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Great Torrington Town Council

COVID-19 restrictions easing delayed until 19 July

Yesterday the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced a delay of up to four weeks to the easing of coronavirus restrictions planned for Monday 21 June.

Current restrictions, with a few exceptions, remain in place and you should follow the guidance on what you can and cannot do until Monday 19 July. 

This is the new date that England is expected to move to Step 4 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, though the data will be reviewed after two weeks in case the risks have reduced.

Nationally there are currently around 8,000 COVID-19 cases a day, the highest since the end of February, and these are increasing by around 64 per cent each week. Hospitalisations are also starting to rise, with the average number of people admitted to hospital increasing in England by 50 per cent per week.

Latest week in Devon 129 confirmed COVID19 cases

What’s the situation like in Devon?

The weekly case rate in Devon right now is 16 cases per 100,000. It was seven per 100,000 a week ago. Case rates are currently highest and increasing most rapidly in those aged 20 to 39 years old.

The more transmissible Delta strain is not the dominant variant in Devon just yet. But it is very likely to become so, just as it is already in many parts of the country.

Responding to the delay, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:

Steve Brown

“From a public health perspective, with case numbers rising again across the country and with a much more transmissible variant now the dominant strain, delaying the further lifting of restrictions is sensible.

“Not only will it maintain the rules around social contact, but the delay will also allow more people to receive their first or second vaccinations, offering them valuable protection against this latest strain.

“I ask all Devon residents to be patient. We will get there, but we need to move with great caution. We are seeing case numbers start to rise in the county and we will see the Delta variant becoming the dominant strain.

“We must therefore continue to follow the all important rules on social distancing, wearing face coverings when indoors in public places and washing our hands regularly.

“Please continue to get tested regularly using the rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests if you don’t have symptoms, and self isolate if you test positive or are asked to do so by contact tracing teams. And please take up the vaccination when you are invited to do so.”

The Leader of Devon County Council, Councillor John Hart said:

Cllr John Hart

“The country’s in a race between our vaccination roll-out and the more infectious variant of the virus so I believe this delay was inevitable.

“We need to close the gap between the proportion of our population who’ve had two jabs and those who’ve only had one because the difference in protection is very, very marked. And we must encourage younger people to book their vaccinations if they haven’t already done so.

“I think many residents of Devon will be pleased with this delay as the county has already been very busy with visitors. But I have to repeat my plea to the government to ensure that our hospitality businesses continue to receive support.

“We’re entering their peak time now and these continuing restrictions will obviously hamper their ability to operate at full capacity, so it is vital that they receive help. In the meantime, Devon County Council will continue to do everything in its power to ensure our economy recovers strongly from the pandemic.”

social distancing graphic of two figures with arrows and virus icons

Why has the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions been delayed by up to four weeks?

Many of us might feel frustrated about the delay in easing coronavirus restrictions this month, and that’s understandable. It’s important to understand why the government has made this decision.

Remember that the government always said lifting the COVID-19 restrictions in a phased way would be led by the data at each step, and that those target dates were ‘at the earliest’ rather than set in stone.

The decision to move safely from one step to the next is based on four tests:

  • the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern

At this point, the government’s four tests have not been met.

The UK has rising numbers of positive coronavirus cases, driven by the Delta strain which spreads much more easily between people.

At the same time, the national vaccination programme is very well advanced, but delaying the lifting of restrictions means that even more people will be able to have their first and second doses.

This means that most of the population will be protected from becoming seriously ill if they catch coronavirus, and it reduces the spread of the virus, by the time restrictions are lifted next month.

But we can’t rely on the vaccine alone to prevent the virus spreading. Keeping restrictions that limit our social interaction is a sensible precaution right now, but it takes all of us to do our bit. And by doing so we’re protecting ourselves, our families and friends, and reducing the number of people needing hospital treatment or dying because of coronavirus.

We know the advice. We’ve just got to follow it a little longer, and right now that means redoubling our efforts to stop case numbers escalating.

get your covid-19 vaccine when offered

Vaccination programme accelerated

The vaccination programme is being accelerated to respond to the rapid spread of the Delta variant. By Monday 19 July, all adults will have been offered a first dose and around two thirds of all adults will have been offered two doses of the vaccine.

The latest evidence shows that two doses are needed to provide effective protection against the Delta variant, which is rapidly driving up case numbers because it’s between 40 per cent and 80 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

All adults aged 18 years old and over will now be offered a first dose by Monday 19 July, which is two weeks earlier than planned. All adults aged 23 and 24 years old can now book their first dose.

By Monday 19 July, everyone aged over 50 years old and the clinically extremely vulnerable will have been offered their second dose, and those second doses will have taken effect.

Second doses for those over 40 years old will be accelerated by reducing the dosing interval from 12 weeks to eight weeks. All those over 40 years old who received a first dose by mid-May will be offered a second dose by Monday 19 July.

Cases are expected to continue rising due to the transmissibility of the Delta variant, but with the acceleration of the vaccination programme hospitalisations are expected to stabilise.

wedding

Some restrictions will change on Monday 21 June

Despite the delay of up to four weeks in moving to Step 4 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, some restrictions will change on Monday 21 June. 

  • Life events – The number of people who can attend weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions, and commemorative events following a death such as a wake, stone setting or ash scattering, will be determined by how many people a venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place. The government will update the published guidance on wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations and arranging or attending a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic this week. 
  • Large events pilots – A limited series of large events pilots will take place from Monday 21 June to produce additional evidence on reopening events safely. Attendees will need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test. This will include some UEFA EURO 2020 matches at Wembley and a small number of other sports, arts and music performances. The full list of pilots, and further details about the events, will be announced by the government shortly.
  • Visits in and out of care homes – All care home residents will be able to nominate an essential care giver who will be able to visit them even if the resident is self-isolating. In most cases, residents who go on a visit out of a care home will no longer need to isolate for 14 days when they return. Residents returning from some higher risk visits out of the care home, such as an overnight stay in hospital, will still be required to isolate. Decisions about risks will be made following a risk assessment by the care home for each visit out. The government guidance on care home visiting will be updated this week.
  • Overnight trips for out-of-school groups – Out-of-school settings can organise domestic residential visits for children in consistent groups of up to 30 children. This replaces the current limit of six people or two households.

Keep up to date with what you can and can’t do on the government’s website.


Lets take this next step safely

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Grants & Funding Information – Updated 11th June 2021

Norman Family Charitable Trust – COVID Fund – deadline 18th June 2021

The Norman Family Charitable Trust recognises that the COVID pandemic emergency has placed an unprecedented strain on local communities and wishes to support non-profit organisations as they return to normal operations as restrictions are eased.

To run alongside its ongoing main grants programme the Trust is setting up the Norman Trust COVID Fund.  Substantial funds will be made available and grant applications are invited from charities and other non-profit organisations (including schools) in Devon.  There will initially be a first round of funding with decisions made in July 2021.  Depending on the response to the first round, one or two further rounds of funding may be opened to applicants later in the year and this may include extending the area of benefit to other parts of the South West.  Updates regarding further rounds will be posted on the Trust’s website.  Applying for both the COVID fund and the Trust’s ongoing Main Grants programme during the current financial year is possible, if your organisation is eligible.

Applicants will need to provide clear evidence of how COVID adversely affected their organisation and the need for funding.  This will include latest accounts and a budget for the current financial year plus details of funding received from other sources.  Please do not apply to this Fund if you are unable to demonstrate a very clear need for financial support and/or are unwilling to provide monitoring information after the grant period.

