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Issue:- 25 October  2012


CHILDREN will be bewitched by the spooktacular array of events at Blackpool Zoo during Halloween half term!  The entire week will be a fiendishly fun packed celebration of Halloween, with extended opening hours and ghostly gatherings on the big day!  From Saturday, 27 October 2012, until Sunday, 4 November 2012, there will be daily activities including a brilliant bat & broomstick quiz trail, pumpkin carving and apple bobbing in the Children's Farm, ghostly storytelling, Halloween talks and feeds with scary animal facts and special spooky dishes in the Lake View Cafe and Coffee Shop.  Everyone is being urged to really get into the'spirit' of things on the most spine chilling day of the year by coming in scary costumes. For 1 day only on Wednesday, 31 October 2012, there will be a fabulous fancy dress parade following the 2.00pm Sealion display and the winners will be decided by a special clap-o-meter system! The adult and the child that gets the biggest clap will win a family ticket to the zoo.  There will also be trick or treat sweets given out at all the'talk and feeds' sessions and little ghouls and goblins can get their face painted with all kinds of freaky designs!    Opening hours will also be extended to 5.30pm with a ghostly train around the Dinosaur Safari from 4.30pm until 5.00pm and spell binding story telling in the display area from 5.00pm until 5.30pm.  Jude Rothwell, PR and Marketing Co-ordinator at Blackpool Zoo, said:- "Halloween is set to be a real scream here at Blackpool Zoo!   The pumpkin carving is always a firm favourite as the children can fill their creations with treats that are then fed to the animals.  There really is something for everyone during the half term holiday and we are all looking forward to seeing everyone in fancy dress; including the keepers and staff!"  All information about talk and feed times, prices and opening hours can be found at:-  Visitors can save 10% on admission on the website.

Public welcome at Trust board meeting

SOUTHPORT and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust will hold its next board meeting on Wednesday, 31 October 2012, at 9am.   The meeting will be held in the Board Room in the Corporate Management Office at Southport and Formby District General Hospital. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe the meeting. Anyone with a special requirement should contact the Trust in advance on:-  01704 704714.  The agenda will be available on the Trust website in advance of the meeting. Supporting papers will be made available on the day.


CONTACT the Elderly, the charity solely dedicated to tackling loneliness and isolation among older people, is urgently appealing for volunteers living in Southport to spare just a few hours each month to help with the running of local tea parties for the elderly; and enjoy a cuppa and a cake themselves!

The charity aims to relieve the acute loneliness of isolated older people, aged 75 and above, who live alone, by organising free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people within local communities; providing a regular and vital friendship link every month.

Each older guest is collected from their home by a volunteer driver, and is taken to a volunteer host's home, where they join a small group for tea, chat and companionship. Contact the Elderly is hoping to widen its services in the Southport area to help more older people.. However, it is currently struggling to recruit volunteer hosts to welcome the group into their homes for tea twice a year, and volunteer drivers to take guests to tea parties once a month.

Contact the Elderly's North West England Development Officer, Kathleen Sheridan, said:- "The charity is committed to offering a lifeline of friendship to the oldest and loneliest people, but our hopes of extending this lifeline to even more elderly people in Southport are currently fading due to a real shortage of volunteers in the area.  Anyone who can spare a couple of hours one Sunday a month, has a driving licence, a car and a capacity for drinking tea, is eligible! And for those interested in becoming a host, it would just involve a couple of hours twice a year. It's not a big commitment, and our volunteers genuinely get as much out of the experience as our older guests, so I'm calling for anyone who is interested in giving something back to their community to please get in touch with me as soon as possible."

Southport residents interested in volunteering for Contact the Elderly once a month as a driver, or twice a year as a host, can contact Kathleen Sheridan, North West England Development Officer on:- 0161 434 7335 or via email.


PEOPLE in the North West would say goodbye to the chance of a white Christmas if it meant saving on their fuel bills.  That's according to new figures from Citizens Advice which revealed that 4 out of 5 are hoping for a mild winter so they don't need to have the heating on as much; more than any other region.  And that's not the only way people are looking to make savings - 2 in 5 would cut back on their food shopping to pay for other household bills. Plus Santa's purse strings have also been tightened as 41% said they'll spend less this Christmas.

