Visiting Penhaligon’s Friends

I had the pleasure to attend Penhaligon’s Friends open afternoon on Tuesday. For those who do not know the valuable, but sometimes difficult work the friends carry out, let me tell you. The friends support children, young people and their families in bereavement and serious illness.

Death and serious illness are difficult subjects to deal with at any time of life. The friends deal with these difficult issues with great skill and compassion learnt after near 20 years worth of experience. The friends moto is simple, but strikes the right cord – changing bereaved children’s lives.

During my visit – which is my second visit to the centre since I took up post – it was great to talk with the staff and volunteers whose passion for the charity is truly inspiring. You come away from the centre with the feeling of what can I do to help them carry on this good work. Funding is critical to the friends and I am pleased to say Cornwall Council is able to help them with this. However, they always need more. Which is why public support is so important.

So if you fancy raising money for the Penhaligon’s Friend, or donating a few pounds you can contact the organisation through their informative website – HERE

20140626-114240-42160329.jpg

The Launch of Kernow King’s Sex Education Video

As I said in my earlier blog this morning, today was the launch of Cornwall’s sexual health video. This took place at the Union Building at the Cornwall College Camborne campus. Those gathered included students, professionals from the various organisations involved with the project, and some media (thanks Heart FM for turning up, and Pirate FM and BBC Radio Cornwall for running the story).

 Those gathered were shown the full 20 minute film, and handed the educational material that goes with this film. It is important to say this is a two-part programme with the film and then the training material for the actual discussion with the young people.

20140626-105128-39088321.jpg

20140625-174319-63799272.jpg

The training material that goes with the film

I would say this, but the launch of the film was a great success with laughter coming from the assembled crowd.  More importantly, the message the film was trying to deliver came through in a clear, informative, and in a humorous way. Everyone gathered loved the film, especially the students who this filmed is aimed at. The film does not try to lecture; it plays out a scenario that most young people could face. And as the scenario plays out, the film gives clear information on what a young person can do if they are at all worried about sexual health.

Those involved with the making of the film, and those who are supporting this film, should be very proud of the joint working and excellent educational material that has been produced. I am looking forward to seeing more groundbreaking ways of delivering information on RSE in Cornwall.

Lastly (I am always willing to laugh at myself  which is why I am including this in the blog) I made a comment on taking one of the ‘lollipops’ for ‘the Boy’. These lollipops were scattered on the table amongst pens, information material and small sweets. However, the lollipops turned out to be condoms-on-a-stick. It might have been ok if I said this comment to myself, but I said it in front of everyone, including Kernow King. Who then went on to tweet it with the picture below with much merriment from those gathered. For information ‘the Boy’ is my son and he’s 11.

Kernow King (@Kernow_King)
25/06/2014 16:59Premier of the kk sex tape made by @themotionfarm Highlight was @CllrAWallis picking up a “lollipop” for his son! pic.twitter.com/wH3VWjPswg
Me and the 'lollypop'

Me and the ‘lollipop’

Let’s Talk about Relationships, Sex and Sexual Health

Today at the Cornwall College Union Building, a partnership between Cornwall Council (Health Promotion Service), RCHT’s Sexual Health Services and Cornwall College launch a ground breaking interactive film that uses humour to get young people talking about sexual health. This film stars the comedian Kernow King, who has used his own comic talents to deliver this important message on sexual health. The film is targeted at those aged 15 years and over, and the film will be used in schools and further education colleges across Cornwall. This film is also the first of its kind to be launched in England. Sex education

Sex maybe a hot topic for young people, but discussing safe sex is not always high on the agenda. This why this film delivers the right information and brings the subject of sexual health to the forefront of their thoughts, but without scaring young people about sexual health. It is important for young people to remain healthy and informed and to know that there is plenty of support available to them if they need it.  And that support is not terrifying.

This film has been commissioned because the young people tell us there was very little relationship and sexual education available to them. They also have fears and barriers accessing what they see as intrusive sexual health testing services and wanted a current, informative and a fun approach to Relationship and Sexual Health (RSE).

There are so many myths and rumours surrounding sex and sexual health. This is why it is critical young people receive the right and most up to date information. I believe this new resource with make a real difference to our young people’s lives. Not only will it help them to be healthier, it will also encourage them to have the kind of conversations that really matter.

The popular myth is young people are having sex earlier. Data shows this is not the case. National data published in the Lancet gives good solid data with regards to sexual lifestyles and attitudes of our young people.  This is called NATSAL. It shows that two-thirds of young people don’t have sex until at least 16  and that there was no significant change between NATSAL 2000 and NATSAL 2010. The average age of first sex for those aged 16-24 now is 16 years. For Cornwall,  the average age of having sex for the first time is 16 for young women and is 17 years for young men.