You can visit their website for a list of the eligibility criteria and an online application form.  Deadline for applications is midday Friday 18 June 2021.

Tarka Country Trust – Community Wildlife Fund

The Community Wildlife fund is currently open for applications from community groups in North Devon and Torridge Districts wanting to carry out small scale projects that both benefit wildlife and involve the community.  The maximum grant is £500.

The Tarka Country Trust’s Community Wildlife Trust has previously supported:

North Devon Moving Image CIC for “Wild Shorts” – a wildlife and environmental short film competition.

North Devon Barn Owl Box Project for supply of free barn owl boxes for farmers with suitable buildings and habitat.

Gaia Trust for creation and management of bird scrapes as Home Farm Marsh, Fremington.

The Greater Horseshoe Bat Viewing Platform, which was built to help people view these rare mammals near Braunton.

Meddon Green Local Nature Reserve to help carry out pond clearance, access improvements and interpretation.

It’s advised to read their guidance notes before applying to the Trust – click on this document for the guidance notes iCM Inline: Document Link
Community Wildlife Fund - Guidance Notes

Submit your completed application to info@tarkacountrytrust.org.uk or send a paper copy to Tarka Country Trust, Taw View, North Walk, Barnstaple, EX31 1EE

Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund – deadline 30th June 2021

Local residents, charities, community and voluntary groups, schools and statutory agencies can apply for grants of up to £5,000 for activities that highlight the dangers of Loan Sharks and have a positive impact on their communities.

The Illegal Money Lending Team encourages bids from multiple organisations working together who can each bid for £5000 to put towards a collective project.

The Stop Loan Sharks Community Fund is made available from money seized from convicted loan sharks by the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT). Organisations will need to demonstrate the positive impact their project would have on their community, and how their project contributes to delivering the IMLT’s priorities which include:

  • Contributes to raising the awareness of the dangers of using loan sharks
  • Prevents crime and disorder and publicises the Stop Loan Sharks message
  • Promotes the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) in communities
  • Encourages reporting of loan sharks

To find out more, and to apply, visit: Stop Loan Sharks

Petroc Community Grants – European Social Fund – deadline 5th July and 15th September 2021

Community Grants is a programme that is part funded by the European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. This project is designed to make available small grants of up to £ 20,000 to third sector and other small organisations for mobilising disadvantaged or excluded unemployed and inactive people to enable their progress to employment. Organisations that access grants need to be well placed to reach excluded individuals facing barriers, which hinder their access to mainstream provision. 

The purpose of the grants is to:

Engage with marginalised individuals and support them to re-engage with education, training or employment

Support a range of activities aimed at assisting the disadvantaged or excluded to move closer to the labour market by improving their access to mainstream ESF and domestic employment and skills provision

Provide support to the hardest to reach communities and individuals, especially those from deprived communities, to access employment or further learning and training.

The programme runs until 31st July, 2022 and is expected to reach 671 participants in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay and 192 participants in Somerset.

Participants must be aged 16 years or over, legally resident in the UK and able to take paid employment in the UK and be unemployed or ‘inactive’.

Grant Recipients:

To access this funding organisations must be either a Small Organisation, in that you employ fewer than 49 full time equivalent staff and have an annual turnover equal to or under EUR 10 million or a balance sheet equal to or below EUR 10 million or a Third Sector Organisation which operates within the Third Sector meaning the part of an economy or society comprising non- governmental and non-profit making organisations or associations including charities, Voluntary and community groups.

Grant Application Process:

Petroc have developed a two stage application process and will offer training and guidance to any organisations who wish to submit an application. The full applications detailing the projects activities and targets to be achieved will be assessed by a panel including a member of Petroc staff (but not the Petroc Projects Team), a member from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and a nominated person from the area in which the programme is planning to deliver. 

Application assessment windows:

Assessment window opens: 14th Jun 2021, for decisions made 5th Jul 2021

Assessment window opens: 25th Aug 2021, for decisions made 15th Sep 2021

If you would like to know more about this programme visit the petroc website or if you would like to discuss please contact Lesley Taylor on communitygrants@petroc.ac.uk

Woodward Charitable Trust – deadline 30th July 2021

The Trustees look to fund projects that help families and young people and that are aiming to improve the life chances of the beneficiaries.  Projects that promote community cohesion and the development of skills that will change the outlook and outcomes for the users are favoured by the Trustees.  Organisations that promote volunteering and involve both past and present users in their operations or management are encouraged.  Trustees only consider applications for core costs and are looking for organisations which aim to achieve a positive impact in at least one of the following areas:

  • Children and Young People who are isolated, at risk of exclusion or involved in anti-social behaviour and projects to help those who have been in the care system.
  • Disadvantaged Families, this covers parenting support and guidance, mental health, food poverty, refuges and domestic violence projects
  • Prisoners and ex-Offenders and specifically projects that maintain and develop contact with prisoners’ families and help with the rehabilitation and resettlement of prisoners and/or ex-offenders after their release.

General grants are available to registered charities as well as consideration being given to Charity Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) and Community Interest Companies (CICs).  Round 2 opened Monday 24 June 2021 and closes midday Friday 30 July 2021.  Decisions will be made at the October Trustees meeting with successful applicants being notified by email by the end of November 2021.

More information on the application process can be found here Link to Woodward Charitable Trust Website

Radcliffe Trust – next deadline 31st July 2021

The Radcliffe Trust supports the development of the skills, knowledge and experience that underpin the UK’s cultural heritage and crafts sectors. This includes support for emerging craftspeople of high quality craft and conservation projects demonstrating creative outcomes by designer-makers, projects with potential for capacity building within the sector, and some special needs projects focusing on therapeutic benefits of skills development.

The deadlines are twice a year, with the applications submitted by 31st January being presented for consideration by the trust in June, and a deadline of 31st July for those to be presented in December.

If you have any questions or require support contact radcliffe@thetrustpartnership.com or to apply online visit Radcliffe Heritage Trust

Armed Forces Covenant Fund – Force for Change Programme – deadline 2nd August 2021

This programme will award grants of up to £10,000 for community projects that reduce isolation and promote integration; supporting post-Covid recovery in local Armed Forces communities affected by isolation.

One-year grants are available of up to £10,000 to support ideas that need small amounts of funding to deliver nimble and focused local projects to Armed Forces communities.  Or small grants will be made to support services, projects and activities that are used by Armed Forces communities, but which are struggling as a result of the impact of the Covid pandemic.

The deadline for applications to round two of the programme is 2 August 2021.

Go to their website where you will find frequently asked questions and answers as well as the online application form, Covenant Fund

William and Jane Morris Fund; Grants for Churches – deadline 31st August 2021

The Fund accepts applications from churches, chapels and other places of worship built before 1896 for grants of between £500 and £5,000 to carry out small programmes of conservation work to decorative features and monuments. All work funded must be directed by a professional architect or established conservator and completed according to the principles of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)

Eligible work could include (but is not limited to):

  • Stained glass windows
  • Sculpture
  • Furniture
  • Internal monuments
  • Tombs
  • Wall paintings

Apply at Morris Church Conservation Grants

AONB – Small Grant Scheme Open for Applications – applications process open May to Dec 2021

Community groups, businesses and farmers can now bid into the £22,000 pot of the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s (AONB) small grant scheme, otherwise known as the Sustainable Development Fund.

