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Step Up Somerset – Stepping Up Employment Support

A co-ordinated network of employment and skills support for individuals, employers and businesses seeking support and information in relation to employment, skills, careers and apprenticeships is being rolled out across Somerset under the Step Up Somerset brand to boost existing provision in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

This includes a new one-stop-shop website which will provide support for 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. Those who find themselves at risk of or being made redundant can find a full range of support including help with reskilling, financial assistance and wellbeing information.

Employers will be able to gather information on redundancy support for their workforce, staff development and offering apprenticeships or industry placements to young people. The website will also provide a platform for promoting any recruitment or development events available to attend.

For anyone without internet access further one-to-one help can also be provided via a single phone helpline: 0300 790 6275.


Stoptober –a time to quit and reduce your risk

Stoptober –a time to quit and reduce your risk

It’s ‘Stoptober’ this month and Somerset County Council is encouraging smokers to quit to benefit their health – and help reduce the risk of catching serious respiratory infections this winter.

Smokers have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections and are more likely to have more severe symptoms once infected. Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and flu symptoms may therefore be more severe for someone who smokes.

Stoptober provides the information and support people need to quit smoking for 28 days, based on research that if a smoker can make it to 28 days smoke free, they are five times more likely to quit for good.

The Council’s local stop smoking service, Smokefreelife Somerset (SFLS), offers a free stop smoking service supporting Somerset residents to become smoke free.

Getting the right support can boost your chances of success by up to 4 times – Smokefreelife Somerset offer a 12-week treatment programme which focuses on supporting behaviour change. Quit Coaches are also available as part of the programme to advise on the use of licensed stop smoking medications to ease nicotine withdrawal, who may supply these products if appropriate.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council member responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health. There is strong evidence that smoking tobacco is generally associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory viral infections as well as cancers.

“I appeal to anyone who smokes to consider joining the thousands of others giving up this October for a healthier smoke free future.”

When someone stops smoking, they give their lungs the chance to repair and allows them to breathe easier. There are lots of other benefits too that start almost immediately when quitting.

Smoking causes damage to the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, reducing your ability to fight infection. It involves repetitive hand-to-face movements, which increase the risk of viruses, such as COVID-19, entering the body.

Gay, who was helped by the local stop smoking service, said; “I had on going chest infections, flu and a virus, I was coughing permanently and finding breathing extremely painful and I was still smoking. I was diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

“When I felt ready, I contacted Smokefreelife Somerset. I was supported by a lovely lady called Riley. I feel she has held my hand through my journey. She has a very approachable manner that I so needed. She was there to offer information and, encouragement – most of all I never felt judged by her.”

For more information about quitting smoking you can go to  or telephone 01823 356222.

Apply now for 2021 school places

Apply now for 2021 school places

Somerset parents are being urged to apply for school places online and in time.

Whether your child is starting school for the first time, or transferring to their next school, applications need to be made through Somerset County Council’s website:

The deadline for parents to submit applications for secondary school places is Saturday, 31 October 2020. This applies to all children moving from primary to secondary school, or middle to upper school, in September 2021.

The deadline for primary school place submissions is Friday, 15 January 2021. This applies to all children starting school for the first time in September 2021, as well as those moving between infant and junior or first and middle school.

Although reminder text messages and letters will be sent to parents on the Council’s database who have not yet applied, the responsibility for getting applications in on time lies with parents and guardians.

Councillor Faye Purbrick, Cabinet Member for Education and Transformation at Somerset County Council, said: “Due to Coronavirus, many schools are holding events or promoting information online rather than traditional open days. I urge parents and carers to check schools’ websites or social media for further information. This can help them decide where they would like to attend next year and which three schools they will include in their application.

“It’s an important decision and I would urge everyone to submit three preferences, including their local school as one of those preferences. In recent years, some applications have only included one preference for a non-local school.

“If demand is high for that single school, it can mean that students and parents must wait longer for a confirmed placement at a different school, making the experience all together more stressful. Once you have chosen your three schools, it is essential that applications are submitted before the deadline to avoid risking missing out on a preferred place.

“31 October is the deadline for those transferring to secondary or upper schools next year and 15 January for those starting primary school for the first time.  I’d encourage all students, parents and guardians to start looking at what is involved and which schools they are interested in now.”

All schools have been reminded of the application deadlines and asked to send information to parents within newsletters. As well as linking to an online application form, the webpage holds a wealth of related information including a directory of schools, catchment areas and admissions policy.

