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Get vaccinated, get your booster and look after each other through this difficult winter period – a joint statement from the Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside

Our communities are once again being asked to step up to protect themselves and each other, and help to keep our fantastic front-line health and care services running this winter.  As Directors of Public Health, we are supportive of measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and in particular, the new variant, Omicron.

We knew that there was always a risk of new variants, and it is clear that Omicron is spreading very rapidly. The UK is now at COVID-19 alert Level 4 because we have extremely high transmission and rising rates of Omicron. We especially want to keep those who are most vulnerable in our local communities safe and prevent more people going into hospital and dying.

Everyone is being asked to get vaccinated and get their booster dose as soon as possible.  Demand for vaccination will be high and vaccination sites will be very busy, so please book ahead wherever possible, and be patient if you are queuing for your vaccine.

If you do experience symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, new continuous cough or loss/change of taste or smell), PCR tests can be booked by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119. If your test is positive, you must follow the guidance including self-isolating immediately.

It is also recommended you take lateral flow tests twice a week and also in advance of any social gathering/event. If you are notified that you are a close contact of a positive case of COVID-19 and you are fully vaccinated, you will be asked to do daily lateral flow testing for 7 days to check you are and remain negative. Children under 5 years old do not need a test and will not need to self-isolate. If you have not had two doses of the vaccine, you will need to isolate for the full 10 days.

Face coverings are required in most indoor public settings, except for pubs and restaurants or unless you are exempt. Office workers who can work from home should do so and from Wednesday (15 December), you will be required to show proof of full vaccination status, or a negative test in the last 48 hours, to enter certain venues such as nightclubs or major sporting events.

This is a time where we as a community need to come together and support each other. We need to continue to be kind to ourselves and others and carry on with the same steely determination to do the right thing that has kept us going since the beginning.

Building up your personal resilience is so important in times like this. Cheshire and Merseyside’s Kind to Your Mind campaign has plenty of resources to help you do just that. You can listen to podcasts, look at online therapies, download apps, and access helplines if you need them. There are plenty of options to suit you, all you need to do is visit www.kindtoyourmind.org

Masks, hand washing, social distancing and ventilation are all vital measures to mitigate this disease, but none more so than being vaccinated against it. That is the number one tool we have. If up until now you have not taken up your offer of the vaccine, please book your jab now. The same applies to your booster. They are safe, effective and millions upon millions of people across the country have benefited from it. Visit www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine to book now.

Stay safe,

Dr Matt Tyrer
Director of Public Health for Cheshire East

Ian Ashworth
Director of Public Health Cheshire West and Chester

Dr Ifeoma Onyia
Director of Public Health for Halton

Dr Sarah McNulty
Director of Public Health for Knowsley

Professor Matt Ashton
Director of Public Health for Liverpool

Margaret Jones
Director of Public Health for Sefton

Ruth du Plessis
Director of Public Health for St Helens

Thara Raj
Director of Public Health for Warrington

Julie Webster
Director of Public Health for Wirral

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.

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, the Council’s Green Sefton service is reminding residents to take care and to respect wildlife, as well as the landscape, when getting outdoors locally.

Cllr Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“This year we’ve continued to see 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 visitseftonandwestlancs.co.uk.

Residents are being urged to be prepared for winter differences before getting out and about around Sefton’s parks, coastline, and open spaces.

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.

“Similarly, the seasonal changes bring with them amazing wildlife spectacles. Rare migrating birds can often be spotted along our coastline, as can cattle and sheep that through their grazing are helping to manage vital habitats among the dunes. Please do show respect to both the landscape and the wildlife that we are so lucky to have in Sefton.”

A handy checklist covers everything residents, and visitors alike, need to know when enjoying the Borough’s outdoor spaces this winter.

  • Be prepared for winter weather with appropriate clothing and robust footwear.
  • Always check the weather forecast as conditions can change quickly and check tide times before you set out to the coast.
  • Take note of any safety signage at beach entrances – there are no RNLI lifeguard patrols on Southport or Ainsdale beaches during winter. Lifeguard cover is year-round at Crosby. If you or someone needs help at the coast call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.
  • Remember that the evenings get darker earlier so carrying a torch or wearing reflective clothing would be advisable.
  • Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Remember that some of our gated parks may be locked an hour after sunset.
  • Take care close to water, especially in wet or icy conditions and do not attempt to walk on frozen water, ponds or lakes.
  • Avoid walking through woodland in high winds and keep away from any fallen or hung up trees until they have been made safe.
  • 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 under control away from pools of water and resting birds. Similarly, horse riders should never ride through flocks of wading birds. If they are chased or disturbed intentionally it can result in serious harm to them.   
  • 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 parking available nearby.
  • Walk or cycle rather than taking a vehicle where possible.
  • If walking or cycling in remote areas, ensure you take a fully charged mobile phone and be aware that signal may be poor.
  • Camping, BBQs and fires are not permitted.
  • Remember to follow current COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Report any emergency hazards or concerns to Sefton Security on 0151 922 6107.
  • Always follow the Countryside Code: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code

