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News Archive for 2020

Covid Vaccination Programme

Dear all,

The Somerset Covid Vaccination Programme has joined up with Spark Somerset to ask for volunteers to greet and direct people attending the vaccinations centres. Can you help? Could you share and forward this message to your friends and colleagues? The link below takes you to Spark a Change, the volunteering platform for Somerset where you can submit your expression of interest. Any queries? Please email volunteer@sparksomerset.org.uk

Sandra Smith
Community Development Worker
My working hours are Mon-Fri 09:00 - 17:00 (Lunch 13:00 - 13:30)

NHS Foundation Trust

23rd December 2020

Spark a Change

Dear Clerk and Councillors,

We hope the following will be of interest – we would also be very grateful for any wider publicity to residents and groups you can give through your own networks and community newsletters.

Spark Somerset runs the county wide volunteer service. We have recently launched Spark a Change: a new free digital volunteering platform designed to help people use their time and skills for a good cause. Take a look at www.sparkachange.org.uk

Whether you’re an individual who would like to volunteer, or an organisation looking for people to support your work, you can use Spark a Change to:

Register as a volunteer or charity and create a profile
Discover or share volunteering opportunities
Make a connection and begin your volunteering journey

Spark a Change is easy to use and has lots of great features for both recruiters and volunteers. It was developed with help from the team behind the Corona Helpers website, through which over 1,300 people signed up to support their community during the pandemic.

Recent events have inspired many people to want to give something back, and there are hundreds of local Somerset charities and community organisations who would love to hear from new volunteers - so there's never been a better time to get involved!

Visit www.sparkachange.org.uk to find our more.

For any enquiries about our volunteering service contact volunteer@sparksomerset.org.uk

Join our Volunteers in Somerset Facebook group or sign up for our regular Spark newsletter on our website www.sparksomerset.org.uk

Best wishes,

Sandra Smith
Community Development Worker
My working hours are Mon-Fri 09:00 - 17:00 (Lunch 13:00 - 13:30)

7th December 2020

COVID-19: Funding support available for business through lockdown

Funding support is available to businesses in South Somerset due to the national lockdown restrictions that came into effect from Thursday 5th November.

South Somerset District Council are administering two schemes:

Local Restriction Support Grant

Eligible businesses are now able to apply for a business support grant under the Local Restriction Support Grant scheme. Grants are available of up to £3,000 and this will cover the 28 day national lockdown period. The funding will be provided on a rolling 28 day period for as long as the current lockdown restrictions apply.

Under this scheme, support is available for businesses that are legally required to close and are business rate payers. Businesses that have been required to close by Government include:

- Non-essential retail

- Leisure

- Personal Care

- Sports Facilities

- Hospitality


A full list of businesses required to close can be viewed on the Government website.

If you own or manage a:

- Pub, cafe or restaurant and have changed your business model during the lockdown period to operate as a takeaway.

- Shop required to close but offer click and collect or online with delivery services. Additionally

- Hotel or accommodation business that continues to provide services only for those who are travelling for work purposes or other exempt purposes.


You are also able to submit application into this scheme.

Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) – Discretionary Grant Scheme

From Monday 23rd November at 12.00pm, eligible businesses will be able to apply for a business support grant under our discretionary scheme. This scheme is designed for:

- Businesses who have lost 25% or more of their normal operating income during the current lockdown period

- Businesses that are required to close but do not have a business rates valuation

- Businesses that mainly supply or trade with businesses required to close, or have experienced significantly reduced customer levels


South Somerset District Council have limited funding available for this scheme and encourage businesses to apply as quickly as possible. Should demand outweigh the amount of funding available, we will be required to operate on a first come first served basis and reserve the right to review the scheme should we feel absolutely necessary.

How do I apply?

Applications for both schemes can be submitted online and can be accessed by visiting www.southsomerset.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport. You will need to be registered for a basic ‘My Account’ in order to apply and can do that online at www.southsomerset.gov.uk/register.

What will you need?

Businesses will need to provide:
- Latest Business Bank Statement

- An image of your latest business rates bill (Local Restriction Support Grant)

- Evidence of fixed costs, for example lease / rental agreements or a bank statement highlighting outgoings relevant to this application (ARG only)

- Business information including:

· Number of employees

· Type of business

· Contact information

· Information specific to the business (e.g Business Rates reference number)


I applied for a Business Support Grant during the first lockdown. Can I apply again this time?

