Recycling Update

Please be aware that although the press release from Somerset Waste yesterday stated “Recycling centres will reopen on Monday (11 May)” the attached link also stated that the Minehead site is not expected to open until 26th May. There are also conditions on who can go and what is permitted. If you are thinking of going to the tip please read the link HERE carefully.

To read the Taunton and West Somerset Community Newsletter click HERE

Update from SWT Council

Local Councils and NHS checking in with thousands of residents 
Thousands of people are being contacted by phone or letter as SWT and the other Somerset local authorities, alongside the NHS, launch a new approach to help and support through the Coronavirus outbreak.  Around 70,000 residents will receive a letter which encourages them to seek non-medical help and support from their own family or local community groups. For those who can’t find the help they need, there is a dedicated Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline on 0300 790 6275.  As well as the letters, around 1,600 Somerset residents will receive phone calls to check they have the support they need.

Community Council for Somerset Village and Community Agents have been very involved in providing support on the ground and have undertaken over 32,000 community support activities since 23rd March.  A short video giving an insight into what they have been doing is available on YouTube.

The Council is linking with community food banks and community shops to improve countywide data on resilience of these important community resources, who in some cases have seen requests for help tripled as new people face hardship.

Please remind local residents they should always check that the caller is genuine, never give out personal bank details, pin numbers, or passwords to anyone over the phone.

Mental Health Support for Somerset West and Taunton Council Tenants 
We wanted to raise awareness about a service available to Council tenants finding it difficult to cope during the lockdown.  If you or a member of your group hears from a tenant in such a situation please do let them know about this help.

SWT Council fund Mind in Somerset to provide mental health support and advocacy for our tenants and members of their household.

Please encourage them to contact the ‘Bridging the Gap’ service on 01823 276892 (open 24hrs 7 days a week) or by emailing advocacy@mindinsomerset.org.uk 

The helpline Mindline 01823 276892 is open to anyone, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Mind will listen, support and provide information to those who are feeling isolated, upset or distressed. Please see the flyer for more details.

Grounds Maintenance Information
We are closely following government and Public Health England’s guidance, putting appropriate operational processes in place so we can continue to deliver a reasonable standard of grounds maintenance and uphold safe, well-maintained and attractive environments for all our customers. We have instructed all employees to avoid any physical contact and to maintain the stated distance of 2.0 meters apart from customers and the wider general public.

We are working outdoors in small teams and operationally, these teams are kept separate from one another.

We are currently undertaking limited grounds maintenance in our ‘open spaces and parks’. We are giving priority to play areas and pavilions where we are also undertaking health and safety compliance checks. We are giving priority to parks and larger open spaces, to support daily exercise, but play areas and pavilions remain closed until lockdown restrictions are eased.

On our council housing estates we have re-prioritised our programme of works as follows:

  1. The large areas of grass;
  2. Communal flat block areas, including washing line areas;
  3. Sheltered housing sites; and grounds maintenance information and advice for customers
  4. All other areas.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the Council if you have an urgent concern about your grounds maintenance.

Our Message to our Friends and Voluntary Groups
We have been asked if ‘Friends of parks’ groups can still be active in their voluntary work during this time.  While we highly value the work they do and appreciate the wellbeing benefits, sadly at this time, our answer is no. We have had concerns raised about people not adhering to the government social distancing guidelines and pointing out tending open spaces isn’t the exercise specified by the government (1 x walk, cycle, run per day).  Also the work may generate waste not easily disposed of currently.

As a Council we must be setting an example by encouraging the ‘stay at home’ guidelines and not give anyone reason to leave the house for non-essential works, which is after all, the most important thing we can do for our communities.

We appreciate this is a hard message and trust local groups will understand.

As soon as the lockdown restrictions are lifted and such activity is permitted, we would value the renewed support of the community groups, who provide the local knowledge and enthusiasm we so value.  And as our time and resources are freed up, we will again want to renew our support wherever and however we can.

In the interim we hope local groups will find ways to plan for the recovery phase of this pandemic.  It may be you can draw upon the ground swell of volunteering and some of the funding that will be released to support life after the lockdown.  If you haven’t already registered your group with Spark, you may want to do so and see if you can attract volunteers and hear about funding opportunities.

Virtual Council meetings
SWT will be holding virtual committee meetings from Monday 27 April until further notice.  The temporary arrangements have been put in place following Government legislation and guidance on measures to reduce the transmission COVID-19.  Members of the public will still be able to register to speak and ask questions.  The meetings will be live streamed so that members of the public can watch from home.  For more information please visit the Council website.