For more advice, tips and updates from the Green Sefton service this winter, people are urged to follow them on social media:

Facebook: greensefton
Instagram: @greensefton
Twitter: @GreenSefton_

 

Cllr Trish Hardy shares support for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence campaign

Cllr Trish Hardy,  Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities shares support for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence campaign.

The issue of gender-based violence has never been more pertinent. In the last 12 months there have been several high-profile cases of violence against women and girls, including the tragic death of 12-year-old Ava White.

Friday 10 December marked the International Day for Human Rights, as well as the end of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. The campaign has been an opportunity for us to raise awareness and learn more about the different forms of violence faced by women and girls.

These include, domestic violence and abuse, rape and harassment, as well as more hidden harmful practices like ‘honour’-based abuse, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

As a Council, we want to make clear that there is no excuse for abuse and that we are completely committed to the elimination of gender-based violence from our society.

I want to take this opportunity to provide an update on the work being led by the Sefton Domestic Abuse Partnership Board, a multi-agency partnership, which has been established as part of the new Domestic Abuse Act legislation.

To ensure we have a full picture of the current services across Sefton and the needs of victims and children to inform future planning, we have commissioned a Domestic Abuse Needs Assessment.

The outcomes from the Assessment will be used to review Sefton’s Domestic Abuse Strategy early next year.

We as a Council are proud to have been a part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence. We are committing to keeping the issue at the forefront for not just 16 days, but 365 days of the year, as we continue strengthening our response to it in all its forms.

Sefton Council does not tolerate any kind of domestic abuse and we have processes in place to help safeguard people and help ensure it does not happen. Where it does, we will provide help, support and guidance to our residents and families, as well as challenge those perpetrating the abuse.

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If you are a Sefton resident and are experiencing domestic abuse or believe someone you know is support is available. Please see the different support services below:

Independent Domestic Violence Advisors Team

Free crisis specialist support for anyone 16+ experiencing domestic abuse, including practical help in safety planning for the whole family, support through the criminal justice system and advocacy support with other services.

Telephone: 0151 934 5142

Email: IDVA.Team@sefton.gov.uk – please note this is not a secure email address

Sefton Women’s and Children’s Aid

SWACA help women, young people and children survive the impact of domestic violence and abuse by giving free practical and emotional support.

Email: help@swaca.com

Phone: 0151 922 8606

Website: www.swaca.com

Venus

Venus work with women, families, children and young people and homeless adults in Sefton.

Phone: 0151 474 4744

Email: hello@venuscharity.org

Website: www.venuscharity.org

Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (RASA) Merseyside

RASA can provide:

  • essential crisis and therapeutic support to individuals of all ages who have been affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives.
  • specialised counselling, support and an Independent Sexual Violence Advocacy (ISVA service, which includes support through the Criminal Justice process.
  • the opportunity to give anonymous intelligence in relation to sexual violence if an individual does not want to make a formal complaint.
  • Helpline support is available:
    Tuesdays & Thursdays 6.00pm – 8.00pm
    Friday 12.00noon – 2.00pm

Phone: 0151 558 1801

Website: www.rasamerseyside.org

Email: sefton@rasamerseyside.org

National Domestic Violence Helpline

Free available 24hours a day 0808 2000 247

The Hideout
Provides online resource for children and young people living with domestic violence
www.thehideout.org.uk

SAFE Place Merseyside
This is a sexual assault referral centre
Tel : 0151 295 3550
www.safeplacemerseyside.org.uk

ManKind
Helping men escape from domestic abuse
Tel: 01823 334 244
http://new.mankind.org.uk

Respect Phoneline
Is a confidential and anonymous helpline for anyone concerned about their violence and/or abuse towards a partner or ex-partner. Freephone 0808 802 4040
www.respectphoneline.org.uk

 

NHS to offer Booster booking to every adult by end of December

The NHS vaccination programme will offer every adult the chance to book a covid-19 booster vaccine by the end of the year in a race to protect the nation against the Omicron variant.

