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#ReadyWillingAble - Saving lives and supporting our communities throughout COVID-19

Firefighters from Kensington Community Fire Station collect prepared meals from Liverpool FC for distribution to key workers within North West Ambulance Service and Fire Control. The meals were donated as part of an LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours scheme.

OVER than 2,000 medical prescriptions and hundreds of food parcels have been delivered to the County's most vulnerable by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firefighters and support staff alike have gone the extra mile, joining forces with:- Local Authorities, housing associations, charities, football clubs and fellow blue light colleagues to ensure those most at risk have not been forgotten. Staff from all areas of the Service volunteered for additional duties and have so far delivered medical prescriptions, food and essentials to those who are unable to leave their homes. They have worked with Liverpool City Council, Teardrops Charity, the Torus Foundation and many more to pack and distribute hundreds of food parcels for low income families.

In addition to the delivery of essential items, staff have also been carrying out:- 'face fitting' for North West Ambulance Service Staff and Critical Care Workers to ensure that they are able to keep safe whilst they are looking after others.

Correct fitting PPE is essential to those staff who are on the frontline. The Service is now seeking to use those skills to provide extra support within care home settings, recognising that they have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

MFRS staff have also volunteered to help the care for the deceased and morgue management if necessary.

The incredible work of MFRS staff has been highlighted on social media as part of the National Fire Chiefs Council's (NFCC) #ReadyWillingAble campaign.

Gary Oakford, Area Manager for Prevention at MFRS, said:- "The response of our staff has been truly amazing in support of the wider community effort. As an active and engaged stakeholder to the Merseyside Resilience Forum, we were delighted to be able to support a variety of requests from stakeholders and valued partners."

 MFRS Advocate Ellie Williams delivers the 2000th medical prescription to resident Violet.     Prevention Team Manager Michelle Langford delivers the 1000th medical prescription.

Throughout the pandemic, MFRS has maintained its:- 0800 731 5958 call centre to reassure vulnerable people, provide fire safety advice and signpost to other agencies where necessary. Vulnerable Persons Advocates have continued to visit those deemed most at risk, fitting smoke alarms, where none are present, whilst of course adhering to social distancing.

Firefighters also volunteered for additional duties alongside their day to day firefighting operations, with some crews spending recent days working closely with the LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours scheme to deliver food to keyworkers within North West Ambulance Service and Fire Control. Even the Chief Fire Officer has got involved, refining his first aid skills in order to make himself available to respond to cardiac arrest calls. The Chief along with all of the Service's Officers now carry defibrillators in their cars and are able to respond to cardiac arrests via the volunteering app, GoodSam.

In addition to his heightened 1st aid skills, Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan has been leading the Fire and Rescue Services' National response to the pandemic, which has seen firefighters across the country delivering food, medicine, supporting coroners, and driving ambulances to support NHS colleagues.

This work has not replaced the day to day business of the Fire and Rescue Service by any stretch. In fact, last week alone, MFRS' Fire Control operators answered 435 emergency 999 calls, with crews responding to 338 incidents.

MFRS Arson Officers, including the Street Intervention Teams, continue to be hard at work on a daily basis, targeting areas of high demand for anti-social behaviour, crime and deliberate fire setting. Despite the current period of lockdown, deliberate fire setting continues to be a problem across Merseyside, with an increase in fly tipping resulting in a number of unnecessary deliberate fires. There has also been an increase in people carrying out controlled burns in their garden. MFRS has asked people to be considerate to their neighbours before burning any form of waste in their gardens.

Chief Garrigan said:- "The way in which all of our staff; those in operational and non-operational roles; have stepped up during this crisis is incredible, I couldn't be prouder, although not in the least bit surprising. Not only have our staff worked hard to maintain our emergency response, but they have gone above and beyond to ensure the lives of the communities we serve are protected, whether that be through offering potentially life saving fire safety information, delivering vital medication or helping to distribute food. I would like to record my thanks and say how proud I am of every member of the Service, it has been an extremely difficult time for everyone involved. As a fire and rescue service, we are in the business of keeping people safe. That will never change, not even in the face of a global pandemic. Rest assured that Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service will continue to do everything it can to support the people of Merseyside, our key workers and our blue light colleagues."