Last year’s school admissions figures show that 98.27 per cent of the 5,660 Somerset children who entered primary school were offered one of their top three choices. 93.07 per cent received their first choice.

98.19 per cent of the 4,595 Somerset children going to secondary school were offered one of their top three choices. 93.56 per cent received their first choice.

Slinky Bus service returns to the Parish

The “Slinky” bus service has restarted in Somerset. Slinky is an accessible bus service for people who can’t use conventional transport.

Stogursey is to be serviced on a Wednesday only, provided by Mendip Community Transport. Somerset County Council will be monitoring the usage, depending on the take up, the service may be extended.

The phone number for users appears to be 01749 880948, but there is a form to be completed and sent back prior to a user booking the service. You can download the form from this link:  Sedgemoor-Slinky-Registration form

Their website is not up to date as there are new leaflets to be produced outlining the areas covered, etc.

Hopefully we will be supplied with the updated information, but we would suggest any potential users make direct contact with Mendip Community Transport.

Contrary to their out of date website information Stogursey Parish is not being classed as West Somerset for this service, but “Sedgemoor South” and Mendip Community Transport cover Sedgemoor South.

The service can be used for a variety of purposes, including getting to health appointments, visiting friends and relatives, going shopping and as a link to other public transport.

You can use the Slinky bus if you do not have access to a public bus service, due either to location, or accessibility issues. The Slinky service can be used by people of all ages.

If you are eligible you will first need to register as a member of the scheme. You must fill in a registration form and return it to the booking office before you use the service for the first time.

You can then book a journey by contacting your booking office at least 24 hours before you want to travel. Trips can be booked up to two weeks in advance.

For journeys up to 3 miles
Single: £2.50
Return: £4

For journeys over 3 miles
Single: £3.50
Return: £5

There is a 50% fare for English National Concessionary Travel Scheme passes on all SLINKY services within Somerset. You will need to show your pass every time you travel.

Half fares will be:

£1.30 for a single journey up to 3 miles – £2.00 return

£1.80 for a single journey over 3 miles – £2.50 return

Somerset Student County Tickets are also valid on Slinky services.

Record numbers offered flu vaccine

More Somerset residents than ever are being encouraged to get their flu vaccine as new Public Health England research suggests that the risk of death more than doubled for people who tested positive for both flu and coronavirus (COVID-19), compared to those with coronavirus alone.

They looked at cases between January and April this year and found that people infected with both flu and coronavirus were more at risk of severe illness and death. Most cases were in older people and sadly more than half of them died.

Flu is a serious condition that kills on average 11,000 people in England each year and hospitalises many more. Adults at high risk from flu are also most at risk from coronavirus, so the free vaccine is more important than ever to help protect people in Somerset from a double threat this winter and ease pressure on the NHS.

This year the free flu vaccination programme is being expanded and will be offered to 30 million people, the highest number ever.

All primary school children and, for the first time, Year 7 children will be offered the flu ‘nasal spray’ in schools to reduce community transmission. Two and three-year-olds will be offered the vaccine through their GP.

The most vulnerable, including adults aged 65 and over, those with long-term health conditions and pregnant women, will be offered the flu vaccine first through their GP or pharmacy.

The flu vaccine will also be offered to household contacts of people on the NHS Shielded Patient List and all health and social care workers who have direct contact with the people they care for.

Once the most at-risk groups have had their free flu jab, the newly eligible 50 to 64 year olds will be invited to get theirs later in the season.

Play Area, Paddons Farm

In recent correspondence a resident was advised by a Planning Officer of Somerset West and Taunton Council in respect of the lack of accessible play area  on the Paddons Farm estate as follows:-

“The Council does expect Strongvox to maintain and make available the existing play space  for use by  children until such time  as the new play area becomes available. This is a requirement of the Section 106 legal agreement variation that facilitates the development.

As there are only a limited number of enforcement officers in the Council area we are , to an extent, reliant  upon the public to  contact us  with details of breaches of planning permissions that irk them. I would advise you , and/or your neighbours , to contact the Council  (with specific  dates and times , if possible) if you notice that the play space is closed and none is available for use.”

The Somerset West and Taunton Council online reporting system is available via this link

You can enrol for an account or continue without an account, at the following screen choose Planning and Development, then complete the questions, if you have photographs, you can add them to the entry and then submit your report.


Picture containing a view of Paddons Farm Play area, extract from Google Street view dated 2011