Joint Climate Emergency Strategy for Somerset – share your views

In a special report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations highlights the need to take immediate action to limit the increase in average global temperatures to a 1.5°C threshold. Even an increase of half a degree beyond this will drastically worsen the risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty.

The challenge of climate change is a global issue, but everyone needs to play their part. This is why the five Somerset local authorities have each declared or recognised a Climate Emergency.

In 2019, the Somerset local authorities (Somerset County Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, and South Somerset District Council) all passed resolutions to declare or recognise ‘A Climate Emergency’ and have since agreed to collaborate to produce and deliver an ambitious, joint Climate Emergency Strategy for Somerset.

The strategy will identify ways that Somerset might work to together towards being carbon neutral by 2030 and adapt to predicted climate change impacts.

A Framework document has been produced by the five local authorities to start the conversation with communities, interest groups, businesses and others, which will help shape the future Climate Emergency Strategy.

The intention is for everyone in Somerset to feel a sense of ownership of the Strategy, and that they have been able to contribute to the resulting actions. Aiming to reduce carbon emissions in the county and make Somerset a County resilient to the inevitable effects of Climate Change.

This Framework document provides some high-level detail explaining what could be done do to address the most important issues and this consultation is your first opportunity to have your say in whether you think this is right.

People can initially get involved by completing an online questionnaire, which will be available from 6 January until 25 February 2020. In addition, an online survey for 11 to 18 year olds is available for young people to take part until 18 February. Young people under the age of 16 will need permission to participate in this survey.

And, you can attend one of the drop-in sessions that are taking place around Somerset. The events will be held on Saturdays, between 10am and 4pm at the following venues:

  • 18 January, Somerset West and Taunton. The Glassbox, Taunton Library, Paul Street, TA1 3XZ.
  • 8 February, Sedgemoor District Council. The Sedgemoor Room, Bridgwater House, King Square, Bridgwater, TA6 3AR.
  • 15 February, Mendip District Council. The Council Chamber, Mendip District Council Offices, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT.
  • 22 February, South Somerset District Council. Vicarage Street Methodist Church, Vicarage Street, Yeovil, BA20 1JZ.

Open to residents, VCSE organisations, businesses,  and anyone with an interest, the drop-ins will be a chance to discuss the initial thoughts of the five councils set out in a Framework document.

The aim of the event is the gather feedback on whether the work so far focuses on the right themes, and the actions that will have the most impact in tackling the effects of Climate Change, and on whether the draft Framework covers everything it should and if there are actions that communities are already doing or could take forward themselves.

The draft Framework document sets out initial, high-level thoughts on what actions might be required and the approach to delivering them and will be developed working with – and listening to – Somerset communities.

The aim is to produce a detailed strategy by summer 2020.




An Update from the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership

The Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership has published its latest newsletter.

This edition includes:

  • Important changes to the Early Help Assessment (EHA) registration process.
  • Updates to EHA, processes and supporting documents
  • Brand new free EHA e-learning training
  • Plus Somerset’s Early Help animation, a three-minute video explaining early help in action.

You can read the newsletter here.

Domestic Violence Prevention Programme Study: Participants Wanted

Researchers in the REPROVIDE programme at the University of Bristol’s Centre for Academic Primary Care are looking for men aged over 21 years who are concerned that they are, or have been, abusive in their relationships with women, to take part in a new study that will help improve how we support men in changing their behaviour.

Because this is a test of whether domestic violence prevention programmes work, men joining the study will be randomly allocated to two groups.

Participants will be asked to take questionnaires as regular intervals over a 12-month period. One group will join programme run by Barnardo’s, which will involve attending weekly evening sessions in either Taunton or Shepton Mallet for a period of six months. The remaining men will not be offered no support from REPROVIDE (they may continue to seek support from other providers), but will still be asked to complete questionnaires.

Both groups will be equally valuable in helping to assess whether domestic violence prevention programmes help men and improve safety for their partners, ex partners and children.

For more information, email, call 01823 270938 or download the information leaflet here.


Innovative New Approach to Mental Health Services in Somerset

Somerset to be a trailblazer for mental health care as new alliance prepares to deliver innovative new approach.

A new alliance of charities has been formed to develop a bold new community-based mental health support service for Somerset residents.

The shared ambition for the Somerset Mental Health Alliance is to ensure that people living with mental health problems get the right support at the right time. As well as reducing waiting times for clinical services, it aims to ensure that people can live a full life in their community, accessing housing, jobs or volunteering opportunities, community activities and physical exercise, to help support and improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

Plans in development also include measures to improve the experience of people going through a mental health crisis, including community alternatives, such as crisis cafes.

