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Widespread cold and frost…and a little snow!; Plans announced for Family Hubs; Christmas hampers for our care experienced young people; Learn Devon’s ‘good’ say Ofsted; and vaccination take-up ahead of Christmas celebrations

Widespread cold and frost… and a little snow!

With the high cost of living at the moment, it’s tempting to try and ride out the cold weather to avoid spending too much on heating. But being cold can have a serious impact on your health, particularly if you’re older or have a pre-existing condition, as it increases the risks of heart attacks, strokes, and chest infections.

If you can’t heat your whole home, it’s important to try to heat the rooms you spend the most time in (for example, the living room during the day and the bedroom just before going to sleep). And remember, wearing a few thinner layers is better at trapping heat than wearing one thick layer. The NHS website has lots of useful information about staying well during the winter.

Winter weather can make driving conditions difficult and cause problems on our roads. Our gritting teams have been out in force treating roads on Devon’s main salting routes. Please never assume a road has been gritted though as rain will wash salt off roads leaving them prone to ice, and in extreme cold even salting will not stop ice from forming.

Drive with care and according to the conditions, allow additional time for your journey and reduce your speed and leave more space between you and the vehicle in front. Follow Devon Alert on Facebook and X for the latest travel information from our Network Control Centre.

New plans announced to develop Family Hubs

Children in Devon and their families will see a new model of support services, in line with national Government guidance.

First introduced in the late 1990s, Children’s Centres in Devon have supported thousands of young children and their parents, with targeted early years support and other services. But last year, the Government proposed a new initiative, and it’s now working with local authorities across the UK to roll out their ‘Start for Life’ programme and develop Family Hub programmes.

We want to start a transition from Children’s Centres to Family Hubs in Devon. So, we’ll work with partners and stakeholders to shape the model, which is likely to take 12 months, with a view to developing a county-wide Family Hubs programme to begin in 2025.

In the meantime, Children’s Centres will continue to support families, as usual.

The Government says that Family Hubs will improve families’ access to services, describing them as “…a local innovation, developed to meet local needs and better support families.”

They’ll do that by developing and growing partnerships with existing voluntary groups and charities that already support parents of young children in local communities.

We already work very closely with the charity Action for Children, and they will help us and other councils in Plymouth and Torbay to develop Family Hubs across Devon. You can read more about it in the story on our news page.

Copyright: Christopher Martin

New strategy launched to help us adapt to climate change

The Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (DCIoS) Climate Adaptation Strategy has been published and will help to ensure that the region can make the changes needed to cope with the worst effects of climate change.

It’s been developed by a partnership of strategic organisations, including local authorities, chaired by the Environment Agency.

Its publication comes after a consultation earlier this year in which 76 per cent of respondents expressed concern about climate change and 69 per cent said they have felt the effects of climate change already.  

To respond effectively to the climate crises, it is vital that strategies are put in place not only to deal with the causes of climate change, but also that help us adjust to the negative impacts and opportunities of climate change.

The Adaptation Strategy sets out risks to the region from climate impacts, the conditions for everyone to act on adapting to climate change together, and priority actions for regional collaboration over the next five years.

It describes actions that can be taken by local government and public institutions; as well as actions for organisations, community groups and us all as individuals.

Over the coming months members of the Devon Climate Emergency partnership will consider endorsing the Strategy.

You can read more about the Strategy in the news story on our website.

???? Christmas hampers for our care experienced young people ????

With Christmas around the corner, we want all of our care experienced young adults to have something nice this festive season. Everyone aged up to 22-years- old gets a gift from their personal advisor as part of our local offer, but we want to ensure that older care leavers (aged 22 to 25) will also get something to look forward to this Christmas.

The Devon and Torbay Children in Care Nursing team, Exeter Foodbank, East Devon church groups, the Stand Up Speak Up team, and personal advisors from across Devon and Torbay, once again joined forces to make sure that all of our care experienced young adults will receive a gift this Christmas.

Together, and with the generosity of the general public (who donated more than £3,000 as well as various gifts!), we have packed over 250 Christmas hampers for our care experienced young people. Watch our video to find out more.

Photo courtesy of Tiverton Canal Co

Tourism Award success celebrated at Grand Western Canal

The Tiverton Canal Co has been congratulated on winning a Devon Tourism Award, which has been hailed as a win for Tiverton, Mid Devon and The Grand Western Canal.

