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Covid-19 ‘SMART’ Testing Helps Liverpool City Region Stay in Tier 2

SMART coronavirus testing’s successful roll-out to Sefton and the City Region, has helped the area stay in Tier 2 – and may help reduce restrictions further in the future.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today (Thursday 17th December) that Liverpool City Region would stay in the Government’s Tier 2.

The leaders of the six Liverpool City Region Local Authorities and Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, are urging people to continue coming forward for the rapid SMART testing as it is repeatedly testing people who have no symptoms in a targeted way which will have significant effect during the coming weeks and months as we strive to keep the spread of virus low.

Liverpool City Region is one of the few places not in Tier 3, where anyone can turn up for rapid, regular and free testing without having symptoms of Covid-19.

Sefton and the opther five City Region councils are taking part in the extended programme which aims to use targeted testing to enable people to live more normal lives.

In addition to identifying people with the virus, who could unknowingly pass it on, regular testing will hopefully allow residents to return to the things they love – and continue to miss as a result of national and local restrictions.

In Sefton, SMART COVID-19 testing for residents who DON’T have COVID-19 symptoms is now taking place 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.

“SMART” testing refers to Systematic, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated Testing, with the approach being based on the learning of the pilot in Liverpool which continues to inform how testing can be developed nationally.

Covid-19 infection rates have fallen across the city region’s 1.6 million people, now standing at around 100 per 100,000 people. At their peak in October rates were around 700 per 100,000.

Testing in this way does not mean that people should not continue to be vigilant, but the benefits of identifying those who are carrying the virus, without knowing, are already showing through.

In a joint statement today , Sefton Council leader, the Metro Mayor, Acting Mayor of Liverpool and Leaders of the other Local Authority Leaders, said: “When our region went from the highest tier into Tier 2 restrictions after the national lockdown ended, we said it was a vindication of the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the 1.6m people who live in our region.

“Today’s announcement that we are to continue in Tier 2 is a credit to all of those people that acted responsibly to help reduce our transmission rates. Now is not the time to be complacent.

“Tier 2 is not without restrictions, but it does mean that people are able to enjoy a more ordinary Christmas. We cannot afford to undo all the hard work and sacrifice that people have made over the past few weeks.

“It is really important that we remain vigilant, celebrate responsibly and safely, especially if we are to avoid more severe restrictions in the new year. So please keep following the advice, get tested and keep each other safe.

“Coronavirus is the worst present you can give anybody this Christmas, so please look out for each other.”

Director of Testing and Mass Vaccination for Cheshire & Merseyside, Terry Whalley, said: “SMART is a huge opportunity for the Liverpool City Region and I’ve no doubt that the unprecedented amount of testing we’ve been doing has helped us get the R down and allowed us to stay in Tier 2. We continue to lead the way on testing those without symptoms across the region.

“I believe that targeted repeat testing, two or three times a week, of certain groups of people can make a real difference to the way we live with Covid-19 as we continue to roll out an effective vaccine.

“We can make use of SMART to be as sure as possible that we are not carrying Covid-19 to the Christmas table or spreading it to our loved ones as we enjoy the festive period.

“Together, let’s keep proving that additional testing of those without symptoms can help protect lives and livelihoods, while of course still being careful to do the basics – hands, space, face.

“Look after your family and friends this Christmas and get tested to protect them and others now and into the new year.”

Find out more about SMART testing in Sefton.

Santa gets a SMART test

With a week to go until his busiest night of the year, even Santa Claus has found time to have a SMART test at one of Sefton’s testing centres for people without any Covid-19 symptoms.

He dropped by Bootle Leisure Centre to undergo the quick and simple test.

 

“These SMART tests are ideal for me,” said Santa.

“By taking one I found out in just 30 minutes that presents and happiness are all I’m going to be spreading over Christmas, but I’ll be back again to get another test very soon.

“I’ll still be social distancing, wearing a mask and cleaning my hands after every visit on Christmas Eve to ensure I can protect Mrs Claus and ensure all-round ‘elf’ when I get home to the workshop.

“Ho- Ho- Hope you will all follow in my footsteps, and if you haven’t got any Covid-19 symptoms, go to a SMART test centre to protect yourself and your family.”

Read the latest Christmas advice from Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones.

