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Children’s return to school is safe says Sefton’s Director of Public Health

“It is safe for children to return to school,” was the key message from Margaret Jones, Sefton’s Director of Public Health when we spoke to her about pupils returning to schools this week.

Not being at school, she said, is harmful for children’s overall well-being.

We asked Margaret about the measures being put in place for the new term to help maintain social distancing and reduce contact. These include reduced class sizes and ‘bubbles’, staggered start finishes and break times.

Margaret also stressed the ongoing need for thorough hand-washing and the importance of people showing COVID-19 symptoms – a raised temperature, new persistent cough or a loss of their sense of taste or smell – isolating and getting a test.

Here’s our interview with Margaret.

Festival of Ideas heads for Bootle

New project, backed by Sefton Council, aims to give residents a say in how to ‘build back better’.

Sefton Council has launched a new call for ideas to inspire the ‘Build Back Better’ ethos sweeping the country in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council – Liverpool City Region’s Borough of Culture 2020 – sponsored the project, which is being delivered by maker space and social enterprise Make CIC, and social economy business support community, Kindred.

The ‘Festival of Ideas’ will inspire local people to share ideas related to five themes – ‘making and selling’; ‘food and growing’; ‘music and culture’; ‘health and wellbeing’ and ‘spaces for change’.

Following an initial programme to inspire people to think about their ideas, the organisers will support people to develop their ideas, which are then put forward for a share of a £6k development fund.

Bootle Festival of Ideas will also ask local people what they’d like to see in the area, creating citizen-led impetus for change.

Make co-founder Liam Kelly says:

“Bootle is brimming with ideas and this festival is an opportunity for people to bring their ideas to the table and tell us what ‘build back better’ means. The Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated challenges faced by our region’s town centres and Bootle is no different. But we firmly believe that the people who live, work and socialise there are the ones who have the ideas to overcome the challenges. Some ideas may benefit from a small starter grant to give it a try! Others may find what they need by coming together to collaborate. We’re looking forward to celebrating everything great about Bootle.”

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said:
“The Festival of Ideas is a unique opportunity, amidst the chaos of the last few months, for Sefton residents to bring about positive changes to their own lives, to their communities and our culture.

“We are a borough that offers it all, Sefton has something for everyone, and this festival is a truly exciting way of bringing people together to talk through ideas and innovations, share opportunities and feel inspired.

“When we first looked in to having a Festival of Ideas, we originally had a very different format in mind. We’ve had to react quickly to rapidly unfolding events and take an entirely new approach to the Festival of Ideas. Similarly we successfully delivered much of our Borough of Culture programme digitally and virtually, and so we’ve taken the learning and applied it here, moving to a digital approach to the festival of ideas too. So, for everyone staying safe at home, you can still get involved as we’ll be presenting a programme of
live-streamed events via Zoom.”

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said:
“Sefton is known for its entrepreneurial and enterprise culture, and is home to businesses of all sizes, from international organisations and small start-ups to social enterprises and community organisations. Our objective with the Festival of Ideas is to enhance Sefton’s  reputation as a borough of ideas and innovation.

“Working with Make CIC we will be hosting a series of online events over a whole month from 2nd September to the 2nd October, with further events and exhibitions in the planning following that.

“With five key focus areas covering very real issues and challenges such as health in our local communities, or transforming unused buildings and forgotten spaces, to inspiring a new generation of artists, musicians and poets, the festival provides opportunities for Sefton
residents to share concepts, swap insights and trade opinions.

“We want to champion the next big things and help local people get new ideas off the ground, so they can seize new opportunities to make a positive difference to our beautiful borough.”

Festival of Ideas was run in Wirral in 2017, supporting a number of projects across the borough which have grown and developed into businesses, including Future Yard, Origami Pulse, and the Make Hamilton makerspace.

Residents can engage with the project in the first instance by signing up for one of six introductory sessions. More details are available on the Make Liverpool website:

For more information, please contact Make CIC on 0151 601 8665 or by email:

Mobile COVID-19 Testing Unit dates and locations for September latest

Mobile coronavirus testing units are scheduled to be at locations across Sefton through September .

If you have the COVID-19 symptoms of a high temperature, persistent cough or loss of taste or smell  – however mild – you should get a test.

Tests at mobile centres are available for anyone but they need to have made an appointment first at  or by calling 119.

Mobile Testing Unit dates and locations for September are:

  • Tue 1  – Litherland
  • Wed 2  – Litherland
  • Thu 3  – Litherland
  • Fri 4  – Litherland
  • Sat 5  – Reserve (No Scheduled MTU in Sefton)*
  • Sun 6  – Southport
  • Mon 7 – Southport
  • Tue 8 – Southport
  • Wed 9 – Crosby
  • Thur 10 – Crosby
  • Fri 11 – Crosby
  • Sat 12 – Southport
  • Sun 13 – Southport
  • Mon 14 – Litherland
  • Tue 15 – Litherland
  • Wed 16 – Litherland
  • Thur 17 – Reserve (No scheduled MTU in Sefton)*
  • Fri 18 – Reserve (No scheduled MTU in Sefton)*
  • Sat 19 – Reserve (No scheduled MTU in Sefton)*
  • Sun 20 – Southport
  • Mon 21 – Litherland
  • Tue 22 – Crosby
  • Wed 23 – Crosby
  • Thur 24 – Reserve (No scheduled MTU in Sefton)*
  • Fri 25 – Reserve (No scheduled MTU in Sefton)*
  • Sat 26 – Southport
  • Sun 27 – Southport
  • Mon 28 – Crosby
  • Tue 29 – Crosby
  • Wed 30 – Crosby

*One of the Mobile Testing Unit teams is a reserve team,  and may deployed to other Merseyside locations on these days.

