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How a shared love of animals is helping people connect during Year of Friendship

Anyone who has cared for an animal knows the difference they can make to our lives, whether it’s by bringing us companionship, helping us get out in to the great outdoors more or encouraging us to connect with others.

Throughout the Year of Friendship 2019, Sefton Council and its partners are celebrating groups, individuals and organisations who help foster friendship throughout the borough.

For April, we are shining a light on some of the special relationships that exist between animals and humans across Sefton, and those who benefit from having animal companions in their lives.

Freshfields Animal Rescue is a beloved local charity based in Ince Blundell that cares for abandoned, abused and unwanted domestic and small farm animals, along with sick and injured wildlife. Each year they rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of animals thanks to generous donations from the public and the dedicated work of a committed team of staff and volunteers.

Yet as well as helping their residents flourish and recover, the work they carry out has helped build a network of like-mined volunteers who have bonded over a shared love of animals and who enjoy a “tight-knit” camaraderie of their own.

Naomi Clarke, Community Fundraiser at Freshfields Animal Rescue, said: “It’s well document that with regards to mental health and wellbeing there is a unanimous friendship between animals and humans.

“The friendships that animals bring are so worthwhile. I see the relationships all the time between people and animals here at Freshfields – staff have adopted animals and the difference it’s made to both the animal and the person is huge.

“We’ve got a lot of volunteers that have a real camaraderie between them too. They embrace friendship, they do a lot of things together and they encourage other people to join in as well. They bring their own network of people to come and take part.

“It’s a real tight knit of people at Freshfields and when you see some of the cases that come in and some of the situations that arise, it shows how valuable those friendships are. People here are all striving for the same good – everything we do here is for the benefit of the animals, and that is one thing that everybody’s got in common.”

There are many ways you can get involved with Freshfields Animal Rescue, from fundraising to fostering and helping out at the centre. It’s a brilliant opportunity to make new friends, both human and furry, so why not check out their website and see how you can get involved:

Freshfields Animal Rescue also has a number of events coming up this year, including a sponsored firewalk and a sponsored abseil down Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, and are looking for people to take part. Click this link to find out more and see how you can help:

Video produced by Sefton Council. Still image courtesy of Freshfields Animal Rescue.

Come along to charity quizzes to raise money for Freshfields Animal Rescue

Much-loved Sefton charity Freshfields Animal Rescue is hosting a series of pub quizzes to raise money for the many abandoned, abused and unwanted animals in its care.

Taking place at a number of venues throughout the borough during April, the quizzes are a great opportunity to raise much-needed funds for the charity whilst also having a fantastic night out.

2019 is Sefton’s Year of Friendship, and April’s theme is ‘Pet Ownership’, so why not go along and support a very worthwhile charity that is right on our doorstep?

The quizzes will be held at:

  • Friday, April 5 at 7.30pm  – Crosby Lakeside Bistro, Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre, Crosby Coastal Park, Cambridge Rd, Waterloo
  • Tuesday, April 9 at 9pm – The Bay Horse, Church Road, Formby
  • Friday, April 12 at 9pm – The Freshfield, Massams Lane, Formby
  • Wednesday, April 17 at 8pm – Kokomo coffee and wine bar, 6 Bold St, Southport

There is a fantastic array of prizes on offer, including:

  • Meal for two with wine at Crosby Lakeside Bar & Bistro
  • Two tickets for Southport Flower Show
  • £25 voucher for Southport Pleasureland
  • Meal for two at The Fisherman’s Rest in Southport
  • Family ticket for a Continuum Attractions venue
  • Meal for two at Bistrot Pierre in Southport
  • Two tickets for ‘The Wedding Singer’ musical at The Little Theatre in Southport
  • Group session at Breakout Liverpool Escape Room
  • Afternoon tea for two at The Royal Clifton Hotel & Spa in Southport

All money raised will go towards helping the animals at Freshfields Animal Rescue.

