Keep the bugs at bay this Christmas!
There are lots of ways you can look after yourself to stay well over Christmas. Make sure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked and if you feel under the weather just take some rest and plenty of fluids - plus over the counter medication if you need it. Your local pharmacist will be able to give you advice on all kinds of minor ailments.
And washing your hands regularly and well might be all it takes to stop you getting poorly at this time of year, when bugs and viruses circulate more easily.
Use NHS111 for urgent medical help
Despite our best efforts to stay well and be healthy, anyone can find they need medical help urgently. So it’s reassuring to know help is always at hand from the NHS111 team, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
If you have a medical concern that is urgent or are worried about what you should do then dial 111 or go online at 111.nhs.uk.
The NHS111 team can connect you to the right healthcare professional for your needs, such as nurses, emergency dentists, or mental health services or GPs or they may direct you to a pharmacist.
NHS111 advisors can also book face-to-face appointments with an out of hours GP which could be in the Urgent Treatment Centre based at Wycombe Hospital which treats minor conditions. 111 staff can also book appointments directly with your own GP, and if you are assessed as needing an ambulance, one will be sent directly.
111 is the best choice for getting the right medical help or advice quickly, although if you think your life is at risk then you should call 999
Good Neighbours – spread the goodwill
Looking out for neighbours who are elderly or frail is something everyone can do which makes a huge difference to older people in the winter months, especially if they live alone, are frail or ill.
As cold weather kicks in, many elderly residents feel trapped and very lonely, unable to get to the shops or their GP if they have a problem. Not everyone will ask for help, so make the first move. Could you offer to collect medicine or shopping? You might help prevent the risk of a fall. Know the signs that they may need help - not seen a neighbour for a while? Are their curtains always drawn? Is milk still on the door step or mail in the door? They may need help. Don’t wait - pop round and check if they are ok.
If you are concerned about a neighbour or need to speak to someone urgently about a vulnerable adult, get in touch with the adult social care team: 01296 383 204 / outside office hours: 0800 999 7677
More information about looking after yourself and others in winter can be found on the Buckinghamshire County Council website
There’s still time to protect your family against flu this winter
There’s so much going on at this time of year, thoughts of flu and booking in for a vaccine are, not surprisingly, probably far from your mind.
However, flu is a serious illness and certain groups of people are more vulnerable to developing potentially dangerous complications if they catch the flu. The most sensible way to avoid getting ill in the first place is to have a flu vaccine.
Certain groups of people are entitled to a free flu jab:
- Adults aged 65 and over
- People with certain medical conditions including heart disease and respiratory conditions
- Pregnant women
- Children aged 2 and 3
- Primary school children up to Year 6
- Carers – both professional care workers those who may be the primary carer for a family member or friend.
To get yours, all you have to do is book an appointment with your GP.
There have been some delays with distributing supplies of the nasal spray vaccine for children so some people may have had issues booking an appointment for their child. New supplies are being distributed regularly so please keep trying if you haven’t been able to book an appointment yet with your GP.
Even if you don’t qualify for a free flu jab, for a small charge you can get one at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.
The flu season runs right through to March so it’s not too late to get your flu jab to keep you and your family healthy and safe this winter.
For more information visit: www.nhs.uk/flu
Free parking this Christmas!
In these last few days before Christmas you might still be rushing to finish your Christmas shopping - so how about this for a helping hand - free parking at some council-run car parks across Buckinghamshire!
You can park for free at the following locations and times:
Wycombe District Council car parks in Princes Risborough: all day Saturday 21 December
Wycombe District Council car parks in Marlow: all day Saturday 21 December
For details of Christmas free parking in Aylesbury Vale check online here, click here for details of free parking in Chiltern and check here for the details for South Bucks car parks.
Don't forget to take advantage of the town centre cafes, bars and restaurants too when you're parking for free!
Christmas opening hours for your local councils
Don't forget lots of county and district council offices and services will be running reduced hours over the Christmas period.
