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Sefton schools set to reopen after Christmas break

Parents in sefton are being advised that schools in the borough which are scheduled to reopen this week will do so, unless they are contacted directly by their child’s school and told differently.

“With less than 24 hours to go, we are not asking schools and parents to change their plans. As a Tier 3 area which has a lower infection rate than others, the schools that are scheduled to reopen this week should do so, including primary and special schools as well as secondary schools for vulnerable and key worker children.

“We will work with school leaders and teams to ensure risk assessments are reviewed and updated if necessary, and shared with staff.

“We recognise the concerns of some staff and where this leads to individual school closure, we will work with and support schools if this happens. At this stage less than 24 hours before school starts this is hard to predict and we will keep this under constant review and monitor staff and pupil attendance.
“Fines for non-attendance are always a last resort and only when parents have not worked with the school around their specific circumstances.”

Our Aintree, Bootle and Southport SMART test sites are open for people who don’t have symptoms 9am to 6pm every day and no appointments needed.

Sefton joins neighbouring areas in Tier 3 Coronavirus restrictions

Tier
Tier 3 Poster showing a guide to Tier 3 restrictions

Following news of a new strain of Coronavirus, which has led to a significant spike in daily infections, with 53,135 infections announced in the last 24 hours (correct as of December 30), Sefton, alongside it’s neighbours in the Liverpool City Region has moved from the Tier 2 to Tier 3 Very High Risk level of infection from Covid-19.

Residents and businesses within Tier 3 must stick to the following restrictions:-

  • No household mixing in any indoor setting.
  • You must not meet socially indoors, in your garden or in most outdoor public venues with anybody you do not live with or have a support bubble with
  • You can see friends and family you do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some outdoor public places, in a group of up to 6. This limit of 6 includes children of any age. Find out more here
  • Hospitality settings, such as bars (including shisha bars), pubs, cafes, restaurants, and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services.
  • You can take part in organised sport and physical activity outdoors with any number of people. Gyms and sports facilities will be open for individual exercise and exercise in single households or support bubbles only.
  • Indoor group activities and exercise classes should not take place. You can take part in sports outdoors with more than 6 people, although there are exemptions here.
  • Personal care, including hairdressers and barbers, is allowed.

Find out more about what Tier 3 means for Sefton by visiting the Local Lockdown Restrictions webpage of the Sefton Council website.

Council’s cabinet asked to approve authority’s re-entry to social housing market and council housing provision

At their meeting on Thursday 7th January, Sefton Cabinet members are being asked to agree the Council’s re-entry into the social housing market for the first time in nearly 15 years.

Agreement by Cabinet members would enable the Council to start making preparations for the acquisition of nine apartments, as the beginnings of its future stock of new council housing.  The Council would acquire the apartments on the Sefton Grange development at Buckley Hill Lane, from its wholly-owned housing development company Sandway Homes.

This will be the Council’s first new rented housing since its stock transfer in 2006. The move will require the Council to register with the Regulator of Social Housing as a social housing provider. It will also need to apply to become an ‘Investment Partner’ with Homes England, the public Government body that funds new, affordable housing in England.

The next steps will include the development of a business plan, identifying options for housing management services and putting together a delivery team.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities said: “If Cabinet agrees these proposals on Thursday it will be a really decisive step for the Council not only in meeting the demands to house the most vulnerable in our society, but also in providing a choice and range of affordable housing types that meet the needs of our communities.

“While there is still much work to do, approving these plans would underline Sefton Council’s commitment to supporting the Borough’s residents by delivering a high-quality and inclusive housing agenda.”

Sandway Homes, the housing development company launched by the Council in January 2019, is already building 30 new homes at Hey Farm Gardens in Crossens and 47 more at Sandy Brook in Ainsdale. Due to be completed in 2021, these two schemes will add to the supply of housing in the north of the Borough. A further scheme on Buckley Hill Lane at Sefton Grange, which is currently at planning stage will enable the Council to provide the first phase of its new social housing offer.

Link to details of next week’s Cabinet meeting, including the agenda and papers.

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 LWS@seftoncvs.org.uk.”

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:
www.gov.uk/coronavirushttp://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
For further resources on mental wellbeing visit: www.kindtoyourmind.org

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