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Help with taking steps towards a healthier 2021

On Friday 1st January, a new talking therapies service is launching to help anyone aged over 16 in the South Sefton, Southport and Formby areas to deal with common mental health difficulties.

Talking Matters Sefton has been developed in partnership with the CCGs to offer easy access to high-quality talking therapies. You can self-refer online or by phone, or your GP can make a referral. The Covid-19 pandemic has made 2020 an incredibly challenging year for us all. With the vaccine rollout underway, we have reason to be hopeful for 2021. By making some small changes, you can get the New Year off to a healthier start and take control of your wellbeing.

Statistics show that a quarter of patients who died with coronavirus in England had diabetes, and people who are overweight or smoke are also at much higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the disease.

Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health for Sefton, said: “This year has been tough for everyone, and it hasn’t always been easy for any of us to stay motivated or make healthy choices. If you want to make a change, you do not have to do it alone. Living Well Sefton is a free service that can support you in living a healthier lifestyle. You can call them on 0300 323 0181 or e-mail”

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Making changes to your lifestyle can feel overwhelming at times, and sometimes it might feel easier to just do nothing. There is plenty of support available and making little adjustments, such as exercising more, eating a healthier diet and quitting smoking really can have a big impact on how you feel. It isn’t just about looking after your body, living a healthier life can boost your mental health too. If you’re feeling low, getting active could make a huge difference to your mood.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Making changes to your lifestyle can not only help improve your physical and mental health, but it can also help protect you from becoming seriously unwell with Covid-19. Consider taking a Vitamin D supplement during the winter months, as it is difficult to get enough of that during the shorter daylight hours. Vitamin D helps to control the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies – needed for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, combined with getting active and staying connected with people can all help to improve your health – both physically and mentally.”

Information and support:

  • Living Well Sefton is a free service supporting people in Sefton with issues that may be affecting their health and wellbeing.
  • Talking Matters Sefton (launching 1 January 2021) provides talking therapies to anyone aged over 16 living in Sefton.
  • NHS Live Well and NHS Better Health offer support and resources to help you make the best choices about your health and wellbeing.
  • Every Mind Matters and One You offer expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental and physical health

Directors of Public Health urge people to take extra care to guard against new COVID strain

Following news of a new, more virulent strain of COVID-19, Sefton’s Director of Public Health Margaret Jones joined her peers from Cheshire and Merseyside to issue an important joint statement, which residents are urged to read (see below):

This weekend has seen our focus move to a new strain of coronavirus which is being transmitted at an even faster rate than the original COVID-19 disease, and we ask everyone to be extra careful over social distancing, social contacts and general hygiene during the festive period.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 continues to be a potent threat in its original form and so this latest variant needs to be tackled in exactly the same way, with anyone who has travelled from a Tier 4 area being particularly vigilant to protect their loved ones.
It is why we urge everyone to double down on what they have been doing so far to drive the infection rate down by:-

Staying local and not travelling between tiers, following good hand hygiene at all times, wearing face coverings when required to do so, taking extra care over social distancing – staying at least 2 metres apart – keeping all social contact to a minimum and staying in well-ventilated places.

We should all act as if we have got the virus to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities, particularly those who are most vulnerable, while doing our utmost not to place an already busy NHS under further strain.

Anyone with symptoms should also book a test as soon as possible and follow the guidance around self-isolation until the result is known and thereafter if it comes back positive. If you have the opportunity of asymptomatic testing, people should also take up that offer.

The virus will continue to mutate and Hands, Face, Space is proven to be the best defence at least until the population has been vaccinated.
We know how difficult this is, especially at a time of the year when families traditionally come together to celebrate Christmas.

Our advice remains – just because the Tier 2 rules now allow three households to meet on Christmas Day does not mean we should. If you do, then you still need to do so responsibly, so please follow the guidance, do everything you can to limit your activities as of today, make sure windows are open, keep the visit short and do not hug others outside your own household.

We thank everyone who has been doing their bit for so long, and we know everyone desperately wishes we could see an end to the restrictions, but it’s more important than ever that we all put in that extra effort to keep our friends and families as safe as possible in the coming weeks.