Here's some key info for you:
Buckinghamshire County Council offices will be closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Friday 27 December and New Year's Day.
Find out when your local family centre is open by following the link to your local one here, and for Christmas opening times at your local library check out our article in the libraries section of MyBucks.
The Buckinghamshire County Council Contact Centre is open at the usual times - 9:00am-5:30pm Mon-Thu and 9:00am - 5:00pm Fridays, but it'll be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Otherwise call the usual number on 01296 395 000 if you need to contact the county council.
If you need to contact Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) over the festive period, please be aware that on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve they will be closing a little earlier than usual:
- Customer Service Centre last appointment: 3.00pm
- Customer Service Centre closing time: 3.30pm
- Phone lines and webchat service closing time: 3.45pm
In addition, please note that their office will be closed all day on Friday 27 December as well as on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
More info on AVDC's opening hours can found here.
Click here for full details of South Bucks District Council offices and phone line opening hours over Christmas and click here for the details for Chiltern District Council.
Wycombe District Council are operating the following opening hours over Christmas:
Public office opening and closing times
Tuesday 24 December
8.45am to 4pm
Wednesday 25 December (Christmas Day)
Thursday 26 December (Boxing Day)
Friday 27 December
Monday 30 December
8.45am to 5.15pm
Tuesday 31 December
8.45am to 4pm
Wednesday 1 January
Thursday 2 January
8.45am to 5.15pm
Changes to bin collections over Christmas
Bin collection days will change over Christmas and New Year because of the bank holidays.
If you live in Aylesbury Vale then click here to find out revised times - and there's also some great info on what you can and can't recycle.
Chiltern District Council residents can get their times here and South Bucks District Council residents can click here.
Wycombe District Council residents can find out your Xmas bin collection information here
You might be planning to use the holiday time for a clear out too - so don't forget that opening times at household recycling centres will also be different over Christmas and New Year.
All nine of Buckinghamshire's household recycling centres will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day over the festive period. But that still leaves plenty of days when you can recycle the extra cardboard, wrapping paper and old electrical goods, including the weekends.
Remember that the Aylesbury (Rabans Lane), Burnham and Chesham sites will continue their usual weekday closures on Wednesdays and Thursdays through the holiday period.
For further information, including webcams that let you see how busy each site is, go online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/waste-and-recycling/household-recycling-centres
Your new council is coming – Buckinghamshire Council
It's a big year for local government in Buckinghamshire - 2020 is when the new Buckinghamshire Council will replace the county council and the four district councils in the county.
There's a lot being finalised ready for day one on 1 April and now the branding for Buckinghamshire’s new council has been revealed after being agreed by the Shadow Executive, who are leading the creation of the new Buckinghamshire Council.
The logo, which will be used by the new Buckinghamshire Council from April 2020 has been created at no cost, using in-house expertise and designers from across the five councils.
It represents Buckinghamshire’s beautiful natural environment including its hills, rivers, and ancient woodland and in a nod to the county’s ceremonial history, it also includes a swan in flight over the landscape.
The new logo will start to appear in the new year as part of a campaign to promote the new council to residents, business and local organisations.
Find out more about the logo and your new council on the shadow executive website.
Booze and you - be in the know this Christmas
With so many social activities over the festive period and into the New Year, for those who choose to drink alcohol, it can be tricky to keep track of how much you’ve drunk.
Whether it’s a night out with friends, a quick drink with the neighbours or a festive catch up over a meal, alcohol is usually on the cards and the amount you drink can soon add up.
Did you know that the recommended maximum amount of alcohol per week is 14 units? Drinking over this amount can cause serious harm to your health so if you choose to drink alcohol, keeping under the limit is the best way to reduce the impact on your body.
