Wishing you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year

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Wednesday 21 December 2022 

Christmas help if you need it

If you need help over the festive period

Lots of public services remain open over the festive period, although operating times may be reduced.

You can find our Customer Service Centre's Christmas opening hours on our website.

There's also information about our social care services over Christmas.

Opening times for Devon's district, city, borough and unitary councils and National Park authorities are available on their respective websites.

If you need to contact your GP practice please check their online services.

If you think you need immediate medical help, NHS 111 is available by phone or online to tell you what to do next.

Community pharmacies are also available for advice on many minor illnesses and injuries that can be treated at home.

Urgent mental health support is available via 0808 196 8708. Or you can access Samaritans 24/7 support by calling 116 123 or emailing jo@samaritans.org

If you're visiting your local library this festive period, please bear in mind their Christmas opening hours and check with your local library as some hours may vary.

Our website is always open and full of useful information


Are you struggling with the cost of living?

The cost of living is affecting us all. Rising inflation and energy prices are hitting households hard, adding substantial amounts to our annual bills. This festive period will be difficult for many people in Devon, but there is help available if you need it.

There's some useful advice on our website for residents and businesses in Devon who are struggling to afford to pay for their energy, water, food or other essential items. It includes information about support for low-income families via the Household Support Fund, such as free school meal holiday vouchers, the holiday activities and food programme and 'Fuel, Food and More' grants.

There's also help for those using pre-payment meters, and who are struggling to meet their energy needs, via Citizens Advice Devon.

The Warm Spaces website has a map of places in the community that are free to go and be comfortable and warm with no judgement. They include places such community centres, churches and libraries.

If you can't afford the food you need, you can contact one of Devon's foodbanks listed on our PinPoint website. There are a number of supermarkets, cafés and restaurants offering free or £1 meals for children during the school holidays.

Find out more about help with the cost of living in Devon

Greener recycling xmas

We're dreaming of a green Christmas!

There's an average 30 per cent increase in waste over the festive season! But there are lots of ways to have a greener Christmas, and save money too!


Christmas lunch and New Year’s Eve celebrations all mean one thing – fridges stocked with food, but it's estimated that almost a third of all food purchased for festive celebrations is chucked away. To remove the guesswork of how much to cook, check out the party food planner from Love Food Hate Waste.

And for food that doesn’t get eaten, you can freeze it. Transform yesterday’s Christmas excess into tomorrow’s freezable dishes with tips from Recycle Devon.


We're all feeling the pinch this year, so why not treat your friends and family to a homemade gift? Recycle Devon has lots of ideas that are inexpensive, easy to make at home and are zero-waste so help the environment too.

Instead of using wrapping paper, which is difficult to recycle, try using an alternative like fabric, brown paper or newspaper. You can also give Christmas cards a new life by making gift tags out of them.


If you want to refresh your decorations, why not make some! Recycle Devon has lots of craft ideas to help you save money, reduce waste and spend time having fun making!

Real Christmas trees are 100 per cent recyclable and can be shredded and composted at home, put out for collection via your local council or taken for composting to your nearest Household Waste and Recycling Centre. Check your local council for details on recycling real Christmas trees in your area.

Christmas rubbish and recycling

When is my bin being collected?

Don't get snowed under this Christmas. Check your household collection days and recycling facility opening times over the holidays.

Remember items like cardboard, cans and bottles can all be recycled, as well as many other items.

Let's recycle as much as we can over the festive period (as well as all other times of year too!)

Recycle Devon has information on what you can recycle in your area, and when your waste and recycling collection days are over the holidays, on their website.

Please visit our website to find your local household waste recycling centre opening times.

Santa driving

Driving home for Christmas? Stay up to date with the latest travel information from Devon Alert

No doubt Devon's roads will be incredibly busy over the next couple of weeks as many families travel to spend time with family and friends over the holidays or enjoy everything the county has to offer while they have a break from work.

Nobody likes to be stuck in the car, so however long your journey, it's always advisable to plan ahead, avoid busy periods if you can, check for any delays and leave extra time so you're not rushing. Follow Devon Alert on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates on Devon's roads from our Network Control Centre.

Winter weather is unpredictable; from high winds and lashing rain to glaringly low sun and darkening skies. There's even been snow and ice recently. We work hard to keep Devon's roads moving during these various severe weather conditions, and you can help too by following Met Office advice.

Check the forecast before you travel - if severe wintry weather is predicted, you might have to re-think your plans. And if the conditions are already treacherous, it’s best to drive only if you absolutely have to.

If you spot a problem on one of our roads, such as fallen tree or faulty traffic lights, you can report it on our website.

Made in Devon Christmas baubles

Christmas is even more special when it's Made in Devon

Devon is full of great independent, businesses making fantastic products and Made in Devon, our trading standards approved buy-local business support scheme, is here to help spread the word.

