Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Partnership seeking Minister's help to end fuel poverty

SOMERSET Fuel Poverty Partnership is calling on the Government to back a home insulation scheme that could make a real difference to people’s lives.
The partnership was officially launched last month and includes West Somerset Council and the five other Somerset local authorities, as well as the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol, Age Concern Somerset, and Somerset Primary Care Trust
It has written to Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband to ask for his support.
The partnership is backing a call for a massive investment programme to insulate half of all homes in England and Wales via a £500 million contribution from energy suppliers.
The scheme could lift 500,000 people out of fuel poverty, knock £200 a year off the energy bills of 10 million households, and cut domestic carbon emissions by 20 per cent.
Funding would come from the six main energy companies matching pound for pound the existing contributions from householders, raising an extra £500 million a year.
Under the proposals put forward by the Local Government Association (LGA), energy watchdog Ofgem would prevent the firms from passing on the charges to their customers.
Fuel poverty partnership chairman David Baxter said in the letter to Mr Miliband: “Measures such as the winter allowance obviously help those who are particularly vulnerable, but what is needed are long-term measures to reduce energy use and improve the housing stock.
“Despite rising fuel costs, take-up of the schemes run by energy suppliers is low due to consumer mistrust.
“A cross-party group of MPs has backed the LGA’s proposals that councils should instead take the lead.
“Local authorities would encourage many more householders to take part because councils are trusted more than suppliers and have a profound knowledge of their local area and housing stock.
“Councils would also boost confidence in home insulation schemes by providing accountability for the first time over how the money is raised and spent.
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with you in raising awareness of this policy and would be grateful for your consideration of how we could work together to take this forward.”

Call for West Somerset families to adopt children in care

A FRESH call is being made for families in West Somerset to step forward to give permanent homes to children presently in the care of Somerset County Council.
The appeal has been timed to coincide with the start on Monday, November 10, of National Adoption Week.
The county council is hoping that the week of awareness will encourage more people to put themselves forward as adoptive parents.
The authority is particularly looking for families who can adopt children aged over five years, and it welcomes applications from all sections of the community.
It currently has 17 children aged from nine months to nine years who are waiting for an opportunity to live permanently with a new family.
The four girls and 13 boys include one sibling group of three, and four sibling groups of two.
Linda Barnett, head of children’s social care at the council, said: “The process for becoming an adoptive parent is rigorous, and so it should be.
“But there are no blanket bans so please do not think we will turn you down because you are over-40, single, or because you do not own your own home.
“We need people who can offer a loving and supportive family for life.”
Information about adopting in Somerset will be available at a drop-in session being held on Friday, November 14, between 10.30 am and 1 pm in North Street Church, North Street, Taunton.
County portfolio holder for strategic services for children and young people,
Councillor Pauline Clarke, said: “It is a sad fact that some children are unable to stay with their birth family for all sorts of reasons.
“The council is hoping potential adoptive parents will come forward to give these children the best possible chance to restart their lives.”
National Adoption Week aims to raise awareness of adoption and encourage potential parents to come forward.
There are about 4,000 children in the UK who need adoption every year.
Anybody who believes they have what it takes to become an adoptive parent should contact the county council by calling the freephone number 0800 587 9900 or visiting www.somerset.gov.uk/adoption.

Long-serving hospital volunteers are celebrated

NINETEEN long-serving volunteers in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, have been honoured in a special awards ceremony.
More than 400 people volunteer their time on a regular basis at Musgrove Park, and 186 of them have awards for five years’ service, and 86 have 10-year awards.
Volunteer co-ordinator Jeni Clark said: “Our volunteers do a simply fantastic job.
“They help in wards, in clinics, on reception, with clerical work, in the chapel ,and with Apple AM.
“They complement the staff and help provide a high-quality service to the patients who need us.”
Hugh Gloyn, who worked as a salesman in the retail business for 40 years, now volunteers at Musgrove, greeting and guiding visitors in the Old Building once a week.
He received a five-year award and said: “Although it is ‘only’ helping on reception, you meet all sorts of people in all sorts of situations.
“Hospitals are happy places and sad places and I try to make sure that everybody is greeted with a smile.”
When the Beacon cancer care centre opens at Musgrove in May of next year, there will be additional opportunities for people to volunteer at Musgrove.
Anybody who is interested should contact Jeni Clark by calling 01823 343447 or emailing jeni.clark@tst.nhs.uk.
  • Our photograph shows (left to right) back row - Ruth Cottenham, Hugh Gloyn, Michael Beacham, Sheila Ruff, Gwenan Jones, and Selina Selwood. Front - Wendy Hewson, Pat Slade, Avril Phillips, and Anna Grace (receiving the award on behalf of her husband Jim). Photo submitted.