Whilst we can’t stop people drinking, we want to make sure as many of you as possible stay safe so here are some tips to help you:
Sign up for an app – you can keep track of each drink, plan alcohol free days to give your body a break and see how many calories are in your drinks! www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/drink-less/
Don’t drink and drive – it’s just not worth the risk so if you are drinking alcohol, plan ahead and use public transport, book a cab, have a designated driver or stay over https://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/transport-and-roads/buses-and-trains/bus-timetables/
Beware the morning after – if you have been drinking alcohol, you are very likely to still be over the limit the following morning meaning you will have enough alcohol in your body to fail a breath test! So, if you need to drive in the morning, it’s best not to drink the night before.
Try Dry January – it may be a way off but if you’d like to give your body a break after indulging during the festivities, Dry January is a good start to reset your relationship with alcohol, feel healthier and save money. Find out more www.dryjanuary.org.uk
Stan the Elf!
This Christmas Buckinghamshire & Surrey Trading Standards have a new member of the team - our festive elf called Stan Dards.
Stan is highlighting all sorts of work the team undertake with a festive feel - you can find out more if you follow #StanTheElf on the service Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages during December.
At this time of year lots of people get caught up in the rush of buying presents, and many turn to the internet for a convenient way to shop. It’s important to only buy from trusted retailers – those that pop up as an advert with a too good to be true bargain, often disappear once they have your money just as quick!
Also, just make sure that the things you purchase are genuine. Not only can fakes be of poor quality, but are often dangerous, don’t comply with safety measures and the money lines the pockets of criminals rather than our local economy.
Happy and safe shopping!
2019 road repairs programme nears completion
As we head towards 2020, Buckinghamshire’s £19 million major road surfacing programme for 2019 is nearing completion.
This year’s programme, which was proposed by Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) engineers in the asset management team and confirmed by County Councillors, included over 100 roads.
The programme was targeted at keeping the strategic network in a safe and serviceable condition by taking a balanced approach to road maintenance and repair using treatments that both improve road surfaces and address deterioration.
The treatments have included full resurfacing for the most damaged roads and micro surfacing and surface dressing to extend the serviceable life of other roads. Other methods - including plane and patch - have also been used to treat local roads.
County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Transportation Mark Shaw went out to see one of the final schemes in Chesham and said: "I am delighted with this year’s programme of works - we’ve managed to achieve a huge amount this year. TfB will finish this round of work at the beginning of 2020 and more roads are in the mix for inclusion in the programme for 2020 – 2021.
"I have also been impressed that TfB has been carrying out additional tasks to make the best of the road closures whilst they are working there, reducing the need for additional roadworks, ultimately saving time for motorists."
Thrift Farm is on its winter break
Much-loved local attraction Thrift Farm is now on its usual winter break. The farm park will re-open for Easter 2020 under new management and with a new name – Thrift Activity Farm.
Homemade cake lovers will be pleased to know that the farm cafe will remain open to visitors throughout the seasonal closure of the farm park.
The winter closure provides an opportunity for staff and service users to carry out routine maintenance and get ready for the lambing season.
Prior to the Easter re-opening, the farm will change hands from Buckinghamshire County Council to the new providers - Kids Play Ltd and Mead Open Farm.
The official handover is scheduled to take place in January 2020 - with current Thrift Farm service users and staff transferring over to the new service.
The farm park and animal enclosures will be closed to visitors from Monday 2 December 2019 until Easter 2020. For more information about Thrift Farm including cafe opening times go to www.thriftfarm.co.uk
Find things to do over Christmas
The festive period can be a busy time but if you’re looking for something to do, Buckinghamshire's Family Information Service is a great place to find family activities. Our Things to do section boasts upcoming events, places to go and includes activities for children with SEND plus much more.
Our Christmas Map also highlights lots of events and activities across the county, it includes Santa’s Grottos, Pantos, Craft Workshops, Cookery Workshops and much more.
Get your diaries ready for 2020 as timetables for next term for all Family Centres are out now or are coming soon.