Remember, SMART tests for people with NO symptoms are available at three locations across Sefton:

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

You can find the SMART testing FAQs here. 

Community COVID-19 vaccination programme begins in Sefton

Sefton’s community based COVID-19 immunisation programme run by local GP practices began on Tuesday 15 December as the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history continues.

Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, GPs and other NHS staff from across Sefton are working together to vaccinate those aged 80 and over identified as a priority group. Primary care teams have been working rapidly to set up local vaccination centres and put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.

GP practices will be contacting their eligible patients when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.

Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport
Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport

Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport, who was the first to receive the vaccine said: “I phoned the surgery back up this morning because I thought it might have been just a dream. I was lucky to be the first one to get the vaccine.

“It’s a much bigger risk not to have the vaccination. The staff were really lovely and they made me feel at ease.

“I’ve been coping well but the news about the vaccine was brilliant and I’m glad I got it done.”

Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull,
Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull,

Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull, said: “I was delighted to get the vaccine.

“Getting it done was really straightforward. I’m looking forward to things getting back to normal.”

Charles McCoy
Charles McCoy, 83, from Maghull

Charles McCoy, 83, from Maghull, said: “I was glad to get the call. I told my boys and they said do it. Everyone who is offered should get the vaccine.

“The NHS has been fantastic through this and you can see people are working really hard to keep people safe. We should be thankful for the work they do.”

Southport GP, Dr Simon Tobin from Norwood Surgery, said: I’ve been absolutely thrilled at the uptake for the coronavirus vaccine. When we rang them, 99% of our most vulnerable patients jumped at the opportunity to have the vaccine and booked appointments immediately.

“I will be urging all our eligible patients (as well as my 84 year old father) to have the vaccine when they are offered it. They will be contacted by their own surgeries so please don’t ring them.

“Yesterday we gave many of the highest risk people in Southport the first of the two vaccinations. People were so excited and really appreciative. There was a real buzz at the vaccination centre.

“Many parts of the UK have not even started giving the vaccine yet – we’re ahead of the game.

“Our local NHS heroes have worked tirelessly to ensure that we get this vaccine out to those most at need. They deserve tremendous credit for their dedication and commitment to our population.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “A great deal of planning has gone on in recent weeks to get ready for the vaccination programme.

“This is an important step in our fight against coronavirus but it is vital to continue to protect yourself and others by following government guidance by washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.”

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Your NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. All eligible patients will be contacted direct when it is their turn, with an invitation to attend a vaccination appointment and details of where to go.

“It is fantastic that we are able to start delivering vaccinations in local community settings and we would like to thank the teams of primary care colleagues who are working to make this happen.”

The vaccine currently being used (Pfizer/BioNTech) has very specific storage and transportation requirements, so the initial focus from this week will be those 80 years of age and over who can visit a centre in person.

Housebound patients and care home residents will be vaccinated as soon as this is possible.

Sefton’s community COVID-19 vaccination centres are being run by groups of practices, known as primary care networks, working together with NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG.

Community based primary care centres are in addition to hospital hubs, which began vaccinating patients on Tuesday 8 December.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine, including answers to a range of frequently asked questions. 

If you need help with coronavirus symptoms, please visit: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

Father Christmas flies by to support Sefton Mayor’s Toy Appeal

A very special visitor stopped by from the North Pole this week to check in on the Mayor of Sefton’s Christmas Toy Appeal.

Taking time out of his busy schedule, Father Christmas helped to deliver toys collected by Litherland Youth and Community Centre, who have supported the appeal for many years.

Fifteen sacks of gifts were delivered to Bootle Town Hall from the club, which will be distributed to children across the Borough in time for Christmas Day.

Mayor and Youth Centre Staff, alongside Father Christmas
Mayor and Youth Centre Staff, alongside Father Christmas

Cllr June Burns, Mayor of Sefton, said: “It really has been quite overwhelming but utterly joyous to see the amount of support we’ve received from the entire Borough for this year’s appeal. People have continued to show their kindness, giving what they can for others, to ensure that everyone has a special Christmas this year.

“Father Christmas was so impressed by the whole of Sefton’s efforts so far, and he asked me to pass on his thanks to each and every person, business and community group, like the amazing Litherland Youth and Community Centre, who have contributed this year. It’s shaping up to be the best year ever for donations, so I would like to echo that thanks as well – we really couldn’t do this without your support!”