So says Citizens Advice as it urges families and households across the North West to save money on their fuel bills during Big Energy Saving Week - 22 October to 27 October 2012.  Citizens Advice are calling on people in the region to'check, switch and insulate" to make sure that they are making the biggest possible saving.

The new figures also found that 66% of people in the North West think their energy bill will be higher this winter. And many people in the region are living in colder homes than they would like; over half don't have the heating on as much and 18% don't use some of the rooms in their home in a bid to cut the size of their energy bills.   Yet only 1 in 5 had spoken to their supplier to see if they were on the best deal and just 13% had changed to another energy company.  3 out of 5 have tightened their belt this year to cope with rising daily costs. But despite the squeeze on finances, only 1 in 3 households are using less electricity and just a third have insulated their homes.

In the last 12 months, Citizens Advice Bureaux in the North West helped clients with over 14,300 fuel debt problems.  To ease the strain on budgets there will be Big Energy Saving Week events across the North West helping people save money on their energy bills including events in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Wigan, Bolton and Copeland. Advice is also available online, on the phone:- 0300 123 1234 or through your local CAB.

Citizens Advice, Chief Executive, Gillian Guy said:- "People must check, switch and insulate to make sure that they're getting the best deal for their energy.  Big energy bills and rising daily costs are putting extra pressure on household budgets that are already stretched thin. We're worried that some people are finding themselves unnecessarily hard-up because they're paying more than they have to for their fuel bills and aren't getting all of the help that's available to them. Through Big Energy Saving Week we're helping the nation prepare for winter and put money back in people's pockets."

Big Energy Saving Week is funded by the largest 6 energy companies – British Gas, EDF Energy, EON, npower, SSE and Scottish Power, and involves Citizens Advice Scotland, the Energy Saving Trust, Age UK, ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Consumer Focus, the Government, Ofgem, Energy UK and National Energy Action.

There are also 17 innovative projects that will help people lower their fuel bills during and beyond Big Energy Saving Week and in the North West, pre-payment customers in Copeland will be offered loans through a credit union to have their pre-payment meter removed; putting them on a cheaper way to pay for their fuel.

Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:- "Winter energy costs are a big worry for millions of families, and I want Big Energy Saving Week to get advice to as many people as possible on how to get those bills down. There is action you can take to make sure you are getting the best deal for your gas and electricity. There are ways to save money by insulating your home and cutting out energy waste, and there is help available from the Government for those struggling the most."

During Big Energy Saving Week advisers from CAB, local Age UKs and ACRE will be out and about at supermarkets, town halls, libraries and even market stalls explaining how people can cut their energy bills by an average total of up to £650 a year.

Big Energy Saving Week top tips to cut bills:-

►  Check you are on the best deal with your current supplier and whether there is a better way you can pay your bills. Most suppliers offer a discount if you pay by direct debit, on average around £100, compared to paying your bill by cash or cheque.

►  Make sure you are getting all the financial help you are eligible for. Up to £20 billion of benefits went unclaimed in 2011. Your supplier might be able to offer you a discount if you are on certain benefits too. Speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau who can help.

►  Switch to a better deal with a new supplier, particularly if you have never switched before. You could potentially save as much as £200 or more by shopping around. A list of accredited websites can be found by clicking on here

►  If you use heating oil, consider joining or setting up a local oil buying club. You might be able to negotiate a discount with suppliers if you are buying in bulk. Also, buy early before winter and you might get it cheaper.

►  Insulating the loft and cavity walls of your home is a great way to save money on your heating bills, up to £160 per year if you do both. Most major energy suppliers are also offering this free or at a reduced price. Act now before winter!

►  You might also be able to get some help with improving the efficiency of your property from Government funded schemes if you are on a low income. There are different schemes for Scotland, England and Wales.

►  There are also lots of small things you can do for free or at low cost around the home to save money on your energy bills saving, on average, up to £195 per year. You can find out more by calling the Energy Saving Trust on:- 0300 123 1234 or fill out an online home energy check at .

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