From the 'Family Centres' section of the Family Information Service website, you can:
- Search for centres by name, keywords and postcode
- View and download a timetable under “Useful Documents”
- Discover what services and activities are on offer
- Share information with friends and family via social media, SMS and email
Buckinghamshire Family Information Service
What we do: We provide free, impartial information, advice, and guidance on a range of topics relating to family life including childcare, education, money, local services, things to do and the Local Offer for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
For: Buckinghamshire families, parents/carers with children aged 0 to 19 years (up to 25 with SEND), young people and professionals.
LinkedIn: Buckinghamshire Family Information Service
Festive fun at Bucks County Museum
During the Christmas holidays take a nostalgic trip back to childhood with our brilliant toys exhibition or pick up some last minute presents in our gift shop. Check our opening times on our website before your visit.
Toy Box Exhibition
14 December 2019 – 18 April 2020
This family favourite is back again with lots of toys to remember from childhood and plenty of toys and games to play with too.
Katie Surridge Residency Exhibition
This year’s Muir Trust Artist in Residence at the Museum has been Katie Surridge, an exciting mixed media artist specialising in metal casting. During her residency, Katie has been exploring the archaeology collections and creating her own artworks inspired by her finds. Come and see the fascinating results of her residency in this special exhibition that runs until 4 January 2020.
An annual pass is now available for the Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery which is great value particularly for local families who want to drop in on Saturdays and during the school holidays.
The Museum also has a café serving light snacks and a gift shop with unusual gifts, cards, books, great stocking fillers and now a beautiful selection of jewellery and ceramics made by the Bucks Craft Guild. Drop in and take a look.
For full details visit www.buckscountymuseum.org or call 01296 331441. Bucks County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP.
Start the new year at Black Park
Join us in the New Year for a morning or afternoon of exploration and messy play in Black Park!
There are lots of fun activities for your tot to go WILD, including the mud kitchen, digging pit, bug hunting, weaving, balancing, crafts and more.
Friday mornings & afternoons in Black Pines Camp,
10th January - 14th February,
10am-11.30am & 1pm - 2:30pm
£6.50 + booking fee per child.
Call 01753 511060 ext 105 for more information or book online at www.buckscountryparks.eventbrite.co.uk Advance booking is essential.
Leading better lives
It’s OK not to feel OK, even over Christmas and New Year.
Whether it’s just the build up to the festive period, the ongoing challenge of day to day stresses or a longer-term issue, feeling low or at rock bottom at any time can make it hard to talk about your feelings.
Christmas and New Year can make these feelings even more noticeable, at a time when others are enjoying the festivities.
The most important thing is to talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling. It could be your GP, a friend, relation or colleague. Sometimes all it needs is to know someone cares enough to #asktwice and listen for you to start feeling like you again.
So, this festive season, show you care - check on family, friends or neighbours. If they say they’re fine, #asktwice and make sure they really are.
There’s plenty of support available including:
Samaritans – 24/7 phone line. Call 116 123 or visit their website https://www.samaritans.org/
SHOUT – 24/7 text support. Text SHOUT to 85258
NHS One You – Every Mind Matters – online tools and tips to help you. Visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
KOOTH – online support for young people. Visit www.kooth.com
Bucks Mind – online advice and tips plus useful contacts. Visit www.bucksmind.org.uk
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call 999 or go to A&E immediately (for Buckinghamshire, A&E is at Stoke Mandeville Hospital).
Leap into Learning in 2020
Have you always wanted to learn a new skill or craft? Do you want to improve your health and wellbeing this coming year?
Buckinghamshire Adult Learning offers a wealth of courses ranging from one-day to one-year which cover beginner through to intermediate levels, offering daytime and evening flexibility.