Last year, ten projects were funded with grants averaging £2,400 matched with cash and in-kind time. The full list of funded projects:

  • Torridge District Council – Westward Ho! Slipway improvements
  • Braunton Countryside Centre – Online events & website developments
  • Greena Ecological Consultancy – Greater Horseshoe Bat Research
  • Georgeham Parish Council – Newberry Road Footpath
  • Plastic Free North Devon – Plastic Ambassador Virtual Reality Kit Project
  • National Trust – Biodiversity Projects at Brownsham and Middleborough Hill
  • Westcountry Rivers Trust – N. Devon Coastal Streams – Citizen Science
  • West Country Buzz – Hartland Quay and West Titchberry Farm Scrub Management
  • Woolacombe TIC – Provision of Storage Shed for Mobility Equipment
  • National Trust – Baggy Point Pond Improvements

Applications are encouraged from those carrying out projects that bring an environmental, economic, social or educational benefit to the AONB.

“This year’s top priorities are nature & wildlife or sustainable farming,” said Jenny Carey-Wood the AONB Manager. “This could be improvements to habitats in villages, on tourist sites or on farms such as ponds, hedges, small woodland planting or scrub management to benefit wildlife. Information on farming and land management for visitors or processing and marketing of food produced from the AONB are other possibilities for grant support.”

Dr Eirene Williams, the AONB Vice-chair overseeing the grant scheme said, “We encourage a wide range of applications, from people and organisations with ideas for making our local habitats “bigger, better and more joined up”.  We trust that the projects funded have lasting and sustainable benefits for our local wildlife in the face of climate change, but please go ahead and surprise us with innovative ideas”.

Grants can cover up to 75% of the project cost, and range in size from £100 up to £4,000 for an exceptional project. All projects need support from the local community.

Applications are open from May to December 2021 with projects needing to be completed by the end of February 2022.

Check out the AONB Management Plan for the full list of policies and priorities – https://www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/about/management-plan-2019-2024 

If you have a project idea, see the guidance and application form on our website www.northdevon-aonb.org.uk/our-work/grants or contact Laura Carolan on 01271 388628 or aonb@devon.gov.uk to discuss.

Lloyds Bank Racial Equity Fund

The fund is aimed at small and local charities that are led by and that support Black, Asian, and ethnic minority communities. Charities can apply for two-year unrestricted grants of £50,000 alongside development support.  

The funding will be open year-round and will not be restricted by deadlines. The Foundation is looking to support charities where more than half of their Trustee Board self-identify as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, with an annual income of between £25,000 and £1m, and with a strong track record of helping people from minority communities across 11 complex social issues.

For the eligibility check, and the online application form visit Lloyd’s Bank Foundation

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme – Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

The Government is providing up to £210m worth of voucher funding as immediate help for people suffering from slow broadband speeds in rural areas.

Vouchers worth up to £1,500 for homes and £3,500 for businesses help to cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband to people’s doorsteps.

The new UK Gigabit Voucher launched on Thursday 8th April 2021 and is only available through a supplier who is registered with the scheme. 

From 8th April you will be able to check whether your premises is eligible for a voucher, find a list of registered suppliers, and see those who are active in your area, using the website: gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

Barratt Foundation

To mark the completion of their 500,000th home, Barratt Homes has launched the Barratt Foundation, bringing together their charitable giving and long-term support for good causes and leading charities under one roof.

As the UK’s largest house builder, Barratt want to lead the industry in the scope, scale, and impact of their charitable work. Last year they raised and donated more than £4m – but now want to go further.

In addition to the achieving their 500,000th home milestone, with the pandemic both reducing funding for charities and making the work they do more important than ever, they feel this is the right moment to launch the Barratt Foundation.

It has a general purpose, but they will look to focus efforts on some key areas, including:

  • Promoting social inclusion, particularly young people, the armed forces and the most disadvantaged and excluded in society.
  • Helping the environment and nature, alongside our commitment to being the country’s leading national sustainable housebuilder
  • Promoting physical and mental health
  • Education and opportunity

To mark the launch of the Barratt Foundation, they are donating £500,000 across 10 charities chosen by their employees. These charities are Macmillan Cancer Support, Dementia UK, CALM, The Wildlife Trust, Marie Curie, Re-engage, The Samaritans, Refuge, The Matt Hampson Foundation and The Care Workers’ Charity.

If there is a local charity working in your area that you feel could benefit from their support, please direct them to the Foundation for more information and details on how to get in touch, or to make an application to the Barratt Foundation.

www.barrattfoundation.org.uk

Small Grants Scheme – Foyle Foundation

This Small Grants Scheme is designed to support charities registered and operating in the United Kingdom, especially those working at grass roots and local community level, in any field, across a wide range of activities.

Online applications can be accepted from charities that have an annual turnover of less than £150,000 per annum. Larger or national charities will normally not be considered under this scheme. 

The focus will be to make one-year grants only to cover core costs or essential equipment, to enable ongoing service provision, homeworking, or delivery of online digital services to charities that can show financial stability.

The priority will be to support local charities still active in their communities which are currently delivering services to the young, vulnerable, elderly, disadvantaged or the general community either directly or through online support if possible.

Grants are available between £1000 and £10,000.

Small Grants Scheme – (foylefoundation.org.uk)

Devon County Council’s Locality Budgets

Devon County Councillors each have a locality budget of £10,000 per year to enable them to respond to local needs in their divisions, supporting projects or activities that benefit the communities they represent.

Councillors can, if they wish, make grants to support projects or activities that benefit the communities they represent.

Locality budget funding adds value to projects that are beneficial to local communities, and help meet the Council’s strategic objectives. Projects are diverse and reflect the needs of local communities. All projects should include some other financial contribution(s) and/or local support.

Any properly constituted not-for-private-profit voluntary or community group (including town and parish councils) can apply to their local county councillor for a grant from the locality budget fund.

Each councillor will normally make their own decision on which applications they wish to support, the only exception would be where the councillor may have a conflict of interest and the decision will have to be approved by an officer provided that the locality budget fund grant will be normally used within the financial period (April to March) of each year and is not used to benefit individuals or private businesses.

To discuss a locality budget fund application, you should contact your local County Councillor in the first instance. You can view a Map of Devon County wards of each of the Council’s electoral divisions to help you to identify your local councillor.

If your county councillor wishes to support your application, you must complete Part A of the locality budget application form, and ensure that the reverse side of the form is completed (terms and conditions) and then send it to the councillor so that they can complete Part B.

Hargreaves Foundation

The Hargreaves Foundation is a grant-making charitable foundation set up in 2020 by Peter Hargreaves and his family.  Applications are open for organisations seeking funding to support those under the age of 18, and living with a mental health problem, physical disability or growing up in poverty through the mediums of sport and education.

The Foundation can fund clearly defined projects, initiatives or the purchase of specific items that support one or more of the following:

  • Enables individuals to experience the mental and physical health benefits of participatory sport
  • Ensures participatory sport is accessible
  • Provides sporting or educational activities that foster life skills
  • Aims to improve academic engagement and attainment
  • Encourages the development of skills and personal attributes to aid future employability.

It is the intention of the Trustees to consider a targeted approach to funding and seek out opportunities which provide scope to ‘materially change the life of an individual’.

To apply online visit: The Hargreaves Foundation

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Applications are open for National Lottery Grants for Heritage from £3,000 up to £5million. They will prioritise projects that contribute to recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Between April 2021 to March 2022, when making funding decisions, they will prioritise heritage projects that:

  • boost the local economy
  • encourage skills development and job creation
  • support wellbeing
  • create better places to live, work and visit
  • improve the resilience of organisations working in heritage

Their inclusion outcome – a wider range of people will be involved in heritage – remains mandatory for all projects funded.