If you are concerned about fire safety in the home, or do not have working smoke alarms, please call:- 08007315958.

⅔ of UK public has no plans to shake off bad lockdown habits

BRITAIN is set to emerge unhealthier from lockdown, with 4 out of 5 people (81%) reporting an increase in harmful habits, including:- smoking, poor diet and staying up late. Yet 31% of those surveyed plan to shake off their new habits after lockdown, with the North West coming out on top in England (34%), according to a YouGov survey, by self care app and website Your.MD.

According to leading behavioural economist, Denise Hampson, the sudden disruption to our old way of life has shaken our routines and habits, with the ambiguity of life in lockdown leading us to replace them with new ones that we find comforting.

The survey found that detrimental habits have emerged during the course of lockdown. A combination of the habits identified will, over time, lead to long term implications for individual health, earning lockdown another place in the list of risks to our health.

17% of people claim to have started drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week (approx. 2 bottles of wine) during lockdown, and 9% have taken up smoking. This is more common in 35 to 44 year olds (20% and 13% respectively).

33% of the public say their eating habits are less healthy now than before lockdown began, with full time students and 18 to 24 year olds at the forefront of the trend (47% and 49% respectively).

In spite of a rise in online fitness classes and Government encouragement to get outside to exercise, 30% said they had become less active during lockdown. This peaks in London, where 39% are exercising less than before lockdown began. Across Great Britain, ONS data which looked at:- 'Coronavirus and the Impacts on Great Britain' reveals that 42% of people are unable to exercise as normal, due to the implications of the virus.

Poor sleep is also impacting people, with 29% saying they're not sleeping as well during lockdown, and 67% are not making extra efforts to get a better night's sleep. People in the North West (25%) are less likely than those in the North East (43%) to have started staying up later since lockdown began.

Denise Hampson explains:- "Now that our normal lives are suspended, so are the cues we used to be exposed to and so our habits will have changed too. We will have replaced them with new ones based around the routine of our lockdown lives. We are also facing an extreme period of collective anxiety. Nothing we used to do can be taken for granted anymore and we are less clear on what the future holds. This leads to soothing behaviour, to make us feel better, so it's no surprise we are drinking more alcohol, consuming more social media, smoking and snacking unhealthily."

The public do seem, however, to be prioritising mental wellbeing the most. Almost ½ the nation (45%) have been taking extra steps to look after their mental health during lockdown; from seeking WhatsApp group advice (14%) to following YouTube videos (8%) and using smartphone apps (10%). When it comes to managing their mental health, 18 to 24 year olds, unexpectedly prefer to write in diaries (17%) more than use smartphone apps (12%).

Full time students have come out on top in terms of looking after their mental health and wellbeing (63%), with retired people coming in last, at 36%. This correlates with the latest ONS ​which reveals that 65% of people feel more stressed and anxious and 27% say it is making their mental health worse.

Denise explains that there will be difficulties faced in adapting to post lockdown life and our perception of this may be underestimated. "What's most interesting is how aware we seem to be of our wellbeing during lockdown and the impact it has had on our behaviour. Despite what the data suggests, we don't assume that people have a conscious desire to keep their unhealthy habits going post lockdown. It's more likely that most of us expect to be able to just shake off our new lockdown habits quite easily. Like getting back to normality after the Christmas break. Lockdown happened very fast, so all our old routines were fractured and disrupted all at once. It's easy to think we'll just snap back to the way we used to be, but getting out of lockdown is likely to be a much slower process, so we'll be more likely to carry these new habits with us for some time, and they'll take a bit of effort to shake off."

Matteo Berlucchi, CEO and Co-founder of Your.MD, explains how the data shows a need for individuals to take control of their pre-primary care:- "We all want to build healthy routines that last well beyond lockdown. At Your.MD, we're here to help people achieve that. Good mental health is a cornerstone of self care, so it's significant that a lot of us want to prioritise this, but not our nutrition, fitness and sleep, when of course it's all connected. The Your.MD app aims to guide people through the practical steps required to take control of their health when that is the best course of action."

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