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Local waste reduction groups help the planet and families; school children get their hands dirty down on the farm and advice on staying warm safely this winter

Local waste reduction groups are helping the planet and families

Volunteer waste reduction groups across Mid Devon and Teignbridge are ‘thriving’ thanks to our Community Action Groups Devon (CAG Devon) project.

The project, which is funded by us and managed by Resource Futures, has helped these groups more than double the amount of carbon that they have prevented from going into the atmosphere.

Together their actions have increased carbon dioxide emissions savings from 60.6 tonnes to 139 tonnes, equivalent to the electricity needed to support 100 homes for one year.

CAG Devon food projects have saved over 32 tonnes of food from waste, equivalent to 40 supermarket delivery vans full of food, enough to feed a family of four for 10 years.

And some of these projects are also helping local communities cope with the cost-of-living crisis with community larders and fridges, that were developed during the pandemic, becoming increasingly popular.

To find out more, read the full story on the news page of our website.

Children get their hands dirty at Farmwise!

School children from across Devon had the opportunity to experience ‘everything agriculture’ this week, as Farmwise returned for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, which was held at Westpoint near Exeter, saw more than 1,000 children roll up their sleeves and get stuck into a range of activities to learn first-hand where food comes from and how it is produced.

Children had the chance to make sausages, turn cream into butter, press apples for juice to drink, as well as mill and create oil from grain.They also learnt how our fruit is produced and how to reduce our carbon footprint by buying local and in season produce. Our tenant farmers introduced the children to a Ruby Red cow and her calf, a large Black Pig, and her piglets as well as sheep and goats as they learnt about the importance of good animal husbandry.

You can find out what else they got up to by reading the full story on the news page of our website.

Earlier this week the NHS announced that people aged 50 years old or over have joined the list of those eligible for the COVID-19 booster and flu jab, and from today (Friday 14 October) they can book their appointments. 

It follows a warning that COVID-19 cases are rising and that people should avoid vulnerable friends, colleagues and relatives if they feel unwell.

Chief Medical Advisor at the UK Health Security Agency Dr Susan Hopkins said:

“The double threat of widely circulating flu and COVID-19 this year is a real concern, so it’s crucial that you take up the free flu vaccine as soon as possible if you are offered it. It will help protect you from severe flu this winter, and even save your life.

“All those over 50 are now eligible for the jab, many of which will have low natural immunity due to COVID-19 restrictions over the last two years”.

If you’re eligible it’s important to have your COVID-19 and flu vaccinations as soon as possible, so please book online, or phone 119.

Schools learn about Windrush at conference

Last week we hosted a school conference to help raise young people’s awareness of the Windrush generations and to celebrate the contribution and achievements of people of Caribbean heritage to this country.

Students heard from three Devon residents of Caribbean heritage, Nadia Gorton, Euten Lindsay and Dave Samuels.

The speakers explored the history of the Windrush ship, the experiences of people and their families who came to the UK, and the ‘hostile environment’ policy which contributed to the ‘Windrush scandal’.

Gabriel, a student from Ivybridge Community College, said about the day:

“It’s been enlightening to hear about the experiences of people who have helped to build Britain.”

Greg, also a student at Ivybridge Community College, added:

“Understanding diversity teaches us to love and respect everyone and keep an open mind, and to appreciate people who helped to make this world a better place.”

You can read the full story on the news page of our website.

Teenagers could be missing out on a stash of cash

Tens of thousands of teenagers in the UK, who have not yet claimed their matured Child Trust Funds savings, could have thousands of pounds waiting for them, according to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Child Trust Funds are long-term savings accounts set up for every child born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011. To encourage future saving and start the account, the government provided an initial deposit of at least £250.

The savings accounts mature when the child turns 18 years old. Eligible teenagers, who are aged 18 years old or over and have yet to access their Child Trust Fund account, could have savings waiting for them worth an average of £2,100. Many eligible teenagers who have yet to claim their savings might be starting university, apprenticeships or their first job. The lump-sum amount could offer a financial boost at a time when they need it most.

If teenagers or their parents and guardians already know who their Child Trust Fund provider is, they can contact them directly. This might be a bank, building society or other savings provider. Alternatively, they can visit GOV.UK and complete an online form to find out where their Child Trust Fund is held.

Is your child up to date with their vaccinations?

The latest data from the government’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows vaccination rates among children are dropping. 

The World Health Organisation recommends that childhood immunisation programmes need 95 per cent coverage to help prevent the spread of avoidable serious – and sometimes deadly – diseases such as measles and polio.

But the latest statistics show that nationally, only 89.2 per cent of children at 24 months had completed their first dose of the MMR vaccine, and coverage for the second dose of MMR by age 5 years was also down by nearly 1 per cent.

Parents and guardians are being urged to ensure their children are up to date with all their routine childhood immunisations including polio and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccinations. 

Anyone who is unsure if their child is up to date with all their routine vaccinations should check their child’s red book (personal child health record) in the first instance. If you are still not sure, or if you need to bring your child up to date with their vaccines, contact your GP practice to check and book an appointment.

To find out more about childhood vaccinations, please visit the NHS website.

Staying warm safely this winter

As the weather starts to get cooler, you might be thinking about making a few changes at home to bring down the price of your energy bills. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is asking you to stay warm safely, and not put yourself at risk as the cost of living increases.

Sometimes it can save money to use a portable heater to heat a small area, but be aware that they can also be a serious fire hazard. Heaters should always be placed at least one metre away from curtains, bedding and upholstery (never dry washing on them!) and switched off and unplugged before you go out or go to bed. Before using a heater, check it over for damaged wiring, and if something doesn’t look right, dispose of it, or get it checked by a professional. An oil-filled radiator is the safest type of portable heater as they don’t have any exposed heating elements.

If you have an open fire or wood burner, make sure you have your chimney swept before you use it for the first time this winter and only burn seasoned wood. Other wood may have moisture which can create tar in the chimney, which is highly flammable and can lead to chimney fires.

You should have working smoke alarms on every level of your home so you’re alerted quickly in the event of a fire. It’s also recommended that you have a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where fuel is burnt (this includes boilers, gas cookers and ovens, open fires, and log burners).

Complete an online fire safety check of your home via the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service website, to help you be safer from the risk of fire. If you’re vulnerable or need more help, they can come and visit your home to have a look around – this online check will start this process. If you don’t have internet access you can call them on 0800 05 02 999.

For more safety advice and support to stay warm and save money this winter, please visit the how to stay warm safely this winter page on the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue website.

Chat, play and read together

The government has launched a new campaign to encourage parents and carers to chat, play and read more with their children, developing their communication, language and literacy skills before starting school.

Children with poor vocabulary skills at age five years old are likely to do less well academically and may be up to twice as likely to be unemployed in their 30s.The COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse and there has been a rise in the number of children starting school with language skills poorer than would have been expected before.

All the little things you do with your child – like everyday conversations, make-believe play and reading together – make a big difference to their development. It doesn’t have to cost a penny. You don’t need pricey books or toys, and it definitely doesn’t have to feel like ‘learning’!

The Start for Life online hub has lots of ideas for quick, easy activities your child will love and will help boost their learning for when they go to school.