Yes you can. This is a Business Support Grant that covers the 28 day national lockdown period between Thursday 5th November and Wednesday 2nd December 2020.

How long does it take to process an application and how do I find out if and when I will receive the grant support?

We are expecting a high volume of applications and have reassigned staff to help deal with the expected extra workload. We will work through them as quickly as possible. In addition, the Government may still make changes to the grant scheme and we may have to get back to you for more information.

Once we have all of the information we need to process your application, you will receive a decision and/or a notification of when to expect the grant support payment. During this time, we ask that you are patient and give our team 14 clear days before you follow up your application.

What other support is available for my business?

Further support for businesses can be found on our website: www.southsomerset.gov.uk/covidbusinesssupport.

Council Leader Val Keitch said: “This is clearly a challenging time for all businesses and at South Somerset District Council we are committed to doing all we can to support businesses through the current crisis.

“We’ve acted quickly to try and inform businesses how they can access Government Business Support Grants and I am grateful to the staff at South Somerset District Council for moving swiftly to get processes in place and inform businesses across the district of the help and support they can receive.”

As a District Council, we have implemented many actions from Thursday 5th November for public safety in line with new Covid-19 restrictions.

In addition, South Somerset District Council will continue to work will local community organisations to ensure those who are vulnerable or facing hardship are supported, and facilitate a number of grants to local foodbanks.

The council will also continue to ensure anyone who is homeless or facing homelessness has a safe place to stay.

The Council is also issuing payments to those that are entitled who are required to self-isolate.

For the latest information about Coronavirus in the UK, including how to keep yourself and your community safe, visit the Government website.

If you are facing financial hardship and need support, please contact South Somerset District Council on 01935 462462 or use our online form - https://www.southsomerset.gov.uk/life-events/coronavirus-support/who-can-i-speak-to/.

The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is also live to help you access help you may need, including emotional support, in the current crisis.

To view all of our news releases, please visit www.southsomerset.gov.uk/latest-news

South Somerset District Council is also on social media:
www.twitter.com/southsomersetdc
www.facebook.com/SouthSomersetDistrictCouncil
www.youtube.com/southsomersetdc

For more information:
Martin Hacker, Specialist (Communications, Marketing & Media)
Tel: 01935 462130

Issued by:
South Somerset District Council Communications Team
Tel: 01935 462130

18th November 2020

Step Up Somerset

Dear colleague
Step Up Somerset is a multi-agency one-stop-shop launched to provide support for those individuals who are job hunting, seeking training in new industries or working to strengthen their skills by providing details of employment and skills services and resources. For anyone without internet access, further one-to-one help can also be provided by phoning the Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275.

Best wishes

Debbie Rundle
Communications Officer
Somerset County Council
County Hall
Taunton
Somerset TA1 4DY
01823 356197
drundle@somerset.gov.uk

10th November 2020

Support for Somerset residents during lockdown

Help is available for anyone in Somerset who may need additional support during the second national lockdown.

The five councils in Somerset have been working together since the first lockdown to provide a single phone number for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support.

Residents are reminded they can call 0300 790 6275 if they need any help themselves or are concerned about relatives or neighbours.

Although the national restrictions and guidance on shielding are different this time, it remains really important for people to stay connected and also keep active, particularly during the winter period.

Help and advice is available and phonelines are open seven days a week between 8am and 6pm to offer support with:

· Personal care and support including food and delivery of prescriptions
· Support for the homeless
· Emotional support if you're feeling worried or anxious
· Employment, skills and business advice
· Transport to medical appointments
· Waste collection and disposal
· Financial support

The five councils will again be proactively contacting a number of those residents identified as needing additional support during the previous lockdown.

Please be alert to potential scams and remember a caller from the council will never ask for personal details or bank details. If you're concerned, please hang up and get in touch via the helpline.
If people are interested in volunteering, for example helping people out with shopping or picking up prescriptions they can go to https://www.corona-helpers.co.uk/ to register.

