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“I couldn’t see life without her.” Debbie’s adoption story; we can help you support your community this winter and join the BIG Recycling Hunt

“I couldn’t see life without her.” Debbie’s adoption story

Any parent will tell you that sometimes family-life is difficult with the day to day challenges that come with being one. It’s the same for parents who decide to adopt a child.

This week is National Adoption Week, a week in which we highlight adoption and celebrate the good that it brings, not just for children who are adopted, but also for parents who adopt and their extended families.

Parents like Debbie, in Torbay. She adopted her six-year old daughter, Bo, with Adopt South West.

Bo has a disability. Children with disabilities and/or additional health needs tend to wait longer than others to be adopted. Other groups of children who can also wait an average seven months longer than others to be adopted include older children aged five or over; sibling groups; and children from ethnic minority backgrounds. 

Bo’s disability is sometimes challenging, but the joy she brings means that Debbie simply wouldn’t have it any other way. Debbie has developed new skills and strategies for coping with what life brings her and Bo, but one of the things so important to Debbie is the support network around her.

Read the full story on the news page of our website to find out more.

Are you struggling to have enough money to live on?

The rise in the cost of living means that we’re all having to dig a little deeper to pay for household essentials such as food and energy. Many people in Devon are being forced to make difficult decisions, especially those on the lowest incomes.

If you don’t have enough money to live on, it’s important to make sure you know what support is available, so we’ve put together a special edition of our Connect Me newsletter to help. 

It includes all the latest on how we are using the Government’s Household Support Fund in Devon to help people who are struggling to pay for food, energy, water bills and other related essentials.

Find out about:

✅ help to pay your bills if you’re on a pre-payment meter
✅ funding to make your home warmer and more energy efficient
✅ grants for voluntary sector organisations supporting communities
✅ financial help from your local district or city council
✅ free school meals, holiday activities and supermarket vouchers
✅ how to save on childcare costs
✅ free food
✅ how to get cheaper broadband and phone packages

If you missed it in your inbox earlier this week, you can catch up online using this link.

Is your group looking to support your community this winter? We can help…

As the cold nights draw in many local groups and organisations are looking at how best to support their community this winter – and it’s these groups we are calling on to apply for a grant from our Growing Communities Fund.

It’s over a year since we launched it and since then we’ve awarded more than £700,000 to local projects, many of which are helping communities in numerous ways.

Initially, we set it up to support proactive, effective, measurable and sustainable actions to help individuals and communities build self-reliance, improve connections, reduce loneliness and isolation and improve local people’s mental health and wellbeing. Since then, it has developed into one of our main responses to the continued high cost of living, aiming to help local groups and organisations to become more resilient and help those in their communities cope with these financial pressures.

Groups which are encouraged to apply include those that bring communities together for meaningful activities and social interaction, offer local people a warm safe haven during winter or alleviate food poverty by producing or distributing surplus food and essentials or offering communities the means to cook nutritious meals on a budget.

For more information, please read the full story on the news page of our website, or contact our Community Grants Team by emailing or call 01392 383379. 

New pension investments will create jobs and renewable energy across the South West

The Devon Pension Fund, the county’s largest single pension fund, is playing a major part in helping to create local jobs in renewable energy and associated infrastructure, while providing clean energy to the National Grid.

The Fund, which looks after the pensions of employees in the majority of Devon’s public sector organisations including emergency service staff and local councils, is relied on by tens of thousands of individuals and families in Devon.

The Committee that oversees the Fund decided to commit £60 million to a new Local Impact Fund focused on the South West. Five other Local Government Pension Schemes in the South West have also committed to the same, totalling £330 million in commitments.

That investment will be targeted in a wide range of renewable energy technologies, including in traditional sectors of solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind, and innovative energy transition sub-sectors such as battery storage and green hydrogen production.

It’s expected that the concentration of investment of this kind in the South West will have significant impact in helping to create jobs across the region, including Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset, Avon, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, as well as Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

You can read the full story on our news page.

We’re listening. Changes made to pilot scheme in Exeter

Pilots or trials are useful ways of seeing whether something is working or not, and by their experimental nature they’re often subject to tweaks along the way where there’s good reason to.

This week, having been listening to what local residents tell us about how they’re finding the Active Streets pilot in Heavitree and Whipton, we’re making a change to make it easier for people who rely on taxis.

The Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, which includes councillors from both Devon County and Exeter City Councils, introduced the pilot this summer. It’s to reduce traffic on local residential streets to make it safer for residents and pedestrians and to encourage people to walk and cycle more.

Bus gates were introduced at some locations to enable access only for buses and emergency services.

But an emerging theme in feedback we’re receiving is about the impact the pilot is having on some passengers, particularly those with disabilities, including children with special educational needs and disabilities who rely on taxi journeys to special schools.

So, from Thursday 9 November, private hire vehicles and Hackney carriages will also be able to use the bus gates.

“We welcome the decision to allow Exeter Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles access through the bus gates,” says Jonathan Kellaway, on behalf of drivers on the Exeter Hackney Carriage Forum.

“This will help mitigate the negative impact of the LTN (the scheme) on vulnerable children and adults who rely on our services.”

You can read the full story on our news page.

Recycle Week: This year Devon is joining The BIG Recycling Hunt

It’s Recycle Week, the nation’s biggest annual celebration of recycling!

We’re supporting the campaign to get schools and families recycling more by encouraging children across Devon to do their bit to protect the planet by ‘hunting’ for common items that can be recycled but are often forgotten about and find their way into the rubbish bin. 

People in Devon recycle around 54 per cent of their waste and the county has one of the highest recycling rates in England. But there are still many items, such bottles from toiletries and cleaning products, that don’t make it into the recycling container. 

By recycling better, we can have a big impact on our environment, so we are asking children aged five to 11-years-old to take the lead in protecting our planet, and be empowered to become active participants in building a sustainable future. 

By focusing on commonly missed items such as empty aerosols, plastic cleaning product bottles, plastic toiletry bottles, plastic pots and tubs, and food tins, Recycle Now wants to foster a deeper understanding of recycling in the younger generation.   

Claim your free school meal holiday vouchers

If your child receives free school meals, we’ve sent you supermarket vouchers for the October holiday to help you buy food to replace the meals your child would have received during term-time.

Please check your inbox and redeem them as soon as possible. If you were expecting to receive the vouchers, but didn’t, get in touch with our team as soon as possible by emailing or calling 0345 155 1019.

People’s circumstances change all the time, so if you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has recently reduced or stopped, please apply using our website. It’s the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision.

You can find out more about the free school meal holiday voucher scheme and other support available to help people in Devon with the rising cost of living on our website.

Next chapter for St Thomas Library

We’ll be sad to say goodbye to our current library building in St Thomas, which will be open for its final day tomorrow (Saturday 21 October).

But rest assured, we’re working hard to agree where next.  We’ve got options for a longer term location for the library in the St Thomas area, but that will take longer to get into place.

In the meantime, we’ve got a few options for a short term pop up library location in St Thomas that we hope to finalise next week. We’ll announce that as soon as we can.

Thanks to all of our St Thomas library users for their kind words and understanding while we make this move, and thanks as ever to our excellent and hard working St Thomas library staff and Libraries Unlimited, who provide library services in Devon on our behalf.

Rogue trader jailed

Our Trading Standards service is warning rogue traders that if they break the law they will be prosecuted, after Ambrose Christopher Reilly from Plymouth was jailed for a year this week after pleading guilty to two offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

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

Don’t bin it, fix it! 

It’s International Repair Day tomorrow (Saturday 21 October) and to celebrate, Recycle Devon (a partnership of Devon councils which includes us) is holding its biggest Repair Café ever!

You’re invited to bring your broken or worn out electrical items, clothes, textiles, laptops, bikes, mechanical goods and furniture to be fixed by expert repairers. Tools and knives can also be sharpened.

The event is being held at America Hall, De La Rue Way, Exeter, EX4 8PX from 10am to 1pm. There’s more information about what else is going on at the event in the full story on the news page of our website.

Devon Work Hubs mark European Freelancer Week

Work hubs across Devon have been celebrating European Freelancer Week this week, designed to empower and unite the freelance community.

The Devon Work Hubs network has 24 member venues offering office space, coworking options, meeting room access, and a thriving business support community. Self-employed workers, freelancers and small businesses are welcomed into the work hub network along with start-ups and hybrid workers.

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

Sexual health survey closes on Monday 23 October

We’ve teamed up with Torbay Council to find out people’s views on sexual health and contraception services in the area.

Complete this survey to tell us how you would like contraception and sexual health services to be delivered in the future. The survey closes on Monday, so don’t delay! Have your say!