In addition, all projects must demonstrate they are environmentally responsible and are integrating environmental measures into their projects.

You can read more on the Fund’s website: National Lottery Heritage Fund

Loans for charities

The Charity Bank provides loans to small and large organisations where the loan is being used for a social purpose. Loans are provided to social enterprises and other community organisations that benefit people and communities for a variety of needs including property purchase or refurbishments, capital investments, asset purchases, working capital loans and underwriting facilities for fund-raising programmes.

Loans may be offered to not-for-profit organisations, parish councils, charities, community groups, voluntary groups, community buildings and social enterprises.

Visit their website Charity Loans For UK Charities or email them: enquiries@charitybank.org.uk 

Persimmon Homes

Persimmon homes has joined forces with Team GB – The British Olympic Association – to give away over £1 million to help projects for young people aged under 18 across England, Wales and Scotland.

There are three categories, or competitions.  Each category has a first prize of £100k, second prize of £50k and third prize of £25k. 

The categories are Education and Arts, Sport, and Health.

To enter, all you need to do is compete the application form telling them why your group or organisation deserves funding and what you will spend the money on should you be lucky enough to win.  87 of the shortlisted finalists, who did not win one of the top three prizes, could also win £5000 in runner-up prizes.

There will also be smaller individual prizes of £1000 each to be given away during May, June, July and August 2021.

A public vote will decide the final winners, with the decisions announced in November 2021.

To apply online visit  Persimmon Homes Website

Ulverscroft Foundation – supporting visually impaired people

The Ulverscroft Foundation is a UK based charity supporting visually impaired people. The Foundation supplies grants to organisations looking for help with projects relating to improving the quality of life of visually impaired people.

Funding is mainly given to organisations directly helping the visually impaired, such as libraries, schools, colleges and hospitals.

Any organisation applying is only able to submit one application every 18 months regardless of the outcome of the application.

The Foundation is keen to support specific projects and associated costs, with capital costs, core salaries and general running costs not supported.

Applications can be made in writing by downloading, completing and posting an application form or, alternatively, by using their online application form. They also accept email applications. Details of the information required, as well as contact details and where to send the application, can be found on their website: Ulverscroft Foundation

Nationwide Building Society – Community Grants

Charities, Community Land Trusts and housing co-operatives who are making positive changes in their local areas can apply for grants of between £10,000 and £50,000.

Projects will be favoured that:

  • help charities get back on their feet after the impact of Covid-19
  • illustrate a clear link to Nationwide’s ambition for everyone to have a place fit to call home and can demonstrate the impact their project will have on the local community
  • are supporting people in housing need, in original or creative ways. This includes both projects already delivering local impact and those carrying out research to find new ways to challenge the housing crisis
  • have the potential to inspire and be used by others across the country
  • have robust plans to measure and report on the difference the grant will make
  • can demonstrate sustainability beyond the life of the grant, by building the skills of staff and volunteers, diversifying funding streams and providing long-term solutions for the people they are helping
  • can evidence knowledge of local issues and have a network of local connections.

In 2021 they are capping the amount of Community Grant applications that will be accepted.

For more information visit Nationwide Grants (nationwidecommunitygrants.co.uk)

Flexible Plastic Fund

Businesses, retailers and recyclers are invited to access funding and support through the new Flexible Plastic Fund initiative. The scheme has been set up to incentivise the recycling of flexible plastics such as bags and wrappers.

The Flexible Plastic Fund is a cross-industry collaboration established in May 2021 by five founding partners: Mars, Mondelēz International, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever.

The aim is to create a circular system that incentivises the recycling of flexible plastics:

  1. Businesses that own brands that use flexible plastic packaging invest in the fund to become partners of the Flexible Plastic Fund.
  2. Participating retailers hold collection points within their stores where individuals can drop off their flexi-plastics for recycling.
  3. The plastics are transported to approved recyclers to create new products.
  4. These new products generate Packaging Recovery Notes which certify that the products have been recycled.
  5. If the new products meet the requirements of the Flexible Plastics Fund then a payment is made to the partners in the fund.

The Fund has a pricing hierarchy where food-grade plastic film benefits from a higher price than non-packaging material. The aim is to recycle at least 80% of the plastics collected in the UK – rising to 100% by 2023.

https://flexibleplasticfund.org.uk/

The E B M Charitable Trust

The aims of the E B M Charitable Trust are to support a wide variety of beneficiaries including charities involved in animal welfare and research, the relief of poverty and youth development.

A letter of introduction is recommended as unsolicited applications are not encouraged. Moreover, the Trust has stated that all its funds are committed. The Trust prefers to make donations to charities whose work they have researched and which is in accordance with its areas of interest. It tends not to support research projects as research is not a core priority but there are exceptions to this. Please note that the Trust receives a very high number of grant applications which are mostly unsuccessful.

However, if you have a charitable cause you believe the Trust will support, it may be worth submitting a letter or application as the Trust’s grants can be substantial and provided over a number of years.

A letter of introduction may be submitted at any time, addressed to:

Lynne Webster, the E B M Charitable Trust, Moore Family Office Ltd, 42 Berkeley Square

Community News!

Help our coastal environment by signing this petition

According to the Keep Britain Tidy report, over 16,000 cheap polystyrene bodyboards are discarded on UK beaches annually. These boards often snap and become unusable within minutes of use. When discarded, polystyrene crumbles into small white polystyrene balls, threatening our natural environment.

These boards are made from a block of standard unrecyclable block of expanded polystyrene wrapped in brightly printed plastic cloth, are sourced from abroad and transported thousands of miles only to often snap within minutes of use. They create an unnecessary carbon footprint and nature threatening waste. Once in the ocean, polystyrene attracts algae adding enough weight to cause the nuggets to sink and present itself as food to fish which could enter the human food chain.

The retailers of Westward Ho! have recently worked together to agree not to sell these and become the first town in the UK to ban their sale!

Please sign the petition to help get this great incentive rolled out across the country.

Ban the sale of cheap polystyrene bodyboards – Petitions (parliament.uk)

It’s hotting up here, vaccination information for the under 30s and four new work hubs for Devon

63 positive COVID-19 cases in Devon 29 May to 4 June 2021

In this update:

  • Summer is here! South-west hots up for G7 summit
  • Enjoy Euro 2020 safely
  • What do under 30s need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine?
  • Four new work hubs in Devon
  • Doctors in Devon remind their patients “We are here for you”
sunshine and sunglasses

Summer is here! South-west hots up for G7 summit

Temperatures are set to sore this weekend, and the world’s leaders attending the G7 conference in Cornwall will be seeing the south-west at its sunny best.

And while many a hot topic will be on the discussion table indoors, among them no doubt coronavirus, the higher temperatures, indoors and out, carry health risks that can be amplified during the pandemic, particularly for those spending more time at home because of self-isolating.

Social distancing measures have also reduced the opportunities for people to check on vulnerable friends and neighbours and some people may avoid seeking emergency healthcare when needed because of fears of catching coronavirus.