Matthew Tyrer – Cheshire East Council
Ian Ashworth – Cheshire West and Chester Council
Eileen O’Meara – Halton Council
Sarah McNulty – Knowsley Council
Matthew Ashton – Liverpool City Council
Margaret Jones – Sefton Council
Susan Forster – St Helens Council
Thara Raj – Warrington Council
Julie Webster – Wirral Council

For further information on government guidance around Covid-19 please visit:
For further resources on mental wellbeing visit:

December coronavirus testing facilities across Sefton for those with symptoms

Testing for people with symptoms

Across December, drive-through Mobile Testing Units will operate once again. These sites are for those with symptoms – a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell – and can be booked by calling 119 or visiting

Planned dates and sites may be subject to change if testing is required in other locations:

Opening hours from 8th Dec: 10am – 3pm

  • Mon 21 – Litherland
  • Tues 22 – Litherland
  • Weds 23 – Ainsdale

Opening times from 24th Dec: 10am -2.30pm

  • Thurs 24 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Mon 28 – Southport
  • Tues 29 – Southport
  • Weds 30 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Thurs 31 – Aintree Racecourse
  • Sat 2 Jan – Southport
  • Sun 3 Jan – Southport

In addition, local walk-through test centres are open every day from 8am to 8pm, providing easy access to COVID-19 tests for people who do not have access to a car and for those who have symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

Walk-through sites will open 9am-3pm on 25th and 28th December and on 1st January 2021. 

The four local test centres are located at:

  • Bootle Town Hall L20 7AA
  • Crosby Library Car Park, Haigh Road L22 OLQ
  • Netherton Activity Centre, Glovers Land L30 3TL
  • Southport Town Hall PR81DA

Those with symptoms seeking tests, need to book ahead of going to either the walk-through or drive-through sites. It’s quick and easy to book by calling 119 or going online at

Find out about SMART coronavirus tests for people with no COVID-19 symptoms. 

Get outdoors safely across Sefton this winter

Sefton’s heritage parks and green open spaces, along with its 22-mile coastline and exciting nature reserves are here to be explored this winter. The Council is encouraging residents to enjoy the outdoors in line with current government guidance.

Whether its walking, cycling or simply getting outside for a breath of fresh air, which many people may look to do over the festive break, staying local and exploring Sefton’s natural assets are a fantastic resource for residents as they continue to adapt to everyday life under COVID-19 restrictions.

Cllr Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:  “This year we’ve seen unprecedented use of our outdoor spaces, particularly throughout the summer months along our beautiful coastline. We joined forces with colleagues and partners to implement our Coastal Action Plan and we were delighted with the support we got from residents and visitors, the vast the majority of whom took note to enjoy our beaches safely.

“Now we’re embracing the seasonal changes and the onset of winter, and I would encourage everyone to continue to make the most of some fresh air when they get outdoors, as well as enjoying everything that nature has to offer in our Borough. That’s not just on our coastline but also our canal walks, cycling routes and Sefton’s many small open spaces and parks.”

Downloadable resources and ideas for places to explore locally in Sefton are available on the Visit Sefton website:

Cllr Moncur continued:  “I would like to thank our residents and visitors who are continuing to act responsibly in line with current restrictions. And I would just remind everyone to continue to practice social distancing when getting outdoors, to adhere to current tier two guidelines, and to show respect to both the landscape and the wildlife that we are so lucky to have in Sefton.”

Residents are being reminded that as well as following government guidelines, that they should be prepared for winter differences before getting out and about locally around Sefton’s parks, coastline and open spaces.

The words: Have a wonderful winter in Sefton, with images of winter trees

Cllr Moncur added: “Following this advice and going through a quick check list before heading out and about will ensure that people get the best out of spending time outdoors. You never know what wonders you might find on your doorstep if you explore locally this winter.”

