Friday 15 July 2022
Devon calls for brave new vision for children and young people
The welfare of Devon's children is 'everyone's business' and Devon's elected councillors should be at the heart of a new county-wide network of Child Friendly Devon Ambassadors.
They should use their positions and influence to champion our children at every opportunity and enlist more ambassadors within the community.
This is one of a series of recommendations in a report this week by an all-party Child Friendly Devon Task Group.
They invited representatives from other local authorities, youth services, voluntary groups, businesses, and UNICEF to share their experiences, to help inform the group's recommendations and enable Devon to become the best place to grow up.
We're also in a partnership with Leeds City Council. Just over a decade ago, Leeds had an 'inadequate' Ofsted ranking, but now they're an 'oustanding' council - they changed their approach and began putting children at the centre of everything they do.
We aim to do the same, bringing long-term, wide-ranging benefits.
This is why, in our Strategic Plan, we've given a commitment to ensure that all children and young people have the best possible start in life, good physical and mental health, and there is better access to employment and learning.
You can read more about the Task Group's report in the story on our news page.
Amber weather warning for extreme heat in Devon
The Met Office has issued an 'Amber Weather Warning' for extreme heat in the south-west from Sunday 17 July.
Many of us will have been enjoying the hot weather, but when it's too hot for too long, there are health risks:
Please look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions, those who live alone and young children are particularly at risk.
You can beat the heat by staying out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when UV rays are strongest. Don't forget to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen and a hat and sunglasses too!
Read more about staying safe in extreme heat on the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) website.
Don't forget that, as temperatures soar, our furry friends and local wildlife could be struggling to cope. Consider putting out a shallow bowl of fresh water in your garden or outdoor space for animals to drink from or bathe in. Make sure animals have shade and never leave them in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it's just for a short while. The RSPCA has lots of animal welfare advice for the warm weather.
Schools see an increase in the use of vapes among pupils
Public Health Devon's Director, Steve Brown, has written to Devon schools with advice and guidance about the risks of underage vaping.
It follows concerns raised by some Devon schools about a rise in the use of vapes, or e-cigarettes, among pupils while at school.
Research last year in the county found that two per cent of Year 6 pupils; 10 per cent of Year 8 pupils; and 30 per cent - nearly one in three - Year 10 pupils have tried e-cigarettes.
Many schools are finding the use of vapes a challenge to address, harder to monitor than smoking, partly because vapes are sometimes disguised as other things, such as USB sticks and highlighter pens.
Amy Grashoff, Headteacher at Newton Abbot College, said:
"Worringly, we have seen a significant increase in the number of students who are vaping, some of whom are as young as 11.
"We are educating our students on the dangers of vaping, and sanctioning those who are caught vaping on college site, however the ease of buying them is not helping the issue, nor is the pretty way in which they are packaged.
"The government's promotion of vapes as an alternative to smoking is understandable to an adult audience, however, the positive marketing around this misleads young people."
You can read more about the advice from Public Health Devon to schools, parents and carers in the story on our news page.
How do we know that COVID-19 cases are rising if we're not testing as much?
The number of people who have COVID-19 in the UK is rising. You may have become aware yourselves of people you know who have the virus.
But how do we know, if there's far less testing going on?
One key source, in addition to hospital data, is the Office for National Statistics' Coronavirus Infection Survey.
They are regularly surveying a cross-section of around 150,000 people across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and they're measuring how many of them test positive for COVID-19 infection at a given point in time, regardless of whether they report experiencing symptoms.
That gives us an estimated percentage of the population experiencing COVID-19, nationally and locally. And it's how we know right now that approximately 1 in every 25 of us in Devon are very likely to currently have it.
"We need to pay attention to the data," says Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health Devon. "The more we know about the local prevalence of coronavirus, the more we can adapt our behaviour to reduce risk to ourselves and others. And that's especially important for vulnerable people who are at more risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus."
You can keep a track of the latest data on our refreshed coronavirus data dashboard.
Heading to the water to cool off?
We don't blame you, it is officially HOT, and getting in the water is tempting for many of us. So, if you're planning a dip, please pay attention to how to enjoy the water safely.
These safety tips may be simple, but following them might save your life:
- jumping from heights, such as piers and rocks, into water can be very dangerous. Even on an extremely hot day, open water can be incredibly cold, which can cause you to go into shock and make swimming difficult. Currents can also be stronger than you might be expecting, while underwater objects not visible from the surface can be hazardous
- if you're taking part in any water activity, such as kayaking, wear appropriate footwear and clothing and always put on a lifejacket
- ensure that children are well supervised near water
- never use inflatables such as blow-up toys and lilos in the sea or rivers. They are best saved for swimming pools
- carry a mobile phone so that you have a way of making contact in an emergency and make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Consider putting your phone in a waterproof pouch
- if you get into trouble in the water, remember 'Float to Live'. To do this: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has some useful information and advice on their website about water safety.
Carers UK State of Caring survey is now live
Calling all unpaid carers in Devon!