Much of the advice on beating the heat is common sense:

  • If you’re spending time outdoors remember to drink plenty of water and avoid excess alcohol. Stay in the shade, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat
  • Try to keep out of the sun and avoid physical exertion during the hottest hours of the day, usually between 11.00am and 3.00pm when the ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest
  • Never leave anyone in a locked, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals, even if windows are left open
  • Look out for those who may struggle to cope in the heat and to keep themselves cool and hydrated, such as young children or older people. Those with underlying conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk
  • Close curtains in rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors in some buildings

The NHS website has lots of useful information about how to look after yourself and others during hot weather, and keep an eye on the Met Office website for up-to-date weather forecasts.

football

Enjoy Euro 2020 safely

The long awaited and much talked about Euro 2020 football tournament starts tomorrow (Friday 11 June). There will be 51 matches over 31 days at 11 venues including London and Glasgow.

The games that kept their 2020 badge and title, have been postponed until this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. And yet amid the excitement, we’re still very much in the midst of that same pandemic, with case numbers across the country rising as the latest and more transmissible Delta strain becomes dominant.

So, there are words of caution from our public health experts. 

“While case numbers are comparatively low in Devon for the moment, positive cases across the country are rising,” said Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon.

“Euro 2020 will be a time of much emotion for football fans. And for those perhaps not sat watching it on TV at home, you may be travelling to friends and family to watch games or even to Wembley or Hampden Park to see the matches.

“My message is simple. Enjoy the tournament, but do so safely.”

The rules inside and out

  • You can watch football inside pubs across the UK, but remember that in England, only up to six people from six households or two households of any size can meet indoors
  • In England, up to 30 people can meet outside, including in a pub garden, but check if the place you’re visiting has any restrictions due to the size of their outside space
  • Follow the rules if you’re inviting people back to yours to watch the game too. Up to six people from multiple houses or any number from just two households can gather indoors, and up to 30 people outdoors
  • Use personal judgement when it comes to hugging close friends. Public Health advise to err on caution and be careful

Visit our news website for more advice about enjoying Euro 2020 safely.  

vaccination

People aged 25 to 29 invited to book COVID-19 vaccination appointment

The NHS invited around three million people aged between 25 and 29 to book their COVID-19 vaccination earlier this week.

Those now eligible for a vaccine are being asked to book their jab once they receive the ‘NHSvaccine’ text message alert which includes a web link to the NHS website to book an appointment. People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab. GPs are also contacting patients to urge the newly eligible to come forward.

Current advice on COVID-19 vaccinations is that people aged under 40 years old and pregnant women should have the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. So vaccination centres in Devon are now using Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for all first doses.

Group of young people smiling

What do under 30s need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out has reached young adults, with those aged 25 years old and over now invited to book their vaccination appointments.

You can’t choose which COVID-19 vaccine you get, but you will be allocated one based partly on your age. Those under 40 years old or pregnant, will get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but if you’ve already had one Oxford-AstraZeneca jab with no after-effects, you should have a second dose. 

You might experience some side effects after your jab because your body’s defences are reacting to the vaccine. You could have a sore arm, feel tired or sick or have a fever or headache. These symptoms are usually mild and disappear after a few days.

Younger people may think that they’re less likely to be seriously ill if they catch coronavirus because of their age and general good health, compared say to older and more vulnerable people. And that may be true. But don’t let that persuade you not to have the vaccine. You might still catch coronavirus, and studies are now suggesting that those who have been vaccinated are less likely to transmit the virus to other people. 

Please take up the vaccine when it’s offered to you, if not just to protect you, but to also help protect others. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the NHS website.

don't delay getting second vaccine

Don’t delay your second COVID-19 vaccine dose

The NHS is urging people that are contacted to bring forward their second COVID-19  jab to rebook as soon as possible. 

Last month the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that everyone aged 50 years old and above or with underlying health conditions should have their second vaccine dose brought forward from 12 to eight weeks as part of the government’s plans to tackle rising cases of the Delta variant.

People who used the National Booking Service will receive a text message prompting them to cancel their existing second appointment and rebook an earlier one. There are currently plenty of appointments available and new appointments are being added regularly, so please keep checking.

Those not in vaccination priority groups one to nine will continue to get their first dose, with their second dose at 12 weeks in line with the current vaccine strategy. 

pregnant woman sat in armchair

Further advice regarding the vaccines and pregnancy

Local resident Joanna has explained why she has chosen to have the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant.

Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age who are having their first dose. Around 90,000 pregnant women in the USA have had these vaccines and no safety concerns have been identified.

Anyone who has already started vaccination and is offered a second dose while pregnant, should have a second dose with the same vaccine, unless they had a serious side effect after the first dose.

Following World Health Organization advice, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that breastfeeding mothers can have the vaccines. There is also no need to avoid trying to conceive after a COVID-19 vaccination as there’s no evidence that the vaccines have any effect on pregnancy or fertility.

The government advice regarding vaccination in pregnancy, while breastfeeding or trying to conceive, can be found on their website.

work hub

Funding secured to support Devon’s economic recovery

We’ve secured funding to support some of the local economies hardest hit during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and help Devon’s strong recovery. 

In partnership with Exeter City Council, Torbay Council and Torridge District Council, we’ve been awarded more than £2.3 million of government funding to deliver local regeneration schemes. The funding will help to deliver initiatives that will create economic growth by unlocking land for new homes and jobs; providing new opportunities to save on running costs or generating income funding; or transforming services. You can find out more about the projects that will benefit from the funding on our website.

We also successfully bid for £640,000 from The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) to grow our award-winning network of work hubs. They provide flexible-term, value for money office space, equipped with modern facilities and are ideal for small businesses that may have started from home but are looking to grow into larger accommodation.

New work hubs are being established in Great Torrington, Newton Abbot, and Teignmouth to provide co-working and office space, while the existing hub in Tavistock will also be expanded.

Our work hubs play an important role in supporting local communities and stimulating the local economy by providing flexible and versatile spaces which help businesses to grow and create local jobs. And with more people likely to be working from home, even after normality returns, these facilities will be an asset to local businesses, workers and entrepreneurs and will help to create high quality jobs and attract businesses to Devon.

For more information and guidance, and to download an application form, please visit the Devon Work Hubs website.

Doctor using a mobile phone

Doctors in Devon remind their patients “We are here for you”

Devon’s GP practices are open and encouraging patients to get touch when they need to. While practices have had to move to greater use of telephone and online appointments, they have continued to offer face to face appointments to those that need them. In fact, almost 60 per cent of appointments in Devon GP practices are now face to face, which is higher than the national average.

NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group is urging people in Devon to use the right service for their needs and to bear with the very busy NHS services in the region.

Before contacting your GP, you can look up your symptoms online using the NHS App, the NHS website or via 111 online.  

The NHS 111 service is available 24/7 to provide advice, treatment and care. Just ring 111 or visit the 111 website and the service will provide advice and refer you to another service if you need it.

Don’t forget your local pharmacist can provide health advice and help with minor illnesses like colds, rashes, sunburn, hay fever and diarrhoea. You don’t need an appointment and they can provide you with the right medicines at the same time.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental wellbeing, 24/7 mental health lines are available in Devon and Torbay on 0808 196 8708 and Plymouth on 0800 923 9323.

Please remember Emergency Departments are for life-threatening emergencies. There is a network of minor injury units in Devon that can provide the treatment you need – often they’ll see you quicker, and closer to home.

Lets take this next step safely

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Don’t miss a funding opportunity

Need some funding for a project? Check out the latest list of grant funding opportunities collated here.

Grants range from £500 to £100,000 or more with deadlines for applications displayed alongside grant information summaries. Don’t miss out on funds for your project or community click on the link and download the summary.

