Author: Sarah

May Bank Holiday revised collections

Bin collections next week (W/c 25 May) will be collected one day later due to the end of May Bank Holiday.  

Recycling centres are open again, however there are currently restrictions in place and social distancing is in place. Further information is on the Shropshire Council website.

The phased re-opening of Shropshire schools – a letter to parents and carers

This letter from Shropshire Council is reproduced in its entirety.

Dear parents and carers

We want to share with you the latest information about the phased re-opening of Shropshire schools. The Prime Minister announced on 10 May that it is the Government’s aim to consider widening the offer made by schools to extend provision to nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 in primary schools. At the same time, secondary schools and colleges should seek to offer some face-to-face support for children and young people in year 10 and year 12 to supplement their remote education.

This is an anxious time for everyone. We know that we have seen a fall in COVID-19 cases nationally and lockdown has been a big part of this. In Shropshire numbers have remained stable. We also know that some families and children have found lockdown very difficult to cope with. Some will have been personally affected with loss and grief, others will have encountered financial challenges and we have all experienced change and uncertainty. The next stage is how we can now open things up gradually and sensibly so that we don’t see an increase in cases locally.

The safety of children and staff is our priority. School leadership teams will be carrying out risk assessments to help them identify the approach that is right in your child’s school. As a local authority we acknowledge that not all schools will be able to meet the Government’s ambitions immediately. Capacity in schools will vary and many schools will need to introduce a phased re-integration. This might affect the year groups that can attend and the days available. Schools will only invite pupils back once the protective measures outlined by the government have been put in place.

At present, there are no detailed plans for what education will be like for years 10 and 12. Special schools are being asked to follow the same protective measures as mainstream schools but are not being asked to prioritise particular year groups.

Pupils who are shielded due to their medical vulnerability or who are at particular clinical risk, or who live in a household with someone who is shielded or otherwise clinically at risk, should remain at home.

Schools will work very differently, at least for the rest of this term. Class sizes will be small and schools will implement social distancing as far as possible. This means lessons may run differently, break times and lunch times may be staggered, school start and finish times may be different. If your child requires home to school transport, these arrangements will change as strict safety and social distancing arrangements will be applied on the vehicles.

This will not be a one-size-fits-all approach but will be tailored to your child’s school.

Inside the classroom pupils will form a ‘social bubble’ – spending time with the same group of children during lessons, break and lunch and working where possible with the same members of teaching staff. This is to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and protect pupils and staff.

We know that schools not being fully open can create difficulties for working parents especially when other family members such as grandparents are unable to provide childcare. Parents will undoubtedly have many questions around particular circumstances.

We have created a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the council website and also a dedicated telephone enquiry line – 0345 678 9008.

We all agree that it will be good for children to return to school but it has to be when schools and parents are confident that this is safe. Shropshire Council continues to work closely with all schools who, we are sure that you agree, have performed a fantastic job under very difficult conditions.

Yours sincerely

Karen Bradshaw, Executive Director of Children’s Services

Rachel Robinson, Director of Public Health,

Coronavirus: Further support to local businesses with GRANTfinder

Shropshire Council has accepted an offer from GRANTfinder that will give it six months’ free access to a new online funding portal that will make it easier to promote available funding streams to the local business, voluntary and public sectors.

As the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses in Shropshire increases, this new ability to signpost available funding will provide an important boost to local organisations.

The new portal will give the council a simple way to promote available funding.

The offer will be available in Shropshire for free until 31 October 2020.

Open4Business provides a one stop shop of all the funding and support on offer to help local companies succeed and grow: vital in a time of challenging conditions for enterprise. It is hoped many more business will be able to benefit from the information available and access new and existing funds.

Open4Business will be highlighting business news and information about new funding streams designed to support businesses respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Access to the site will allow business owners to assess whether there are opportunities they can apply for.

To sign up to the service, businesses must be willing to share some key data with idox including name, address and telephone number. Terms and conditions, and information about how your data will be used, is clearly available on the sign up page. Find out more about this offer on Shropshire Council’s website.

Business support

Businesses can access a broader range of business support through the Marches Growth Hub. The Marches Growth Hub offers a single point of access to information and guidance on business grants, loans, support and advice available to enterprises across the region, regardless of sector or size of development.

For more information about the advice and support that is available to your business, visit the Marches Growth Hub website or ring 0300 456 3565.

Coronavirus: New interactive maps to help you find nearby support

Shropshire Council has developed new interactive maps to help residents and businesses find local support that is available to them.

The maps available include searchable local food providers and food delivery serviceslocal social network groups that have been established to provide support during the coronavirus pandemic, and community support services such as information for those who need help to pay energy bills.

These crucial new resources have been developed in partnership with other local groups and organisations. Shropshire Council has gathered together new information resources that may be used by individuals, groups and organisations throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Many other topics are also covered, ranging from advice from trading standards, to mental health and advice about how you can manage anxiety.

The maps will be kept up to date and will reflect the support that is currently available in your area and right across Shropshire.

You can find the new maps by visiting the coronavirus page on the Shropshire Council website.

Warmer Homes Shropshire launched to help households lower their heating bills and stay warmer at home

To help bring down the cost of heating bills for fuel poor and vulnerable households, Shropshire Council along with Herefordshire Council have teamed up with several local charities and the energy supplier E.ON to launch the Warmer Homes programme. Under the scheme in Shropshire, eligible households could benefit from free first time central heating and gas connections.

Over the next two years grants will be available to more than 300 households who don’t currently have central heating, many of whom rely on expensive and inefficient heating systems such as night storage heaters or portable electric heating. If a property needs to be connected to the gas supply to install a central heating system, this will also be covered by the scheme.