Share your thoughts on what life is like for unpaid carers at the moment, the challenges you might face, and the impact caring has on your finances, health, and wellbeing via the Carers UK 'State of Caring' survey.
It's the UK’s most comprehensive research into the lives and experience of carers, and by taking part you can help make a real difference to the support and services available to unpaid carers.
Mobility equipment and bedding bound for Ukrainian hospitals
Our recycling centre staff have been helping to supply a local volunteer with wheelchairs, mobility aids and bedding which he then loads onto his van and delivers to Ukrainian hospitals.
Colin Northover has been visiting Exeter’s Pinbrook and Newton Abbot’s Brunel Road Recycling Centres to collect the much-needed supplies on behalf of the Ukraine Appeal.
Since the war began in February, staff at Suez, who run our network of 18 recycling centres, have been casting a keen eye over anything that has been thrown away, so that they can set aside a selection of items for Colin.
In April, Colin loaded up his van and his box-trailer and made the 23-hour, 1,400-mile journey, catching the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, driving through Holland, Germany, and Poland, to eventually reach Lviv, in the west of Ukraine.
There, he contacted the Rotary Clubs of Ukraine, and using their established networks he arranged for all the items we donated to be collected by a neurosurgeon and his colleagues from a hospital in Kyiv.
“They are desperately short of medical and surgical supplies, so they were delighted to receive the mobility aids and bedding to help in the care of their patients.”
Now Colin is on his way back to Devon – and when he returns he will once again visit recycling centres to collect items for the Ukraine Appeal before loading them up and returning to Ukraine in August.
Read the full story on the news page of our website.
Four 20mph schemes approved by Cabinet
Our cabinet has given the go-ahead to introduce 20mph schemes in the four ‘most in need’ Devon communities - Tiverton, Winkleigh, Ashburton and Atherington.
It follows our introduction of a new way of considering 20mph speed limit requests last year, to ensure that the communities that would most benefit from lower vehicle speeds were prioritised and helped first.
Earlier this year we asked our local county councillors to talk to the communities they represent and submit ‘expressions of interest’ for a new scheme. Our traffic team considered each request, taking into account average speeds at key locations in that community and the number of vulnerable road users in that area.
Other factors we considered include the speed related collision history in the area, the level of support for a 20mph scheme in the community, the presence of an active Community Speed Watch and the community’s deprivation index ranking.
You can read the full story on the news page of our website.
Free events for self-employed Personal Assistants to learn more about the CQC
If you're a self-employed Personal Assistant (PA) offering care and support to older and disabled people, you can get free mentoring to help you learn more about Care Quality Commission (CQC).
It's part of our work with a national social enterprise called Community Catalysts to support the development of community micro-enterprises (under eight staff or volunteers) and self-employed PA.
The project is well underway, and the local representative, Alex, is now working with a number of people who are already providing support to help them develop, expand and diversify.
Alex has found that many micro-enterprises have approached him for support with understanding CQC regulations and how these apply to the work of self-employed PAs, particularly those who work as part of a partnership or group.
So, he's hosting a number of one-hour online events to discuss this and answering questions. They will take place via Zoom on Monday 8 August, at midday and 6:30pm. Please register via the Eventbrite website.
If you can't make either of the events, please leave your details and Alex will be in touch.
To register your interest in joining the development programme, contact Alex via -
☎️ Call or text: 07741 260 674
📧 Email: email@example.com
💻 Visit the Community Catalysts website.
Full fibre broadband ready for service for thousands more premises
Another 2,500 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset are now able to access full fibre broadband thanks to the ongoing rollout through the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.
CDS has delivered superfast access to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England, with over 315,000 premises receiving access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.
Internet Service Provider Airband has announced the latest figures as it continues its gigabit capable fibre build in the region on behalf of CDS. Airband has delivered broadband access to more than 22,400 homes on behalf of CDS.
A map of Airband's coverage areas, and a post code checker, is available on their website.
Read the full story on the news page of our website.
Photo credit: Exeter City Council
New sustainability awards launched in Exeter
A new awards initiative recognising businesses, community groups and individuals who are going the extra mile for sustainability in Exeter has been launched in the city.
Princesshay, Exeter City Futures, Exeter City Council, Exeter University, In Exeter, Devon Contract Waste and the Exeter Magazine are launching The Exeter Sustainability Awards.
The awards will celebrate, support and recognise the sustainable practice and commitment of businesses, organisations and individuals driving change and making a difference to sustainability across Exeter.
The awards are free to enter and are open to organisations and individuals living or operating within a 10-mile radius of the city centre.
The categories open for entry are community group/ charity/ non-profit, school / educational organisation, micro business (0-9 employees), small business (10-49 employees), medium/ large business (50+ employees) and the Citizen’s Award, open for any individual going above and beyond in their community.
A panel of judges will be looking for environmental and social best practice, innovation, sustainable energy use and climate resilience.
Visit the Exeter Sustainability Awards website for full details about categories and the application process.