Case numbers expected to rise due to easing of restrictions and more vaccination centre volunteers needed

Happy Devon Day everyone! We’re flying the Devon flag today to celebrate St Petrock’s Day, the patron saint of Devon, (and who the Devon flag is dedicated to). However you have been celebrating today, please be safe.

Devon flag edit
COVID-19 Cases Devon 29 May

Case numbers for Devon remain stable and well below the average in England. As restrictions ease, we do expect to see increases in case numbers as more people are mixing. Currently across Devon, the South Hams has the highest rate, although that’s falling. Case rates are highest among our 0-19 and 20-39 year age groups. We are seeing occasional outbreaks across educational settings, but generally most are single cases in a variety of settings across Devon.

In this update:

  • Case numbers expected to rise due to easing of restrictions
  • Half-term holidays – a testing time  
  • Devon charity to receive the highest award for voluntary work during the pandemic
  • Can I have the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?
  • Vaccine take up marks new milestone
  • Vaccination centre volunteers needed
Go for the flow

Case numbers expected to rise due to easing of restrictions

We were asked this week how Devon has been able to keep case numbers down, while elsewhere in the country they’re rising.

We’ve written about it. Case numbers in Devon are currently stable, but we expect them to rise due to easing of restrictions.

Positive cases overall in England have risen on average by nearly a third in the last week. The North West and South East have risen most, followed by London and the West Midlands; then East Midlands and East of England; Yorkshire and Humber; North East; and no rise in the South West recorded in the last week.

An important factor is the new variant, the Delta variant (which was called the Indian variant), and areas where cases are highest include those where the latest strain of the virus is currently most present.

But here in Devon positive cases overall throughout the pandemic have consistently fallen below the national average.

That’s partly due to people following the public health guidance. And it’s a reflection of the speed in which authorities have responded to outbreaks, and how they’ve worked within those settings to prevent further spread.

Testing and tracing in Devon has also been effective. Devon’s rollout with the vaccine is also going very well, and that’s having a positive impact on the numbers of people becoming seriously ill or needing hospitalisation due to coronavirus.

But there’s no magic bullet to beat coronavirus. While case numbers are heading in the right direction, it’s easy for us to think that it’s beaten. But we mustn’t.

We can enjoy the easing of restrictions, but we need to keep a watchful eye on cases and trends elsewhere in the country, and know that only by remaining vigilant will we prevent the virus spreading.

Get tested

Half-term holidays – a testing time

A reminder to us all – the half-term holiday may have been a time to kick-back a little, but please keep up with the twice-weekly rapid lateral flow tests to help prevent the virus spreading.

Schools and colleges will be returning next week, so a plea to secondary school-age pupils and students, to please take their rapid lateral flow tests in good time for the start of the new term.

That goes for all adults too. Taking these quick and simple tests twice a week is helping to identify positive cases of coronavirus among people who don’t know they have it. Only by identifying it, can the person with the virus self-isolate, and prevent its spread to others.

And for those yet to have a holiday, or yet to meet up with friends and family, please take these tests prior to seeing them.

If you plan to meet up with others, just take the quick test and you’ll know within half an hour whether you’re likely to be carrying the virus.

If you’re clear, it’s peace of mind to you and to the people you’re visiting, which is especially important if you’re visiting anyone older or vulnerable. If the test is positive, then please self-isolate and arrange a confirmatory PCR test. Postpone your visit for the moment and know that you’re not causing the virus to spread.

For more information about rapid lateral flow testing, and how to get it in Devon, visit devon.cc/flow. 

Volunteer

Devon charity to receive the highest award for voluntary work during the pandemic

A Devon charity is to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, for outstanding work throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Westbank Neighbourhood Friends help to keep vulnerable or frail adults out of hospital, or to have shorter hospital stays. They match volunteers with people who need assistance, so that they’re able to get out of hospital and back home as soon as possible.

During the pandemic, their volunteers provided support to over 2,030 patients across the Exeter, East and Mid Devon area.

Among other support, they were moving beds to make way for hospital beds and equipment at home. They installed key safes so that carers could gain access. And they provided company and warm drinks to patients following a stay in hospital.

It meant in some cases that people didn’t need to go into hospital, and for others, they were able to get home sooner because they’d had help from the volunteers to get things ready for their return.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award for voluntary groups in the UK. Westbank Neighbourhood Friends will receive the award and certificate from the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon, later this summer.

“We are incredibly proud that our Neighbourhood Friends project has been recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and pay tribute to the dedication, hard work and commitment of our truly deserving team of volunteers,” said Nina Parnell, Westbank Head of Volunteering and Community Support.

pregnant woman sat in armchair

Can I have the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant? 

As the vaccine becomes available to younger age groups, the NHS in Devon is offering reassurance to women that they can have the coronavirus vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, and that it will not impact on their fertility.

The Government advice states that:

  • there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on fertility or your chances of becoming pregnant
  • COVID-19 vaccines offer pregnant women the best protection against the virus, which can be serious in later pregnancy for some women

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that the vaccines can be received whilst breastfeeding.

Deputy Chief Nurse, Susan Masters, said:

“It is important that all sectors of the community receive the vaccine when eligible in order to reduce incidence of serious disease. This is no different in pregnancy and the COVID-19 virus can make women very unwell in the later stages of pregnancy. It is really important to discuss having the vaccination with your GP, midwife or at your appointment so that you can make an informed decision.”

The government advises that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are preferrable for pregnant women and people aged under 40.

When booking online, the National Booking Service automatically offers appointments with the appropriate vaccines for people aged under 40. Women aged under 40 are asked whether they are pregnant so that they can also be offered appropriate appointments.

COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine take up marks new milestone 

Three quarters of adults in Devon have now had their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine – that’s more than 750,000 first doses given and nearly half a million second doses. 

But the number of people in Devon not attending their second appointments has risen in recent weeks

Public Health England has looked into the effectiveness of the vaccines against the latest strain of the virus – the Delta strain, which is really good at spreading between people. 

With the first dose, both the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines offered 33 per cent protection against the latest Delta variant. But after the second dose, the protection offered by both vaccines to the new variant increased significantly.  

Following the second dose, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 per cent effective against the Delta variant, while the AstraZeneca vaccine was 60 per cent effective. 

Positive case numbers in Devon are relatively stable right now, but we expect case numbers will rise with the easing of restrictions. 

“The vaccines are an important frontline defence to help prevent you becoming seriously ill or requiring hospital treatment should you catch coronavirus,” said Tina Henry, Deputy Director of Public Health Devon. 

“One dose gives your partial protection, the second dose will give you the maximum protection. Please take up the second dose when invited to do so.”

Carers Week logo

Devon County Council is ‘Making Caring Visible and Valued’ this Carers Week (7–13 June 2021)

New figures suggest that there are now more than 130,000 people in Devon who are carers, the figure having risen by half again because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Worryingly though, just 21,000 of that number – roughly only one in every six – are accessing vital information and support that is available to them. 

Next week is Carers Week, and Devon County Council, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Devon Carers are shining a light on it to encourage people who are carers for friends and family to recognise themselves as unpaid carers, and to come forward for help.

Goodie Box

Healthy meal boxes delivered to families with young children across Devon

Thousands of meal boxes have again been delivered to families with young children this half term holiday week, in an initiative to help those who are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

We first ran ‘The Goodie Box’ initiative during the Easter holidays, with incredible success. The boxes included ingredients and simple recipe ideas, and they were delivered to families’ front doors. Families loved them.

