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New type of lateral flow test

A few weeks ago, Public Health stated that there would be two different lateral flow device kits in circulation – the Orient Gene kit and the Acon Flowflex kit – both nasal only kits that provide a result in 15 minutes. Due to stock availability issues, the Innova nose and throat kits will be returning until at least mid-September. This kit requires swabbing of both the tonsils and nostrils and the result takes 30 minutes.

Please be aware of this change, and make sure that you always read the kit instructions before you do your test, as they will differ slightly.

You are reminded that if you have previously received a positive Covid PCR test result, you should not re-test yourself by either using a rapid lateral flow kit or by having another PCR test within 90 days of the first positive result unless you develop any new symptoms of COVID-19.

If you’d like to know more, a video which shows you how to use the new kit can be viewed here. By testing yourself regularly you are helping to reduce the spread of the infection.

Grants to enable access to horse therapy sessions

Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) has launched a new fund supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in Somerset, to access horse-facilitated therapy sessions.

The new grants from the Horseshoes and Handprints Fund will cover 50% of the cost of a course of horse therapy sessions up to a maximum of £250.

Horse therapy – or equine assisted therapy – is provided in a horse-based environment to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth for people with needs arising from, for example, ADHD, anxiety, autism, Cerebral Palsy, dementia, depression, developmental delay, PDA, Down Syndrome, brain injuries and behavioural/abuse issues.

Please click here to find out more. Deadline for applications is 5 November 2021.

Apply now for School places from 2022

Somerset parents and carers are being urged to apply for school places online and on 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:

For secondary school places, applications opened on (Monday 13 September 2021) and must be submitted before Sunday 31 October 2021. This applies to all children moving from primary to secondary school, or middle to upper school, in September 2022.

For primary school places, applications must be submitted between Monday 27 September 2021 and Saturday 15 January 2022. This applies to all children starting school for the first time in September 2022, as well as those moving between infant and junior or first and middle school.

Shortly before the deadlines reminder emails and/or letters will be sent to parents on the Council’s database who have not yet applied but the responsibility for getting applications in on time lies with parents and guardians.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Public Health, said: “I urge parents and carers to check schools’ websites or social media for further information about virtual and face-to-face events and open days. 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 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 98.5 per cent of the 5,365 Somerset children who entered primary school were offered one of their top three choices. 94.58 per cent received their first choice.  97.65 per cent of the 4,654 Somerset children going to secondary school were offered one of their top three choices. 91.87 per cent received their first choice.

Free emergency preparedness training for Somerset residents

Free emergency preparedness training for Somerset residents

The fourth annual Resilience event starts with live talks on Monday 4 October and aims to help communities become better prepared for emergencies as well as looking at wider preparedness measures that anyone can take.

Anyone who registers will receive an information pack, event pack and weekly emails signposting to videos and toolkits on a variety of subjects. Interactive training sessions with national training provider Communities Prepared are on offer, alongside live online presentations from emergency and community organisations, as well as national flood resilience expert Mary Dhonau.

Cllr David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “Interactive events like this are an excellent way to raise awareness with local communities and individuals and help them to take vital steps in preparing for an incident, which could ultimately save lives.

“The sessions will cover a range of subjects from how to use social media in emergencies to food resilience and crime prevention.

“It’s a great opportunity for groups to hear from each other, share their experiences and ask the experts. The training workshops are focussed on topics we often see raised by communities, including recruiting volunteers, how to assess risk and insurance.”

As well as the online training, face-to-face events include an open evening for Langport and Huish Episcopi Flood Group, and Avon & Somerset Police beat surgeries around the county. Sessions will be led by a range of organisations including the Environment Agency, South West Ambulance Service Trust, Communities Prepared, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Avon & Somerset Police, Somerset Rotary, Somerset Civil Contingencies Unit, Spark, and Community Council for Somerset.

Participants are encouraged to share their experiences throughout October by tweeting Somerset Prepared (@SomersetPrepare) and using the hashtag #ImSomersetPrepared

To attend this free event, people can register their interest and book training sessions on the Somerset Prepared website