Neighbour of the Year Award 2020 Now Open

Dear Neighbourhood Watch supporters,

Nominate a neighbour that goes above and beyond for your community for the Neighbour of the Year Award 2020 run by Co-op Insurance and Neighbourhood Watch

For the third year running, we’re excited to launch the nationwide search in partnership with our friends at Co-op Insurance to find and celebrate some of the UK’s best neighbours.

Our members have told us that to be a great neighbour people share some clear qualities: a willingness to look out for others; being sociable and friendly; offering practical help; and being kind, caring and respectful.

In addition to our Neighbour of the Year Award, this year we have a brand-new category, Co-op’s Young Neighbour of the Year. This award will celebrate someone aged 18-24 who has gone above and beyond to help enhance their community and has brought people, young and old, together.
Nominations are now open

If you’ve got someone who ticks all these boxes and more in either category, tell us all about them and how they go above and beyond.

Click here to be taken to our nomination form, where you can share your stories of great neighbourly activities and acts of kindness.

The deadline to nominate is 27th October.

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Recycling in Oxfordshire

People in Oxfordshire are among the best in the whole of the country at recycling but as the nation embarks on Recycle Week there’s more everyone can do to improve the situation even more.

The theme for the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) seventeenth annual Recycle Week is to thank the people of Oxfordshire for continuing to recycle despite all that has happened this year.

Statistics released by Recycle Now show that through lockdown, Britain has become even more environmentally aware, with nearly 9 in 10 households saying they regularly recycle.

Coming out of lockdown, more people are prepared to change their lifestyles to help the environment: 73%, up from 68% in 2019. An amazing 93% of households say they believe that “everyone has a responsibility to help towards cleaning up the environment.”

The figures come from research carried out during lockdown and an omnibus survey completed in July. The four district councils and the city council in Oxford operate the kerbside collections of household recycling and waste, which Oxfordshire County Council then disposes of.

In 2018, 58% of household waste was recycled in Oxfordshire overall against a national average of 44.8% according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

There is still though more we can all do to recycle more to help defeat both waste and climate change. You can now use a great tool launched this year called Waste Wizard to see what can be recycled where.

Peter Maddox, Director, WRAP, said:

“It’s fantastic to see that despite everything that has been thrown at them this year, more people than ever in Oxfordshire are taking responsibility for protecting the environment by choosing to recycle. This is something we can all do, wherever we live – an individual action that, when performed by everyone, adds up to a huge change.

“Oxfordshire’s recycling and waste workers have been real heroes too, providing the best service possible under the most difficult of circumstances. The recognition they received in the form of friendly waves, notes, cards and gifts left out for them is heart-warming proof of how Oxfordshire has cooperated.

“Recycle Week this year is an opportunity to thank everyone in Oxfordshire for continuing to recycle, whatever their circumstances and to celebrate the way we have all pulled together. There has been a positive leap forward in attitudes that we must capitalise on so Oxfordshire can do even better in the coming year!”

Oxfordshire County Council, businesses and other organisations are joining in with a range of activities to highlight the importance of recycling. Everyone – organisations and individuals – can support Recycle Week by using #RecycleWeek on social media.

Cllr Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment said:

“Oxfordshire is doing well at recycling and we thank residents for helping us but there is still a lot more to be done to improve recycling rates. Better recycling involves all of us and this will help us to attain our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. The Oxford Environmental Partnership of the Oxfordshire district, city and county councils has a target to increase recycling to 70% by 2025. You can help us reach this goal by separating out your food waste as well as your plastics, glass metals and cardboard to make a real difference! Our Waste Wizard tool available on our website here can also advise you on what can be recycled and where.”

For more information about recycling and waste in Oxfordshire, please visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/residents/environment-and-planning/waste-and-recycling

For more information on Recycle Now, visit: www.recyclenow.com

Apply for the Green Homes Grant scheme

You may be aware of the new Green Homes Grant Scheme that will see the Government fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements of over 600,000 homes, supporting over 100,000 jobs in green construction. The Government has now set out further details on the range of measures included and how consumers in England will be able to claim vouchers, which are worth up to £5,000 for homeowners. Households on low income can receive vouchers covering 100 per cent of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.