We’ve done it again this holiday, and the boxes have included fresh and store cupboard ingredients for dhal curry and flatbreads; hearty veg-packed pie; veggie bolognese; creamy summer pasta; tomato and courgette risotto; Mexican bean burrito; pitta pizzas; and fruity pancakes.

Each recipe has tips on how to swap or add ingredients and advice on healthy eating and how to prevent food waste.

Like last time, there’s been no specific eligibility to receive the meal boxes, but professionals who work with young families have helped us identify those who may be having a difficult time right now and who would enjoy and benefit from The Goodie Box.

COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination centre volunteers needed 

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions allowing many people to return to work, vaccination centres in Exeter and Plymouth need to recruit more volunteers to help things run smoothly. 

The stewarding role involves work inside and outside, doing things like directing people as they arrive and leave and checking their appointment details. 

Shifts are currently 8.00am to 12 noon; 12 noon to 4.00pm and 4.00pm to 8.00pm. Days and shift allocation can be arranged to suit you once applications are processed. 

Applications for both sites can be made via the Our Plymouth website, and because so many people have now had at least their first jab, there is less risk faced by older age groups, which means offers of volunteering can be accepted from those aged over 69 years old. 

COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine safe and effective for 12 to 15 year olds

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has authorised that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for use by 12 to 15 year olds. Their Chief Executive says that benefits of this vaccine outweigh any risk.

It is now up to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to advise on whether this age group will be vaccinated as part of the vaccination programme.

Devon Climate Challenge
While we have you We’ve teamed up with Crowdfunder to help fund projects in Devon that are passionate about tackling the climate emergency.Right now we are looking for three carbon-cutting projects that you believe can play a part in tackling climate change in Devon.To enter, please just tell us about your project in 100 words by Tuesday 8 June at 12 noon.The chosen projects will take part in a 24-hour crowdfunding challenge next month to raise as much money as possible for their cause, as well as win funding from us.Find out more on the Crowdfunder website. 
The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Advice if you’re travelling to areas of the UK where the new variant of concern is spreading, a rise in COVID-19 cases in the South Hams and drive to combat children’s holiday hunger in Devon gets £250,000 boost

77 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Devon from 16 to 22 May 2021

Positive cases of coronavirus remain stable in Devon, with the latest rate of nine cases per 100,000 being well below the 24 cases per 100,000 seen nationally.

We are experiencing isolated outbreaks in some settings but with little evidence of the virus transmitting widely within those local communities.

Across Devon positive case numbers are low compared to previous months in all age groups, although rates are slightly higher in those aged under 40 years old. Case rates are currently highest in the South Hams area.

In this update:

  • Enjoy the bank holiday and half-term break safely
  • Advice if you’re travelling to areas of the UK where the new variant of concern is spreading 
  • Rise in COVID-19 cases in the South Hams
  • Drive to combat children’s holiday hunger in Devon gets £250,000 boost
  • 30 year olds now invited to book COVID-19 vaccine
  • Getting the help you need this bank holiday weekend
Enjoy Devon safely

Enjoy the bank holiday and half-term break safely

It’s a bank holiday this weekend, followed by the May half-term break next week, and we are encouraging everyone to enjoy the time safely, whether at home or away, by continuing to follow the advice and guidance to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This includes the familiar social distancing, regular hand washing, wearing a face covering when required, but also making sure you know what the latest rules are for socialising and following COVID-secure guidelines if you are visiting places like shops and restaurants.

We can meet with people we don’t live with indoors now, in groups of up to six from any number of households, or a group of any size from just two households, which is a big step. But remember socialising outdoors is always the safest option where possible, and we can meet outside in groups of up to 30 people. If you are having visitors or visiting others, make sure you let fresh air in.

You should also add that extra layer of safety and take a free rapid lateral flow device (LFD) test to check you don’t have coronavirus before you see more people and travel further, just in case you do and you spread it unknowingly. They are quick and easy to do and making them part of your regular weekly routine – especially when catching up with friends and family – will help to identify positive cases among people who may not be showing symptoms, so that they can self-isolate.

Secondary school pupils, college students and staff working in all education settings have been taking these tests regularly for a while now. Even though schools and colleges are closed for the half-term holiday, please continue to take your lateral flow tests twice a week and report your results. And don’t forget to test the night before or morning of the first day back.

With tourism and hospitality reopening, many will be planning a holiday this bank holiday and half-term, so we’ve rounded up some commonly asked questions so you know what to expect.

Coronavirus

Advice if planning to travel to areas of the UK where the new variant of concern is spreading 

There are no known cases of the new variant of coronavirus (COVID-19) within Devon at the moment, but as people plan to visit friends and families during the half term holiday, Public Health Devon is advising people to be cautious. 

The new variant, which was first identified in India, spreads more easily between people. 

Currently cases are highest in council areas of Bedford, Blackburn with Darwen, Bolton, Burnley, Kirklees, Leicester, London Borough of Hounslow, and North Tyneside. 

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said:

“If you must travel to any of those locations, please be extra cautious.

“Try to meet outside with family or friends rather than inside where possible. And please keep two metres apart from people that you don’t live with, unless you have formed a support bubble with them.

“If you are away visiting friends and family this holiday, remember to take tests with you, and take them again on your return home. Testing and self-isolating if positive are how we stop the virus spreading.”

We also would like people to make getting tested regularly, using the rapid lateral flow device tests, a routine part of their week. 

So, when you know you’re going to meet up with friends, please take a few moments earlier in the day to take a test first. You’ll know the results within half an hour, and it might prevent you from unknowingly spreading the virus to others. These tests are really quick and easy to do, and they are free.

For more information about how to get a rapid, lateral flow device test in Devon, please visit our website.

Outside in the fresh air is safest

Rise in COVID-19 cases in the South Hams

Positive cases of coronavirus remain stable in Devon, and well below the national average in most areas.

But there’s been a rise in cases in the South Hams over the last week or so, and the rate there is now 25.3 per 100,000 which is slightly above the national rate of 22.5 per 100,000.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon said:

“We have a low coronavirus case rate across Devon, and that is thanks to the effort everyone continues to put in to complying with the restrictions and following the guidance around regular asymptomatic testing, social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering when required.

“We need to be cautious though, because outbreaks can and do still happen and when numbers are low, even a small rise can cause a big jump the case rate.

“There’s a spike in cases in the South Hams at the moment because of a small outbreak in a school. It’s being well managed by the school and our public health team.

“Although the number of cases in the rest of the South Hams is still comparatively low and all other cases in the area are single positive cases, it highlights the importance of continuing to take care as restrictions ease to reduce the risk of catching or transmitting the virus as much as possible.”

Get your free supermarket vouchers before they expire

Drive to combat children’s holiday hunger in Devon gets £250,000 boost

Almost 17,000 food vouchers worth over a quarter of a million pounds are being distributed to families this half-term as we continue to combat holiday hunger in Devon.

Families of children currently receiving free school meals have automatically been sent supermarket vouchers to help them buy food over the holiday to replace the meals their children would normally have in school.

The vouchers – worth £15 a week for each child – can be redeemed in major supermarkets across Devon and arrangements are in place for families who cannot get to a supermarket.

If your child currently receives free schools meals you should have your vouchers for the upcoming May half-term holiday already – please get in touch with us as soon as possible if you don’t yet have them. Also, don’t forget to redeem your Easter vouchers before they expire.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a real strain on many family budgets and many have seen their financial circumstances change suddenly. We’ve seen a big increase in the number of families claiming free school meals over this last year.