Earlier this week, the Mayor of Sefton received a cheque for £2,048 from this year’s online crowdfunding effort, as well as contributions from local community groups and businesses. Volunteers will use the donations to buy a range of toys and gifts for teenagers, children and toddlers to enjoy this Christmas.

Mayor and Joe with the cheque
Mayor and Joe with the cheque

Joe Farrell, an Early Help School Attendance Officer from the Council, delivered the cheque to the Mayor and is just one of many volunteers who will be helping to sort gifts and support the safe delivery of them to families around Sefton.

In his spare time, Joe who is a keen angler, has raised more than £2,500 through his own fundraising efforts. He has donated £1,500 to the toy appeal and will be supporting other Sefton community causes with the rest of the funds.

Joe Farrell said: “I’m inspired each year by the hard work and dedication of my colleagues and fellow volunteers who support the Mayor’s Christmas Toy Appeal.

“This year, fearing a possible shortfall in funds and restrictions putting a stop to some of our usual fundraising events, I felt I had to go the extra mile to support the appeal. Together with the support of my fishing community online as well as friendship circles and sponsors, I have been able to successfully raise over £2,500 to date.

“I have donated £1,500 into the toy appeal already and I am going to support the fantastic work of some of our community organisations across Sefton with the remainder of my fundraising.”

Donations continue to be shared, with special thanks to St Robert Bellarmine Catholic Primary and Birkdale High School, who have shared toys and gifts with the appeal this year.

Another local fundraising hero, trainee doctor Lucy Wright from Birkdale, has raised £500 by selling her homemade cakes. The former Greenbank High School student has purchased gifts from the proceeds of the cake sales, which will now go to the appeal and put smiles on the faces of many children this Christmas.

A table of baked cakes
Lucy’s home baking

New and unwrapped toys, gift vouchers, toiletries, pyjamas and stocking fillers for all ages, are still welcomed as part of the appeal. Items can be donated in the following ways:

  • Dropped off at the in-store donation point at Asda Central 12 in Southport
  • Dropped off at libraries and leisure centres (opening hours may be varied so people should check before making a drop off)

People need to drop off their donations by Tuesday 22nd December 2020, in time for them to be sent out for Christmas Day.

Eight ideas to build Bootle back better

The Bootle Festival of Ideas, backed by Sefton Council, gave residents a chance to develop ideas and win a share of a starter-grant.

Over the course of six events, 161 people attended the Bootle Festival of Ideas. 74 of them online and 87 in-person. Through the festival 98 ideas were submitted on how to build Bootle back better. From this, eight promising ideas, that will have a local impact, have emerged and are set to receive a starter-grant to get things going.

The eight ideas are: Adventure Boxes, Meda Brewing, Mosaic Motivation, Made In Bootle, Bee’s Bench, Bootle Zine Library, A helping Hand, and A Carnival Community.

Each finalist was supported by mentors to produce a poster which gives an elevator pitch of what the idea is, and what else they might need to make it happen.

Now each idea will receive a portion of the starter-grant pot, as well as on-going support from Make CIC, Kindred and Sefton Council to develop their ideas further and bring them into reality.

Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “The Festival of Ideas was 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.  I’m delighted so many wonderful ideas have been brought forward, further enhancing Sefton’s reputation as a borough of ideas and innovation.”

Liam Kelly, who is Make CIC’s CEO and LCR Town Centre and Land Commissioner for Metro Mayor, said: “It’s brilliant to see eight ideas emerge from the festival. 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year to run a programme like this, but despite the pandemic we managed to gather nearly 100 ideas and engage 161 people.

“Supporting and funding local people to bring forward ideas on how to make change happen is something we looked at on the LCR Town Centre Commission. Towns do need big capital investment, but they also desperately need investment in people. People who live, work and play in town centres have the solutions, they just need the means and support.”

Bernadette Colligan, who idea Bee’s Bench is receiving a starter-grant, said: “The festival gave us space to discuss ideas, collaborate and network with one another and imagine how our ideas could make a difference in Bootle. It showed the importance of having community at the heart of every idea and I am so excited to chat to everyone about making Bootle a more accessible and age friendly place through my bench project”

 

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