Honours go to local people helping their local community

LOCAL people from West Somerset have been recognised by the chairman of Somerset County Council for their work in the community.
The Chairman’s Awards for service to the community recognise individuals, partners and groups who have made a significant contribution to their local community.
Four nominees from West Somerset who received framed certificates in recognition of their efforts were Sue Hayes, of Winsford, John Lees, from Bicknoller, Enid Mantin, of Cutcombe, and Kevin Escott, who lives in Minehead.
The overall district prize went to Mr Escott for his support of the Minehead Lifeboat Station, where he has served as a crew member, shore helper, and fund-raiser during the past 60 years.
Mr Escott was presented by county council chairman Councillor Alan Gloak with an engraved crystal clock at a ceremony in Glastonbury Town Hall.
Youth service officers across the county were also asked to nominate young people who had made a significant contribution to their community or other young people, or who had successfully represented the young people of Somerset.
Each youngster received a framed certificate and an engraved glass trophy.
Among those recognised was Terri-Marie Joyner, of Minehead, for her commitment to developing the Norton Fitzwarren Youth Club during the past two years.
Councillor Gloak said: “This is an ideal opportunity to thank those people who give up their time and energy for the benefit of their communities.
“It is right that we should highlight and celebrate their work so that it does not go unnoticed.”
County health and well-being portfolio holder, Councillor Justin Robinson, said: “Somerset is a wonderful place to live and work, and is built on the strong communities that exist everywhere across the county.
“It is encouraging to see so many local people making a positive difference to community life in Somerset.”

Our photographs show Councillor Gloak presenting certificates to (from the top) Sue Hayes, John Lees, and Terri-Marie Joyner, and (BOTTOM) Enid Mantin with her certificate being congratulated by West Somerset district and Cutcombe parish Councillor Roger Webber (right) and other locals. Kevin Escott was unable to attend the awards ceremony. Photos submitted.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Singing songs of hardship from Bulawayo on the Quantocks

ALL the way from Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe, to the foothills of the Quantock Hills - that is the journey made by Umdumo WeSizwe (pictured) to share their songs of love, hope, worship, courtship, hardship, and African social commentary.
Umdumo WeSizwe will be perfoming in Holford Village Hall on Friday, November 14, mesmerising the audience with their harmonies, tip-toe dance routines, and vocal music that is laced with music styles of Afro pop, jazz, R&B, and reggae.
Established in 1994, Umdumo WeSizwe (meaning Sound of the Nation), hail from Zimbabwe’s township.
They have been championed by groups such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Black Umfolosi, and their performances should be a real treat for Somerset villagers.
Some residents of Holford will gain even more from this cross-cultural event, as they will be hosting all 11 members of the company within homes in their communities.
The event is being hosted by Somerset arts development agency Take Art: Live through its village performance scheme.
Take Art spokesperson Becci Davis said: “Fresh, young, exuberant, and ready to touch the world, come and enjoy an evening with Umdumo Wesizwe that is guaranteed to chase away any thoughts of winter.”
Tickets for the performance can be booked by calling Holford Village Hall box office on 01278 741541.
More information on the Take Art: Live scheme is available by calling 01460 249450 or emailing becci@takeart.org, or visiting the website www.takeart.org.
For more information on Umdumo WeSizwe, visit www.umdumowesizwe.com.