It is important to say it is not all about sex, as a big part of this subject is about relationships. Hence why the whole subject is called Relationship and Sexual Education. I feel it is important we equip our young people with the right information as they progress into adulthood. For far too long, the issue of RSE has been stuck on the fringes of education, when in fact it should be amongst the core subjects in our education system. I am heartened that so many bodies and organisations want RSE to be a core subject. Yet, the Government remains blinkered to what young people want.

I will however in my role as portfolio holder for children and young people continue to champion this subject by working with those organisations who see the importance of good RSE. It is also important to debunk the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding RSE.

Sex education 2

The good news is the message on good sexual health is getting through. As the latest figures showing cases of Chlamydia reduced by 15% last year. In Cornwall, the average rate of teenage pregnancies (under 18) has fell from 30.6 per 1000 in March 2012 to 26.2 per 1000 in March 2014. This shows by giving our young people the right information, we can continue to reduce STD’s and teenage pregnancies in Cornwall. However, we must do more.

I am grateful to Kernow King for giving his support and time to this important subject. I am also grateful to the different organisation and Motion Farm, the film makers, for working together to produce this excellent film. Special thanks to Emma and Matt who did much of the hard work putting this film together and the lesson which goes with this film. Well done indeed.

Porthleven Charity Fun Day in aid of Cornwall Air Ambulance

This Saturday why not come and visit Porthleven? Coming to Porthleven is always a good idea, but this Saturday, Porthleven will be holding a charity fund day in aid of Cornwall Air Ambulance.  So you have two good reasons to come and visit Porthleven.

Cornwall Air Ambulance was the first service of its kind in the UK.  Since 1987 we have flown more than 24,000 missions, saving countless lives. Year year the Trust needs to raise £2.5m per year to keep the service running. This is why events like the one of Saturday are important; as it helps keeps this essential services in the air.

You can find out more about the Air Ambulance HERE

The Chairman of Cornwall Council’s Councillors versus Officers Cricket Match 2014

On Friday, the annual Chairman of Cornwall Council’s councillors versus officers cricket match took place. This game was kindly hosted by Truro Cricket Club who bravely let a bunch of rank-amateurs loose on their hallowed wicket. Unlike last year, when the councillors were soundly beaten, this year the councillor’s team lost by two wickets in a 25 overs match. Considering only two of the councillor’s team actually play the game – unlike most of the officers team – I am going to take this as a good result!

There are actually two parts to this event. The first is a bake and sale event in which homemade cakes are brought in, judged and sold. The other is the cricket match. As with all events, there is also a raffle. For this charity event, the Chairman wanted to support the Invictus Trust; a charity supporting teenagers with mental health issues. The event raised a whopping £714.95. This is a staggering amount raised in one day.

The event would not be the success it is without the support of those members of staff who baked cakes, sold raffle tickets and generally helped out. So huge thanks should go to: Jacquie, Sarah, Vicky, Nicky, Wendy, Mandy, Jane, Helen and Elaine (no doubt I will leave a name or two out and get in trouble!) who helped make this event a success.

Changing School Term Times – Yes/No?

As we approach the summer school break, the subject of school term times is again raised. The argument of families being ripped off by holiday companies as they can only take holidays during break has valid points. Anyone who has been a regular reader of this blog will know I raised the issue of term times since 2010. The only success I had, was fixing the spring break from 2019. Though granted this might be made irrelevant under the new Bill

Currently, many schools  have the power to set their own school term times, but from next year when – or should I say if – the Deregulation Bill becomes law, the rules will be further relaxed to allow all schools to set their term dates and times without prior approval from the Local Authority. Under the current system proposed term dates for community and voluntary-controlled schools in Cornwall are decided after consultation from education unions, Devon County Council and Plymouth City Council before the final decision is made by Councillors at Cornwall Council.

My greatest fear with a completely deregulated system is you could see wildy different school term times in Cornwall.  This will lead to other problems. For example, a primary school might set one date, and the secondary another, which could cause a major issues if children are in different schools. There is also the issue of school transport. Too many different term times see an increase in costs for school transport. The current transport bill is £14m per year.

Cornwall Council is currently looking at options for the setting of term dates if the Bill is passed. These are in the early stages, but if any changes are accepted they need to be supported by the schools, Governors, and unions. I would include parents, with some caveats, as the school term times should be based on whats good for the children and their education, rather than just on having a cheaper holiday.  Maybe the Government should be looking how the holiday industry massively increases its charges during the school summer holiday

Even with some deregulation, the term times  for 2015/16 as agreed by partners, including those who are able to set their own dates, have remained in line with the broader holiday dates. Time will tell if the further deregulation see a more fractured term times in Cornwall.

