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Living Well’ bus service returning to Sefton on 10th, 14th & 22nd February offering COVID-19 vaccinations and free health checks

Decorative graphicThe ‘Living Well’ bus service is returning to Bootle and Southport to offer residents COVID-19 vaccines and free physical health checks.

No appointment needed

The bus will be at the following locations from 10:30am-4pm, with no appointment needed:

  • Friday 10th February – Former H Samuel Unit, Strand Shopping Centre, 73 The Hexagon, Bootle, L20 4SZ
  • Tuesday 14th February – Park Hotel, 36 Weld Road, Birkdale, Southport, PR8 2ED
  • Wednesday 22nd February – Shopping area on Chapel Street, Southport, PR8 1BZ

Decorative graphicWhen the service visits Bootle on Friday 10th February, those eligible will be able to get their autumn booster before the programme ends on Sunday 12th February.

In Southport on Tuesday 14th and Wednesday 22nd February, first, second and third doses for those who are immunosuppressed of the COVID-19 vaccine will be on offer for anyone who has missed them.

Free health checks

Free holistic health checks will also be available to residents aged 18 and over. These include a pulse check and blood pressure check, cholesterol and blood glucose check and a BMI check. NHS health checks are designed to spot early signs of stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia.

Decorative graphicJan Leonard, primary care lead for Sefton at NHS Cheshire and Merseyside said: “I would urge anyone who is eligible for the autumn booster and hasn’t yet taken up the offer to visit the ‘Living Well’ service in Bootle on Friday 10 February to get protected. The booster offers the best protection against serious illness from COVID-19.

“I would also urge people to take up the offer of a free health check from the Living Well service – what better time than Valentines Day to look after your heart and take steps to protect your health and wellbeing.”

You can find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine, who is eligible, and to book an appointment online or find other walk-in vaccination sites on the NHS website.


Sefton Council’s Director of Children’s Services announces resignation

Martin Birch
Martin Birch

Martin Birch, Director of Sefton Council’s Children’s Services, has tendered his resignation.  Martin is expected to leave Sefton in April, although exact dates are to be confirmed.


The Council’s Employment Procedure Committee will now meet to determine the timeline and agree the approach to recruiting a new Director of Children’s Services, which includes any interim arrangements that may need to be made, as the role of Director of Children’s Services is a statutory role that councils must have.

Martin’s resignation was not at the Council’s request but was for personal reasons. Martin has accepted an offer to become the DCS for Cumberland, closer to home, with less travel involved.

Martin joined Sefton in April 2022, just after the Ofsted inspection which rated Sefton’s Children’s Services as Inadequate. Since then, a great deal of hard work has gone in to putting into place an improvement plan, enhancing leadership capacity, mitigating the local impact of the national social worker recruitment crisis by creating the first Social Work academy in Merseyside and increasing the resourcing of Children’s Services.

Unprecedented and challenging time

Sefton Council Chief Executive, Dwayne Johnson, said: “I would like to thank Martin for the work he has done since he joined the council last year and wish him the best of luck in his new role.

“Martin has led Children’s Services during an unprecedented and challenging time, but thanks to Martin and his dedicated staff, and the Council’s significant financial investment into Children’s Services, improvements continue to be made at pace.

“We are delighted to announce Risthardh Hare, our current Assistant Director (Health and Protection), will be stepping up in to the interim Director of Children’s Services role while the recruitment process is underway. We have every confidence that Risthardh’s experience in other leadership roles will maintain a relentless focus on practice whilst serving as our Interim DCS.

 “We have informed the Commissioner, Paul Boyce, of Martin’s resignation.”


Southport Crisis Café saves Sefton woman’s life after suicide attempt

Sefton resident BrittneySefton resident Brittney, who suffers with severe depressive episodes, is reaching out to thank the team at a mental health support service in Southport, crediting them for saving her life after she had experienced suicidal thoughts earlier this year.

Low point

Brittney lives in Southport and says that she had hit a really low point while struggling with poor mental health. On one evening in particular she was suffering from very strong suicidal thoughts and had taken steps to harm herself. Fearing the worst, she decided to visit the Sefton Crisis Cafe in Southport – a local mental health support service – to find help.

