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Support for families as food poverty rises; our Public Health Nursing service gets glowing report and from home to growing business communities with Devon Work Hubs

Support for families as food poverty rises

The number of households in Devon unable to access or afford the food that they need to ensure that they and their families stay healthy has increased by 70 per cent in 18 months. And more than a third of households say that that they plan to switch off their heating altogether this winter to help make ends meet.

If your family is struggling to afford to eat healthily and keep warm this winter, please remember that support is available.

We’re working with local partners, including local councils, the NHS and the voluntary and community sector, on ways to support communities, and there are a variety of schemes on offer depending on your circumstances.

These include the Household Support FundFree School Meals and Free School Meals Holiday Voucher schemeThe Holiday Activity and Food Programme and Citizens Advice Devon.

For more information you can read the full story on the news page of our website, or visit our dedicated Cost of Living webpages.

Devon’s Public Health Nursing service gets glowing report

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a report this week that highlights ‘outstanding practice’ in our Public Health Nursing service, following a recent inspection.

Picked out for particular praise is the service’s work in partnership with schools to improve support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, (SEND).

They also commend as outstanding the service’s support to families fleeing Ukraine and Afghanistan, and for mothers regarding perinatal and infant mental health.

We’re really pleased with CQC’s findings, and proud that their inspectors describe a service that is well-led, well-run, and that is providing great benefit to individuals and young families.

Read the full story on the news page of our website

Devon Work Hubs – home to growing business communities

The way many people work has changed forever since the COVID-19 pandemic, with more people now working from home or splitting their time between there and the office.

Our network of 24 work hubs across Devon are playing a key role in helping provide flexibility for people looking for workspace, offering access to a variety of meeting rooms, hot desks and office spaces for freelancers and small businesses.

They’re home to countless thriving businesses and have been key to some remarkable success stories, including companies that have expanded to multiple branches nationwide; a social enterprise helping support disadvantaged women; and an author who has been enabled to realise her dream of having a series of books published.

The one thing they all have in common is that they enjoy the flexibility and feeling of community that our network of work hubs offer. 

To highlight the important role the hubs are playing in our local economy, over the coming weeks we’ll be featuring some of them and the businesses that benefit from using them.

First up, local author and illustrator Samantha Williams, whose time at The Tribe Work Hub in Totnes has been a real-life fairy tale.

Read Samantha’s story on the news page of our website

Ambitious project to make A382 link road the UK’s first carbon negative highway

Earlier this week it was announced that we’ve been successful in our £3.7 million bid to the Government to support our innovative proposals to decarbonise the construction and maintenance of the A382 link road development near Newton Abbot, making it the UK’s first ‘carbon negative’ highway.

It is one of only seven ground breaking projects across the country to be awarded a share of the programme’s £30 million funding pot, following a “Dragon’s Den”-style pitch to a panel of independent experts.

The pilot has been chosen to accelerate decarbonisation across highway infrastructure and transform the approach of local authorities in delivering net zero local roads right across the UK.

Potential carbon saving measures proposed for the project include using local recycled materials, ensuring construction plant and equipment is sustainably powered, installing streetlighting that can generate power, and establishing low maintenance verges and hedgerows.

Read the full story on the news page of our website.

#WeCan all help end cervical cancer

This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, and our Public Health team is working with the NHS in Devon to continue to promote the importance of screening and vaccination in the prevention and early diagnosis of cervical cancer.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by an infection from human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s a very common group of viruses that do not cause any problems in most people, but some types can cause genital warts or some cancers of the anal and genital areas and mouth and throat.

It’s important to know what the symptoms of cervical cancer are, and if you develop any, get them checked as soon as possible. It’s also vital to attend regular cervical screening (a smear test), which aims to find and treat changes to cells before they turn into cancer. You’ll get a letter in the post inviting you to make an appointment.

All young people aged 12 to 13 years old are offered the HPV vaccine (given as two injections spaced at least six months apart) as part of the NHS vaccination programmeResearch has shown it has dramatically reduced cervical cancer rates by almost 90 per cent, but there’s concerns that some children have missed theirs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It’s important to have both doses of the vaccine to be properly protected. If you’ve missed yours, you can still get it for free from 12 years old up until your 25th birthday by contacting your school immunisation team or GP to arrange a catch-up.

Voter ID requirement of elections

From May, voters will need to show photo ID before voting in person in local council elections in England, parliamentary by-elections, and police and crime commissioner elections in England and Wales. From October 2023, photo ID will also be needed at UK parliamentary general elections.

Most people already have the ID they need (a UK, European Economic Area (EEA) or Commonwealth passport; a UK or EEA drivers’ licence; and some concessionary travel passes, such as an older person’s bus pass) so they just need to remember to bring it with them on polling day. 

However, if you do not have an accepted form of ID, you can apply for a new form of free photo ID that can be used at elections, known as the Voter Authority Certificate. You can apply online, or paper application forms are available from your local district council. You must be registered to vote, and will need to provide your date of birth, National Insurance number and a photograph with your application. The requirements for the photo are similar to the requirements for a passport photo. 

If you don’t have access to a home computer to apply for a Voter Authority Certificate, you can use one of the free computers available in any of Devon’s libraries.

Local elections are taking place across England on Thursday 4 May 2023, and those intending to vote at a polling station will need to show photo ID to receive a ballot paper. The deadline to apply for a certificate before the May elections is 5pm on Tuesday 25 April 2023.

Supporting unpaid carers to have their COVID-19 vaccinations

Fewer unpaid carers are taking up their COVID-19 vaccinations than other groups, and if unpaid carers get COVID-19 it is likely it will have a serious impact both on them, and the person they care for.

So one of our priorities at the moment is to help unpaid carers get their vaccination by arranging transport to a vaccination centre, sitting service for the person they care for and conversations with people who are hesitant to address their concerns. Further information about the offer can be found on Devon Carers website.

We are also asking unpaid carers to complete a quick survey so we can better understand your views and experiences of getting the COVID-19 vaccination. If you have received your vaccinations, we would like to understand what worked well for you. We also understand that many haven’t and if this is the case for you, we would like to understand why and see if there are ways we can better support you to have them. The survey will be open until midday on Wednesday 8 February 2023 and there will be a prize draw for a £25 gift voucher for those who complete the survey by this date.

If you are unsure if you are an unpaid carer, please visit the Devon Carers website and answer four simple questions.

It’s Holocaust Memorial Day today

Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to learn about the past and take action for a better future.

It takes place each year on Friday 27 January (the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp) to remember the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust under Nazi Persecution and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

This year, the guiding theme for Holocaust Memorial Day is “Ordinary People”. People across the world are encouraged to consider how ordinary people were involved in all aspects of the Holocaust and, how ordinary people can play a bigger part in challenging prejudice today. 

Genocide does not just take place on its own – it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in Devon that we are not at immediate risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion. There is still much to do to create a safer future. 

Be prepared railway strike action next week

Great Western Railway (GWR) is advising passengers that there are likely to be no services running in Devon on Wednesday 1 and Friday 3 February, the dates when ASLEF and RMT train drivers will be taking industrial action.

GWR’s web pages will provide the latest news on the disputes as well as information on refunds and when journey planners will be updated. 

Our roads are likely to be busier on those days, so please follow Devon Alert on Facebook or Twitter for the latest travel information from our Network Control Centre.

Single bus fares for £2 or less!

Bus passengers in Devon can take advantage of a cap on single bus fares as part of the Department for Transport’s new fares initiative, through the Government’s Help for Households campaign.

Bus users will pay no more than £2 for a single journey when boarding the bus anytime in January, February and March.

To find out more, please visit the news page of our website.