Foundation trust members to hear hospital's first-year report

THE first annual members’ meeting of Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust will be held later this month.
The meeting, on Thursday, November 20, is open to all members of the foundation trust, and will take place at Somerset County Cricket Ground, in Taunton.
As well as receiving reports from the chairman and chief executive, members will hear of plans for future developments and see the premiere of a new DVD about the trust, which runs Musgrove Park Hospital.
The meeting starts at 12 noon and will finish by 2.30 pm. Lunch will be provided and all members who attend will be entered into a draw to win tickets to one of Somerset’s 20:20 cricket matches next summer.
Trust chairman Ros Wyke said: “Members are really important to us at Musgrove Park.
“They play an important role in telling us what we are getting right and where we need to improve.
“They also elect governors, who have a number of significant powers to decide on the future direction of the trust.
“This meeting is a chance for us to report on the last year and our plans for the future, but also a great opportunity to hear from members on their priorities.”
Places at the meeting are free, but must be booked by noon on Monday, November 10, by calling 01823 342460 or emailing jo.wakefield@tst.nhs.uk.
Anybody who is not a foundation trust member can join online at www.tsft.nhs.uk or by calling 01823 342460.

BBC Proms song and dance for Kingsmead pupils

YOUNGSTERS from West Somerset have been invited to perform at the finale of the BBC School Proms.
The concert, which will take place at the Royal Albert Hall, London on November 12, will feature more than 500 children and young people from across Somerset, including pupils of Kingsmead School, in Wiveliscombe.
The young people will be singing, dancing, and playing as part of a joint project between Somerset County Council’s music service and the Somerset County Youth Choir.
Pupils from primary and secondary schools across Somerset will perform a specially-commissioned piece by local composer Sammy Hurden at the finale, who has composed a choral piece entitled ‘The Calling’, designed to highlight the power of the voice.
The finale will also feature local musicians as well as dancers from East Bridgwater Community School.
Singing rehearsals began in primary and secondary schools in the spring, and teachers have been teaching the music to newly-formed or developing school choirs to help them prepare for the event.
The singers will be accompanied on the night by young Somerset musicians and staff from the county music service.
A full rehearsal is due to take place in Yeovil on Saturday, which will be the first time the 550-strong choir, along with local musicians and dancers, will have come together to rehearse.
Penny Dunscombe, Somerset Music’s vocal development manager and also artistic director for the youth choir, said: “The students and their teachers are fantastic to work with, and the music sounds wonderful.
“We are all getting very excited about performing at this prestigious event, and I feel privileged indeed to be leading this project.”
County education portfolio holder Councillor Gloria Cawood said: “The council provides services for local residents at all stages of their lives, and the music service is invaluable in promoting music in primary and secondary schools.
“It is to their great credit that talented young musicians from Somerset are to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.”
The Somerset County Youth Choir is open to any student aged between 11 and 22 years.
More information is available by contacting Penny Dunscombe on 01823 356619.
  • Our photograph shows some of the Somerset pupils at an earlier rehearsal. Photo submitted.

LETTER: Help drum up support for charity

Dear Editor - We, at the Meningitis Trust, are delighted to have the support of top band the Fratellis, who are helping us to raise vital funds to continue our work.
The band pledged their support after a loyal fan of theirs, Calum Macleod, lost his life to meningitis, aged just 12.They have donated several valuable items, including a signed guitar that Jon Fratelli played in the Chelsea Dagger video, to be raffled off in aid of us.
We are asking for people to dig deep and enter the raffle, knowing that regardless of whether they win, they will be making a huge difference to the lives of many people who are struggling to cope with the impact of meningitis in the UK right now.
The raffle will be drawn on December 8, which would have been Calum’s 14th birthday.
With tickets costing just £2 each, Calum’s family hopes the raffle will raise over £50,000 for the trust.
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.meningitis-trust.org/Fratellis/fratellis-raffle.html.Meningitis can affect anybody, of any age, at any time.
It can strike in minutes and kill within hours.
We are hoping the raffle will not only help to raise funds for us, but will also raise vital awareness of meningitis.With as many as 500,000 people living in the UK who have had either viral or bacterial meningitis and up to one adult in every four knowing of somebody who has had meningitis, our ongoing work is much-needed.
However, we are completely reliant on voluntary donations to continue our work, so fund-raising such as this raffle is vital to our future.
Sue Davie
Meningitis Trust