Chief Executive's introduction
Welcome to the June issue of Cascade. In this issue, we pay tribute to a fantastic ‘celebrity’ colleague who not only does a great job but also raises funds for local charities using photos taken on his bin route.
It’s the start of school holidays so find out more about how to keep the kids entertained with free days out across Argyll and Bute.
We bid a fond farewell to a colleague who is retiring from teaching after 47 years in the same school.
As the cost of living continues, find out how our Welfare team is helping people across Argyll and Bute and read more about the range of financial support available from the council.
Free days out in Argyll and Bute
The school summer holidays are just about to start and, with many people opting to stay local this year due to travel disruptions and the rising cost of fuel, here is a useful list of just some of the great attractions in Argyll and Bute that you can visit free:
- Take a step back in time at Campbeltown Museum and Linda McCartney Memorial Garden
- Visit McCaig’s Tower
- Take a walk in Loch Lomond National Park
- Visit Tarbert Castle
- Go across to Davaar Island to see the Cave Painting (Remember to check tide times)
- Visit Kilmartin Glen and climb to Dunadd Fort
- Visit the Ocean Explorer Centre at Dunstaffnage
- Hike to Dun Na Cuaiche Viewpoint in Inveraray
- Visit Puck’s Glen in Dunoon
- Pack a bucket and spade and head to Westport Beach
You can also find useful information on how to have a great time on the council website.
Free bus travel
Don’t forget, all children and young people aged 5-21 years can get free bus travel too. All you need to do is apply for a card to access the Young Persons’ (Under 22s) Free Bus Travel Scheme.
You will need a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC with the valid free travel entitlement with you whenever you want to take the bus – otherwise you’ll have to pay for your trip.
The Doug Show and more cyber security tips
We want you to have the skills and confidence to deal with cyber-security related risks to help keep the council, as well as your own personal data, safe from cyber criminals.
To help, we are providing short (3-minute) training videos which should have started to arrive in your inbox. The emails are from email@example.com with the title ‘Security Awareness Module| Title of Module’.
You should have received the first one – ‘The Guy Who Gets Hooked’.
Upcoming videos include ‘No Factor Fridays’, ‘The Doug Show’ and ‘More than a Morsel’.
In the meantime, you can introduce yourself to ‘Human Error’ and ‘Sound Judgement’ via Cybersecurity Training Done Right (mimecast.com)
We will send follow up emails to encourage you to complete the training. Contact us (using the address below) if you know anyone in your team who isn’t receiving the emails.
It’s important to continue to be vigilant. If you are ever in any doubt about an email or an attachment then you should get it checked out by forwarding it to firstname.lastname@example.org
ICT Compliance and Security Officer
Happy retirement after 47 years
Pupils and staff at Hermitage Academy will say a fond farewell to Gordon Turnbull this week, Principal Teacher of Guidance, who is retiring tomorrow (Friday) after a remarkable 47 years at the school.
Gordon said: “I am fortunate to have enjoyed a long and rewarding teaching career working with many generations of fine young people at Hermitage Academy. I am grateful for the support, good humour and friendship from so many teaching colleagues and staff in the wider school community over the years. Thanks for so many happy memories”.
Douglas Morgan, Acting Head Teacher, said: “The word legend is perhaps used too often in society these days, however, it is safe to say that Mr Turnbull is a true legend of Hermitage Academy having taught here for 47 years. He has made an amazing impact on the lives of over 10,000 young people and family members regularly tell me how grateful they are for Mr Turnbull’s support.
“Hermitage Academy will be starting up a Barista Café in the school next year in partnership with Cameron House. The new café will be named ‘Turnbulls’ to make sure Gordon’s legacy lives on.
Everyone at Hermitage Academy wishes Gordon a happy and healthy retirement.”
Your welfare rights explained
Did you know that the council’s Welfare Rights Team could help you, or someone you know, to access benefits you might be eligible for?
Catherine Morrison has been a Welfare Rights Officer with the council for 12 years now and provides free, confidential and impartial benefits advice to people in the Helensburgh and Lomond area.
