Congratulations to all as care home lockdown friendship project wins top award

Noah Loosemore and George Whigham finally 'meet' last November following last year's lockdown - now winners of the...

Noah Loosemore and George Whigham finally 'meet' last November following last year's lockdown - now winners of the national Nursery World award for ‘Inclusive Practice’. - Credit: Submitted

Just before Christmas I attended a prayer breakfast with church leaders from across Torbay and one of them shared the following quote from Lord of the Rings. It really does sum up the challenging world we are living in:

Frodo: “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

The pandemic is something that none of us wish had happened, but we have no control over that.

What we do have control over is the decisions we arrive at  now, which will affect our future. 

Difficult decisions were made in the 2021/22 Budget.

Thanks to our hard work turning children’s services around, we are on course for a projected £4m underspend this year.

This, combined with other funding streams to help cover some of the costs associated with Covid-19, means we have been able to invest more in services our communities value the most, such as bus subsidies and Paignton festoon seafront lights.

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We are also setting aside £300k for residents who face financial hardship.

Torbay Council’s basic Government grant and formerly largest funding stream has plummeted, with every pound we used to get now worth only 15p.

Sadly, the Chancellor has only furnished us with a one-year settlement for the council’s finances, which means that we have to be financially prudent and put money aside so that we can protect frontline services in future years.

We await the Government’s announcement next week about the Road Map to Recovery out of lockdown.

We hope that affected businesses, in particular those in the hospitality and tourism sectors, can start to plan for re-opening after the devastating 'three winters' effect.

After the Government only gave nine hours’ notice to businesses when cancelling New Year's Eve, they need to up their game in working in partnership with our businesses, not dictating to them.

Local businesses are already missing out on another half-term holiday week, but it is extremely important to help drive down the rate of infections so we can all get back on our feet as quickly as possible.

Last weekend, 3,000 vaccinations were set to be administered to Torbay residents from the dedicated staff and volunteers at the English Riviera International Conference Centre.

Great progress has been made – our local testing and vaccinations programmes have gained momentum and we’ve all made many sacrifices – but we still have a way to go.

 It is easy to take our beautiful Bay for granted. #ExploreFromYourDoor highlights lots of things you can do locally during the half-term week. It includes exploring local footpaths and virtual adventures and activities in Torbay at the English Riviera Virtual Activity Hub.

But for many low income families the school holidays can cause an additional financial burden. That is why Torbay Council wants to make sure that all children have enough to eat over this half-term week.

Those eligible will receive vouchers to the value of £30 per week, per child – which is double the amount being offered by neighbouring Devon County Council – so they can buy food throughout the half-term period.

Building bridges between generations of residents can benefit all in our communities – particularly during the lockdown.

That is never more evident than in Torbay’s intergenerational programme which I am pleased to say has won the national Nursery World award for ‘Inclusive Practice’.

Over the past few years, the Council’s Early Years Advisory Team has been working with Warberries Care Home in Torquay to enable childminders and young children to befriend older residents.

This has continued through the pandemic by means of Skype video calls and was featured in the Torbay Weekly. 

Congratulations to everyone involved for winning this fantastic award.