Birstall's clap for carers
PEOPLE ACROSS Birstall have been united in their applause for NHS carers by coming outside for the 8pm ‘clap for our carers’ every Thursday.
Our pictures show the scene on Wellgate Avenue where a NHS banner made by Mrs Joan Folland is carried by Jush and Deeya Brahmbatt while Kritveer Jaggi rings a bell to add to the noise of the clapping and the clatter of pots and pans from neighbours.
Joan said: “I made the banner from a couple of bedsheets. I have family in the NHS and so does my neighbour and I made the banner because I thought they needed our support and 8pm on Thursdays is our way of showing how much we support them.”
Every Thursday Jush, Deeya and Kritveer have been carrying the banner and ringing the bell along Wellgate Avenue and Sandgate Avenue.
Guneet Jaggi of Sandgate Avenue said: “It’s one way we have to thank the NHS staff who do so much for us and it’s great to see the children getting involved.”
Cyclist dies after crash on Wanlip Lane
A CYCLIST has died following a collision with a car on Wanlip Lane, Birstall, on Tuesday April 7.
Police were called to the area at 12.37pm following a report of the incident which involved the cyclist and a silver Vauxhall Astra car.
The collision happened near the Cedars Academy. Both the cyclist and the car were travelling towards Birstall at the time of the collision.
East Midlands Ambulance Service also attended the scene and the cyclist, a man in his 60s, was taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. He died in hospital on Saturday April 18.
No other injuries have been reported.
The road was closed while officers carried out enquiries at the scene.
Detective Constable Pete Davies said: “We are appealing to anyone who did happen to be in the area at the time and who has any information to make contact.
“From initial enquiries, we understand there may have been pedestrians in the area when this collision happened. If you were, please make contact with us.
“Similarly, if anyone was driving in the area at the time of the incident, or prior to it, please check any dashcam footage you may have and please make contact with us regarding any information you may have,”
Anyone with any information should contact 101 quoting incident 262 of April 7.
Virus stalls plan
LEICESTER CITY Council’s Draft Local Plan, which included a site for 661 new homes off Greengate Lane, has been stalled by the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement on the Council’s website says: “The Draft Local Plan consultation has been postponed until further notice due to the Coronavirus emergency. Further updates will be available on the council website and Twitter.”
A secondary school is also planned for the 48 hectare site. It would be located near the junction of Greengate Lane and Ashton Green.
A further plot of land, 4.86 hectares next to the 17th tee on Birstall Golf Course has been identified as employment land. It has no highways access and is currently agricultural land. Other parts of this field have been identified for employment land as part of the Ashton Green development.
53 new homes are planned for a 2.78 hectare site behind Park Road, adjacent to the railway. The site is currently a part of Birstall golf course.
The plan also identifies land south of Thurcaston for 412 new homes.
All the documents relating to the draft plan are still available to view on the city council’s website, from its Consultation Hub page.
The Draft Local Plan covers the period 2019-2036 and states that 21,291 homes will be built in Leicester, with 30% affordable housing on greenfield sites.
Birstall: adapting to life under lockdown
THE CORONAVIRUS is having a big impact on all our lives and adapting and coping is a challenge.
The Birstall Post has contacted some of our local services, groups and organisations to give an insight into how life has changed under lockdown, and how they are adapting to serve the community.
Birstall Cedar Mews Care Home
Cedar Mews is a 73 bed care home on Hallam Fields Road.
Ben Dalgetty, Home Admissions Adviser, said: “We are doing well with no major concerns and we are still open for admissions – both permanent and respite – although still closed to general visitors.
“We would like to thank all of our staff for their dedication and resilience during these times. We would also like to thank the families of our residents for their unwavering support as well as the local community – we have had letters and pictures from local children for our residents, donations of Hot cross buns and fresh eggs from Waitrose in Mountsorrel and general well wishes from the community.”
Greengate Medical Centre
This GP practice on Greengate Lane has seven GPs and looks after 11,596 patients.
Sara Mitchell, Assistant Practice Manager, said: “We would like to thank all of our patients for their understanding and patience at such an unusual and trying time for us all.
“In order to continue supporting our patients in the most efficient way we can, we have adapted our clinics by holding telephone consultations for our patients in order to drastically reduce the footfall into the surgery. In doing this, we will reduce both patients and staff risk of exposure to Covid-19. Clinicians will advise you directly should they need you to come to the surgery once a telephone consultation has taken place.
“We would like to stress that you should not be attending the surgery unless you have been advised to do so. This includes staying at home to make an appointment, as these can be made over the phone. Can we remind everyone of the government advice to STAY AT HOME with only the exception of ESSENTIAL duties and key workers going to and from work. This applies to everyone regardless of symptoms but in particular, those considered more vulnerable such as the elderly or those with chronic conditions, even if you currently feel well with no symptoms. NHS England have sent letters to those who are most at risk – Unfortunately, we do not have any control over who does and does not receive these letters.
