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It has never been easier to get a COVID-19 test across Sefton and the Region

With the roll-out of 17 new semi-permanent Local Testing Sites in the last six weeks across Cheshire and Merseyside, the ability to book and get a local test for Covid-19 in has never been better.

Sefton now has four of these walk-through sites, at Bootle Town Hall, Crosby Library Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall.

Open from 8am to 8pm, walk through centres provide easy access to COVID-19 tests for people with coronavirus symptoms who do not have access to a car and for those who have coronavirus symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

People can book appointments, if they have symptoms, at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

There is also a fleet of nine Mobile Testing Units which are deployed across Cheshire and Merseyside to help in priority areas and where there are specific outbreaks. Sefton has had Mobile Units at various locations on most days since the start of July.

As the Liverpool City Region moved into Tier 3 restrictions; the prevalence of the virus meant that more people are experiencing symptoms need to be tested.  More capacity across the national laboratories has also come on-line meaning it is much easier to book an appointment for a test than ever before.

Testing Director for Cheshire and Merseyside, Terry Whalley said: “We now have more facilities and more lab capacity to enable anyone with symptoms to seek a test.

“We have worked extremely hard with partners, including local councils, laboratories and NHS Trusts to ensure that we have the infrastructure and capacity we need in Cheshire and Merseyside as we see a second surge of Covid-19.

“It is vital that people, who have symptoms, get a test and then ensure they strictly adhere to the self-isolation advice if they prove to be positive. Testing helps identify those who are carrying the disease and helps to stop the spread of the virus to others.

“Our ability to offer more routes to access testing will help us protect lives and protect livelihoods by ensuring we are able to do more testing every day.”

Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus  or by calling 119 to find out if they currently have coronavirus.

Huge response confirms need for Sefton Council’s free school meals scheme

On the second day of the scheme, Sefton Council is already dealing with thousands of applications for its October half term free school meals vouchers.

Sefton Council announced it would be running the scheme following Government’s decision not to provide free school meals during the current holiday. It has teamed up with ASDA to provide vouchers that families who qualify for free school meals can use to buy food.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “The response to our scheme has been huge and shows exactly why Sefton Council needed to step in swiftly and set up this scheme in partnership with ASDA.

“We have had thousands of applications already and are now working hard to process them as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Hardy has thanked Sefton’s local businesses and voluntary organisations who are providing packed lunches, food hampers and meals to local families.

“They are proving that together we are a Stronger community,” she said.

Details of the half term school meals scheme can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/half-term-meals.

Families who qualify for free school meals but don’t have Internet access can get printed vouchers from the Borough’s Family Wellbeing Centres. And those families who do not currently receive free school meals can visit www.sefton.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals to find out if they are eligible and how to apply.

Cllr Hardy added: “Free school meals have been shown to improve health and help tackle health inequalities, as well as removing the poverty trap faced by parents trying to move into employment. That is why, with so many families being affected by coronavirus and the Government’s Tier 3 COVID restrictions, it was vital for the Council to set up this local scheme.

Sefton Council rolls out cloud-based Contact Centre to support communities through pandemic

Sefton Council has worked with a cloud-based software provider to help improve its customer service and support people across the borough throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdown measures introduced in March this year meant the Council’s customer service Contact Centre had to be moved online to allow staff to continue providing support while working safely from home.

The Council had to act quickly to enable Contact Centre teams to work remotely while maintaining vital services to local people, and it selected a cloud-based platform from communications provider 8×8.

Within ten days, the new ‘cloud contact centre’ was up and running and 40 work-from-home Contact Centre workers began taking and making calls. This enabled vital council services to continue and meant people who were shielding across Sefton could access much-needed support.

Call Centre teams can now work remotely thanks to the new cloud-based software.

James Aldred, Sefton Council Procurement Manager, said: “I remember arriving at 7 am to an email that said we needed to create a virtual contact centre, immediately. Within hours, the project team found the right solution and got a deal together which fully met our needs.”

Mark Quillan, Sefton Council Customer Service Manager, added: “8×8 did all they could to make this a positive experience for us and it took just ten days to set up the cloud contact centre. Moving to this technology meant we could get our team working from home taking calls right away, with chat, email and secure payment capabilities soon to follow.”

