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Keep your new year’s resolution; Free support for parents and carers of pre-teens; back to school health advice; New budget to safeguard social care and children’s services; and more

Target budget now calls for 18.4% increase in spending on children’s services

Council to set budget to safeguard social care and services for children

A huge effort to identify savings and a welcome cash boost from the Government mean budgets to protect vulnerable children and adults in Devon can be increased this year.

Last summer, our council Leader Councillor John Hart, warned a perfect storm of soaring inflation and rising demand for services meant sweeping budget cuts could be needed unless tough action was taken to rein in costs and the Government provided more cash.

Since then almost £50 million of savings have been identified in our spending, and the Government has announced a potential cash boost of almost 10 per cent in our funding.

It means that our target budget for 2023/24 now calls for an 18.4 per cent increase in spending on children’s services with an 8.8 per cent rise in adult social care.

The budget for public health and communities is set to go up by 5.4 per cent and climate change, environment and transport by 3.5 per cent.

In all, our service revenue budget will rise by 10.5 per cent from £630 million to £696 million if the target budget is approved by councillors next month.

Our Cabinet will meet this Wednesday to discuss the proposals.

You can read more about this in the story on our news page.

Keep your New Year resolution with the help of One Small Step

The beginning of the New Year can be a great opportunity to develop a new habit! One Small Step has many options for support to help you keep your resolution in 2023, or to inspire you to make the change.

Studies have found some of our New Year resolutions struggle to make it past 12 January, but with the support of others, we can make them last much longer.

One Small Step is a free lifestyle service, funded by us to support the health and wellbeing of Devon residents.

We have friendly advisors who can help you plan lifestyle changes and support you to maintain a healthier weight, stop smoking, drink less or become more active.

Our flexible support means we can help you focus on small achievable steps to fit in with your lifestyle and routine.

Michael, from Exeter, said: “My advice to anyone thinking of quitting smoking would be just give it a go. You’ll wish you did it sooner. If One Small Step can help me, they can help anyone!”

Find out more in the story on our news page, or visit our One Small Step website.

Back to school advice from UKHSA

Flu and coronavirus are ‘currently circulating at high levels and are likely to continue to increase in coming weeks’, warned the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) this week.

Their Chief Medical Adviser, Professor Susan Hopkins, gave the following advice:

  • if your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay at home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever has gone
  • help children to learn the importance of good hand hygiene, and washing their hands at home with soap and warm water
  • catch coughs and sneezes in tissues and bin them
  • adults, stay home if you’re unwell and wear a face covering if you have to go out
  • when unwell, don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent
  • remember, flu vaccinations are still the best protection against the flu, which can be unpleasant. Getting your child vaccinated protects them and others they come into contact with

Funding awarded to support active travel

We were awarded just over £580,000 this week to enable and encourage more people to walk and cycle.

The Government funding will be used to accelerate walking and cycling schemes across Devon and make roads safer for everyone.

It can’t be used for construction of infrastructure, but it can be used to design walking and cycling routes.

So we’re drawing up initial designs for walking and cycling routes in Barnstaple, Newton Abbot and Exeter, and a potential new route between Crediton and Exeter.

We’ll also develop proposals for new walking and cycling networks for several market and coastal towns, and do further work on proposals for low traffic neighbourhood trials.

You can read more about the funding and how we want to use it in the story on our news page.

Free support for parents and carers of pre-teens

Anyone who has a pre-teenager will know the challenges of supporting them through these tricky years.

However, help is at hand through a partnership led by The South Devon and Dartmoor Community Safety Partnership, which is running a series of online webinars to accompany a toolkit.

This has been developed as a result of the resounding success of the Let’s Talk Teenagers programme that has seen 2,497 engagements with parents and carers so far. The Let’s Talk programme is designed to increase parent and carers’ knowledge around the key risks while giving simple tools and techniques to help them support their child.

The free online sessions for parents and carers of pre-teens start this month, running on Tuesdays, 17, 24 and 31 January.

Tickets are free and available through the Let’s Talk Pre-Teens Eventbrite website.

Deadline for September 2023 primary school applications approaching

Children born between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019 are due to start primary school in September 2023. You can apply on our website, under ‘apply for a school place’, or by calling us on 0345 155 1019.

Applications for starting primary or junior school in September 2023 close on Sunday15 January 2023.

New Year, new skills with Train4Tomorrow Skills Bootcamps

If you’re thinking of upskilling or moving into a new career this new year, there are still spaces available on Train4Tomorrow Skills Bootcamps starting soon.

The Train4Tomorrow Skills Bootcamps, which we deliver with Cornwall Council, are fully-funded digital and technical courses that cover a range of specialisms including regenerative farming, digital marketing, electrical vehicle maintenance, data analytics, green construction and software development.

They’re open to unemployed, self-employed or employed adults aged 19 or over in Devon and Cornwall and are free to individual learners.

The training is designed by training providers and employers to meet their open, live vacancies and gives learners the opportunity to build up specific-sector skills as well as fast-track to an interview with a local employer.

Find out more about the courses available and how to apply on the Train4Tomorrow webpages.

Healthwatch Devon wants your views on mental health services

Healthwatch Devon has launched a New Year consultation to discover more about local people’s experiences trying to access mental health services in the region.

Healthwatch in Devon, Plymouth, and Torbay is the independent consumer champion for health and social care services, ensuring the voice of the community is used to influence and improve services for local people.

They consistently gather public feedback and produce reports on local healthcare services, complete with recommendations for change, which are shared with providers and commissioners of services and used to inform plans or changes for improvement.

The first stage of the consultation is an online survey. Alternatively, you can request a printed version by emailing or calling free on 0800 520 0640.