“If there are people struggling to collect prescriptions from the surgery, please call 0116 2677901 and nominate a pharmacy which is closer to home if possible. We are aware of a fantastic team of Birstall volunteers helping our community that are prepared to offer assistance to those who are in self isolation. The individuals contact details have been posted through residents doors across the village.
“Everyone here at Greengate Medical Centre is working tirelessly to make adaptations to cope with the huge increase in telephone enquiries and for prescription requests. Please be aware that there may be some delay at times to our usual turnaround. We would like to reassure you that whilst you may have to wait a little longer on the phone at busy times, we WILL answer all calls and you should not just attend the surgery as an alternative option. We have been advised not to supply prescriptions for any more than the usual time period for medications as this could negatively impact supplies and fulfilment by the pharmacies.
“Thank you again to the whole community for your continued support of the surgery, our own fantastic team and to the whole of the NHS, which in turn, is helping us to help our patients.
Birstall Food Hub
Run by volunteers and providing food and essentials on a weekly basis to people on benefits or low wages
Gill Chester writes:
Initially procedures needed changing almost on a daily basis! To begin with to maintain social distancing and good hygiene. Subsequently to prevent people coming in to a central point altogether.
Lack of contact with our clients. From being a place where people can have a chat and a drink, can be pointed in the right direction for help and advice, we became a place that discouraged our clients from staying around and we started delivering where we could.
Significant increase in client numbers – from a client base on benefits – many in that no-man’s land of Universal Credit – we now have people who don’t know what their situation is. They used to have a job, but they’ve been put on furlough, they might be on the 80% pay scheme, but they don’t know how that works or when they’ll get money.
Having to maintain the scope of what we can and can’t do, can we/should we deliver outside Birstall and Wanlip? Decided not to, because other food banks cover those areas. Can we help those who don’t have access to cash but can afford food? No, our constitution does not cover us to do this. We are set up to “provide food parcels and a listening ear to people in food poverty and to point them to other help that might be appropriate”.
So many people who have donated food – keep it coming!! Money less needed – we have been very lucky to receive some large financial donations.
Huge thank you to Soar Valley Food Project in Rothley for packing up an increasing number of food parcels and creating systems to keep us safe while we fetch them.
Our volunteers – about half of them are in the vulnerable group and are frustrated that they can’t help any more – but we want them to keep healthy! Big thank you to those who are able to help with taking donations to Rothley, fetching and delivering food parcels.
Helping Birstall Facebook Group – for giving information to people who are eligible, and encouraging them to contact us.
Daphne & St Theresa’s for hosting us.
We currently have four pairs of people who can deliver. If our numbers increase or if we get sick we will need some more volunteers who are able to drive. Some people have already offered, but we may need more. Naturally our work involves some vulnerable people, so we do have to go through an ‘approval’ process before we can use people – and we have safeguarding processes that must be adhered to – that’s why we require 2 people to deliver parcels together – but this could be in separate cars with social distancing.
07305 093791 for food parcels and 07848 144169 for anything else.
Helping Birstall LE4
A village wide network of volunteers supporting their neighbours on a street by street basis using facebook, whatsapp and telephone.
The admin team of Rosie, Shona, Kelly, Sharon and Rachel would like to say a huge thank you to each and every volunteer that has reached out to help the community. There have been many requests and as far as we aware we have found a solution to all of them. The group is still growing in numbers and people frequently call or access the facebook page for advice. The community is very responsive.
One of the challenges is finding places to signpost people in need of ongoing support. We share links to various groups, Domestic Violence, Mental Health, the Government website as well as where to get a food delivery.
Accessing temporary food and identifying which solution is right for people's needs is ongoing. We can use the Birstall Food Hub and John Storer House. The Open Hands charity has donated food parcels.
The collection of prescriptions was incurring lots of unnecessary journeys and waiting. We now have an arrangement where we email the Well Pharmacy at Greengate Lane, and Boots on Sibson Road, and then we collect and deliver the following evening. We encourage people to use this service which is accessed by texting or calling 0782 334 9658
We have a list of people who are willing to just chat if anyone would like to make use of this. Contact the phone number or the Facebook group.
As part of the 75th celebrations of Victory in Europe (VE day) on 8 May 2020 we are asking people to decorate their windows in red white and blue. The children on #frommywindow Birstall I’m sure won't disappoint.
Sharon contacted Tesco Express in Birstall who donated milk, bread and Easter eggs. The Co-op also donated 50 Easter eggs. These were distributed using the street leads. We had lots of lovely messages. One said "it made my day" another said "lots of smiles, a little kindness meant so much.”
How are Birstall schools and children dealing with lockdown?
Chair of Governors at the Cedars Academy Shreek Raivadera writes:
Parents have received information by email but I realised that the wider community may not know what was happening with the schools in Birstall at this unprecedented time.