Homeowners, as well as private tenants and their landlords could benefit from the scheme. Installing new gas central heating systems could save a household as much as £350 per year, along with the £4,500 cost of a brand new heating system.

In addition, through the Council’s existing Keep Shropshire Warm scheme, a range of energy advice will be on offer to help residents make their homes more efficient, cheaper and easier to heat,  including to households in rural areas, where gas central heating may not be an option.

Locally, more than 16,000 households in Shropshire are believed to be in or at risk of fuel poverty, meaning they struggle to heat their home and stay warm affordably.

Working in partnership with Age UK Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Citizens Advice Shropshire, residents will also be supported to access benefit advice and support and maximise their income.

For more information and to apply visit http://www.shropshire.gov.uk/warmer-homes-shropshire or call 0333 202 4481

The team at Keep Shropshire Warm are available on 0800 112 3743 and can discuss the scheme in more detail, help residents apply and provide advice on any energy topic, big or small. If you are in a  rural area and don’t have central heating, the team could still be able to help.

In order to continue to keep residents and colleagues safe, interested residents will not be visited at homes until it is safe to do so. However, any interested residents are being encouraged to make contact and register an application, and we will continue to contact you by telephone to keep you up to date on your application.

Coronavirus: Shropshire Libraries’ Arts Award is now online

Arts Award is a set of qualifications for children and young people that gets them involved in, and excited about, the arts and culture. On completion, children will be awarded a certificate from Trinity College London, who manage Arts Award, in association with Arts Council England. Now available in both Discover and Explore levels, Shropshire Libraries’ Arts Award has moved online, and you can now sign-up.

To support children’s continued learning and engagement in the arts, Shropshire Libraries are offering the opportunity to work towards Arts Award Discover and Explore from the safety of your home.

The Discover level qualification is designed for children ages 5-9, and Explore level for ages 7-11; although any young person up to the age of 25 can take part.

You will create online portfolios through a secure web platform to complete their qualification. In your portfolios, you will show evidence of; taking part in art activities of your choosing, finding out about artists and their work, and sharing with others what you have learned and enjoyed. Explore participants will also create a piece of art.

To support the Arts Award qualification, Shropshire Libraries Arts Award team have put together a package highlighting relevant e-books, e-magazines and arts and cultural websites. A highlight of this package are links to local arts and cultural organisations such as Shropshire Museums, who have created a selection of short videos and worksheets featuring objects and artworks held in the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery collection.

To find out how to sign up to Arts Award Discover or Explore and the costs of taking part visit the Shropshire Libraries website or contact artsaward@shropshire.gov.uk. To find out more about Arts Award visit https://www.artsaward.org.uk/

Coronavirus: Expert online events will help businesses recover from coronavirus lockdown

News from Marches Growth Hub

Three special online sessions are being staged to offer expert advice to help Shropshire businesses recover from the coronavirus lockdown.

The Marches Growth Hub Shropshire has teamed up with experts from The Innovation Beehive to run the free, live and interactive events in May and June 2020.

The hub says the online sessions will be open to all businesses in both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to help support the whole county’s recovery.

Emma Chapman, Shropshire Growth Hub manager, said the three sessions on 12 May, 19 May and 2 June would offer a springboard for businesses to prepare for what is to come once the current restrictions are lifted and build a roadmap through the uncertainty the virus had created.

The first session on Tuesday 12 May – Virtual Working at its Best – will examine ways in which businesses can use the skills and techniques developed through home-working during the lockdown when offices reopen.

It will examine how a virtual team can stay connected, engaged and productive, the tools businesses can use to stay connected, how to connect with customers remotely and some of the traits of great remote leadership.

It is aimed at entrepreneurs wanting to connect with their teams and customers remotely, team leaders needing to stay connected with their teams and business leaders who want to preserve the digital capability developed during the pandemic for the future.

To find out more and book a place visit: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IgW9FEUDRYe_cy6TXDtY8g

The second session on 19 May will look at what makes great leadership during a crisis, how these skills will be needed during the various stages of the recovery and the questions leaders need to be answering at each stage.

The final session on 2 June will examine how innovation and creative problem solving will be vital to businesses successfully recovering from the crisis.

To reserve a place on 19 May session visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Jn4oNm0LTFueQyCYI5vSog  and for the June 2 event https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4hX6LmyPToiQTBoFfS-0cw

Share a Mindful Moment with Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

Shropshire Museums are launching a ‘Mindful Museums’ project and want you to take part.

The museums team have produced a series of short videos offering you a mindful exploration of artworks and objects held in the collection of Shropshire Museums. The videos are accompanied by a restful audio track by artist & educator Lindsey Kennedy, which encourages you ‘ to look, to breathe and to be curious’.

The first videos of the series feature a blue and white Caughley china tea pot, a beautiful oil painting of an English garden and a silver Roman mirror from Wroxeter.  A selection of activity sheets to support each video have been produced to help viewers get started with their own creative projects. The videos are available via the museum’s YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv8uWJJHMgh6QeLWFta5ArA

The museums team are calling for listeners to spend a relaxing moment viewing the videos and to share their creative response using the hashtag #mindfulmuseums #museumfromhome and tagging in @shrewsburymuseum @shrewsmuseum

People participating in ‘Arts Award’ offered by Shropshire Libraries can also access the videos and activity sheets to help them complete their award.

Editor’s Note: I found the teapot video very relaxing!

Coronavirus: New interactive map shows supermarkets accepting free school meals vouchers

Shropshire Council has developed a simple interactive online map to help families find the locations of the supermarkets across the county that accept the Government’s free school meal vouchers.

The Government launched the national online free school meal voucher scheme at the beginning of April, to provide supermarket vouchers for families of benefit-related pupils who are not able to attend school due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The map is available at http://shropshire.gov.uk/free-school-meal-vouchers-map

More information about the voucher scheme can be found here.