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.

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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, www.norfolkwinter.com.

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!

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.

drwMrk

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!

Get funding for your project to help keep people in Norfolk warm and well

Do you work for a charity or run a voluntary group? You can apply now for a grant of up to £1,000 for projects designed to help vulnerable people in Norfolk who face particular hardship over the winter months.

The money is being made available from Norfolk County Council’s Warm and Well Fund. The kind of projects that are eligible for funding could include activities that help to reduce isolation for older and disabled people, provide a hot meal or warm clothing, or help vulnerable people to access local services and information that may prevent a crisis situation arising. The grants are available for projects that run during the winter months only.

Interested? There’s more information on the Warm and Well Fund here, including how to apply and who to contact if you have any questions.

Good luck!

From Black Friday to a weekend warmer

While it’s been knocking around for a few years, Black Friday became a bit of a phenomenon in 2014, with retailers enticing us to spend by offering significant discounts. Many shops are extending their promotions over the weekend and if you’re planning a shopping trip into Norwich this weekend, can we recommend a couple of activities for your consideration? They’re not your traditional bargains although hopefully you’ll think they’re money well spent.

First up, families, history buffs and fans of the brilliant author and illustrator Michael Michael Foreman War GameForeman need to know about Christmas in the Trenches at Norwich Castle tomorrow (Saturday, 29 November). Free with admission into the museum, this First World War day is inspired by the Christmas truce of 1914. Michael Foreman, who wrote and illustrated the classic children’s book War Game about the famous Christmas truce and football match in no man’s land, will be there in person to give a talk about his work at 2pm, and will be signing copies of his books afterwards. Michael grew up just over the Suffolk border in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, so this even is almost a homecoming for him. As well as this, there’ll be carols, talks, a family trail and the chance to take part in a giant commemorative art project, and of course you can have a look around the museum’s exhibitions and displays too. Drop in any time between 10.30am and 4pm.

Our second activity is a request – to buy a book for a child in care in Norfolk that will be given to them for Christmas. You can do this by visiting Waterstones on Castle Street in the city, in the children’s book section is a little wooden tree decorated with dozens of tags, each of them with a request for a book from a child who is currently in care in Norfolk – some will be for a specific book, others for a type of book or something by their favourite author.

This is such a wonderful thing to support – if you have your own children it’s a lovely thing to do as a family too. People are always so generous (this is the ninth year the council’s teamed up with Waterstones to do this) and we hope this year is no exception. Just pop into the store during its normal opening hours before the end of Sunday, 9 December to buy a book from the Giving Tree – the reason for this deadline is to make sure the books can be wrapped and delivered in time for Christmas.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, and wherever you’re doing it, we hope it’s a good one for you.