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Free activities and meals available to eligible children over the school summer holiday; How does Devon adapt to a warming world and Let’s talk about loneliness

Staying well in the heat

The Government’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Met Office have extended their Yellow Heat-Health Alert until Monday 19 June as temperatures continue to soar in Devon. 

Please look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated, particularly older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone as they are more at risk.

Try to keep out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest, and if you do go out in the heat, walk in the shade, apply sun cream, wear a wide-brimmed hat and remember to take water with you.

Also try to keep your house or workplace cool by closing blinds or curtains. At night, keep your sleeping area well ventilated. Night cooling is important as it allows the body to recuperate.

Read the UKHSA blog post on staying safe during periods of extreme weather.

The Met Office has published advice on how to plan for the heat.

For more information on the common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, visit the NHS website.

Free activities and meals available to eligible children over the school summer holiday

For many families, the school summer holiday can be difficult and stressful time, particularly with the cost of food and childcare, which can quickly mount up.

That’s why we’re inviting children aged five to 16 years old, who receive benefit-related free school meals, to take part in a range of exciting activities over the school summer holidays.

Once again, we have teamed up with over 60 different activity providers across Devon to offer a great range of indoor and outdoor activities as part of the Government-funded Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, which offers free activities and healthy meals during the school holidays.

Activities range from sports such as football and kayaking to other activities like gardening, outdoor treasure hunts, and craft sessions. Some providers are offering special visits from storytellers, magicians, animals, and trips to local attractions. And this year, there are more places available for secondary school aged children and young people, with activities including go-karting, climbing, trampolining, high ropes and surfing.   

A full list of the activities and how to apply are on our website.

Coming together at Exeter Respect Festival

Last week colleagues from across our organisation came together at the Exeter Respect Festival to talk to those attending about the work we’ve been doing to improve equality and diversity, and to support members of ethnically diverse communities in Devon.

Ana Barbosa, our Project Coordinator for Ethnically Diverse Communities, sends her thanks to everyone who volunteered and attended the Festival. She said: 

“The Festival brought people together and celebrated the richness that diversity brings from the food and music we enjoyed, to the sharing of experiences and strengthening of connections to each other and our communities.

“What particularly resonates with me was seeing so many people, from so many backgrounds, joining together to learn more about each other and to take away with them a broader understanding of diversity in Devon.”

Ana and the team encouraged people attending the Festival to draw something about a country that they are linked to, on cotton squares. The squares will be sewn together by the Afghan Women Group and turned into a symbolic item representing diversity, inclusion, togetherness, and respect.

How does Devon adapt to a warming world

Mark Rice, the Environment Agency’s Area Director for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, says that the Climate Adaptation Strategy is vital in setting out what the region needs to do to prepare itself for the affects of climate change.

But what is the Climate Adaptation Strategy and why is it important? 

Two words help explain it, mitigation and adaptation.

We’re all familiar with mitigation in the context of climate change. That’s about what we should be doing to tackle the causes of climate change, to make the impacts of rising global temperatures less severe. It’s about reducing the emission of greenhouse gases to net-zero.

Although we can reduce the severity by acting now, we are already on that path with rising global temperatures. In the south-west, we’re already seeing sea levels rising, which will in time put low lying and coastal communities at risk. We’re going to see more severe and more frequent extreme weather events, leading to increased flooding for communities near rivers and watercourses.

So what are we going to do? 

Well, that’s the Climate Adaptation Strategy. It’s what we need to do to make ourselves, our communities, more resilient to the impact of climate change and what we already know is happening.

The Climate Adaptation Strategy for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is at a draft stage, and experts would like people’s views about it.

“By responding to the consultation, you will have the opportunity to influence the future resilience of your community,” said Mark Rice.

View the Adaptation Strategy and respond to the consultation

You can also order a paper copy by emailing or phoning 03451551015

Our Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showmen communities in Devon

June is Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month, and we’re using the opportunity to learn and raise awareness about the cultural heritage and the challenges facing Gypsy, Roma, Traveller and Showmen (GRTS) communities in Devon.

There is a long history of Gypsies and Travellers living in Devon, with some families claiming a local heritage over three hundred years! However, most people know very little about Gypsies and Travellers and may be unaware that the population in Devon includes a significant number, at least 5,000.

Romany Gypsies, Scottish, Welsh and Irish Travellers are people from ethnic minority groups, recognised under UK law and protected by the Equalities Act 2010. 

Romany poet and comedian, Scott Redmond, takes a look at some of the stereotypes associated with being a Romany Traveller, and how they differ from modern reality.

Let’s talk about loneliness

It’s Loneliness Awareness Week this week – an annual event hosted by Marmalade Trust, the UK’s leading loneliness charity.

The campaign aims to reduce the stigma around loneliness and encourage people to talk more openly about it.

Feeling lonely is something that all of us can experience at any point and can have a huge impact on our wellbeing. Sometimes admitting we feel lonely can be hard but it’s important to remember that many others experience similar feelings of loneliness too, and that this feeling can pass.

It can often feel easier to reach out to someone else who may be feeling lonely and there are plenty of simple things you can do, such as going for a walk with someone, inviting someone for a coffee and a chat or joining a local community group to meet like-minded people.

Find more support and advice for ways to lift someone out of loneliness on the NHS Every Mind Matters website – it might help you feel less lonely too.

Help reduce air pollution levels in Devon

Yesterday (Thursday 15 June) was Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest campaign on air pollution. Cleaning up our air is good for us and the planet in many ways; it not only benefits our physical health and the environment but can also protect our mental health.

There are things we can all do to help reduce levels of pollution:

Learn: find out more about how air pollution impacts our mental, physical and planet’s health. Reducing climate change and improving our environment are the biggest ways we can improve our health. You can read more about how Devon is tackling climate change and reducing emissions on the Devon Climate Emergency website.

Act: walk, cycle or use public transport to reduce your exposure and contribution to air pollution. If you drive, try leaving the car behind whenever you can. It’s a triple win – reduce your carbon footprint, reduce air pollution, and be active. Get inspired for local travel on the Travel Devon website.

Ask how clean air measures are being supported in your area. We are already working with partners to reduce transport pollution, and use technology to reduce travel in daily business where possible.

Sexually transmitted infections are increasing in the south-west

Anyone having sex with new or casual partners, whatever their age or sexual orientation, are being urged to wear a condom and get tested regularly.

It comes as new data from the Government’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows numbers of new sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses in 2022 in the south-west increased by 33 per cent in comparison with 2021.

Infection rates for Gonorrhoea in the south-west are of particular concern as they rose by 166 per cent between 2021 and 2022. Cases of syphilis increased by 32 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

Most STIs are easily treated with antibiotics, but many can cause serious health issues if left untreated. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease, while syphilis can cause serious, irreversible and potentially life-threatening problems with your brain, heart, or nerves.

Some people don’t get any symptoms with STIs, so you may not know you have one.

It’s therefore vital to take up the offer of free and confidential testing if you have had sex with a new or casual partner without using a condom. You can test at home or at your local sexual health clinic. Find sexual health services near you at