We have something to suit everyone, including:
- Health and fitness such as Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi
- Creative studies such as drawing and painting, stained glass or digital photography
- Home improvements and textiles such as upcycling for your home or dressmaking
- Psychology and Mental Health
- Languages such as French, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Swedish and Chinese
- Computing such as iPad basics or Excel improvers
- English and maths
The majority of the sessions take place at one of our Adult Learning Centres which are located across Buckinghamshire in Aylesbury Vale, the Chilterns, Wycombe and South Buckinghamshire or in local village halls or community centres.
Our hourly rate per session is extremely competitive at £5.80 an hour (rate from September 2019 until the end of July 2020).
Each of our tutors is well qualified in their subject specialism and will plan the sessions to cater for your individual goals and needs. The tutor will know you by name and ensure that you have the opportunity to make progress with your skills.
What our learners say,
‘Absolutely fantastic! Excellent tutor - knowledgeable, conveyed information well, very personable and very skilled. Great lesson plan, lots covered and lots of practical application.’ - Learner on Drawing for Beginners course
‘The classes are very beneficial - reducing stress, improving balance and a great sense of wellbeing.’ - Learner on Tai Chi course
Search for the full list of our courses at www.adultlearningbcc.ac.uk
Carers - the glue that keeps communities thriving
In the 2011 census nearly fifty thousand people were recorded as registered carers in Bucks.
This figure will be even higher today as, between 2001 and 2011; there was a 38% increase in the number of people providing 20+ hours of care per week.
The number of carers is evidently rising.
Additionally, this figure of nearly fifty thousand carers doesn’t take into account those who do not recognise or think of themselves as a carer. They haven’t asked for any help or advice and they are coping alone in sometimes very difficult situations.
To be clear: You are considered to be a ‘carer’ if you spend time looking after or helping a family member, friend or neighbour who, because of their health and care needs, would find it difficult to cope without your help.
Basically, the chances are you will know someone who is a carer.
Our carers come from all kinds of backgrounds and situations: young, in school, elderly, working, retired etc and they all do a vital job. They provide support to the person they look after and also in an economic sense - giving care that would otherwise have to be paid for or provided by others.
Carers are a highly valued group of people with sometimes very individual needs. So, with the number of people living with dementia set to rise by 70% in the next ten years, we really encourage all carers to register and access the support they are entitled to.
If you’re a carer or know someone who is, you can find out about local support groups and other information at www.carersbucks.org/services/support-groups/
You can register as a carer here: www.carersbucks.org/contact-us/register/
NHS Health Checks – the mystery unveiled
Christmas is coming and there will be plenty of eating, celebrating and watching TV. It’s time with people we love and care about.
A 20 minute NHS Health Check* can help you stay healthy now and for years to come. It’s a quick, easy way to check that you are as healthy as you think you are…
When you turn forty the risk of developing some diseases increases. We understand that this is not a particularly cheery thought, but forewarned is forearmed!
Think about it like this: the earlier you find out about any potential risks, the more likely a small and simple change in your lifestyle can make a difference.
What happens in a NHS Health Check?
The health professional – often a nurse or healthcare assistant – will ask you some questions about your lifestyle and family history, measure your height and weight, and take your blood pressure and do a blood test. The blood test will be done with a pin prick to your finger, so no needles.
Your blood test results can show your chances of getting heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes. You may also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for.
You will then receive personalised advice to improve your risk. This could include talking about:
How and where do I get a Health Check?
- Each year GPs send out letters inviting their eligible* patients along to the surgery for a Health Check. If you haven’t had one yet, don’t worry. It may be that you are in the next group of people. You should have a Health Check every 5 years.
- If you can’t attend the appointment or don’t have a GP you can always visit Live Well Stay Well who we use to do outreach Health Checks in the community. This is to make things easier for people to attend and sessions might be held in a local library, church or sports centre.
If you are worried about anything do get in touch with your GP
You can find out more here or look out for the letter from your GP.
*To be eligible for a Health Check, you must:
- Be aged between 40 and 74
- Be a Bucks resident or have a Bucks GP
- Not been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or had a stroke
- Not had an NHS Health Check in the last 5 years