Any business that is based in Devon, which has been operating for more than six months and takes pride in buying from and supporting other Devon businesses, can apply to join.

Consumers who want to buy from trustworthy Devon companies can look on the Find a Local Business page or the Love to Shop Local page and be reassured they’re supporting a local, legal and honest Devon business that has the Trading Standards stamp of approval.

Made in Devon member businesses are also assessed on their commitment to sustainability, how they contribute to their local communities and their specialist skills.

So, this Christmas find some great gift ideas and help support Devon businesses by shopping locally. Just look at some of the great products available from Made in Devon members on the Christmas Gift Guide section of the Made in Devon website.

Made in Devon Christmas gift guide

Lift Legend

Can you be a 'Lift Legend' this Christmas?

With many social occasions in December, you may be more tempted to get behind the wheel after a drink.


Alcohol can significantly impair many of the functions necessary for safe driving; particularly reaction times and spatial awareness. This may still be the case the morning after, depending on how much alcohol you consumed the night before and when you stopped drinking.

It’s not just you that’s at risk. You could kill or seriously injure someone by drink driving, destroying their lives and those of their families.

It's easy to avoid this by planning ahead, leaving the car at home, and using a taxi, public transport or having a designated driver to get you home.

Devon and Cornwall Police will be out in force rigorously targeting those who are a danger on our roads, day or night.

They've also teamed up with over 90 licenced premises to offer free soft drinks to those who give lifts home to friends and family after a night out this Christmas. Until 1 January 2023, drivers will be able to purchase a soft drink and receive a voucher to have their second free of charge at participating venues!

Visit the Devon and Cornwall Police website to find out more.

Festive fireplace

Make Christmas fire-safe

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service report December to be the busiest month of the year for house fires. With all the Christmas lights, endless cycles of cooking and putting the dishwasher on, and electrical presents such as games consoles, there's lots of fire risks to consider.

It's important that you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home, ideally in the hallway and at the top of the stairs.

Twinkly Christmas lights feel very festive, but make sure they're in good working order, meet British Safety Standards and were bought from reputable retailer. And always turn your them off before bed or going out!

Take extreme care with candles. They should only be used when you are in the same room and always place them in a heat-proof holder, and keep them well away from shelves, curtains, furnishings and books. The safest way to use candles is to buy battery-powered ones.

Cooking is the cause of nearly half of all domestic fires. Never leave your Christmas dinner cooking unattended and make sure you switch off the oven and hob if you’re leaving the house (this goes for all high powered appliances including dishwashers, tumble dryers and washing machines). Take care around alcohol and don’t cook if you’ve had a few too many as you're more likely to take risks, be distracted, and sometimes even fall asleep, which is a very dangerous combination with cooking!

And you might be thinking about how to bring down the price of your heating bill. There's some advice on our website about staying safe and well in the cold weather.

New year's resolutions

New year, new you?

The start of a new year often sees a surge in people wanting to make changes to their lifestyle - its an opportunity for a new start and change in direction.

If you're looking for a new job, there are lots of rewarding career opportunities in Devon right now. Visit our website dedicated to jobs in local government, voluntary and charitable organisations.

Perhaps your new year's resolution is to give up smoking? Or you might want to aim for a healthier weight or be more active, but you can’t find the time or motivation. Or are you worried you might be drinking too much? We can help! OneSmallStep is our FREE service to support the health and wellbeing of Devon residents.

Everyone is different, so support is tailored to you as an individual, whether you like online tools, resources, apps and self help guides and/or regular intensive support from one of our specially trained practitioners, who will work with you 1-1 to help you achieve your goals.

Whether you know what your goal is or not, the first step is to just get in touch. Visit the One Small Step website or call 01392 908139.

Snow covered Dartmoor

Get out and explore Devon this Christmas

Hopefully everyone will have the opportunity to spend some time enjoying the great outdoors this Christmas. From beaches, shores and estuaries to the rolling hills, wood, lowland heaths and imposing moors - there's plenty to explore in Devon!

Did you know that if you walked every day for a year in Devon, you would never have to walk the same path twice? There are over 3500 miles of footpaths and trails waiting to be discovered.

If you'd rather be on two wheels, there's also a superb network of cycle routes for all abilities available.

Visit the Explore Devon website for more ideas!

Father Christmas


And finally...

This is the last Connect Me newsletter of 2022, so from all of us here in the communications team at Devon County Council, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

We will be back in your inbox with the first weekly round-up newsletter of 2023 on Friday 6 January!

In the meantime, if you enjoy our newsletters please forward this one to your family and friends and encourage them to sign up.

Read more at devon.gov.uk/news

Posted in DCC.