For further info please contact the communications teams from any of Somerset's local authorities – the County Council, four district councils and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group.

Kind regards

Peter Elliott
Head of Communications
Somerset County Council
Mobile: 07976 696865
Press Office: 01823 355020
Email: pelliott@somerset.gov.uk

6th November 2020

The Covid Community Champions Network: Helping people to stay happy and healthy.

Hello,

I hope this email find you safe and well?

I’m writing to tell you about an exciting new opportunity. Spark Somerset is working in partnership with SASP (Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership) to set up the Covid Community Champions Network. The network will give local people a role in helping their community to get up to date information and make the right choices to stay healthy.

After attending a short online training course, Covid Community Champions will be able to help their family, friends and the wider community to understand the latest guidance around Covid-19, and signpost to other health and wellbeing support. This can done informally as the Champions go about their day to day lives. Whether they chat to someone while queuing outside the shop, talk to work colleagues, or challenge something they see online, they will play a vital part in helping keep local people informed, happy, and healthy.

Champions will have the opportunity to attend regular meetings, where they’ll get to know the other Champions, keep up to date, and feedback about how things are going where they live and work.

We’re particularly keen to involve people living or working with communities that might find it hard to get the right information about how to stay happy and healthy at the moment, and areas where Covid infections rates are highest in Somerset.

If you, or someone you know who might be interested in a becoming a Covid Champion, you can find more information and sign up here

The first induction/training session will be via Zoom on Tuesday 17th November at 7pm. Sign up details will be sent to people who have registered on the link above.

If you’d like to discuss how your organisation might support the network, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

I look forward to working with you.

Best wishes,
Helen

Helen Fielden
Volunteer Development Officer
Please note: I am part time and work mainly 9.30-2.30, Monday-Friday

4th November 2020

Food Support for families in Somerset

Somerset County Council has pledged £125,000 of additional support for families in Somerset who may be struggling to find food during the Half Term Holiday.

We want to make sure no child or adult in Somerset goes hungry. Our aim is to meet the immediate need for food and work with the family to address underlying needs. This is because if a child is hungry there are usually other issues we would want to help them address – financial, housing, mental health and wellbeing, employment, skills, etc…

Throughout the pandemic our Coronavirus Helpline has been providing information, advice and support to families, adopting the same community orientated approach as that developed in the Adults service and extending the Village Agent offer to families so that they can get support to address underlying issues and regain, or retain, their ability to be as independent as possible. This has enabled many families in Somerset to get the support they need to become more resilient. One element of this has been to ensure families have access to nutritious meals and this remains a focus of our work.

In September we were allocated £572,000 by central government for food provision. Over the last 2 months we have been working with District Councils, Somerset CCG, Spark Somerset, Somerset Community Foundation and Community Council for Somerset as part of the Vulnerable People and Community Resilience cell to ensure that we have food available to support people in need. To date we have allocated £150,000 of the grant to produce frozen meals, secure food from Fareshare and support communities to provide fresh goods. This food is for anyone in need in Somerset over the winter and will also be used to support families in need during half term and other school holidays. The rest of the grant is being used to ensure we have solutions in place to address underlying issues, support our foodbanks, build community pantries and develop community schemes. This week it was agreed to set aside a further £125,000 in case additional funds are required to ensure families are fed this winter.

Additional support available to help families access food during Half Term:

• We have food available this half-term and any family in need should contact our Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275 and select Option 1. If Members are aware of families in need in their divisions, please encourage them to call our helpline.

• We are promoting the https://helpoutwhenschoolsout.co.uk website that provides links to local businesses and charities across the county and neighbouring counties offering free food to families:
o As of today, 28 groups and businesses have pledged their support on the website.
o Other businesses, groups or people wanting to donate food can do so via the website.
o Families can seek support directly from these businesses and groups via the website (contact telephone numbers and email contact details are provided on the website).

• We are also promoting the national website www.kidsmealsmap.co.uk that also provides opportunities for businesses and groups to offer free food to families. Families can also seek support directly via the website.

• The Coronavirus Helpline and both websites will continue to be promoted on the SCC website and on social media.

• We are working with Spark Somerset and the Community Council for Somerset to promote these sites across all Coronavirus Community Help groups in Somerset.