Local authorities can also bid for funding under this scheme to improve the energy efficiency of low-income households in their area. All local authorities in England are eligible to submit a bid, applications close at midday on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Builders, plumbers, and other tradespeople across England will need the Government’s seal of approval to provide their services as part of the new green homes grant, which goes live at the end of September. Tradespeople must register for TrustMark or Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) accreditation to take part in the scheme.

Oxford back on amber alert as local coronavirus cases mirror national rise

People in Oxfordshire are being advised to only get tested for COVID-19 if they have symptoms as the level of positive cases in Oxford mean the city is once again on amber alert.

The number of cases in the city currently stands at 25.6 per 100,000 of the population. The figure for the whole of Oxfordshire is 14.3 per 100,000

The figures for Oxford rose to amber alert level in mid to late August but then fell back again. An amber alert happens when cases rise above 25 per 100,000 of the population.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “Since Oxford’s cases last rose to amber, there has been a large rise in cases across the entire country. The Government has instigated its “rule of six” in an attempt to tackle this rise and I appeal to everyone in Oxfordshire to abide by this new rule.

“Only by cutting down the number of close interactions between individuals can we stop the spread of this virus. That has been seen very clearly throughout the world.

“The Government is seeking to get on top of this current national rise in cases without having to resort to a full national lockdown of the kind we saw earlier this year.

“Locally, if we want to avoid the tighter restrictions that we have seen in the north-west, our best strategy is to follow the rule of six to the letter and to keep doing those basics – wash your hands, keep your distance and wear a facemask. Collectively, the situation is in our own hands – as individuals, families, colleagues and neighbours.

“When Oxford was last at amber status, that put us in the top 20 in the country for COVID cases. Now we are nowhere near that top group – but we have seen how quickly things can change. If we don’t take the rule of six seriously, we could be at the top of that league table in the blink of an eye, with local lockdown measures in place. Let’s not go there.

Only get a test if you have symptoms

Meanwhile public health teams at councils across the country are aware of well-publicised issues regarding the availability of COVID-19 testing. There is a national issue with testing capacity, which is due to rising demand, and it is affecting all parts of the country. Public health directors across the country are continuing to highlight this problem to central Government.

Testing is a crucial part of limiting the spread of the virus. It protects communities and provides the opportunity to create a full picture of how the virus is spreading within communities. 

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‘You Can Adopt’ campaign launches in Oxfordshire

Vulnerable children in Oxfordshire are set to benefit from a new campaign, launching Wednesday 16 September, designed to dispel myths around who is eligible to adopt and encourage more residents to consider the role.

An emotive FILM features an adoptive family from South Oxfordshire; Charlotte and Peter Brown and singer Sinitta (see photo above, with her mum, Miquel Brown).

Oxfordshire is playing a key role in the national #YouCanAdopt campaign, which explores what the adoption process involves and highlights the need for more adopters.

(Charlotte and Peter Brown in picture)

Since early April, there has been a 14% increase in enquiries to adopt with Adopt Thames Valley. However, considerable delays to court processes due to COVID-19 means there will be many more children who will need adopting come the autumn.

Oxfordshire desperately needs more adopters from across its diverse communities, who can offer children a permanent safe and loving home.

Most of Adopt Thames Valley’s assessment and training has transferred to virtual platforms to ensure the ‘recruitment’ process continues, despite the pandemic.

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Leisure facilities in southern Oxfordshire ready for the next phase of reopening

After recent assessments of the leisure facilities across southern Oxfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have agreed with GLL, who run the “Better” centres, that the second phase of reopening can start and from the 14 September more leisure activities will be able to resume. 

On 25 July when leisure centres could reopen most of the centres across the two districts were able to do so under the government’s covid-19 guidance. However, with restrictions on social distancing and keeping the health and safety of staff and customers paramount not all the facilities at the centres were able to open from the start. 

The first phase of reopening has gone well with many residents’ returning to the leisure centres in South Oxfordshire and the Vale, keen to get back to the gym, fitness classes and the pool. The Wave in Didcot was the first pool in the country to be able to reopen with a mixture of lane and family fun swims.  

