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Don’t get duped by dodgy deals this Black Friday; young people in our children’s home make huge piece of art in support of Ukraine and how we can help businesses reduce their energy costs

Experienced care workers recruited from overseas

The first care workers employed in a recruitment campaign targeting trained and experienced people overseas are arriving in Devon.

We’re working with the Devon Alliance for International Recruitment and Torbay and Plymouth Councils in a recruitment drive to help plug the signficant shortage of experienced care workers in the county.

There are around 30,000 people employed in adult social care in Devon, and a vacancy rate of around 10 per cent.

“Too few care workers mean that care providers are unable to provide enough care to enough people,” says Councillor James McInnes.

“As a consequence, people are waiting longer to receive social care. Some are at home waiting for care, and some are in hospital, well enough to leave but waiting for care to be ready for them when they leave. It’s holding up beds.”

The recruitment drive overseas follows a move by Government to relax the rules on employing people from abroad who are in key occupations of which there’s a shortage.

We’ve surpassed our initial target and hope to appoint more over coming months. And we’re hearing from care providers who are interested in employing them.

Read the full story on our website

Don’t get duped by dodgy deals this Black Friday

The hype about Black Friday savings gets bigger every year and when many of us are trying to cut costs and find bargains, some online offers can seem too good to miss. But are they really?

survey by Which? found that a massive 98 per cent of products that were on sale on Black Friday 2021 were actually cheaper or the same as their Black Friday price at other times in the year. So this year they’ve shared some great advice for shoppers with four tips to find out whether the ‘special offer’ you’ve got your eye on is real.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is also urging shoppers to be on their guard against scams, fake reviews and potentially unsafe goods. With the rising cost of living this year, disreputable traders and scammers are seizing the opportunity to exploit consumers’ desire to save money, and they’re concerned that many people could be tempted by spurious offers and misleading claims.

Their advice, particularly for shopping online is to:

  • do your research before committing to a purchase and shop around 
  • do not blindly trust online reviews, many of which can be faked
  • check the URL in the address bar before entering any payment information into a website as scammers have been known to clone legitimate websites in order to steal banking details
  • use a protected payment method like a credit card, PayPal or a Klarna account – debit card payments are not protected if there is a problem with a purchase
  • be on guard against fake, poor quality and potentially dangerous goods – if the price of something seems too good to be true, it probably is
  • buy from a reputable trader whose name you recognise and check the delivery, returns and cancellation details before committing to a purchase

Young people in our children’s home make huge piece of art in support of Ukraine

Young people and staff at our Atkinson Secure Children’s Home in Exeter have created an amazing piece of art, inspired after reading about the significance of Ukraine’s national flower.

In the country’s colours of blue and yellow, the sunflower stands 2.4 metres tall, with the flower head a huge 1.5 metres diameter.

It’s made of acrylic and wood and is self-standing.

Glenn, who works at the children’s home, said:

“The young people in the home have helped to make this as a symbol of the plight faced by Ukrainian people. In our recent Ofsted inspection – in which we continue to be ‘Good’ – the inspectors made positive comments about the collaborative nature of the project.”

We’ve teamed up with John Lewis to shine a light on fostering this Christmas

We were so impressed with John Lewis’s Christmas advert shining a light on children in care and the importance of foster carers, that we asked them to help us promote our fostering service locally.

Their advert follows the preparations by a foster family ahead of the young person’s arrival. Knowing that the young person is a keen skateboarder, foster carer dad spends weeks learning to skateboard, to help the young person feel welcome and settled.

Last week we shared our own version of their advert with you, featuring Al, who works for our fostering service, practicing on his skateboard. Since then, our advert has been viewed over 3,000 times and we’ve had some great feedback, so thank you. 

This week we’ve been talking to John Lewis about our fostering service. They’re really supportive, and they’ve given us space in their Exeter Princesshay store to hold some pop-up events, during late night shopping over the next few weeks. 

We’re going to use the space to help increase awareness of fostering and because we’d love more people to become foster carers with us. 

Pop-up event dates at John Lewis, Exeter

Christmas is even more special when it’s Made in Devon

Devon is full of great independent, businesses making fantastic products and Made in Devon, our trading standards approved buy-local business support scheme, is here to help spread the word.

Any business that is based in Devon, which has been operating for more than six months and takes pride in buying from and supporting other Devon businesses, can apply to join.