The Alliance will work to create a ‘no wrong door’ approach, meaning that a person’s mental health support needs can be responded to regardless of where they come into contact with services, so that the system is easier to navigate and more efficient.

The formation of the alliance, a partnership of ten organisations, is amongst the first in England and represents an innovative and significant change to mental health care in Somerset.

A formal launch and further chances for other community partners to get involved will follow shortly.

Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive, Spark Somerset, said:

“This is an exciting new approach – where NHS services and local voluntary organisations will be working in partnership to ensure that residents of Somerset get the support they need, when they need it.

“We recognise that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when supporting mental health. People need a range of support to help them on their path to recovery. This can range from specialist treatment around their condition to advice around finances, housing and employment, as well as support to build confidence and connect to activities in their community.

“There are already hundreds of community groups and local charities across Somerset that are providing much-needed mental health support every day. We’re committed to ensuring that grass roots organisations are fully supported so that they can continue to be part of the solution.”

Will Higham, Associate Director of Programme Innovation at Rethink Mental Illness said:

“The creation of this Alliance is recognition that effective mental health care should be linked to support in the community. It’s not just about what your GP can do; a lack of good housing, steady work, and stable finances can all have serious effects on your mental health, so it’s only right that we start to consider all of a person’s needs when they need treatment.

“This approach is the start of something genuinely innovative and it had the input of people with experience of mental health problems. We are proud to be doing this in Somerset, where Rethink Mental Illness has such a long history.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to develop mental health care in Somerset, and our aim is for the county to become a role model for what good care and support looks like. Each partner organisation is ready to share their expertise and we will engage new partners and I look forward to seeing what the Alliance can achieve in the coming years.”

Andrew Keefe, Deputy Director of Mental Health and Learning Disability Commissioning, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are determined to address the previously unmet needs of people requiring support for their mental health and this supports the NHS Long Term Plan. We’re committed to realising the vision that people with mental health needs receive the same levels of support as those who have physical health needs, while also addressing the stigma that is sadly still all too often associated with mental health.”

The contract reinforces the importance of working in an integrated way in our local communities to provide a joined up, seamless service for patients and their carers. This means that health, voluntary, and social care partners will work even more closely.”

NHS England announced last year that Somerset was going to be one of the areas to pilot the new Community Mental Health Framework, the only county in the South West.

The procurement, undertaken by Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and led strategically by Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Somerset County Council (both Adult Social Care and Public Health), has seen a contract awarded worth in total over £1million per annum. The contract will begin on 17 January 2020 and run until January 2022, with an option to extend to January 2023.

The alliance comprises national charity, Rethink Mental Illness Ltd, and a further nine local organisations: Age UK Somerset, The Balsam Centre, Chard Watch CIC, Citizens Advice, Mind in Somerset, Second Step, Somewhere House, Spark Somerset and Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association (SWEDA). Other voluntary and community groups will be invited to get involved as development of the service progresses.

Feedback from the Early Help Strategic Commissioning Board

VCSE Advocate Feedback from the Early Help Strategic Commissioning Board, from Angela Kerr, CEO at Citizens Advice South Somerset.

Early Help Somerset is described as “everyone’s responsibility; we want children, families, communities and agencies to work together so that families are assisted to help themselves and are supported as soon as a need arises. includes providing appropriate advice and support from a single agency, through to co-ordinated, multi-agency, intensive support, sometimes from specialist services”.

Resources for VCSE

visit for access to training and the Early Help training pack

Early Help Advice line (for any agency with a concern and needing some guidance) can reached on 01823 355803

More information is available via

Opportunities for VCSE

Early Help Fund (total of £200,000) to open in January 2020. Commissioner is Louise Palmer. AK suggested that:

a) Commissioners include a common outcome framework for successful bidders

b) County have a response for unsuccessful bidders to develop a network of community groups

c) Link successful projects to the wider VCSE (disseminate impact etc)

The date of the next meeting is 5th February 2020.


Feedback from the Safer Somerset Partnership Meeting

Feedback from the Safer Somerset Partnership meeting which was held on Thurdsay 5th December, by Jane Knowles, Chief Executive Officer at SASP.

Violence Reduction Unit

There are 2 Violence reduction units, one in Bristol and one in Somerset. Their purpose is to improve ways to identify vulnerable people and children, and one of the priorities is to embed processes. The Units are Funded through Home Office funds.