• Families calling the Coronavirus Helpline on 0300 790 6275 will also be supported by the Village Agents in line with our standard practice.

• Village Agents have access to food donated by the community, frozen meals purchased by Somerset County Council and some funds to give emergency support if needed.

• Village Agents can also help families access online shopping slots if they are finding it difficult to get to the shops

• The Taunton Coronavirus Community Help Group`s Facebook page provides further information and support available in Taunton and the wider Somerset area: https://www.facebook.com/groups/205973310624650/permalink/361447355077244

Offers of support / donations:

• Businesses or groups offering food – please direct them to https://helpoutwhenschoolsout.co.uk where they can register their offer.

• Financial donations – please direct to the Community Council for Somerset who will ensure that the money is used on direct food support for families. The money will be used to purchase fresh local produce.

Support for children who are asked to self-isolate from schools

• During the school term all free school meals children were entitled to have meals provided at home by their school.

For more information contact
Pip Cannons 07977 401922
pcannons@somerset.gov.uk

30th October 2020

What3words

Hi,

I hope that you and your community are safe and well.

You might have recently seen what3words in the news and/or some adverts on Channel 4.

Just over 80% of services in the UK now use what3words, so I thought maybe an opportunity to (re-)encourage your community to download the what3words app on their phones in case they need to call 999.

Your community could also use what3words to report incidents with organisations like National Grid, Network Rail and the Environmental Agency.

The app is totally free to download and use, you can download it on iOS or Android.

I’m here to help if you have any questions or need support.

Warmest regards,

Molly

Molly Macgregor

what3words

Download document (pdf)

Find a full list of what3words services here

14th September 2020

Phased re-opening of Somerset Libraries with new order-and-collect service

We are very pleased to announce that as part of the phased reopening of library buildings, the order-and-collect service which was launched on July 6th in Taunton has now been extended so that collections of up to 10 books can also be picked up from Frome, Yeovil, Minehead or Bridgwater libraries when they begin re-opening on July 13th. Further details of opening times and which services are available can be found on our website, or on Facebook and Twitter

By filling in a Reading Request form, customers will receive a selection of up to ten hand-picked books, DVD’s or talking books, based on the types of authors or genres that are of interest to them. Requests can be made either by email, website or telephone (0300 123 2224) and the selection of books, talking books, and DVDs will be available for collection at a pre-arranged convenient time for people to pick up. No hire charges or overdue charges will be applied.

Internet access will be available in libraries that are open, but it will be primarily for users who don't have home internet access and require essential services. Computers will need to be pre-booked and will be available for one-hour slots. Each computer and workstation will be thoroughly cleaned between bookings and there will be at least a 2m distance between desks.

Customers can return any items currently on loan to any libraries that are open, but customers are being encouraged not to make an unnecessary journey to do this. All current loans that would have been due back during the lockdown period have been extended to the end of August, and any overdue charges that customers might have incurred as a result of library closures due to COVID-19 have been waived. It is hoped that all Somerset libraries, with the possible exception of a few community-managed libraries, will be open again by mid-August.

The Somerset Mobile Library Service is also back on the road and the Home Library Service, delivered in partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service, has started to deliver books to people unable to leave their homes.

We are happy to provide flyers for anyone able to help ‘spread the word’ about this new service (see attached) – just email libsdevelopmentteam@somerset.gov.uk , letting us know how many you would like and we will arrange to get some posted to you.

Finally, just a reminder to follow our Facebook and Twitter posts for some engaging content including videos made by library staff, activities, quizzes, news and links to other useful resources.

13th July 2020

Local Government Association Model Member Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

21st June 2020

'Environment Champions' Wanted

Environmental Champions are volunteers whose role will:

- Be the recipient of any environment/climate information South Somerset District Council (SSDC) wishes to share with parishes, through emails and attendance at forums.

- Compile and return any information on their parish which would be useful for SSDC to know (environment groups, electric vehicle charging points, re-wilded areas, etc)

- Encouraging on specific green measures in the parish, to enable environmental sustainability to be at the core of the parishes’ decision making.

- Collaborating with surrounding parishes/groups to maximise impact and share expertise.

Environment Champion Leaflet (pdf)

6th February 2020

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