• Recently, I received a letter from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in braille in respect of their Christmas appeal, which I am keen to enthusiastically support. Every year, the ‘elves’ at the RNIB send over 1000 letters from ‘Santa’ in accessible formats, like braille or audio, to children with sight loss to make sure they can have a magical Christmas too. A great initiative!
• In the run-up to Christmas, we can all take steps to address loneliness. It’s OK to feel lonely, particularly at a time like this, but please don’t suffer in silence, as we can all help each other stay connected. Here's how: https://letstalkloneliness.co.uk/.
• With the suspension of all tours and other non-essential visits to Parliament, did you know that free tours and talks are now available to book online? These expert guided tours are a great opportunity to get to see inside the Houses of Parliament and learn more about the very heart of our democracy. More: https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/virtualtour/.
• As Autumn turns to Winter, older people in Corby & East Northamptonshire may be understandably worrying about managing over the coming months. The ‘Age UK Winter Hub’ has information on looking after your wellbeing, how to get support, and ways to help each other get through this winter. Well worth a look! See: www.ageuk.org.uk/winter.
• In addition to the above notice I am also pleased to be supporting Age UK’s campaign - ‘No one should have no one’ - for the more than 2.5 million older people who have no one to turn to for help and support. The campaign is raising awareness about the issues facing lonely older people and the support on offer, particularly during these really challenging times. You can find out more at: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/in-your-area/.
• Despite the current pandemic, the Northants Telegraph have not been deterred from running their annual Christmas Toy Appeal. Although readers cannot drop toys off this year, they’ve teamed up with the Wellingborough-based The Faraway Children's Charity to set up an online fundraising page where people can donate an amount of their choice. The money kindly donated will then be used to buy presents and gifts for looked-after children across the whole of the county. The Christmas spirit of generosity is alive and well for all to see, so if you are in a position to support this appeal, I know it will be greatly appreciated and make a difference to some of the most vulnerable children in our area, with that little bit extra this Christmas. More:
• I was pleased to be advised of a new funding stream Sport England have introduced called the ‘Return to Play Fund’, which sees £16.5 million available to support groups, clubs and organisations impacted by Coronavirus. The funding is broken down into three tranches and information about applying can be found, here: https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/our-funds. I really welcome this funding and hope it can help sporting organisations here in Corby & East Northamptonshire to weather the COVID storm!
• I am pleased to be supporting Sport England in their campaign for people to keep active during these challenging times, as their research has shown that activity levels have been dropping. Getting moving and playing sport is incredibly beneficial, not only for physical health, but also for mental wellbeing. If you can’t get out to your local leisure facilities which are open, Sport England has a whole host of free workouts, which can be found, here: https://www.sportengland.org/jointhemovement. So, Corby & East Northamptonshire, let’s get moving!
• East Northamptonshire Council has produced a handy guide for recycling locally, so please do take a look and help to keep your recycling clean, as well as only recycling the items shown. If we don’t, all the good work literally goes to waste – with the whole lot agonisingly going to landfill! More: https://tinyurl.com/ybv2yau6.
• SEMLEP’s ‘Growth Hub’ has joined forces with Buckinghamshire Business First, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, New Anglia Growth Hub and OXLEP Growth Hub, to deliver a series of webinars helping businesses prepare for international trading post the EU ‘exit’ transition period. These webinars will run through to March and you can find out more, here: https://www.semlepgrowthhub.com/events/. A very useful opportunity for local exporters!
• In addition to the above notice, SEMLEP’s Community Grants programme has opened for applications. Voluntary, community and social enterprises can apply for grants of between £10,000 and £20,000 to deliver projects that help get people back into work or training. For more information, visit: https://www.semlep.com/community-grants/.
• Northamptonshire County Council has launched its third Community Flood Resilience Pathfinder project, which allows local communities to apply for support to reduce the likelihood of flash flooding. There are a few obvious areas locally that could potentially qualify for the scheme, and to find out more and apply, visit: https://www.floodtoolkit.com/pathfinder/.
• The Chairman of East Northamptonshire Council, Councillor Helen Howell, has launched a new awards scheme to recognise local heroes from across East Northamptonshire for all the hard work they do locally to help and support others and make our community the fantastic place it is to live and work. The closing date for nominations is the 31st December and there are several categories to nominate in. To find out more and nominate someone you know, visit: https://www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/ENChampions.
• Thanks to improvements to the Charity Commission register of charities, you can now check for registered charities based in Corby & East Northamptonshire at the click of a button. Go to the charity register now to ensure you’re giving safely to recognised charities and make sure your kind donations do exactly what you intended them to:
• A particularly concerning aspect around our collective national effort to fight Coronavirus is the impact it is understandably having on people’s mental health. In response, I am pleased that our local councils and the NHS have launched a mental health support line, and whether you are feeling lonely, anxious, frightened, or struggling with other issues, there is friendly, professional support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 0300 330 1011.
• In addition to the above notice, the British Red Cross have set up a Coronavirus Support Line, open 7 days a week for anyone feeling worried or lonely. If you or someone you know is lonely, or finding it difficult to cope during these uncertain times, please call the free and confidential British Red Cross Coronavirus Support Line on 0808 196 3651, which is open daily from 10am to 6pm.
• A project that aims to remember all those who have very sadly lost their lives in the UK as a result of COVID-19 is being led by St Paul’s Cathedral in London, supported by community and faith leaders from across the country and HRH the Prince of Wales. Family, friends, or carers of those who have died can submit, free of charge, the name, photograph and a short message in honour of a lost loved one, via the ‘Remember Me’ website (www.rememberme2020.uk). Like us all, my thoughts are with all those who have sadly lost someone at this very difficult time, and this is a fitting tribute to remember them all.
• Around all the wonderful work going on in our community and the national effort to fight Coronavirus, I am really saddened to hear of the small minority of people who, disgracefully, are trying to take advantage of vulnerable people at this hugely challenging time. I am aware of several scams, and urge you to stay extra vigilant. Be suspicious around phone calls, texts and emails you weren't expecting, or people claiming to be from the Government, HMRC, or the local council. More information and advice, here: https://bit.ly/2HtMqE9.
If you have anything you would like to be featured next week, please email all the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you have taken any photos of constituency landscapes or landmarks, which could be featured in my ‘Community Notices’ headers, please send them in and I will try to use as many of them as possible (and credit them accordingly!), as a celebration of the fantastic place we live and work in. I know we have many budding photographers in our community and it would be great to showcase their work!