A support worker at the Crisis Cafe sought immediate help for Brittney, giving her emergency assistance to de-escalate the crisis situation she was in, preventing her from taking her own life and supporting her to get back to a safer mental state.


Brittney said: “I was in such a low place and I didn’t see a way out, I didn’t want to be here any more. As dramatic as it might sound, I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for the support of the Crisis Cafe.

“The support that they offer seems so real and genuine… the consistent support here helped me get through that really difficult time.”

Watch Brittney share her story below.


With locations in both Southport and Crosby, the Sefton Crisis Cafe service continued to offer Brittney out-of-hours support for her mental health conditions and has been there to help her on numerous occasions when she has found herself in crisis. She says that the service has also helped her build her resilience and develop coping strategies for when she feels low, as well as helping her get through more difficult times when she feels she cannot cope on her own.

Brittney continued: “I think now, as soon as I know I’m having a bad day, I reach out for their support and I wouldn’t leave things until they get as low as they did.

“It is a much needed service. From my own experiences, A&E is not always the most appropriate support or environment for people in crisis like me. Whereas here they’ve got staff on hand to step in and offer that emotional support immediately.”

Social activities

Brittney continues to visit the Crisis Cafe in Southport during their opening hours on Friday to Sunday evenings, to get one to one support, chat with staff and volunteers over a cup of tea, as well as taking part in social activities such as board games. She has found that the combination of talking therapy and group activities has really helped to improve her mental health.

Brittney has thanked the staff at the Crisis Cafe for saving her life and giving her ongoing care, saying: “I think, genuinely, it’s probably been the best service I’ve ever been to for support, and I couldn’t mean that more… they’ve made such a difference.

She said: “For me personally, the Crisis Cafe means somewhere I can go if I’m struggling, and I know I’ll get help.”

Reach out

Sherran Robb, manager of the Sefton Crisis Cafes, said: “Thank you to Brittney for bravely sharing her story so that others know they are not alone in suffering from depression and poor mental health. Brittney and all of our staff would like to encourage anyone who is suffering with their mental health to come along to the Sefton Crisis Cafes or reach out to our team.

“Many local organisations have worked together in partnership to provide the Crisis Cafe service for Sefton, and to know that we have saved the life of one of our residents is testament to how essential this service is for those in a mental health crisis.”

Crosby and Southport

The Sefton Crisis Cafes are based in Crosby and Southport, and offer out of hours support to anyone aged 18 years or over in Sefton experiencing a mental health crisis. They offer drop-in sessions from 5pm to 11pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings to give local residents a place of safety as an alternative to A&E.

The service also offers a social space with refreshments and one to one support to reduce stress and help manage crisis situations, as well as support via phone, email or online Zoom calls.

The Sefton Crisis Cafe service was set up thanks to the local NHS in Sefton, Sefton Council, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and local community groups; Sefton CVS and Parenting 2000.

You can find out more about Sefton’s Crisis Cafes here.

Or you can get in touch with the team by emailing or calling 0300 323 0197.

Also, further information on mental health and wellbeing support and services in Sefton can be found by following #SeftonInMind on social media.


Sefton historian takes deep dive in Southport’s Napoleon legend

Emperor Napoleon III

Sefton Council historians are working hard to get to the bottom of a 170 year-old legend involving a French Emperor and his supposed love of Southport.

Prince Louis Napoleon

As the local authority continues to work on incredible plans for its Les Transformations de Southport scheme and the Southport Townscape Heritage Project, historians have been delving deep into a legendary tale which suggests the famous boulevards of Paris were inspired by Prince Louis Napoleon III’s experiences of Lord Street in Southport.

On the 150th anniversary of Napoleon III’s passing, Sefton Council’s Heritage officer Sue Latimer has published her latest findings in an ongoing investigation into the well-known legend.

Striking resemblance

Sue argues the similarities between Southport’s wide, tree-lined Lord Street and the boulevards of Paris cannot be ignored.