Should we be wearing masks/ PPE?
Advice on whether the public should wear face masks has been passed on to the UK government by its scientific advisers.  The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) looked at issues like protecting the supply of medical face masks, and the public covering their faces with scarves or homemade masks.  Please refer to the Government advice and their position on PPE so you can see what is right for your group and volunteers.

Can SWT help with PPE?
Sadly not – we don’t have any responsibility to supply PPE.
We receive our supplies through the Local Resilience Forum but we can only order PPE for SWT use.
As employers/ organisations you will need to carry out a risk assessment for those working for you and decide if and what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) may be required. Where a risk assessment shows a need for PPE, the equipment you supply depends on what people are doing, with whom, and where they are working.  Links to sources of guidance are given above.

Grants for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure businesses
These remain open for applications and provide businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.  Those who run community halls or shops, sports pavilions and other leisure premises are encouraged to check whether or not they are eligible for a grant.  For more information please see: and apply via the SWT website.

What is Your Group Doing to Commemorate VE Day?  Please share with us!
SWT plans to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) despite Coronavirus restrictions, and wants as many people as possible to join in the virtual commemorations by sharing stories, photos and videos on its social media platforms.
The Council had been hoping to help communities run a host of activities on VE Day, Friday 8 May 2020, to remember the sacrifice so many made in the fight for our freedom.  However, these were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak so SWT is hoping that people can still get involved and show their support while following social distancing advice.

Please encourage others to join in and share their stories, photos and video clips with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram tagging @SWTCouncil #VEDay75.

There are many ways people can get involved – get creative and use materials already at home in keeping with the “make do and mend” spirit of WW2; download a home decorating toolkit including bunting, posters and colouring-in templates from the VE Day 75 website which has more information and resources to help make this VE Day 75 special.

News from Somerset Waste Partnership

Somerset Waste Partnership manages household waste services on behalf of SWT and other councils in Somerset.  Their latest news is;

  • Recycling Centres remain closed, due primarily to restrictions on non-essential travel. SWP are planning ahead so they can reopen them as soon as possible once it is safe to do so/government guidance on essential travel changes.
  • New container deliveries were reinstated this week, and SWP will restart taking new requests next week. Bulky item collections are due to resume next week.
  • SWP will be temporarily suspending kerbside collections of textiles and shoes from Monday 27 April. With charity shops closed and international trade in textiles severely affected, they cannot be sure that these will be recycled or reused. They will look at all options to restart this service, but do not want to undermine their commitment that everything collected for recycling is recycled properly.

The bank holiday for VE Day – on Friday 8 May – will mean no waste collections, so those recycling and rubbish pick-ups will be on Saturday 9 May from 7am.  Collection crews are asking all residents to ensure their containers are out on time, with contents sorted, plastic bottles squashed, cardboard flattened, and – if safe – cans crushed.To keep up-to-date with their latest news, and so how this impacts your activities, you can sign up to their newsletter, Sorted, and updates.

Navigate WIS£RMONEY Advice

The WIS£RMONEY Budget Project offers free and confidential money, debt and benefits advice.  While normally this is offered face-to-face it is currently via telephone.  If you know anyone worrying about their financial situation and struggling to make ends meet, please put them in touch with WIS£RMONEY to see if they can help.  They often have clients who are rurally isolated or struggle to access other services due to physical or mental health concerns.

WIS£RMONEY are an established partnership between Navigate Charity and Encompass SW. For this project and during the Covid lockdown, Mind in Somerset have joined the WIS£RMONEY partnership to provide mental health advocacy and support across the Somerset West and Taunton area.  For More information see the image below, visit their website, call: 01823 299050 or email enquiries@navigatecharity.org.uk

Urban Tree Challenge Fund Round 2 
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has announced that round two of the Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF), aimed at smaller, community-led tree planting schemes, has opened.  The round focusses on whips (small trees).

It is suitable for local authority sites and/or for applications from registered charities, community groups, public bodies, non-government organisations, private companies and individuals who wish to support the planting and establishment of trees.

The deadline for applications is currently Sunday 31 May 2020. However, given the current situation, the Forestry Commission will keep this under review.  Those wishing to apply should submit an Expression of Interest and return to UTCF@forestrycommission.gov.uk Further information, including guidance notes and details about how to apply, are available on the GOV.UK website.

Please consider applying if this is something you and your group would like to see happening near you.

Beware fraud and scams during Covid-19 pandemic
Criminals are using the Covid-19 pandemic to scam the public and businesses – don’t become a victim. Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the Police.  Law enforcement and other partners are encouraging people to be more vigilant against fraud by thinking about the following:

Stop: Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information that could keep you and your group safe.
Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam.
The number of people joining the library service has rocketed during lockdown. Anyone in Somerset can download FREE books, audiobooks and even magazines via the library website  It’s really easy to get started and anyone who needs help can either email librariesmail@somerset.gov.uk , phone 0300 123 2224 or they can visit the website for step-by-guides on the application process and how to download literature.

