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News Report Page 14 of 15
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Virgin Holidays open's flag shop store in Liverpool ONE

VIRGIN Holidays has opened a brand new, V-Room store in Liverpool, where locals will be able to receive a holiday experience with a difference that begins at the time of booking; not just when their plane departs. The new flagship store, located in Liverpool ONE, includes innovative design features such as:- a green living wall, lounge style seating, a prosecco bar, allowing customers to sip a glass of fizz as they peruse their holiday options, along with a dedicated kid's area, to keep younger travellers entertained.  An immersive experience is at the heart of the Virgin Holidays' V-Room store concept, with brand new features for Liverpool, including a hidden cinema; a disguised in-store experience, which offers customers a flavour of the Virgin brand and plenty of enriching content to be enjoyed with popcorn. The store will also have a new ‘Pod' containing an immersive light and sound experience and a lucky red vending machine with lots of treats and surprises for guests to choose from. What's more, customers will also have the chance to experience the Upper and Premium Economy seats that they can expect to find on Virgin Atlantic flights, giving them a feel for the high life, whilst their feet are still on the ground. The Liverpool store will employ a team of 12 people, perfectly placed to help plan 1st class travel itineraries for customers.

Rach Wilton, Head of Retail at Virgin Holidays commented:- "We're delighted that we can bring the very latest in our retail offering and our unique holiday store concept to the shoppers of Liverpool. We know holidays are evolving and our customers want more than the traditional travel 1 stop shop. We aim to always create a truly immersive experience for our customers, which begins right at the time of booking. We want our customers to get into the holiday spirit from the very moment they set foot in our stores, so they are already imagining themselves turning off their work emails, exploring a new, exciting destination or watching the world go by from a sun lounger on a Caribbean beach. Our brand new store is designed to help inspire customers by bringing the sights, sounds and tastes of their holiday right here to Merseyside. Customers are also guaranteed expert advice from our fantastic local team who will ensure they find them that dream holiday, giving our customers a perfect holiday experience, with memories to match."

Sophia Wallace, Store Manager, added:- "Whether it's a beach holiday in Barbados, a cultural adventure in Havana, throwing the dice in Las Vegas or the family holiday of a lifetime in Orlando; we've got a fabulous collection of long holiday deals for shoppers. The store concept is relaxed and informal so we really do encourage Liverpool shoppers to pop by and have a chat over a glass of fizz, or a soft drink. The team and I can't wait to create some perfect holiday packages for our customers."

Santa delivers on College Christmas Card design challenge

UNDERGRADUATES studying on the Foundation Degree in Digital Imaging and Photography course at the Hugh Baird University Centre, have this year risen to the festive challenge of designing the College's official Christmas Card. Invited by the College's senior leadership team to put their creative ideas forward, the students were given the freedom to put their photography and imaging skills to the test. Entries were shortlisted down to fifteen, with the winning design being chosen by Principal, Yana Williams; and fellow managers of the College. The winning design was created by the aptly named Santa Feldmane who is originally from Latvia. Her tasteful and classy festive image has now been transformed in to the College's official Christmas card and will be sent by staff to key stakeholders of the College.

In addition to having her work selected as the winning design, Santa also collected ₤100 in High Street Vouchers from Collette Mawdsley, The University Centre's Dean of Higher Education. Collette said:- "We encourage our students to grasp opportunities that will prepare them for when they leave us to start their careers. The Christmas card design competition may seem like a bit of festive fun, but in the competitive world of design and photography, students will be pitching against other people and design firms. It's important that we make our undergraduates aware of this and ignite their competitive spirit. I would like to congratulate Santa on her success and would like to take this opportunity to wish all students and staff at the University Centre a very happy and safe Christmas."

The Digital Imaging and Photography courses at the Hugh Baird University Centre are approved by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). For more information please visit:- HughBaird.AC.UK or call:- 0151 353 4444.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson plans to help around 1,700 families and individuals this festive season