Helping children’s oral health in Cornwall

Back in April, I got a good insight to some of the issues surrounding children’s oral health in Cornwall. It was frankly shocking, and you can recap HERE. You have to ask yourself why so many children are having their teeth extracted for tooth decay. As an estimated 99% of teeth extraction are considered as preventable. The main causes are poor diet and dental hygiene.

To recap, 830 young people under the age of 18 in Cornwall had teeth extracted under general anaesthetic in 2011/12. The total number of teeth extracted as 2,503, which is an average of three teeth per child. Of these extracted teeth, 1,973 were first teeth and 530 second. Nationally more than a third of children have suffered tooth decay, missing teeth or fillings by age five, yes five! There is a clear link between tooth decay and poverty; with some parts of the UK seeing as many as three-quarters of children are affected. The Cornwall context, showed approximately a quarter[1] of five-year olds had tooth decay.

The Council, Public Health and PCH Dental recognise the issues and are working together to tackle tooth decay in Cornwall. There is no easy fix, as this is a long-term programme; but working in partnership will reduce tooth decay in Cornwall. I would like to say eradicate, but I am a realist.

This new joint programme will deliver oral health session in ten locations across Cornwall. The aim of the programme will give support, advice and information on how to look after oral health to local young families. The teams from PCH Dental and the Council will work with young parents groups to help keep their children’s teeth and gums healthy. It is no good just teaching the children, you have to tackle this issue in a family unit. This new joint venture builds on the successful programme with St Meriodoc which engaged 100 children during the three-month trail.

This programme is just the first stages of partnership working between the Council, Public Health and PCH Dental, as more is planned for the whole of Cornwall. I am heartened to see what can be achieved by us working together, and look forward to working with these organisations to tackle tooth decay in our young people.

[1] British Association for the study of community dentistry 2012

More Scammers at work in Cornwall

Cornwall Council has sent the following message to all Councillors and the media warning of another scam doing the rounds in Cornwall

I can confirm, like Cllr Greenslade, I am NOT conducting any form of telephone survey. If contacted, please report this to the police and / or Trading Standards

The message is as follows:

I have been asked to inform you of a potential telephone hoax involving a member of the public living in Councillor Greenslade’s constituency of St Dennis and Nanpean.

The individual was telephoned by a woman claiming she was conducting a survey on behalf of Councillor Greenslade. The constituent was then asked to call 044 1614 647553 to complete the survey, potentially involving paying premium rate phone charges. As Councillor Greenslade is not carrying out a survey this claim was false. Councillor Greenslade is concerned at his name being used for a potential hoax and wants to warn other Members about the incident.

We are now aware of any other similar incidents but are referring the issue to Trading Standards. We are also asking the radio stations to help raise awareness of the potential hoax among members of the public.

Please beware!

Beware Cornwall is being targeted by a professionally run scam

Cornwall and the South West is being targeted by a professionally run national scam that is attempting to defraud people, many who are vulnerable due to age, out of thousands of pounds.

The offenders are tending to exhaust opportunities in one particular area of the country before moving onto another. Within the past few days West Cornwall, in particularly Helston has been the focus where a number of victims have transferred money into the offenders back accounts. Within the last 48 hours we’ve received reports of over £130000 being taken.

The MO is for the offenders to call the victims purporting to be a police officers from the MET and are investigating a crime relating to fraudulent activity on the victims bank account. They then convince the victim to either transfer their savings into another bank account or they obtain their bank details allowing them to withdraw money.

20140613-111745-40665946.jpg
Please ensure the following initial actions are taken if you or someone has been approached, or has been a victim of this scam.

  • Ring 101 and inform the D+C Police
  • Dial 1471 from the victims landline – may reveal the caller’s number if the last call received was from the offender(s)
  • The priority is to prevent loss to the victim. If you have been scammed, contact your bank with a view to cancelling the card/account and blocking transactions or any pending. If caught early (within 24 hours) your money might be recovered.

    If unsure of the identity of anyone who phones, hang-up and seek clarification from the organisation they say they are representing.

    The Cabinet at The Royal Cornwall Show

    It was decided for the Cabinet and Cornwall Council to have a very small stand at this years Royal Cornwall Show; where the public could meet the various members of the Cabinet during the shows three days. Fear not, the stand was a table and a couple of chairs, surrounded by two corporate banners. It was important to have a presence, rather than a flashy display.

    I volunteered to do the Saturday stint, and was on hand to answer questions and if required, take details for the inquiries to be followed up. It was also good to hear people congratulate the council for jobs well done. It is always good to hear positive feedback as well as the areas we don’t meet the publics expectations.

    As a bonus, the weather was good, and there was no requirement for wellies!

    20140609-115140-42700505.jpg

    1 2