement their drought plans.
Public and businesses are asked to be mindful of the pressures on water resources and to use water wisely.
Water Minister, Steve Double, says:
“All water companies have reassured us that essential supplies are still safe, and we have made it clear it it their duty to maintain those supplies.”
“Transport can help connect us to people, places, and experiences”
We’ve launched a new grant fund to help tackle loneliness, by helping to provide transport.
“Transport can often be a barrier to connecting with others, perhaps due to living in a rural area or simply through lack of confidence in using public transport,” explains Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment, and Transport.
“Our Connecting You initiative is inviting community organisations to apply for grants to provide transport solutions to enable people experiencing or at risk of loneliness to access opportunities.”
The initiative, aimed at reducing loneliness in over 55s and young people aged 16 to 24, is already supporting a number of projects.
The fund is now open for applications from projects and charities across Devon. Full grant criteria and application form is on our Travel Devon Connecting You web page.
900 homes and businesses get Mobile Boost
Mobile phone signal has been the only thing that hasn’t been perfect for Nathan and Lizzie Figg since they moved to Nethway Farm in South Devon three years ago.
The holiday cottage business at Kingswear, near Dartmouth, is located in a valley that makes their mobile signal hit and miss.
They signed up to our Connecting Devon and Somerset’s Mobile Boost programme, and had a Cel-fi system installed, which has made a huge difference to their business.
“We had no signal apart from an intermittent signal half-way up one of the hills, whereas now we have a full 4G signal,” says Nathan.
“The only cost we had to pay was the labour charge for the installation. From application through to installation, it was a very easy process.”
Nathan and Lizzie are among 900 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset to have improved 4G mobile signal in their property, thanks to the Mobile Boost scheme.
New online mental health support launched across Devon
A new free and confidential mental health and wellbeing service for adults is now available across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.
It’s being delivered by mental health provider, Kooth, and it will ensure that every adult in Devon has access to a choice of online support to manage their own emotional health and wellbeing.
It’s called ‘Qwell’, and it offers a safe online space for people to access therapeutic activities and content including a peer support community. It includes self-help articles, forums, and discussion boards that are moderated by qualified practitioners.
It also allows users to keep an online journal and monitor their wellbeing through an interactive goal tracker, accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
And there’s a one-on-one live chat and messaging counselling service with a team of qualified practitioners.
Anyone in Devon over the age of 18 can access Qwell without a referral from a health professional. There’s no criteria to qualify for support.
Kooth already deliver emotional wellbeing and mental health support to children and young adults aged 11 to 18 across Devon.
Both services are confidential and designed to work as part of wider mental health services across Devon.
Support to help households with cost of living
The Cabinet Office has launched a new ‘Help for Households’ campaign, in response to increasing prices and cost of living pressures.
The campaign aims to explain the different schemes that are available, including new, exceptional one-off payments, and existing benefits and schemes.
The government says that it’s providing £37 billion this year to help households combat the rising cost of living.
There are now 41 national schemes available to help households with the current cost of living, and information about all of them are available on the one central Cost of Living Support website.
They break down the support available into different categories to help you find out:
- how to support your income
- how to get help with your bills
- about help with childcare costs
- about housing support
- about help with transport costs
- and about help with getting into work
You can also find out what discounts and offers are available from businesses to help with the cost of living.
It’s still important to keep up with your coronavirus vaccinations
An estimated one in every 25 people currently have coronavirus in the south-west, according to our latest data.
Ninety nine patients in Devon hospitals currently have coronavirus, and 72 per cent of people aged 12 and over in Devon have had three doses of vaccination.
Our outreach team is continuing to support the NHS in providing pop up coronavirus vaccination clinics at a range of locations across Devon.
Vaccines are available for people aged five years and over, but please check your eligibility on the NHS website before attending.
This weekend, they’ll be popping up at
- Morrisons in Exeter, Prince Charles Road, EX4 7BY, from 10am to 4pm on Sunday
- Wellbeing in Action, in Newton Abbot, Market Walk, TQ12 2RX, from 10am to 4pm on Sunday
Purpose-built flats offer a taste of independent living
An official opening ceremony has been held for 11 new ‘Stepping Stone’ apartments for people with various levels of learning difficulties on a site at Brimhay, Dartington.
The Elmhirst Court apartments, built on land owned and managed by South Devon Rural Housing Association (SDR), were completed in the summer of 2021 and the first tenants are now well established in their new homes, which for many are offering the first taste of independent living.
The opening ceremony, which was attended by key stakeholders in the project, had to be postponed from the original date due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The project forms part of SDR’s Brimhay Development Scheme and is a collaboration with us and South Hams District Council.
Councillor James McInnes, our Cabinet Member responsible for adult social care, said:
“Elmhirst Court is a great example of the difference partnership working can make. Homes are a critical foundation in all our lives and for people with a learning disability the range of options to live as independently as possible is often limited.
“This development is helping to address this inequality and we are delighted by the positive response of the first tenants as they take their first step towards a life of greater independence and connection in this new development.”
Devon residents invited to share their views on home energy efficiency
Shopping vouchers worth £200, or £100, can be won by people who respond to a new survey inviting views about energy efficiency within their home.
The survey, which is supported by councils across Devon, including Plymouth and Torbay, asks what steps people are taking to ensure their homes can keep them warm this winter, while managing rising energy costs.
It seeks people’s opinions about the range of things they can do to improve energy efficiency in their homes, and how important that is to them – for environmental reasons or to help reduce their energy consumption.
Lead researcher Toby Blume said:
“The cost of living and rising energy prices is a big concern for lots of Devon residents. But we know that there are some important steps that can reduce energy costs and help people to live better.”
The survey will run until Friday 26 August, and the findings will help inform plans to help people improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Responses to the questionnaire are anonymous.