The family run company, which is renowned for operating one of the last horse-drawn barges in the country, picked up the Bronze Award in the Small Visitor Attraction of the Year 2023/24 category at the recent Devon Tourism Awards.

It’s the first time in the company’s 49-year history that it’s been named as one of the best tourist attractions in the county, and the owners are sharing the success with our Ranger Team at the Grand Western Canal and Country Park.

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

Learn Devon receives a “good” result following Ofsted inspection

Learn Devon, our adult education provider, has been praised by Ofsted inspectors for helping all of its learners to “grow in confidence”.

Their report credits Learn Devon with creating a “calm and purposeful learning environment” where learners value the support they receive from tutors.

It says, “tutors support them well to build their knowledge and skills over time” ensuring learners are “motivated to learn”.

Tutors and learning support assistants were praised for their effective support for learners with special educational needs and/or disabilities, (SEND), and as a result, “most learners with SEND make progress in line with their peers” throughout their courses.

Ofsted also highlighted Learn Devon’s effective working with us, Job Centre Plus and other partners to ensure that its curriculum and courses are designed and implemented to align with the needs of the local economy. 

Learn Devon’s wide range of community courses was also lauded for helping to get people back into learning and to undertake further learning. Inspectors noted that Learn Devon is active in re-engaging with learners who had negative experiences of education in the past “to give them the second chances that they often need to be successful”.

You can read the full story on our news page.

Parking proposals for eight Devon towns

We’re asking people to look at our proposals to introduce Pay and Display parking (with the first hour free) in key areas in Braunton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Honiton, Okehampton, Salcombe, Sidmouth and Tavistock.

Pay and Display parking is widely used, both across Devon and nationally. It can help reduce congestion and encourages the turn-over of vehicles and availability of parking spaces, particularly in busy town centres, thereby helping to support the local economy and the use of local shops and businesses.

Eight Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO), one for each community, will be advertised later in December through to the New Year and will set out our plans. Once advertised you have 21 days to view the proposals and comment.

To find out more, read the full story on the news page of our website.

UKHSA encourage vaccination take-up ahead of Christmas celebrations

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) South West is calling on everyone who is eligible to book their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of Christmas and other upcoming celebrations.

As the vaccines take up to two weeks to provide maximum protection, getting vaccinated soon will help reduce the risk of severe disease in time for upcoming celebrations.

If you are in one of the groups who is eligible for vaccination against flu and COVID-19 and are yet to take up the vaccines, please ensure you get them as soon as possible.

Everyone aged 65-years-old and over, pregnant women, and individuals with certain long-term health conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, are eligible for free flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Most children are eligible for the children’s flu vaccine. This includes pre-schoolers who were aged 2 or 3-years-old on 31 August 2023, school-aged children (Reception to Year 11) and children with certain health conditions.

Professor Dominic Mellon, Deputy Regional Director for UKHSA South West said:

“The Christmas season is special to a lot of people as families and friends gather to celebrate. However, it also coincides with when respiratory virus activity typically rises. In amongst getting presents sorted and planning what’s on the festive menu, make time to prioritise your health by getting vaccinated to ensure you stay Winter Strong and keep your plans on track.”

A message from The Eddystone Trust on World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, and this year’s theme is ‘Let Communities Lead’.

Since 1988, communities have stood together on World AIDS Day to show strength and solidarity against HIV stigma and to remember lives lost.

Medical advances mean people with HIV in the UK can expect a long and healthy life and we now have the tools to stop HIV transmissions for good. But HIV continues to be highly stigmatised and misunderstood, which can prevent people from getting tested.

The Eddystone Trust, an independent sexual health charity based in the South West, has released a video in which they describe what leadership means to them.

“Leadership to us means that we have a responsibility. A responsibility to ensure that as many people as possible know about U=U, PrEP and other advances in HIV treatment.

“We believe as leaders, that we have a responsibility to improve the landscape for anyone who is either at risk of HIV, living with HIV or affected by HIV.

“We invite you to join us in fighting HIV related stigma by claiming your status and testing this World AIDS Day; together we can make a change.”

The Eddystone Trust can provide you with a HIV testing kit in three easy steps which you can take at home. To find out more visit The Eddystone Trust website.