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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 26 February 2007

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Government tests human Influenza plan

THE Government's response to a human flu pandemic was tested in Exercise Winter Willow on Monday 19 February 2007 and Tuesday 20 February 2007.

The exercise fully tested the UK's ability to manage the effects of an influenza pandemic by playing out the decision-making process at national, regional and local levels, when there are widespread cases across the country. A human flu pandemic would occur when a new flu virus, to which people had little or no natural immunity, emerged.

The biggest exercise of its kind to study the response of the NHS, local authorities and Government Departments to pandemic flu - it was an excellent opportunity to evaluate the planning presumptions, policy and operational procedures across Government and the NHS. The findings of Exercise Winter Willow will then be fed into the overall pandemic flu preparedness plan.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Sir Liam Donaldson, said of the exercise:- "When a 'flu pandemic hits the country the top priority for the Government is to protect the public. The World Health Organization has said that the UK is at the forefront of preparations internationally, but it is always necessary to test our responses and improve them where required. This exercise is another part of the continual testing, refining, and developing of our plans. The NHS is ready to implement its well-rehearsed plan."

Make Mother’s Day a date to save lives

THE National Blood Service (NBS) is appealing to people across the North West to celebrate Mothers Day 2007 by saving a life and giving blood.

Many regular donors have told the NBS that the reason they started donating in the first place is because their parents did. Others were inspired because a parent or someone close to them needed a blood transfusion.

Cathy Davies Communications Officer with the National Blood Service said:- “You never know when some one you love could need a blood transfusion. For this reason we are asking family members to set a date to donate together and make a family tradition of donating a pint of the red stuff. “

Hospitals in the North West need over 20,000 units of blood every month in order to carry out treatments to save and improve patient’s lives. Despite this only 5% of the eligible population are active blood donors.

Cathy Davies added:- “Most people would donate blood if someone they were close to needed it but the need for blood is constant and there are always patients who need transfusions. We’re appealing to everyone over the age of 17 to consider giving blood for Mother’s Day and start saving lives.”

Anyone aged between 17 and 59, weighing more than 50kg (7 stone 12 lbs) and in general good health could potentially give blood and save lives. For more information on becoming a blood donor, including details of sessions in your area, call 08457 711 711 or visit www.blood.co.uk.

BLOOD DONOR SESSIONS TO BE HELD IN THE SOUTHPORT AREA MARCH 2007

Thursday 1.3.07
Holy Trinity Parochial Centre
Hoghton Street
SOUTHPORT
2.00pm to 4.00pm & 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Sunday 4.3.07
Holy Trinity Parochial Centre
Hoghton Street
SOUTHPORT
2.00pm to 4.15pm

Thursday 15.3.07
Our Ladys Parish Hall
Hesketh Lane
TARLETON
2.00pm to 4.00pm & 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Friday 16.3.07
Holy Trinity Parish Hall
Rosemary Lane
FORMBY
2.00pm to 4.00pm & 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Lottery cash lifts volunteer force for Liverpool Hospitals

AN ARMY of volunteers in Liverpool hospitals will offer a helping hand and a friendly word to people ill or in distress under a project awarded £487,931 by the Big Lottery Fund's Reaching Communities programme.  The 5-year project will share in £1.8 million in awards with five other projects across the North West, including initiatives by the Alzheimer's Society, West Cumbria Branch and by the Catholic Caring Services (Diocese of Lancaster).

Volunteers in the Aintree University Hospitals will perform a myriad of tasks to help make life better for patients and visitors; from making tea to running errands, helping fill in menus, delivering library books and engaging people through craft-making, entertaining, playing chess or simply having a chat.  In turn, the volunteers will gain valuable experience that could help them gain work or one day study as a nurse. Volunteers for the Supporters of Aintree Hospitals NHS Trust Volunteer Scheme include young people, disabled people, the unemployed and lone parents. The scheme currently has more than 700 volunteers, including 100 with disabilities. Since it started 10 years ago, more than 550 volunteers have started nursing studies and at least 260 have found paid work.

Jim Birrell, Chief Executive, Aintree University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said:- "There has been a huge devotion of time, effort and dedication to developing the Aintree Volunteer Scheme which now has a national reputation for its quality and innovative approaches - especially in its strategy of using volunteering as a means of NHS employment and training. Receiving Big Lottery Funding will allow us to build on this excellent reputation and benefit many sectors of the community who would otherwise be excluded from this advantageous opportunity."

New respite and support services will raise the quality of life for 3,000 people in West Cumbria with dementia and their carers under an Alzheimer's Society, West Cumbria Branch project granted £430,636.  Based in Workington but covering Allerdale and Copeland, the project will support people with dementia to receive care at home. Carers will receive comprehensive support plans and have access to a telephone helpline. New services will be extended to young people with dementia and people in day care.

Laurence Hilland, Branch Manager of Alzheimer's Society West Cumbria, said:- "This grant will be the foundation for a comprehensive package of dementia services throughout West Cumbria for the next five years. It will mean we can give extra support to both carers and enable people with dementia to stay at home for a longer period of time."

A project working to prevent re-offending among men recently released from prisons in Lancaster and Cumbria has been granted £280,958. Prison authorities refer former offenders to the Catholic Caring Services (Diocese of Lancaster) scheme for help, which starts as soon as the man walks out of the prison's front gate and continues for the following six weeks. Volunteers assess needs and provide advocacy and advice to help men find accommodation and job opportunities, develop community links and keep appointments.

In other awards for the North West, families in East Lancashire struggling to care for children with disabilities will receive some relief from a Caring Today scheme awarded £215,679. Thanks to a £143,497 award, the presses will keep rolling at the Old Trafford News, a non-profit magazine in Manchester produced by residents for residents that offers training and media experience to local people including those with mental or physical health impairments. In Pendle, mentors will guide and motivate young people from the Asian community who struggle with school or finding work under a Southfield Community Action Forum Limited initiative awarded £288,322.

Big Lottery Fund Head of North West Region, Helen Bullough said:- "Many lives will improve thanks to today's awards. Thanks to the volunteering in Aintree University Hospitals project, people will be there for patients or visitors when they need a chat to take their minds off illness or a simple favour that can mean so much in a time of need. The grant to the Alzheimer's Society, West Cumbria branch means people with dementia in West Cumbria will be able to stay in a familiar environment at home with family or friends for longer instead of being admitted to an institution. The Catholic Caring Services initiative is making terrific inroads into recidivism among former offenders and will run for another three years. I am delighted by the awards, which show what a real difference the Reaching Communities programme is making to people and whole communities."

The Reaching Communities programme delivers grants of up to £500,000 over five years to schemes that offer people better chances in life, build strong communities, improve urban and rural environments and promote healthy activities.

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