Still time to buy a book for a child in care this Christmas

giving-treeI paid a visit to Waterstones in Norwich yesterday, to see how the Giving Tree was getting on.

The Giving Tree, pictured right, is in the Castle Street store and is decorated with tags, each representing a child in care in Norfolk and a book they would like to receive this Christmas. Visitors to Waterstones choose a tag, find a book that fits the bill and buys it to be given to the child to open on Christmas Day. Isn’t that a lovely thing?

When I went in yesterday there were only about a dozen tags left on the tree, which is great news as they need to be bought by Sunday 4 December, in order to reach the children in time for Christmas. We really don’t want any of the children to go without though so if you’re late night shopping in Norwich tonight and want to support the Giving Tree appeal, please do drop into Waterstones (it’s open till 9pm tonight) and see how many tags there are left – the Giving Tree is in the children’s book section. There may still be tags left at the weekend too.

The Giving Tree appeal is organised by Norfolk County Council’s Virtual School for Children in Care, whose role is to monitor the progress of all looked after children in Norfolk and ensure they have the best possible education.

Thank you to everyone who has already bought a book for a child in care for Christmas. Many of these children and young people have had a very difficult start to life, so the generosity of people in Norfolk to get them a present they want will almost certainly make a big difference.

Norwich Park & Ride is running some extra late night bus services on Thursdays in December, as well as additional Sunday services – you can find out more here.

Twas the night before winter…

Welcome to the Norfolk Winter blog, which we’ll once again be updating regularly with information that to help you and those around you stay healthy, happy and safe during the colder months.

It seemed an apt day to start blogging again, sandwiched as we are between the coldest night so far this season last night (temperatures got down to around minus five degrees celsius in some places I believe) and 1st December tomorrow, which a lot of people think of as the official start of winter.

Remember, you can stay up to date with when our gritters are going out on social media – we tweet a daily update using the #norfolkwinter hashtag and also let you know what our gritters are doing every day on our Norfolk Facebook page. If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you can see our latest #norfolkwinter tagged tweets, including gritting updates, on the homepage of this blog,

You might have seen or heard reports of the Met Office predicting a colder winter than normal – this needs to be taken with some caution as they say themselves the accuracy of forecasting the weather beyond five days is very difficult. At present, the Met Office is saying that the end of December is likely to be colder than average across the UK, but they can’t provide any more localised information than that. 

Looking forward to giving you lots of useful advice and information over the next few months – we’ll try our best to make this winter as easy as possible for everyone.

Christmas and New Year opening times and services

Schools have broken up, perfume and aftershave adverts are clogging up the TV schedules and many people have eaten half their weight in chocolate over the past week – Christmas is nearly upon us.

Christmas dog

Picture credit: Theresa Thompson

We’ve created a page on our website about Christmas and New Year opening times for our buildings and services. While most of our services will be closed on the weekends and bank holidays, some of our staff such as social workers, firefighters and potentially gritting teams, if needed, will be working throughout the festive period.

Our libraries will be closed from 5pm on Christmas Eve and will reopen on Tuesday, 29 December. Some of our museums will also be open between Christmas and New Year if you want a break from turkey sandwiches and board games.

We don’t organise roadside bin collections, these are done by Norfolk’s seven district councils, but remember your normal bin days may well change over Christmas and New Year. To find out when you need to drag your bin out over the next couple of weeks, click here.

Finally, don’t forget that the NHS is often under a lot of strain at this time of year so remember to get all your medications and repeat prescriptions to help keep you well and if you do need advice or medication, consider going to your local pharmacy in the first instance. There’s a list of Norfolk pharmacies that will be open on the bank holidays here.

Have a very happy, healthy Christmas everyone!

Do you have the medical supplies to see you through Christmas?

Stay Well logoHelp yourself and your loved ones stay well – and help the NHS at what is a very busy for them – by making sure you have the right medicines and other supplies to see you through the Christmas and New Year period.

Those who take regular medication should make sure they have ordered enough to last through the holiday period or ask their GP practice for a new prescription.

Most pharmacies will be open between Christmas and New Year and some will be open on the bank holidays, including Christmas Day. Pharmacists can provide advice, over-the-counter medicines and fulfil repeat prescriptions. Find out which Norfolk pharmacies are open on bank holidays here.

It’s also important to make sure your medicine cabinet or kit contains all the essential items, such as:

  • painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, including versions for children (if there are any children in the house)
  • over-the-counter cough, cold, flu and indigestion remedies
  • plasters
  • bandages
  • antiseptic cream
  • thermometer

For health information over the festive period please go to

This information has been kindly provided by the five NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in Norfolk.

Swap your old, worn slippers for a new pair in Norwich this Friday

Our next slipper swap event is coming up this Friday, where people can swap their old, worn slippers for a new, slip-resistant pair.

The events, which we run with Age UK, are particularly aimed at those people who might be at risk of falling and injuring themselves. For older people in particular, a fall can mean broken bones and a stay in hospital. Good, well-fitting slippers won’t entirely prevent someone from falling of course, but old slippers without much grip could contribute to a fall.

Friday’s slipper swap event will take place between 10am and midday and is at the Phoenix Centre on Mile Cross Road in Norwich, NR3 2LD. People who go can also find out about the support and some of the services that are available designed to keep people cope through the winter.

Another slipper swap is scheduled for Thursday, 17 December from 11.30am to 1.30pm at Witard Road Baptist Church, Witard Road, Norwich, NR7 9XD.

There’s more information and advice about staying warm and well through the winter on our website too. More slipper swap events are due to take place after Christmas and the details will go up here when they’re confirmed.


Flooding – what you need to know

With parts of northern England currently badly affected by flooding, we
thought it was timely to put some information on here about flooding.


Picture credit: derya

There is currently no anticipated risk of flooding in Norfolk. We don’t want anyone to panic, just to know where to get advice about flooding and what to do in the event of a flood that might impact on your life.

There’s a really useful page on our website that gives lots of advice. Flooding is something that lots of different public sector organisations play a part in so it’s not that easy to know where to get information and help from – this webpage does make it a little easier. You can find it at

If you’re worried about being caught unawares by flooding, whether where you live or if you’re making a journey, you can keep up-to-date with flood alerts and warnings on the Environment Agency’s website here. It’s updated every 15 minutes so should give you a really good idea of what to expect.

The AA also has some good advice here about driving in heavy rain and flood conditions. Driving conditions are rarely perfect but knowing what to do to help keep you safe in a particular set of conditions is eminently sensible.

Again, we’re not expecting any flooding in Norfolk in the near future, in fact the weather’s looking fairly unremarkable for the next week or so as things stand. But we want you to feel prepared as and when we do get a potential flooding situation.



Time running out to buy a book for a child in care for Christmas

This is the last weekend that you can buy a book for a Norfolk child in care from Waterstones in Norwich to ensure it gets to them in time for Christmas.


Picture credit: drwMrk

When I went to buy mine on Tuesday evening there will still around 100 tags on the Giving Tree, which each represent a child who is in the care of Norfolk County Council, and the book they would like to receive for Christmas. Some specify particular books or authors and others ask for a certain genre or type of book.

The books need to be bought by Monday (7 December) so that they can be collected and wrapped by Norfolk County Council staff and distributed via the children’s schools.

This is such a lovely thing to do if you’re shopping in Norwich and can spare a bit of time and some money. Books meant a lot to many of us as children and it’s great to think of passing that love of reading onto a child, particularly one who may not have had the same access to books that some children enjoy.

The Giving Tree is in Waterstones on Castle Street in central Norwich. Here’s some information on its location.

Thank you!