Paulette Lappin, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory, Compliance and Corporate Services, said: “COVID-19 has created huge challenges for the public sector but it has also presented a moment to rethink and transform specific services. The ‘new normal’ calls for extra safety, greater agility and enhanced services for our residents, business and visitors, which we’ve achieved with 8×8.”

Jamie Snaddon, Managing Director, EMEA at 8×8, said: “We are extremely proud to be helping Sefton Council transform

How to apply for free school meals in Sefton during October 2020 half term

Families who live in Sefton and Knowsley whose children attend school in Sefton and who receive free school meals, can now apply for meal vouchers for the October 2020 half term.

To apply for e-vouchers fill out the form with their name, address, telephone number and email address and their children’s names, schools and dates of birth.

You can find the form here. 

The e-vouchers can be printed off or downloaded to a mobile phone and used in-store at any ASDA branch or used online at www.asda.com to buy food. The vouchers cannot be used to buy alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, phone top ups or stamps.

You can find out more about the scheme here.

Families who live in Sefton and Knowsley whose children attend school in Sefton and who receive free school meals, but who do not have access to e-mail can collect printed vouchers from a Family Wellbeing Centres. They need to phone to make an appointment and will need to wear a mask or face covering and remember to maintain space when they visit.

Sefton’s Family Wellbeing Centres are:

North Sefton

Linaker Family Wellbeing Centre
Linaker Street
Southport
PR8 5DQ
Tel: 0151 2886765

Farnborough Road
Birkdale
PR8 3DF
01704 572579

Talbot Street Family Wellbeing Centre
St Andrews Place
Southport
PR8 1HR
01704 534975

Formby Library and Family Wellbeing Centre
Duke Street
Formby
L37 4AN
0151 934 2063

Central Sefton

Netherton Family Wellbeing Centre
Magdalen Square
Netherton
Bootle
L30 5QH
0151 282 1405

Hudson Family Wellbeing Centre
Moorhey Road
Maghull
L31 5LE
0151 531 0117

Thornton Family Wellbeing Centre
Stannyfield Drive
Thornton
L23 1TY
0151 934 4991

Menai Family Wellbeing Centre
Menai Road
Bootle
L20 6PG
0151 288 6055

Litherland Family Wellbeing Centre
Boundary Road
Litherland
L21 7LA
0151 288 6661

South Sefton

Cambridge Family Wellbeing Centre
Cambridge Road
Bootle
L20 9LQ
0151 282 5436

Seaforth Family Wellbeing Centre
39 Caradoc Road
Seaforth
L21 4NB
0151 286 7807

Marie Clarke Family Wellbeing Centre
Linacre Lane
Bootle
L20 5AQ
0151 330 5260

Waterloo Family Wellbeing Centre
Waterloo Primary School
Crosby Road North
Waterloo
L22 0LD
0151 928 6539

People who do not have an e-mail address and who cannot get to a Family Wellbeing Centre can ring Sefton Council’s Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845 from 8m to 6pm Monday to Friday and between 10am and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you do not currently receive free school meals, you can find out if you are eligible and how to apply here.

Sefton residents are eligible for free school meals if they receive:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit ONLY (not entitled/receiving Working Tax Credit) and have an income of less that £16190.00
  • Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (paid for the four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit and have a net household income of less than £7400 per annum
  • Support under VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act

Announcing the scheme, Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “Sefton Council is putting in place a scheme to support children and their families accessing free school meals in the borough during this half term. We will be sharing more information on how to access the scheme as soon as possible.

“We will also continue to provide additional funding and support to our local voluntary sector partners, including the local food banks who are well stocked to enable them to help some of Sefton’s hardest hit families during these difficult times.

“Our family wellbeing centres in Talbot Street (Southport), Marie Clarke (Bootle) and Netherton also remain open to families who need their support during half-term. We have also increased the funding available to our Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme, and would encourage anyone in Sefton who may need extra support at this time to contact the council on 0345 140 0845.”