With just a few days to prepare, the Lionheart Academies trust has moved 11 schools and thousands of students and staff to online learning. The urgency and speed of the lockdown announcement meant that the trust team had to very quickly build a virtual learning environment (VLE) that could be used across all schools. Staff then had to fill that platform with learning materials and resources for students. A project that would normally take months was completed in a matter of days and I cannot praise the staff enough for this massive achievement.
Staff across the trust have been absolutely amazing. Senior leaders have had to manage their own emotions and those of staff, parents and pupils and to lead with vision and positivity despite managing the day-to-day learning and preparing for a completely new way of working in a very small timeframe. It has impacted on all areas of school life from catering and cleaning to IT and teaching. Together the schools have so much more capacity and creativity in a crisis than they would have individually, and the work has been hugely impressive.
90% of students have engaged with the online learning, showing real resilience and conscientious care towards their education.
One member of staff at Cedars commented on the provision for key workers and vulnerable pupils, that, “the staff and students have been ridiculously positive, grateful and resilient to the situation and got on with it with zero complaints. The community and public spirit has been overwhelming. Determined, dedicated and passionate staff with the ‘greater good’ at heart.”
Key worker provision
The Lionheart Academies Trust created two ‘hubs’ for all children in the trust (primary and secondary), one at The Cedars Academy and the other at Beauchamp College. Children of key workers have been using this provision, which has also been available to vulnerable families. This approach has allowed the trust to make the best use of available staff while ensuring those children are kept safe.
Staff agreed to continue the provision over the Easter holidays and have been flexible about taking holiday time.
On day 4, a member of staff at Cedars commented that, “Colleagues treated students to dodgeball, bottle rockets, chair drumming, online learning (of course) and a bit of electric guitar. Kids loved it! But what was really strange was the fact the students, yes students, refused to do the fun bits until the online learning was done ... who trained them to be diligent learners? Students are being amazeballs!”
Staff have been holding virtual meetings regularly to ensure learning and resource creation is moving forward. One small positive outcome is that the collaboration between subject matter experts across the various schools in the trust has increased massively so information and support is shared across the group. It has been amazing to see how well everyone has stepped up to the challenges raised by the virus.
The trust team is also meeting regularly to update and track the huge amount of change. Their positivity and hard work is very impressive.
Another small positive outcome from the current situation is the time released for staff to work together in teams across the schools to develop full trust curricula ready for September. This will bring forward the rollout for schools and has allowed staff to have quality time to work together.
Next steps for online learning
The online learning platform will continue to evolve. The first aim was to make sure there was content on there. This is already being revised to create a consistent format across all the departments at secondary.
The next step is to create a more ordered thematic structure to the content, and how to quality assure the learning that’s included.
The trust will develop the VLE further with videos and some live lessons. Research shows that live lectures are a less effective way of learning than wrestling with ideas within an individual written piece of work, but there are clear benefits in terms of inspiring students to engage and pointing them to specific online resources to tackle next. The lectures will also be recorded ready for students to access in the future.
It’s interesting to see that in New Zealand, which went into full lockdown at a day’s notice, the equivalent of the Department for Education provided a bank of resources for the whole country on day one which schools can then supplement, which will have been hugely helpful to schools. We’ve really benefitted from having 10 schools to pull resources from – managing this whole crisis as a standalone school must be overwhelmingly challenging.
Online learning is different
Please do not worry that somehow you or your children are not doing enough. Children are anxious about the pandemic and we need to reassure them as much as possible.
Parents: you are not ‘home schooling.’ Your children are learning from home and they have lots of support available from the school. Staff are responding to emails and the virtual learning environment has an online forum area with staff on a rota to answer questions.
I have seen a post on Facebook about a student and their parent being in tears over some of the work. This should absolutely not be the case.
Students: If you don’t understand something or can’t do a piece of work yet, please contact your teacher and don’t worry.
The work set is to support and educate but it is flexible and so the manner and timing of working at home can be adapted according to family preference.
Donating safety kit and food
We are donating safety resources already in schools which are desperately needed by the NHS such as goggles and masks. We have had several requests from individuals and groups within the NHS for these and are working with the Regional Schools Commissioner, who is raising this with NHS leaders.
Staff at Cedars, Martin High and Beauchamp have also made PPE equipment using laser cutters, with 2000 full face masks made to date and sent to 58 different hospital wards, care homes, care community workers, GPs, prisons, funeral directors, Leicester Air Ambulance, East Midlands Ambulance Service, The Red Cross Ambulance and pharmacies.
So far, building work at various trust schools has continued, including the new science block at Cedars, with some pieces of work being left until later because of social distancing rules. Remarkably, the new City 6th Form is on track for completion on time.
Finally, we would like to thank you for your understanding and continuing support through this period. As a part of the Birstall community, we are very grateful for the way in which individuals have quickly responded and supported their communities during this unprecedented time.