As part of phase two some of the leisure facilities that will be available are: 

  • Henley Leisure Centre, Wantage Leisure Centre and Faringdon Leisure Centre main swimming pools to reopen 
  • Swimming lessons restarting – with a reduced programme from before the lockdown  
  • School use of leisure venues  
  • Group exercise sessions in smaller studios not just taking place in the main sports halls 

As with phase one the centres have been individually assessed and facilities will only be able to open based on that centres ability to operate safely. Residents and customers are advised to visit the Better websites before attending to find out what is going to be available to them. It is still a requirement to book via the app before attending and anyone using the pool must arrive “swim ready”. 

Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers Cabinet member for community services at South Oxfordshire District Council said: “When I went to Henley Leisure Centre in July I was impressed with how hard the team at Better had been able to prepare everything to make sure staff and customers would be safe while getting back to the activities they enjoy. Staying active contributes to the general wellbeing of our residents but we ask that users follow instructions of GLL staff to ensure that risk of transmission is minimised” 

Cllr Helen Pighills Cabinet member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “Keeping healthy is important at any time, but we know through Public Health England that to fight Covid-19 successfully we all need to be thinking about what we can do to stay active and keep fit. As a council this is something that we really want to focus on over the coming years and keeping our leisure centres open and making other forms of activity available to our residents is a big part of that” 

Note for Editors: To find out about which facilities are reopening as part of phase two please head to the Better website 

An online meeting of a Facilities Committee to be held on Wednesday 16th September 2020 at 7.15pm.

Notice is hereby given of an online meeting of a Facilities Committee to be held on Wednesday 16th September 2020 at 7.15pm.

The public are invited to submit questions at least 1 day prior to the meeting and to view a live recording of the meeting on the Faringdon Town Council You Tube channel, the video will be loaded as soon as possible after the meeting.

early £90,000 of funding available for volunteer groups and organisations to help vulnerable residents affected by Covid-19

Voluntary and community sector groups in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse can apply for a share of nearly £90,000 to help people affected by Covid-19 in the districts. 

South Oxfordshire District Council has £45,373 to distribute and the Vale of White Horse District Council has £43,077 to provide funds for voluntary and community sector projects that are delivering essential services to vulnerable residents in the districts who are struggling to afford food and other essential provisions as a result of COVID-19. 

Voluntary groups and organisations can now apply for grants of up to £5,000 to go towards:  

  • projects directly helping vulnerable people affected by the effects of COVID-19, such as providing access to food and other essentials e.g. toiletries; 
  • existing schemes supporting people struggling to afford food and other essentials, and where the need is greatest; 
  • projects advising and providing information to people to help them access longer term support they might need, such as benefits; 
  • projects that provide targeted support in areas of greatest need and deprivation, including rural areas. 

Town and Parish Councils who are collaborating with un-constituted third-party groups e.g. COVID-19 community response groups, mutual aid groups will also be eligible to apply. 

The scheme is now open, and applications will be assessed on a rolling basis. The first deadline for applications is Midnight on Tuesday 15 September 2020.  Further rounds will be assessed every two weeks thereafter, and the scheme will remain open until the funds are spent, so early applications are encouraged. We anticipate that funds will be spent by 31 October 2020. 

To apply, please read the application guidance notes before completing the online form which you can find on the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse websites.   

The funding comes from £63 million of emergency assistance from the government for local authorities to support people who are struggling to afford food and other essential provisions as a result of COVID-19.  

Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers Cabinet member for community services at South Oxfordshire District Council said: “This funding is going to make a great difference to residents in need across South Oxfordshire. The Voluntary groups and organisations in the district have been working tirelessly since the pandemic began to help those who need this extra support, and these grants will enable them to continue this vital work”   

Cllr Helen Pighills Cabinet member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council said: “It is so important that with this grant we are able to continue to support vulnerable people in our communities via the work of voluntary groups and organisations in the Vale.  

This pandemic has had a devastating effect on the finances of some residents and we need to make sure that they continue to receive the help they need to feed their families and get the daily essentials many of us take for granted” 

If you require any further information or have any queries, please contact the Community Connector Team at communityconnectors@southandvale.gov.uk 

Note to Editors: For more information on the grant, the guidance notes and application form please head to the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse websites.