Cllr Hardy added: “I would also like to express my sincere thanks to local businesses in Sefton, and our voluntary organisations, who  have once again come out in support of their local communities and have offered to provide packed lunches, food hampers and meals to struggling families. They have proven that Together We Are A Stronger Community”

Find out about Sefton’s October half term free meals scheme here.

Council is encouraging Borough’s entries for 2020 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards

Sefton Council is encouraging the Borough’s artists as well as arts organisations and other community groups to get their nominations in for the 2020 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards.

Due to be announced in February 2021, the Awards will celebrate Liverpool City Region’s thriving culture and creativity, even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Awards will recognise arts and cultural events, and innovation and creative activity, which has taken place within the Liverpool City Region between 1st April 2019 and 12th November 2020. Nominations can be completed online and the closing date for entries is Friday 13th November 2020.

Nominations for the Awards can include individuals, organisations, businesses, groups or partnerships that have ‘demonstrated outstanding creative achievement through cultural activity at a local, Borough or Liverpool City Region level’.

Categories include Artist of the Year, Arts Organisation of the Year, Student Inspiration and special Covid-19 Creative Response awards for individuals and organisations. And, there is a Borough of Culture ‘Star of the Year’ Award to celebrate an individual or organisation that has made a significant contribution to Sefton’s Borough of Culture 20202 celebrations.

Find out more about the 2020 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards, the categories and the nominations process. 

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council and Culture, Tourism and The Visitor Economy Portfolio holder for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said: “Our Borough has a wealth of individuals and organisations involved in the arts and is a hotbed of creativity. We want to see that reflected in the entry for these prestigious City Region Culture and Creativity Awards.

“The Awards are for any creative activity that brings people together within their communities. They can be real or virtual and can include voluntary and community based social activity, creative approaches by businesses and researchers and those involved in the creation and delivery of professional arts and cultural events and performances.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on every aspect of our lives including the arts and our own Borough of Culture 2020 celebrations have been affected but I have seen huge levels of creativity despite the restrictions and these Awards with the special categories will celebrate that innovation.”

Cllr Maher also highlighted the fact that the period covered by the Awards starts from 1st April 2019, before anyone had heard of COVID-19.

Cllr Trish Hardy Sefton Council’s main Borough of Culture sponsor said: “These have been unprecedented times that have affected our Borough of Culture celebrations but we saw an unprecedentedly creative response from everyone involved.

“When the COVID-19 restrictions hit, individuals and organisations behind the planned Borough of Culture 2020 reacted swiftly. They adapted their projects and made them digital so that people could enjoy them and take part in the activities online, through home-based activities or even by post.

“Local people were able to enjoy and take part in online comedy and bingo create an origami squirrel and take part in a photography competition. ‘Playing In’ packs were delivered to vulnerable families along with food parcels, older people created memory boxes and we are marking the whole year by burying a time capsule.

“The 2020 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards and particularly the Borough of Culture ‘Star of the Year’ category, are an ideal way to recognise this adaptability and determination to deliver projects that have helped lift local people’s spirits and provided fun things for people of all ages to do.”

Find out more about the 2020 Liverpool City Region Culture and Creativity Awards, the categories and the nominations process. 

Finalists will be announced on Monday 5th January 2021 and the Liverpool City Region community will be able to vote for their chosen winner for the People’s Choice Award.

The Awards ceremony, which will be a digital event with presenters still to be announced, will take place on Friday 19th February 2021.

Finalists will be chosen from a panel of judges including Cultural Partnership Co-Chairs, Phil Redmond and Maggie O’ Carroll, Michelle Charters the CEO of Kuumba Imani, Alastair Machray, Editor in Chief, Reach PLC Merseyside and North Wales, Claire McColgan, Director of Culture Liverpool and Dinah Birch, Pro Vice Chancellor for Cultural Engagement, University of Liverpool.

Promotion and use of art and creativity can include but is not limited to the following art forms:

  • Performing Arts (including: Theatre, Dance, Music, Poetry, Opera)
  • Visual Arts (including design and public art)
  • Digital and VR
  • Photography
  • Film and broadcast media
  • Literature (including comedy and comics)
  • Museums, Galleries and Heritage
  • Sculpture
  • Craft
  • Technology

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