As part of the biggest and fastest vaccine programme in health service history, online bookings are available for all those in their 30s and above from today.

The national booking service will then open up to everyone aged 18 and over from Wednesday this week.

The NHS is prioritising bookings for boosters and is urging people to book a slot to guarantee their vital jab. Some vaccination sites may offer a walk-in service for 18s and over  from tomorrow if they have spare capacity.

As the most complex and challenging phase of the rollout expands even further and faster, the NHS has asked every local area to dramatically increase the number of appointments they have in place for vaccinations.

Over the next week, opening hours for vaccine centres will be extended and every area of the country should have centres available that are open seven days a week.

More pop-up sites will be coming online with local areas looking at the most convenient sites for their communities – from trucks and buses in parks and shopping centres to sports stadiums and leisure centres.

There are already almost 3,000 sites across the country – more than at any point of the NHS covid-19 vaccination rollout. Even more new sites will go live throughout the week and dozens of new sites are available from today in the Midlands alone.

GP teams will be asked to clinically prioritise their services to free up maximal capacity to support the covid-19 vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care. This might mean that for some people, routine appointments are postponed as part of the national mission to roll out boosters.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive said: “NHS staff were already working incredibly hard to deliver covid vaccines as swiftly as possible but the threat posed by Omicron is grave.

“Scientists are very concerned about the spread of Omicron due to the speed with which it spreads and because two doses do not appear to provide much protection but thankfully, a booster dramatically improves this.

“That is why the Government have asked us to prioritise boosters over other routine care.

“I know NHS staff will again, do everything in our power to rise to this extraordinary challenge and ensure the covid-19 vaccination programme provides as much protection as possible as we prepare for a new wave of infections that could be even greater than those that have gone before.

“The online booking system is already open to millions of people and will shortly open to all adults – please don’t hesitate with your booking and get boosted now.”

Dr Emily Lawson, director of the NHS covid-19 vaccination programme said: “The NHS is turbo charging the booster vaccination programme so that as many adults in England as possible can top up their immunity against the virus quickly.

“We know that speed is of the essence and so we will take every opportunity to improve access to the jab, from pop up sites in the community, GP teams doing even more vaccines each day and new sites opening up across the country

“The best way to get your vaccine is by booking online or by calling 119 – please do keep checking availability as we load more appointments onto the system every day.”

Following the launch of a recruitment drive last week, the NHS is continuing to encourage people to come forward and help the NHS to save lives either as a volunteer or in a paid role in the programme.

NHS staff will also be redeployed so that they can focus on protecting the entire country as quickly as possible and military aid will be in place in every region across the country to support NHS staff with planning for the extra vaccinations.

Saturday was a record day for booster vaccines with 483,000 top ups reported in just one day and since the booster rollout started in September, more than 19 million doses have already been delivered in England.

NHS chiefs are urging people to not delay their booster and book their jab in the run up to the Christmas break.

The NHS has advised that the best way to get your booster quickly is by booking online or by calling 119 but if walk in centres have capacity to do so, they can vaccinate adults aged 18 and over immediately.

Residents in parts of South Sefton to have their say on bin collections in the new year

Sefton Council is to consult with areas of South Sefton in January on how their household waste and recycling waste is collected and how the Council can reduce fly-tipping and keep our streets clean.

The Council will be asking residents in parts of South Sefton who currently receive a sack collection to share their views on two proposed collection methods aimed at cleaner, safer streets.

Currently, many homes in the area have re-usable hessian sacks for their recycling, which are emptied weekly, while the rest of their household waste is collected in black non-reusable sacks.

However, waste sacks  left on the street for collection can cause local environmental issues. These can include increased litter on pavements and roads and encouraging fly-tipping and considering most bags contain food waste, attracting vermin.

After successful trials in local areas across the Borough, issuing each household with wheelie bins for each waste stream on an alternate weekly collection regime has seen an improvement in the local environment and has resulted in a noticeable reduction in litter and fly-tipping.

 

Cllr John Fairclough, Cabinet Member for Locality Services said:

“I am pleased to see our consultation ready to launch in the new year and I hope everyone who receives our letter takes part and has their say.

“We all want cleaner streets and the two proposals put forward address these issues and make for a safer, more hygienic collection and reduces flytipping in our Borough.

“I urge people to get involved and work with us to find cleaner, safer solutions that work for everyone.”

 

A letter will go to all affected homes in January with details on how to take part online or via phone.

Implementation of any new system will follow the consultation later in the year.

 

 

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