A total of 1,000 households with a child under 1 who are in receipt of housing benefit or Council Tax support, or who have been affected by the benefit cap, will be able to claim a ₤40 voucher to help them with their winter fuel bills. The City's 200 care leavers who live independently will receive a ₤30 fuel voucher and ₤20 cash voucher. The cost of the vouchers; around ₤50,000; is coming from the Mayor's Hardship Fund and the City Council's not for profit gas and electricity supplier:- TheLeccy.Co.UK. Care leavers are also getting other gifts, including vouchers from a health research project that Council staff were involved in and hundreds of gifts from Liverpool City Council staff.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said:- "Christmas is meant to be a time of celebration but we know there are some families that spend months worrying about how they will make it special for their loved ones because they are struggling to make ends meet. Demand for foodbanks and crisis support continues to grow in our City due to a combination of austerity and welfare reforms. What we are doing here is working with our benefits team and foodbank organisations to identify those who need support to give them extra support. Christmas Day is the 1 day of the year when no 1 should go without a decent meal, and this funding will help give families some much needed cheer this festive season as well as helping with heating bills as the weather gets colder. This is just 1 element of the support we are providing to those most in need in Liverpool and follows on from our recent appeal for people to drop foodbank donations off at our buildings, which had an overwhelming response."

In addition, the City's Children's Centres are issuing supermarket vouchers with a value of between ₤20 and ₤50 in the run up to Christmas to help more than 500 local families have a good festive season. Debi McAndrew, Liverpool Children's Centre co-ordinator, added:- "We know from our work with families that thousands of households will really appreciate the extra support that this will give at this time of year."

It is part of a comprehensive programme to support people in crisis, at a time when people are struggling due to welfare reform and the roll out of Universal Credit. Letters offering the winter fuel vouchers are being sent out this week to the families who are eligible, letting them know how they can claim their fuel voucher over Christmas. Vouchers need to be claimed by end-January. The Council has invested ₤23m in supporting people and families in crisis, such as those on low income or at risk of losing their home, including ₤2.7m in crisis payments to help people with the cost of food, fuel and clothes and ₤3.05m to protect people from reforms to housing benefit payments.

This comes after the UK Government announced that 377,000 people in the North West are now benefitting from bespoke Universal Credit support, according to the latest official figures. New data, released this week, shows 2.7 million people across Britain are receiving Universal Credit support; an increase of 5% from the previous month. The publication of the latest figures comes just days after the UK employment rate rose to a new record high of 76.2%.

Minister for Welfare Delivery Will Quince said:- "Universal Credit is a force for good and provides a vital safety net for people who are out of work or on low wages across the North West. Significant improvements have been made in the past year, such as providing extra support for families reporting childcare costs reducing deductions, and we will continue to work towards improving the service. This Government believes that finding work is the best route towards prosperity and under Universal Credit more people are better off by moving into work faster and staying there for longer."

The Government also announced that unemployment levels remain at a low rate of 3.8%, according to the data.

Latest Universal Credit data for the North West England...
Local Authority UC claimants
Allerdale 4861
Barrow-in-Furness 2546
Blackburn with Darwen 10507
Blackpool 10550
Bolton 14691
Burnley 7557
Bury 8544
Carlisle 4117
Cheshire East 12059
Cheshire West and Chester 14560
Chorley 3812
Copeland 3437
Eden 1071
Fylde 2179
Halton 10340
Hyndburn 5336
Knowsley 9945
Lancaster 8671
Liverpool 27670
Manchester 38073
Oldham 18685
Pendle 4000
Preston 7616
Ribble Valley 1061
Rochdale 13734
Rossendale 2701
Salford 14045
Sefton 14762
South Lakeland 1809
South Ribble 3434
St. Helens 9828
Stockport 9213
Tameside 13940
Trafford 8903
Warrington 10032
West Lancashire 4695
Wigan 16794
Wirral 17485
Wyre 3606

Total from North West England =  376869

Universal Credit, which is available in every jobcentre across the UK, simplifies the benefit system and replaces 6 previous benefits with a single monthly payment. With the new system people are moving into work faster and staying in work for longer than they were before.

Caireen Hammett, DWP North West Group Senior Partnership Manager said:- "Unlike the old system, Universal Credit is a flexible benefit that can be tailored to an individual's needs and circumstances. It is helping to transform lives right across the North West, ensuring people have more control over their working lives and finances. As Universal Credit is available in all UK jobcentres the number of people claiming the benefit will continue to rise naturally. This does not necessarily mean an increase in unemployment for the area."

Significant improvements have been made over the past year including:- increasing the amount available to claimants as an advance to tide them over until they receive their 1st payment and increasing the time parents and guardians have to claim back childcare costs.

So what are your thoughts on this? Is the UK's welfare getting better or worse? Please do let us know via emailing us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and tell us your side of this report.

Also for more information about Universal Credit, please visit:- UnderstandingUniversalCredit.Gov.UK.

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