I'd like to thank the people of Paignton for backing Cat

Torbay Council Liberal Democrat councillors celebrate Cat John's success in the Clifton with Maidenway by-election

Torbay Council Liberal Democrat councillors celebrate Cat John's success in the Clifton with Maidenway by-election in Paignton - Credit: Ed Oldfield

When involved in politics, part of the natural rhythm of life is watching your garden go wild in March and April, while you spend time pounding the streets to engage with your local community.

Despite the pandemic, this year saw a return to a kind of normality with many of us helping with the Clifton with Maidenway by-election in Paignton.

The election was caused by the death of Councillor Ian Dogget last November. In a year with a significant ‘vaccine bounce’ for the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats did well to retain this seat.

The people of Paignton chose Cat Johns, who lives at the heart of the ward, and will be an outstanding advocate for the town.

I would like to thank all those who backed Cat, whether they are natural Liberals or from other progressive parties who wish to see the partnership between Independents and Liberal Democrats which runs Torbay Council continue to make significant progress on turning the tide on poverty in Torbay, regenerating our town centres, and building stronger communities.

We can all be proud of having one of the lowest Covid-19 rates in the country - and it’s important to keep up the momentum on the next step of the roadmap out of lockdown on Monday, May 17.

As more of us go out to enjoy the Bay’s attractions and newly-opened indoor venues, we’re all being encouraged to get into the habit of twice-weekly testing, because one in three people don’t show any symptoms.

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There’s lots of options to make this as easy as possible and the details are on the council’s website at www.torbay.gov.uk/community-testing

It’s Foster Care Fortnight – an annual campaign reminding us of the value of our foster carers.

As someone who was myself adopted, I feel great empathy for those who open up their homes to support children in need in Torbay.

We’ve recruited more foster carers in the last 12 months than we did in the previous five years.

A placement in a family environment is, in almost all cases, preferable to a residential care placement for a child.

At Torbay Council, we see every day how extraordinary our foster carers are, offering children a safe and nurturing home and giving them the tools to make the very best start in life on their journey into adulthood.

This year, I would like to take the opportunity to shine some light on an area of fostering which takes this a step further - resilience fostering.

Resilience foster carers support young people aged ten to 18 who currently live in residential care and who have particularly complex needs, or who may be in the youth justice system or have other additional requirements.

For those who have the knowledge, skills and experience to care for these children and young people, it is an opportunity to truly change a life for the better.

If you think you have what it takes, then we’re always looking for extraordinary people who can offer a young person a home to help them build their self-confidence and independence so they can reach their full potential.

If this sounds of interest, please visit www.torbay.gov.uk/children-and-families/fostering or call 01803 207845.

It is also National Mental Health Awareness Week.

With everything that has happened over the past 12 months, most of us know someone who is experiencing mental health issues or have been facing psychological and emotional challenges ourselves.

As well as support from family and friends, it is important to know that there is professional help available.

As a council, we are fully committed to working with our clinical partners, community organisations and volunteers to provide a variety of services offering support and advice for both adults and children.

Our children and young people services are provided by the Torbay Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and can be contacted on 01803 655692.

Our adult mental health service is provided by the Devon Partnership Trust - call 01392 208866.