She said: “There are so many people not claiming benefits they’re entitled to because they don’t know about them, especially disability benefits which are not means tested. My job, and that of my colleagues, is to ensure people know what benefits are out there and help them make a claim if appropriate. We also have a Macmillan Welfare Rights Assistant who can provide benefits help and advice to people affected by cancer.
“The team has been working from home since the pandemic, delivering the service remotely. It has been a challenging time supporting our clients, many of whom are vulnerable, however, home visits and office appointments are now available if needed.”
People contact the Welfare Rights Team with a variety of benefit-related issues but it is usually for one or more of the following reasons:
- They have had a significant life event or change in circumstances such as being made unemployed, giving birth, been diagnosed with a health problem, etc.
- They are struggling financially.
- They have been turned down for benefits, or are unhappy with the decision
The team also works closely with a variety of community groups and organisations to provide talks and training on a range of welfare rights issues.
To chat to the Welfare Rights Team, you can refer yourself (or someone else) using the Online Form or call 01546 605517.
Have you signed up to the council’s new employee benefit scheme yet?
Vivup is a specialist staff benefit company that runs the scheme on behalf of the council, and offers a range of benefits and savings designed to help your physical, financial and mental wellbeing.
You will find a whole host of offers, including:
- Home and Electronics – help spread the cost of a huge range of technology and home appliances
- Bike Shop – get active this summer with bike savings for the whole family
- Travel and Leisure – access a wide range of holidays and spread the cost via salary with no deposit required
- Gym Membership – get healthy and spread the cost at a choice of over 3,000 gyms
- Lifestyle Savings– access a huge range of discounts across the UK’s major retailers including technology, fashion, supermarkets, travel and much more!
VivUp also has a useful Cost of Living Guide that can show you how to save money, manage your finances and access free debt advice.
To sign up and start browsing, MyCouncilWorks
Car lease scheme
In addition to the staff benefit scheme, the council also has a new Salary-Sacrifice Car Leasing Scheme by LeasePlan.
A salary-sacrifice lease car benefits you in several ways and means you will pay for your car directly from your gross salary, therefore saving Income Tax. As part of the scheme, you will also benefit from:
- A brand new vehicle;
- 3 year lease;
- No deposit or credit check;
- Maintenance and tyres;
- Vehicle Excise Duty (Road Fund Tax);
- Breakdown cover;
- Fully comprehensive insurance including business mileage cover.
The Wellbeing Team is urging people to set aside a couple of minutes to take part in their Wellbeing Survey.
The team is planning to introduce some new initiatives to support your mental health and wellbeing at work, but your feedback is vital to help shape the services they provide. The more they know, the more they can help!
Free home energy grant
Did you know that help is available to make your home more energy efficient?
The weather might be in our favour just now but winter is not that far away, and the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Scheme (HEEPS) could help keep heat in your home and in turn save money on energy costs.
The council’s Home Energy Efficiency Project Officer, Jacqueline Westerman, explains the scheme: “HEEPS provides a free grant to help home owners and private tenants improve the energy efficiency of their homes, reduce carbon emissions, reduce their fuel bills and help to ensure they can live in warm, dry homes.
“It’s a brilliant scheme that has helped hundreds of people across and Argyll and Bute. There is a very wide eligibility criteria designed to help as many people as possible and to ensure that our expensive previous heat stays inside our homes”
The range of insulation includes:
- External wall insulation
- Internal wall insulation
- Cavity wall insulation
- Loft insulation
- Underfloor insulation
Find out more about HEEPS on the council website.
ALIenergy can also help provide practical advice and energy saving tips to help ease pressure on your household finances.
As the cost of living crisis continues, the council is working with partners to offer help and support to people across Argyll and Bute. Fergus Walker, Revenue and Benefits Manager explains just some of the resources available.
As the cost of living crisis continues, many people will be feeling the pinch. We are working with local organisations to offer a range of support from useful budgeting tips to grants for daily living expenses.
You can find information on the council website.
- Managing rising fuel costs
- Debt and debt counselling
- Budget tools
- Money helper
- Benefits and grants
- Welfare rights
You will also find more information on the website about the Argyll and Bute Flexible Food Fund that aims to support households with low incomes who have no access to cash savings.