#NoClosedDoors2020
Domestic abuse continues to be a priority for all councils in Somerset. During the pandemic, a Domestic Abuse group meets weekly, to assess the levels of domestic abuse and manage the response. The important message for all is that the Somerset Integrated Domestic Abuse Service (SIDAS) continues to operate,  supporting survivors, families, perpetrators and offering emergency accommodation for those who need to leave their homes as part of a national refuge network.All details of the service can be found here at the dedicated website.A new Domestic Abuse support and awareness campaign #nocloseddoors2020 #staysafeinsomerset has been launched.  With 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men being affected by domestic abuse in their lifetime, the chances are we all know someone who is suffering behind closed doors. The impact of Coronavirus and social distancing makes this a difficult and worrying time for everyone, especially for adults and children living with domestic abuse.

The Councils are very aware of and appreciate the fantastic work communities are doing to keep in touch and support some of our vulnerable residents during coronavirus. If you have concerns about someone you are supporting please call the coronavirus number, or out of hours, call the Police on 101 or if it is an emergency, call 999.

These are some of the links you may want to bookmark – some organisations also offer the option of subscribing to bulletins or newsletters, so you can stay updated. 

  • Gov.uk – Guidance and Support
  • NHS Health – Covid-19 specific

Voluntary Sector Support

  • Spark Somerset
  • Spark Funding portal
  • Community Council for Somerset 
  • Somerset Community Foundation

Local Government

  • SCC – Covid News
  • Somerset West and Taunton Homepage
  • Somerset West and Taunton COVID-19 Homepage

New Funding Portal
Spark have launched a new Somerset Funding Portal.  It is a one-stop shop for all things funding, and completely free to access! Click here to visit and browse hundreds of funding opportunities by category.  For further funding advice you can also contact Funding Advisor, Carolyn, at support@sparksomerset.org.uk and join their Facebook Group for Somerset Fundraisers.

It is important to keep up to date with the latest information and advice from the government.

For quick up to date information regarding SWT services please follow us on Facebook or Twitter
Please see our dedicated webpage for updates.

If you have concerns about your own health and coronavirus please visit the NHS website.

Friday 1 May – ‘Stop Loan Sharks’
LIAISE Manager Cath Williams will be going live for half an hour on the Stop Loan Sharks Facebook page to answer your questions about partnership working, tackling loan sharks and supporting victims of illegal money lending. If you are unable to watch the Q&A session on Friday, the video will be available to view on the Facebook page following the broadcast.

Tuesday 5 May – 10am Finding the right information, support and guidance from homeSpark Somerset
Led by Health and Wellbeing Coordinator Vicky, this webinar is aimed at anyone looking for guidance for themselves or to support others with coronavirus-related topics. Vicky will look at key health and wellbeing topics and who to contact to get the right advice and support.  Register here.

Wednesday 6 May – 11-12pm Mindfulness for Anxiety reduction & relaxation – MIND in partnership with Somerset skills and learning (SS&L)
At a time when responsibilities seem endless, the situation dire, and it seems like time to yourself has become a thing of the past…Take a deep breath. Literally. Feel a little better?
Be kind to yourself, these are trying times but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills. These sessions are designed to make mindfulness work for you and your family.  Free online course.

Thursday 7 May – 10am – Looking after yourself part 1 – understanding mental health and building resilience – Spark Somerset
With Mind in Somerset. You will look at what mental health is – both good and bad, how we can maintain wellbeing and build resilience, and how to start a conversation with somebody else about their mental health. Plus sources of help and support.  Register here.

Tuesday 12 May – 10-12 noon Emotion Coaching and Parent Support – building emotional resilience. Mind and SS&L
A 2- hour session, including 1/2 hour for an open Q&A  with participants.  During these unprecedented times, caring for ourselves with kindness and compassion is more important than ever.  With the added pressures of home schooling and additional parental responsibilities, paying attention to our bodies and minds as well as our environments is vital for our connections with others. The session will look at the stress response and learn ways to notice and respond in healthy ways that support the regulation of our emotions.  Free online course:

Tuesday 12 May – 10am – Looking after yourself part 2 – Mindfulness – Spark Somerset
Come and explore the power of mindfulness with freelance practitioner, Kay Morgan. We’ll practice a variety of techniques including mindful breathing and mindful observations, both of which can be very calming, particularly if you have symptoms of anxiety.
Registration details coming soon.

For information about other courses run by MIND follow link: https://www.mindinsomerset.org.uk/training/distance-learning

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