Walk-through test centres, opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Southport Town Hall, are open from 8am to 8pm. You need an appointment from   or by calling 119 or the Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.

The September dates for Mobile Testing Units , which are supported by Sefton Council, NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG, follows on from a timetable that saw units deployed across Sefton Borough nearly every day in July and August.


Neighbours from Litherland transform their overgrown alleyway into an amazing community garden

It all started during the lockdown, when the residents of Rufford Road, Jenny and Helen setup a Facebook group to keep an eye on their neighbours, making sure everyone was OK during this worrying time.

Realising how little outside space they have whilst working from home and seeing how much potential space was going to waste in the alleyway.

The residents decided to give the alleyway a new lease of life and started to transform it into a community garden for all the residents to enjoy.

After getting in touch with their local councillors to help with the removal of the bulky waste and rubbish, the resident set about pressure-washing and weeding the cobbles before putting out garden furniture and planters.

The cobbled alleyway now hosts puppet shows, swing ball competitions, board games and even socially distanced toasted marshmallow evenings. 

The space has been decorated with bunting and garland lights, along with hanging baskets, colourful flower pots and Miss Hurst their very own seagull scarer.

They’ve also started to grow their own produce, such as strawberries, chillies, coriander and mint.

Jenny McKechnie, Rufford Community Garden Said: “When we started this the alleyway was full of fly-tipping, we had couches, hoovers and washing machines, but within less than two months we’ve managed to get the alleyway all cleaned.

“It’s a lovely safe space for the children to play in and the children love playing out here.

“Having the community garden keeps the alleyway clean and safe, so you can enjoy the space we’ve created as well as your own backyard, knowing that the alleyway is clean.”

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said:   We are really delighted to see what an amazing job the community has done in Rufford Road.

“The residents have worked with the Council, turning what was an ugly alleyway, filled with rubbish and weeds, into a wonderful community space, where everyone can enjoy and help bring the community together.

“The residents have used their time in lockdown to create something special and have been able to make some fantastic friends along the way.

“I would also like to say a big well done to everyone involved in making this community garden possible”

Cllr John Kelly, Sefton Council’s Ward Member for Litherland Said: It great to see some many residents taken control over the rear of their properties.” 

“We will help the resident as much as we can in cleaning up their alleyways, with the resources we have within the area, but ultimately, it’s down to the residents to take control and look after their alleyways.”

Helen Davis Taylor, Rufford Community Garden Said: “I would highly recommend anyone thinking of transforming your alleyway.

“Speak to your neighbours and try to encourage as many households to get involved and create a great community space.

“It’s an excellent way to get to know your neighbours and make new friends.”

Rufford Road Community Garden has set up an Instagram page to share tips and inspire others to get outside and clean up the Alleyway spaces – you can see more at

Twenty-one acts plus five films showcasing Waterloo will be streamed for Bank Holiday Virtual festival

A unique virtual music festival will be streamed online over the August Bank Holiday weekend to replace the cancelled Waterloo Festival.

Nineteen of the bands originally booked for the June Festival, which could not take place owing to the coronavirus pandemic, have recorded a 30-minute set at a ‘Covid-secure’ studio in Bootle on a full-sized stage with special effects. Plus, there are two international bands, from Brazil and France, taking the total number of acts to 21.

Their pre-recorded shows will be streamed free of charge over three different sessions from this Saturday 29 August to Monday 31 August 31 and will be hosted by radio DJ Claire Simmo.

Find out more including how to watch the streams.

The Virtual Waterloo Festival also includes five short films produced by the organisers to help promote a positive image of Waterloo to an audience watching the internet streams in this country and overseas.

Councillor Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s main Borough of Culture sponsor said: “Each year Sefton Council has supported the Waterloo Festival and I am delighted that this year it will be going ahead in this innovative format.

“The event will showcase our vibrant local music scene and the talents of our bands locally, regionally and worldwide via the internet as well as bringing together local people.

“Although sadly, we won’t be at the usual Waterloo site, I will be ‘going’ to this virtual festival online to enjoy the wealth of local talent.”

Festival organiser Steve McGriskin said: “Producing a virtual festival of this magnitude doesn’t come cheap and paying for it was a challenge.

“We used Crowdfunding which was not easy during a pandemic when lots of people were suffering real hardship. Because of lockdown there were no opportunities to promote the appeal in pubs and music venues or through organising fundraising events. However, with the support of Sefton Council, councillors representing Church, Victoria and Blundellsands wards, Spacehive, Waterloo Town Team, SYN AVS, Logic Estates and backed by more than 50 people, we successfully raised the money needed. It’s a big, big thank you to everyone who helped.”

Any surplus funds made from the event will be donated to Friends of Crosby Beach, Migrant Workers Sefton Community, Sefton Community Pantry and Liverpool Homeless Football Club.

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