She said: “There is no doubt the splendour of Victorian and Edwardian era Southport and Napoleon III’s Paris bear a striking resemblance, especially the iconic Champs Elysées.

“It is this similarity which has led to the belief that Prince Louis Napoleon III, during his mid-1800s exile in England, was inspired and awestruck by the town, in particular Lord Street’s airy width.

“We know that on his eventual return to France, he worked with a renowned architect to redesign Paris into the tree lined boulevard style that is famous around the world and many cannot help but wonder just where he got his inspiration from!”

Townscape Heritage

Sue works on Sefton Council’s Southport Townscape Heritage Project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which is supporting the regeneration of a number of historic properties in the town centre.

The Townscape Heritage project focuses on four streets connecting Lord Street and the Promenade – Coronation Walk, Scarisbrick Avenue, Nevill Street and Bold Street.

Within this small area, you’ll find buildings representing every aspect of Southport’s history and its wildly varied architecture.

There are large hotels and small cottages, later turned into shops; art deco and mock-Tudor styles; verandas and monuments.

Key buildings are eligible for grant-aid to refurbish and restore their historic features, benefiting both their commercial potential and enhancing the streetscape.

Recently works were completed on the refurbishment of 509-515 Lord Street to reinstate the shop fronts and create new flats above, thanks to funding from the project.

Les Transformations de Southport

The work of the team compliments the ongoing Les Transformations de Southport scheme, which is designed to support Southport’s return to the grandeur of Victorian England by focusing on improving physical connections and routes across the town centre.

Sue continued: “There’re no prizes for guessing what inspired the ‘Les Transformations…’ name.

“Historians have found documents stretching back over a century which support the story – one even claims Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte rented a property on Lord Street itself, while other records confirm the eventual Emperor of France visited Lancashire and was friends with the Gerard family who were well known in Southport.

“While we continue to look for more evidence, there is one undeniable truth – Southport’s splendour is up there with the world’s best.”

Find out more about the Napoleon connection by reading  Sue’s fascinating investigation here.

Make 2023 the year you do something amazing – foster with Sefton and build a connection to last a lifetime.

As we make plans for the year ahead, could 2023 be the year you become a foster carer?  Sefton Council is urging local people to think about giving a loving home that can help children grow and connect.

Make a Connection

There are many different reasons why a child may come into Sefton’s care and this experience can be traumatic for them. With your help, having that caring connection can make a child feel safe, loved, and help them to turn their life around.

Lauren’s Story

Lauren is a student social worker with Sefton’s Fostering Service. She has also lived with her foster family since she was eight years old.

Lauren said: “Unfortunately there was drug and alcohol misuse in my birth family’s home so being in foster care really changed my life. I’m so close with my foster parents and foster brother and sister. It’s just like being in a normal family.

Laughing she added: “I’m still there at 21 so they’re not getting rid of me that easily.”

Lauren went on: “Being in a loving foster family has given me the motivation and stability to go to Uni and follow my dreams. Now I love what I do. I’m giving back, I can relate to the children and know what a foster home should look like.

“Anyone thinking about fostering should find out more. It’s such a good feeling to give back and I also know the amazing impact it can have on a child’s life.

In this short video, Lauren shares some of her experiences. 

More of a Need than Ever Before

Councillor Mhairi Doyle, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Social Care said: “There is now more of a need to recruit new carers than ever before. Nationally there is a shortage and our capacity in Sefton is full. We need to recruit a least 15 more carers by the end of this year to offer suitable homes for our cared for children.

“At this time of year some people are evaluating their lives and thinking about changes for the future. Sefton’s Foster Carers are paid for their skills, receive full training and support, plus allowances.

I urge anyone who has thought about becoming a foster carer to take this opportunity to find out more and see whether giving this vital support is for them.”

Meet our Friendly Team

Thinking about fostering? Find out more by meeting our friendly team, Sefton’s foster carers, and young people at the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle,

Tuesday 17th – Friday 20th January 9.30 – 4.30pm. More details here. 

You can also visit Sefton’s dedicated Fostering website. 

And you can also speak to one of the team by calling our freephone number on 0800 923 2777 or email

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