If you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has reduced or stopped, please apply online through our website to check if you are eligible for this support as soon as possible. It’s the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision. Alternatively, you can call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

More information about the free school meals holiday voucher scheme is available on our website.

People over 30 can now book their COVID-19 vaccine

30 year olds now invited to book COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and gives you the best protection against coronavirus, and nearly three-quarters of adults in Devon have now had one dose.

If you’re aged 30 years old or over, or if you turn 30 before Thursday 1 July 2021, you can now book your COVID-19 vaccine.

As the vaccination rollout reaches younger age groups, more women of childbearing age are becoming eligible for their first jab. The government has offered reassurance that the vaccines are safe for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive. 

Two doses are needed for strong protection, particularly with the new variant of concern first identified in India now circulating in some regions of the UK, so don’t delay getting your second jab when it’s offered. 

Over-50s, frontline health and social care workers and people who are considered most vulnerable if they catch coronavirus (vaccination priority groups one to nine) are having their second doses brought forward to eight weeks after their first – rather than 12 – to help ensure they have the strongest possible protection from the virus at an earlier opportunity following concerns about the variant. 

Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, with a weblink to the NHS website. There are currently plenty of appointments available and new appointments are being added regularly, so please keep checking and if you cannot go online you can call 119 to book.

You cannot catch coronavirus from the COVID-19 vaccine. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so make sure you’re getting it from a trusted source. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the NHS website.

don't delay getting second vaccine

Vaccines highly effective against B.1.617.2 variant after two doses

A new study by Public Health England shows that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India.

The results after two does are similar to the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant which is dominant in the UK. The study found that, for the period from 5 April to 16 May:

  • the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 88 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant two weeks after the second dose, compared to 93 per cent effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant
  • two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were 60 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant compared to 66 per cent effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant
  • both vaccines were 33 per cent effective against symptomatic disease from B.1.617.2, three weeks after the first dose compared to around 50 per cent effectiveness against the B.1.1.7 variant.

The difference in effectiveness between the vaccines after two doses may be explained by the fact that the rollout of second doses of AstraZeneca was later than for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and other data on antibody profiles show it takes longer to reach maximum effectiveness with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

As with other variants, even higher levels of effectiveness are expected against hospitalisation and death. 

lab testing

Sewage testing ramped up to help tackle COVID-19 outbreaks

Exeter is the home of one of the biggest wastewater processing labs in the world, and it’s at the forefront of pioneering research.

The government has ramped up testing of wastewater for traces of COVID-19, to help detect outbreaks of variants of concern.

Testing sewage for coronavirus now covers more than two thirds of England’s population, and is helping identify where variants of concern may be circulating undetected in communities.

Exeter’s lab opened last month and is dedicated to analysing waste water as part of the government’s programme.

Insights from the programme have already been used in Bristol and Luton to provide timely understanding of the spread of variants in their communities and help to provide reassurance that local outbreak control measures are working.

You can find out more on the government’s website.

COVID-19 testing

Which COVID-19 test do I need to take, and when?

Regular testing for coronavirus is the cornerstone of our transition back to normal life. It’s a vital part of keeping the spread of coronavirus under control, especially as about one in three people who catch it don’t develop any symptoms so could be spreading it unknowingly.

That’s why it’s so important you take the right test when you need to, and know the different sorts of tests available and how to access them.

A COVID-19 test usually involves taking a sample from the back of your throat (where your tonsils are) and from the nose, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 years old or over) or someone can do it for you.

There are two main types of test to check if you have coronavirus now:

  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are mainly used for people who have symptoms. It checks for the genetic material of coronavirus in the sample and is sent to a lab for processing. Most people get their results via text or email the next day, but it can take up to three days.
  • rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests are only for people who do not have symptoms. It uses a device similar to a pregnancy test to give a quick result, usually within 30 minutes of taking the test. It detect proteins called ‘antigens’ produced by the virus and recent research has found them to be very accurate and reliable with extremely low false positive results.

If you have coronavirus symptoms (high temperature; new, continuous cough; loss or change to sense of smell or taste) then you should use the government’s website to arrange a PCR test that is provided by the NHS test as soon as possible. You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site. You and everyone you live with must immediately self-isolate. Do not leave home until you get your test results, except to post a test kit or for a PCR test appointment.

If you do not have symptoms then you are encouraged to take a simple rapid lateral flow device (LFD) test twice a week to check if you have coronavirus. The tests are free and can be done at one of our walk-in test sites or picked up from community testing sites, pharmacies or sent through the post for you to do yourself at home. 

For more information about coronavirus testing in Devon, please visit our website.

Just think 111 first

Getting the help you need this bank holiday weekend

The NHS in Devon is reminding people how to access health services and get the care they need this bank holiday.

The long weekend traditionally puts extra pressure on health services when most GP practices are closed and more people are outdoors enjoying everything Devon has to offer. Most GP practices will be closed over the three-day weekend with normal opening hours resuming on Tuesday 1 June.

For urgent advice over the long weekend people are encouraged to ‘Think 111 First’ and contact NHS 111 from anywhere, either by phone or online, any time of day or night. If you need further care or medication, NHS 111 advisors will direct you to the most appropriate service. They can book you in for an appointment at your nearest Minor Injury Unit or Urgent Care Centre. If you need emergency care, they will arrange for you to be seen at a local Emergency Department and will ensure that staff in the department are expecting you and will see you as quickly as possible.

Local pharmacies can provide expert advice and a fast route to medication for minor ailments like aches and pains, sore throat, coughs, colds, flu-like symptoms, runny noses, earache and skin rashes. They are open until late and at weekends with no need for an appointment, and most have a confidential consulting area for privacy. Visit the NHS website to find your nearest pharmacy and check opening times, or call the free helpline NHS 111.

How to self isolate. Don't go to work, don't go shopping, don't go out for exercise.

New pilots launched to help people self-isolate 

The government announced nine pilots to test new ways to help ensure that people abide by the self-isolation rules.

It’s working with local councils in areas in the country with high prevalence of infection, and the pilots will include a range of initiatives such as providing alternative accommodation for people living in overcrowded households. There’ll be additional social care support for vulnerable people, and language and communications support for people where English isn’t their first language. 

The pilots are to encourage people most at risk of catching and spreading coronavirus to come forward for testing and to self-isolate properly if they test positive.

We have information and guidance on our website about self-isolating – when to do it; how to prepare for it; how long you need to do it for; and what help and support is available to you if you are self-isolating. 

Lets take this next step safely

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the
government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Great Torrington Neighbourhood Plan (2014-2031)

Neighbourhood planning is a new way for communities to have a say in the future of the places where they live and work. It gives you the power to produce a plan with legal weight that can influence the form and location of development in the neighbourhood area. After 6 years of preparation and community engagement, undertaken by the Town Council, the Great Torrington Neighbourhood Plan has reached a significant milestone. Following a successful formal examination, and agreement by Torridge District Council, a referendum on the Neighbourhood plan will take place on 17th June 2021.

The Referendum will be managed by the District Council; all registered voters within the parish of Great Torrington will be able participate in the referendum.

If you would like to look at the referendum Neighbourhood Plan, it can be found on the following links https://www.torridge.gov.uk/torringtonnp and https://www.greattorrington-neighbourhood-plan.org/.

If you would like to see a hard copy of the Neighbourhood Plan, please contact the Town Council on 01805 626135 or email: admin@great-torringtontowncouncil.gov.uk