Consumers who want to buy from trustworthy Devon companies can look on the Find a Local Business page or the Love to Shop Local page and be rest assured they’re supporting a local, legal and honest Devon business that has the Trading Standards stamp of approval.

Made in Devon member businesses are also assessed on their commitment to sustainability, how they contribute to their local communities and their specialist skills.

So, this Christmas find some great gift ideas and help support Devon businesses by shopping locally. Just look at some of the great products available from Made in Devon members on the Christmas Gift Guide section of the Made in Devon website.

Made in Devon Christmas gift guide

Devon Youth Justice Service is ‘Good’ say Government inspectors

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation has applauded the Devon Youth Justice Board, which we manage on behalf of a partnership including the police, probation services, and the NHS.

It comprises of professionals ranging from social workers and probation officers to mental health workers and speech and language therapists, who work with children who offend.

Inspectors recently visited us and have concluded that our service is either ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’ in almost every category. Planning to support children so that they do not commit further offences is one of our strengths, inspectors noted. They highlighted how staff developed meaningful working relationships with children, calling it ‘outstanding’.

They said that our reviewing work, which judges the impact of interventions on reducing reoffending, is ‘impressive’. Staff, they said, were ‘committed, keen, caring and willing to go the extra mile to support the children they are working with’.

We’re pleased with the inspector’s findings, but we know that we can improve further. We’re developing an action plan to ensure further improvement of the service with a specific focus on bringing together the whole of the partnership.

Read more on the news page of our website

How we can help businesses reduce their energy costs

We know that many businesses in Devon are struggling with rising costs, and with the current economic climate coming so quickly on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses sadly have closed.

Through the Heart of the South West Growth Hub, we are supporting local businesses, helping them plan, adapt, and respond to the current challenges, and help them find additional support and business advice.

We’ve looked at the types of challenges that businesses are facing, and this week published a special edition of this newsletter with advice from our new business webpages. If you missed it, it’s still available online.

Energy costs in particular are causing problems for businesses, and many are implementing energy saving measures to reduce costs and cut carbon emissions.

Decarbonise Devon launched this week, aiming to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) reduce their energy consumption. It delivers energy audits to SMEs and guides them on the most effective ways to reduce their energy costs and reduce emissions.

“Devon is home to the country’s most active community energy sector, with teams of passionate people across the county delivering vital advice and support at this time of high energy costs and deep concern about climate change,” says Alex Rathmell, Managing Director of EPConnect, whose service it is.

If you run an SME and want to reduce your energy bills, you can read more about Decarbonise Devon in the story on our news page of our website.

No Label No Limit for young women in Devon schools

Devon schools are involved in a personal development programme to inspire, empower and raise the confidence and aspirations of young women.

It’s funded by The Careers and Enterprise Company, and it’s exploring whether tailored personal development and careers support significantly improves self-belief, social and emotional capabilities, attendance, application to learning, behaviour and aspirations.

And it’s supported by 75 professional female business leaders, who have signed up as ‘No Label No Limit’ champions.

“We hope that the young women involved complete the programme feeling better equipped to tackle barriers and achieve future success,” says Jo Skeel, Heart of the South West Careers Hub Manager.

“Gaining the confidence to ask questions alongside having the skills, tools and support mechanisms in place to be successful and pursue their career ambitions is the ultimate goal.”

You can read more about this innovative programme, and which schools are involved, in the story on our news page.

Do you look after someone who couldn’t cope without your support?

An unpaid carer is anyone who looks after a friend, family member or neighbour who due to old age, illness, disability, addiction or physical or mental illness, cannot cope without their support. ‘Looking after’ can mean helping with things like shopping, domestic tasks, emotional assistance and personal care. Anyone of any age can become a carer and it can happen gradually, or it may be due to a sudden change in circumstances.

Yesterday (Thursday 24 November) was Carers Rights Day – a national event run every year to help ensure unpaid carers are aware of their rights, to let them know where to get help and support and to raise awareness of their needs.

It’s important that unpaid carers know their rights in order to access the information and support available to them that may be essential to maintaining their own health and wellbeing.

New figures suggest there are currently around 135,000 people in Devon who are unpaid carers, and for those that need support, we provide care and support for them through Devon Carers.

You can find out more in the special edition newsletter we sent to subscribers earlier this week.

Read our special edition Carers Rights Day newsletter