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Where’s your nearest community fridge? New pilot will bring accommodation for care leavers; Improving services for children with SEND; Apply now for secondary school places

New pilot will provide essential move-on accommodation for adult care leavers

Young people in our care most often live with foster carers until they reach 18- years-old, when they’re considered to be care leavers. They and their foster carers can choose to continue those arrangements if they wish, with the young person remaining living with their carer. Others however move on to live in their own accommodation.

But we have a number of young adult care leavers and young people in care aged 16 and over currently living in placements that no longer meet their needs nor offer value for money, but who are unable to move on because of a lack of suitable alternative accommodation and support that can meet their individual needs.

We’ve secured a grant of £1.1 million from the Department for Education to run a two year pilot, as part of a national initiative called Staying Close, to help those young adults transition into independent living and support them in quality accommodation. 

Find out more in the full story on the news page of our website.

Councillor Lois Samuel, Cabinet Member for Children’s SEND Improvement Services

New Cabinet member to drive Devon special needs improvement

Our continuing drive to improve services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is getting a new champion. Council leader John Hart has promoted Okehampton Rural councillor Lois Samuel to the Cabinet with the lead responsibility for improving SEND services.

It means Exeter councillor Andrew Leadbetter will retain his Cabinet responsibility for education, schools and social care but the massive children’s services brief will now be shared politically between him and Lois Samuel.

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

Ensuring surplus food isn’t wasted

Community fridges around Devon are helping ensure that surplus food, mostly from shops and food businesses, is finding a home quickly, rather than be wasted.

There are 25 community fridges in Devon, collectively redistributing an estimated 150 tonnes of surplus food, worth almost £500,000, each year.

And to help you find one nearest you, we and other partners of Recycle Devon have launched a new community map to show you where they are.

The scheme relies on volunteers giving up their spare time to ensure that surplus food isn’t going to waste.

The food in the fridges is free for people to take and it’s collected primarily from businesses. It may have past its ‘best before’ date, but food in the fridges is before its ‘use by’ date.

Some community fridges take contributions from households as well, such as home-grown gluts, but always check with your local community fridge volunteer as to what they can and can’t take, before dropping anything off.

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

Makers Mews opens new classroom to empower Ivybridge’s creative community

We’ve featured stories before about our network of Devon Work Hubs that offer flexible workspaces including office space, meeting rooms and coworking opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Though similar in purpose, they often have their own individual look and feel.

Makers Mews, housed in a 300-year-old barn overlooking the River Erme in Ivybridge, is one such example. And it’s opening new facilities.

In addition to the popular coworking facilities, Makers Mews will be opening a new classroom where events, classes and talks will be held to support the creative community and encourage sustainable practices that reduce consumerism.

To mark the opening, they’re hosting an open day for the public on Friday 29 September, where there’ll be free hot desking in the coworking space, and two taster sessions of the Accountability Alliance.

In the evening, there’ll be food and drink served outside around the firepit as social enterprises, Ivybridge Brewing and Pizza Pirates join the celebration.

Nadine Dommett is founder of Makers Mews.

“The vision for Makers Mews is to provide a creative hub that fuels connection, innovation and environmental responsibility in the creative community of Ivybridge,” she says.

“We are so excited about the opportunities that we are creating with our new community classroom. It will allow us to collaborate with many more makers, teachers and repairers to share skills and knowledge within the community.”

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

COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Fund available to the voluntary sector

Communities in Devon can apply for a grant to support the improvement of COVID-19 vaccination knowledge and increase vaccine uptake among vulnerable groups.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Fund has been established to enable organisations from the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector across Devon to deliver innovative projects and activities with vulnerable communities to help increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations during the 2023/24 autumn / winter vaccine campaign.

Activities that can be supported through this fund include outreach to support vaccination uptake; building vaccine confidence via workshops; group meetings; engaging with vulnerable communities to explore barriers to uptake; or providing vaccination clinics.

Communities can apply for more than one grant although limited funds are available and will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis. The programme will run until the end of January 2024 although, in line with Government priorities, vaccinations should be given as early as possible.

If your organisation is interested in applying for funding to support an increase in COVID-19 vaccination knowledge and outreach in your community, visit COVID-19 vaccination outreach fund – One Devon for more information and to submit an application.

Applications now open for 2024 secondary school places

September 2024 may seem a long way off but if your child is currently in Year 6 of primary and due to start secondary school next year, you need to start the application process now.

We are taking applications from families whose children are due to start secondary school in September 2024.

The deadline for secondary school applications is Tuesday 31 October 2023.

You can apply for a place online through our website, where you will find full details on how to apply on the portal and how the admissions system works.

Each school now has its own admission criteria, so it’s important to look at the information relating to specific schools on their websites.

A young girl playing on a beach

Now is the time to adopt

Could you consider adopting a child with a disability?

All children long for the love and stability of being part of a family, yet children with additional health needs or disabilities wait longer to be adopted.

Amanda White, Operations Manager at Adopt South West, explains:

“I talk to adoptive parents a lot and they will all tell me that their lives now feel fuller and more worthwhile as a family. There’s no doubt that it’s hard work – any parent will tell you that – but it’s so rewarding.

“There is ongoing support, from our service, support from other adopters, as well as your own support network. The adoption process is thorough – it has to be, of course – but it’s not as difficult or onerous as people first think. In talking to adopters they find it to be a journey of self-discovery and a time when they learn so much about children who are waiting for a family.”

“Now is the time to think again about adoption and be open to adopting beyond your first thoughts about a child’s ability, their age, or gender. and consider. If you are considering adoption, or adopting a child or children with additional needs, please talk to us about taking the next steps.”

If you are interested in adopting any of the children currently waiting the longest, please get in touch with our friendly team. We’ll support you – contact us.