The team is progressing, and posts have been filled. A better overview will be given at the next meeting in March.

Health and Wellbeing Board update

There is a data sharing panel which sits under the Health and Wellbeing Board, it will encourage data sharing between organisations and services to benefit the system, but more importantly enable individuals access services and support sooner.

The Nelson Trust Project SHE (Support, Help, Engagement)

Presentation by Nicki Gould from The Nelson Trust, outlining how the project has progressed.

Finance Update

The 2020/21 Community Safety Grant has been approved, totaling £211k. The money is designed to achieve the priorities outlined below:

  1. Protect people from the harm of domestic and sexual abuse
  2. Identify and prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people
  3. Identify inequalities and vulnerabilities and offer support to improve health outcome and reduce harm
  4. Meet the partnerships statutory duties

There is no application process and the criteria has yet to be agreed.

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 5th March 2020.

Update from the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership

The Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership has published it’s latest newsletter.

This edition includes:

  • An update on new safeguarding children arrangements
  • Findings from the knife crime audit
  • An example of multi-agency good practice
  • Information about the Violence Reduction Unit
  • Advance information about SSCP learning events planned for 2020
  • Where to find the revised pre-birth planning toolkit

You can read the newsletter here.

Notes from the VCSE Strategic Forum, Wednesday 9th October 2019

The VCSE Strategic Forum met on Wednesday 9th October 2019. You can download the presentations here.

The Key Speakers included:

Patrick McKenna, Policy Advisor and Local Intelligence West – Office for Civil Society

Patrick outlined the information that is available for the VCSE community in the lead up to Brexit. Most of the relevant information is on the Government’s Brexit Portal. This includes a checker tool of 7 simple questions to help organisations get ready for Brexit. Patrick also highlighted a DCMS webinar especially for charities, in partnership with NCVO.

GDPR after Brexit was also discussed, along with the EU Settlement scheme. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Nicola Dawson, Service Manager – Somerset County Council Brexit Team

Nicola discussed SCC’s response to the Government’s No Deal Readiness report. A link to the report can be found here.

A Corporate Risk Assessment has been produced with short, medium and longer term work streams. Each Somerset District Council have identified a Senior Manager to act as Brexit lead. These leads are looking at a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’. Nicola asked the Forum how best they can work together to reach hard to reach groups with relevant information.

A question and discussion time followed, during which Forum members discussed the impacts of Brexit on their communities and their organisations – both practical and emotional.

VCSE organisations can contact Nicola at

Katherine Nolan CEO and Vicky Sullivan Health and Wellbeing Coordinator – Spark Somerset.

Katherine and Vicky launched the research element of the 2019/20 State of The Sector report. The previous State of the Sector report (2016) can be found here.

Following Katherine and Vicky’s presentation the Forum broke into small groups to discuss the value of the previous State of the Sector report and explore key findings. There will be a survey sent to VCSE organisations in Somerset in the next few weeks. If you wish to contact Spark directly about the next report, please email Vicky at

Jackie Sopwith, CEO – Somerset Sight

Jackie provided an overview of the organisation which is currently celebrating its 100th year. More information about Somerset Sight can be found here.

Keeley Hawes, CEO – Community Council for Somerset

Keeley discussed the role of the 57 Village and Community Agents working with CCS.

Bite Size presentations

Emily Taylor, Engagement Lead Officer – Somerset CCG
Fit for Purpose – New Plan for Engagement for Somerset CCG

Scott MacMillan – The Volunteer Network
The Voluntary Sectors’ response to home schooling

The next full Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum will be held on Wednesday 25th March 2020.

Every Mind Matters

Every Mind Matters, the first national NHS mental health campaign for over 18 year olds, launched this month.

The site is full of useful resources to support people to help themselves and others, and focuses on anxiety, low mood, stress and poor sleep. Users can take a short quiz to receive a personalised action plan to support their mental health and wellbeing.

You can visit the Every Mind Matters website here.

An Update From the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership

The latest edition of the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership newsletter is now available.

This edition includes:

  • An overview of recent changes to the Early Help Assessment
  • A brief overview of ongoing work to refresh the Effective Support for Children and Families in Somerset document
  • the development of a new document called Effective Support for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and their Families
  • A training package called “Early help – a quick guide” available to download from the Somerset Safeguarding Children website
  • Precis of support materials to follow soon

You can read the newsletter here.