Green Sefton’s advice and checklist is:

  • Always check the weather forecast as conditions can change quickly and check tide times before you set out to the coast.
  • Be prepared for winter weather with appropriate clothing and robust footwear.
  • Remember that the evenings get darker earlier so carrying a torch or wearing reflective clothing would be advisable.
  • Sefton’s entire coastline is environmentally sensitive and protected – please respect this precious landscape.
  • Do not disturb wildlife, livestock or damage habitat – keep a close eye on dogs and keep them away from pools of water or resting birds.
  • Follow the Countryside Code.
  • Camping, BBQs and fires are not permitted.
  • Leave nothing but your footprints – take all your rubbish home with you and recycle wherever possible.
  • Some facilities like public toilets may not be open in winter months at parks and nature reserves.
  • Beach car parks are closed and will not re-open until the spring – please park responsibly in the limited parking available nearby.
  • There are no RNLI patrols on Southport or Ainsdale beaches during winter.
  • If walking or cycling in remote areas, ensure you take a fully charged mobile phone and be aware that signal may be poor.
  • Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Stay local and walk or cycle rather than taking a vehicle where possible.
  • Remember to follow current COVID-19 guidelines and observe social distancing.

Green Sefton – Sefton Council’s service that looks after parks, green spaces, coast and countryside alongside volunteers and partner organisations – is asking residents to report anything that requires attention when they get outdoors and can email the team at

Green Sefton may not be able to commit as many resources to regular inspections during the COVID-19 outbreak, so visitors can play their part in helping the Council to maintain Sefton’s outdoor spaces.

Residents & Visitors urged to get a SMART COVID test today and help stop the spread in Sefton

SMART COVID-19 testing for people who DON’T have coronavirus symptoms 

Targeted, SMART COVID-19 testing for residents and visitors form other areas who DON’T have COVID-19 symptoms is now taking place in walk-through centres at:

  • Splash World in Southport*
  • Bootle Leisure Centre
  • Aintree Racecourse.

Each site is open from 9am to 6pm every day apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Monday 28th December and New Year’s Day. No appointments necessary so you can just turn up.

Use the live map to find out details and how busy each site is. 

*Please use rear car park of Dunes/Splashworld, accessible from the Esplanade, opposite the Lifeboat Station.

SMART testing will identify if you have COVID-19 but don’t know it because you don’t have symptoms. You will get your result in 30 minutes.
(People who have had a positive coronavirus in the past 90 days should not attend.)

Getting a test  will help stop you accidentally passing it on to your friends, family, colleagues, clients or customers, who might be vulnerable.

SMART testing will also help contract tracing and the identification of potential infection hotspots.

You can find our SMART testing FAQs here. 

We spoke to Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health about SMART testing.

You can read transcript of what Margaret Jones told us about SMART testing. 


Frontline services

With 10,000 tests available to Sefton each week, the Council is encouraging those who work in frontline services, work with vulnerable residents and schools staff to come forward for testing. Sefton’s three SMART testing centres have been set up and run by the military but after today, Friday 11th December, their operation will transfer to specially recruited and trained Council staff.  In the future, the Council will also be looking at setting up mobile or pop-up sites.

When SMART testing was launched Margaret Jones said: “The roll-out of this testing will help to identify people who have the COVID-19 virus but not the symptoms and drive down the R-number in Sefton and the City Region.

“Initially, we are focusing the available resources on groups where we have identified testing will have the greatest effect in reducing transmission and protecting vulnerable people and the frontline staff who work with them.

“Plus, the results will feed into the local contract tracing and will help us identify where hotspots of infections might be emerging.

“We have to remember though, a negative result is not a free pass to ignoring the Tier 2 restrictions we are all following. A negative test result means people are not infectious on that day but that can change, which is why we will be repeating tests with our target groups.

“And, of course it’s vital that anybody who does develop the coronavirus symptoms self isolates and calls 119 or visits immediately to book a test.”

Anyone who shows a positive result after their SMART Test will then be advised on isolating and making an appointment for a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test that will confirm whether they have the virus

Sefton residents who don’t have coronavirus symptoms can also use Liverpool test sites to get a test. Details of how and where people can get a test are at

Find out more about testing in Sefton in December.




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