To find out more about the events visit

To find out more about Freshfield Animal Rescue visit

Little Squirrels in Formby, honoured for changing the lives of children with speech and language difficulties

Little Squirrels at Redgate Community Primary School, has been highly commended in the Early Years Setting of the Year category for their excellent work developing children’s communication skills at the UK-wide 2019 Shine a Light Awards organised by learning company Pearson, in partnership with The Communication Trust.

The Shine a Light Awards, which took place at Pearson’s headquarters in London, celebrate innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s speech, language and communication development. They also recognise the hard work and determination of children and young people who have some form of long-term and persistent speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).

Language and communication abilities in the area have historically been of concern and in response to this, Redgate Community Primary School developed their own nursery provision, Little Squirrels, recognising the vital importance of early intervention. Two years on and due to their outstanding work in speech and language development, children are  achieving great heights!

Thanks to the early years team, which comprises of specialist trained language champions and teachers, Little Squirrels has become a sought-after early years provision. With children being assessed during home visits, transition visits and on starting nursery and reception, all children are offered appropriate support from the outset with the early years provision itself providing an environment that ensures all children make progress. Little Squirrels at Redgate has even been awarded ELKLAN’s Communication Friendly Setting accreditation.

Thinking outside of the box using different strategies and ideas, children at the early years provision develop their skills in a fun and interactive way with staff also dedicating time and resource to support parents and carers. Together with providing informative posters on how they can support their children’s learning and communication development, the team sets special family learning challenges such as trips to the local beach.

Louise Dean, Early Years Lead from Little Squirrels at Redgate Community Primary School said: “We are thrilled and honoured to be awarded highly commended for the Shine a Light Early Years Setting of the Year Award. A child’s earliest years are a crucial stage in their language and communication development, and so our early years team are dedicated to ensuring that our youngest learners are equipped with the language and communication skills they need to become successful lifelong learners and skillful communicators. Winning this award has empowered our team to truly believe that our child centered ethos, along with skillful interactions from adults is having a positive impact on the lives of our children.”

Sally Phillips, Host of the 2019 Shine a Light Awards, said: “Little Squirrels at Redgate Community Primary School provides fantastic childcare. As a nation, it is vital that we ensure that all children have the opportunity to express themselves, particularly when this ability has a profound impact on our future life chances.

“The amazing winners and highly commended finalists of the Shine a Light Awards prove what a difference we can make if we become informed, impassioned and engaged in the speech language and communication needs of those around us. Little Squirrels at Redgate isn’t just changing the lives of their children in their community but also across the UK. I have seen for myself the huge difference expert intervention and support provides for children, like my son, Olly, particularly at a time where we face a nationwide shortage of speech and language therapists.”

For further information about the Shine a Light winners and highly-commended finalists, visit and follow us on Twitter #awards_SAL.

Roll-out of new 24/7 £1 Mersey Tunnel toll begins

Today is the first day Liverpool City Region residents will benefit from the new  24/7  £1 Fast Tag toll for the Mersey Tunnels. The reduced rate is now available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Figures released today by Merseytravel and the Combined Authority reveal that more than 57,000 people a day in the city region will benefit from the new lower toll – which could save regular tunnel users living in Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral more than £400* a year.

The cash toll for cars will be frozen at £1.80, still 20p less per journey than the rise authorised by the Tunnels Act. The tolls for all other vehicles – including large vans, coaches and HGVs – will also be held at 2018 rates.


Are you living with cancer? Southport Macmillan Centre can help

Without the right support, living with cancer can be lonely and isolating. The Southport Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre provides a free, confidential drop in service for anyone who is affected by cancer.

As well as the drop-in service, there are lots of groups which you can join and meet new people.

They are led by volunteers who make new members very welcome. The groups are about offering peer to peer support for people affected by cancer whether it is someone recently diagnosed or someone going through treatment.

The centre also offers cancer specific support groups which can reassure you that you are not alone. You can talk about treatment and side effects with people who have gone through a similar experience.

Support groups include:

The Macmillan Singers – No audition needed.

In stitches – Craft Group

Walking Groups – All abilities

Growing Stronger Together – Gardening Group

To find out more about the groups, contact the centre on 01704 533024

Or visit;

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