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More help for people struggling with rising costs of food and energy; be safe and respectful this Halloween and road users reminded to ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’ as clocks go back

More help for people struggling with rising costs of food and energy

We’ve received additional funding from the government’s Household Support Fund to help people in Devon who are struggling with the rising costs of food, energy, water bills and other related essentials.

It means we can help people in our communities that may not be eligible for other support that is already available from the government, by:

  • continuing to provide supermarket vouchers, to help families with children who are eligible for free school meals to buy food during the school holidays
  • continuing to help households that are in greatest financial need via our district/borough/ city councils
  • continuing to help Citizens Advice Devon, so that they can support households that are using pre-payment meters, to help with rising energy costs
  • piloting a scheme to provide minor but rapid energy efficiency improvements to homes of eligible households
  • working with Devon Community Foundation to explore how best to deploy funds to voluntary and community organisations

This latest amount, a little over £5 million, should cover the winter period through to Easter 2023, and it’ll take the total Household Support Fund amount given to Devon so far to just over £15 million.

Find out more

Second instalment of the cost of living payment expected in November

People who are entitled to certain low-income benefits or tax credits are also eligible to receive extra payments to help with the cost of living.

The payments are made automatically – you do not have to apply.

The payment of £650 is paid in two lump sums of £326 and £324, if you get payments of any of these benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

If you are eligible, you should have received the first payment of £326. Most people who are eligible, will receive the second payment of £324 sometime between Tuesday 8 November and Wednesday 23 November 2022.

Find out more

Be safe and respectful this Halloween

Halloween is meant to be all about scares, but there are some horrors that we know you’ll want to avoid. Here are some tips for enjoying the festivities safely:

  • costumes, wigs and accessories should be fire-resistant
  • use battery powered tea lights in pumpkins, rather than candles
  • if out after dark, wear reflective clothing or items that reflect the light. Or carry glow sticks
  • opt for non-toxic Halloween makeup over masks, which can obscure vision. Test the makeup first to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin and remember to remove it before bed
  • encourage your children to stay within the area they’re already familiar with, stick with their friends and agree a time for them to return home. Younger children should be accompanied by a responsible adult

And remember, not everyone celebrates Halloween or wants people coming to their door. Some people, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, may get worried or even frightened if strangers are continually calling at their door during the evening.

Please respect those who don’t want to take part in trick or treating. People who welcome trick or treaters often put a pumpkin outside their house or in their window as a sign. Or, if you’d like to welcome trick-or-treaters but don’t have any decorations, Devon and Cornwall Police has a poster you can download and print to colour in. Or if you would prefer to spend a quiet evening undisturbed – they also have a “Sorry – no trick or treat” poster to put in your window.

Road users reminded to ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’ as clocks go back

We’re getting used to fewer day light hours as we move towards winter, but very early this Sunday morning, 30 October, the clocks go back, marking the end of British Summer Time.

It means it’ll be a little lighter in the mornings, but that it’ll start to get darker earlier in the afternoon, notably during the time most people are travelling home from work or school.

So we’re encouraging everyone to be alert, and to ‘Be Bright, Be Seen’.

Motorists are asked to look out for other road users, including cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.

Cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse riders are all encouraged to wear reflective and fluorescent clothing to ensure that they can be seen clearly.

We’ve posted some general safety advice for all road users, on the news page of our website.

“Blindfolded walk” explores accessibility for blind and partially sighted pedestrians

Some of our transport engineers and councillors got a fresh perspective on the challenges of navigating one of Exeter’s most popular streets on a recent visit organised by the Royal National Institute of Blind People, RNIB.

They met with local campaigner Marilyn Lant and RNIB’s Steve Hyde for a blindfolded walk along Exeter’s Magdalen Road, home to many independent shops.

The assembled councillors and transport planners wore a range of ‘simulation specs’ to replicate what people with different eye conditions experience.

They encountered just some of the challenges faced by people who are blind or partially blind, particularly in relation to the height of kerbs, street clutter and furniture, tactile paving, and difficulties with hearing approaching cyclists.

You can read more about their walk on the news page of our website.

Flu vaccine for two and three year olds

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) say that cases of flu have climbed quickly, indicating that the season has begun earlier than normal, and that they are seeing hospitalisations and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions rising fastest in children aged under five years old.

Vaccinations to protect against flu are down on last season. Just 12.1 per cent of two-year olds and 12.8 per cent of three-year olds have been vaccinated against flu this time, compared to 17.4 percent in two-year olds and 18.6 per cent in three-year olds last year.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at the UKHSA, said:

“Our latest data shows early signs of the anticipated threat we expected to face from flu this season.

“We’re urging parents in particular not to be caught out as rates of hospitalisations and ICU admissions are currently rising fastest in children under five.

“This will be a concern for many parents and carers of young children, and we urge them to take up the offer of vaccination for eligible children as soon as possible.”

Children can have the free flu vaccination at school or via their GP surgery.

You can read more about it in the story on the news page of our website, or by visiting the NHS flu vaccine for children webpage.

‘Let’s Talk Menopause’ newsletter special

This month we’ve been celebrating World Menopause Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness and combat stigma and misinformation about the natural stage of a woman’s life when her hormone levels decline and her periods stop.

But menopause is not just a gender or age issue. Helping everyone to understand the direct effect it can have on individuals as well as the indirect impact on friends, family and colleagues, is vital to helping people talk openly and feel better supported.

With that in mind, we put together a special edition of our newsletter. If you missed it in your inbox, you can read it online.

Face coverings required in some healthcare settings across Devon

Face masks must be worn again in a number of healthcare settings across Devon, due a national rise in cases of COVID-19.

The Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has said:

“To help us keep our patients, staff and visitors safe, we are asking all visitors and patients to please wear a face mask in any areas where clinical care is provided.”

That includes inpatient wards and clinical rooms in hospitals, community sites, primary care sites and at vaccination centres. They add:

“We understand that for some people, wearing a face covering may be difficult due to physical or mental health conditions, and these people will remain exempt.”

They are also asking people to continue to follow hand hygiene measures when visiting a Royal Devon healthcare setting.