Information Now

12 February 2021


• InformationNOW
• Helen’s Law
• Infertility
• Coronavirus updates
• National HIV testing week
• Improvement works

Opportunities for Action

• Microchipping cats and dogs consultation
• Housing issues for people with dementia
• Reducing the cost of public transport for those on low incomes
• NHS survey on getting involved in clinical research


Free PPE for unpaid carers

New on InformationNOW this week!

This week’s events & activities at a glance
Free online drama for those with eligible health needs
Fell running
Virtual activity online

New and updated organisations

Digital Candle
Opera North
Children and Young People’s Service CNTW

Crisis Resolution Home treatment Team CNTW



We’ve made changes to improve the way you navigate the website and the feedback so far shows that this has been useful to you.   Recently the Elders Council produced a report Managing the Home Care Circus.  They stated that InformationNOW was a useful website with timely and up to date information.  What distinguished InformationNOW is the quality of local information. It is reasonably user-friendly and kept up to date. It also provides direct links to Newcastle City Council services. Thank you for this feedback.

One of the key elements of our website is that we have ReciteME software. Just click on the white tab with the eye on any page. This means that you can tailor the website to meet your needs.  So you can use a ruler, listen through audio, change the text size, translate or change the background colour to meet your needs.

Helen’s Law

In 2015, Helen McCourt’s mother, Marie, began a campaign to change the law regarding the conviction of killers requiring them to reveal the whereabouts of their victim’s remains before being considered for parole.  This was as a result of the release of her daughter’s killer.  He didn’t disclose these details removing her right to mourn and say goodbye. The law was passed before Christmas and makes it a legal requirement for the Parole Board to take into account a killer’s failure to disclose the location of their victim’s remains when considering them for release.

It will also apply to paedophiles who refuse to identify those they abused.


Rhod Gilbert has been raising awareness about male infertility. It has been assumed that women are more affected than men, but this isn’t true and the causes can be 50:50 male or female related.  There are a wide variety of factors and you can see these at the Fertility Network website.

With infertility affecting around 1 in 7 couples in the UK, it’s time to break the silence around a taboo subject  Rhod set up the website as there is a real lack of support for men experiencing male fertility issues, so they can talk about fertility problems and be  signposted with their partners to much-needed support.

Look out for female support groups, male support groups  and webinars and information that may help you.

Coronavirus updates

Over 70 years old?

The Government is asking you to step forward if you have not had your vaccine, have not received a letter asking you to book your vaccine or if you previously turned it down.  Book online or ring 119 and choose the vaccination service option.

COVID- 19 Vaccine videos

Newcastle City Council are in the process of producing videos in community languages for local people including Bengali

Ask Doc from Manchester have uploaded videos about getting the vaccine in community languages including Bengali, Hindi and Punjabi. Please share them in your communities.

Please also raise awareness of Information on the acceptability of the vaccine to the Muslim community from the British Muslim Medical Association:

Help for those struggling during coronavirus 
The city council is about to give thousands of hard-up residents in Newcastle extra financial help during the pandemic. The move will ease the burden of Council Tax by giving eligible working age households up to £160 towards their bill.   In all 16,000 households will receive nil bills. A further 14,000 will have their bills reduced.  It means for two years in a row 16,000 households in Newcastle have been excused from paying Council Tax and a further 14,000 have received additional support during difficult economic times.    They are targeting all our £5.5m share from the Government’s £670m hardship fund at struggling residents.

Deputy council leader, Cllr Joyce McCarty, said: “We know from the numbers of people at foodbanks and the job losses that many families in Newcastle are really struggling right now.

Those that will benefit include
•    working age households in receipt of Council Tax reduction
•    self-employed in hardship and receiving Council Tax reduction
•    families struggling to pay
and more

Homeless and rough sleepers freephone number
The Housing Advice Centre has launched a freephone number.  The freephone number if you need help is: 0800 1707 008 and the service is available from 8.30am to 12 noon and 1pm to 4.30pm on weekdays.

National HIV Testing Week

National HIV testing week was last week but it is still important to spread the word.  The purpose of the week is to promote regular testing among key populations. HIV is a virus that damages your immune system. It is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex. The campaign aims to reduce the numbers of undiagnosed people and those diagnosed late. Owing to the pandemic the emphasis is on testing at home and not delaying if you are worried.

Locally we have three organisations that can help adults.

MESMAC supports men and has a Postal Test Order Form that people fill in and return to them to speed up the process. The HIV tests they use are BioSure test kits which are 99.7% accurate and have detailed instructions for use. The kit will come through the post in discreet packaging. Once you have the kit you are able to test yourself and get your results in 15 minutes.

Shine supports women and is promoting the Give HIV the Finger campaign and you can request tests by emailing them and they will return a phone call too.

The New Croft Centre is is supporting the national campaign, Give HIV the Finger and they also offer  DIY STI Testing Kits.

Read our information on Sexual Health and Sex in later life.

Improvement works to begin near Helix site

Delayed work to improve a busy city centre junction will be starting from 21 February for seven months.   The work will take place on St James’ Boulevard at the junction with Bath Lane and Wellington Street, just outside the Helix site. This had originally been planned to start during May 2020 but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A major part of the work will involve creating better and safer crossing points for people who are walking or cycling in the area and create better walking and cycling connections between the Helix site and other locations, including Central Station.

Microchipping cats and dogs

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a consultation on Cat and Dog Microchipping and Scanning in England.  They want to know what you think about plans to introduce compulsory cat microchipping in England and how you think this should be implemented.

They also want to know whether you think vets and other bodies should be required to scan cats and dogs for microchips in certain situations. For example, prior to euthanasia.

Take part in the consultation The consultation closes at 5.00pm on 17 February 2021.

The Petitions Committee is currently unable to schedule the debate owing to the coronavirus.

Housing issues for people with dementia

The Housing LIN are publishing the report on the APPG inquiry into the implications of housing for people with dementia.  It highlights a number of overarching issues affecting the lives of people with dementia and makes over 40 key policy and practice recommendations for dementia-readiness.

Co-chaired by Lord Best, they will be hosting the APPG report’s hour-long at 10am on Wednesday, 17 February 2021.  Book by 16 February.

Reducing the cost of public transport for those on low incomes

Social Rights Alliance North East has identified a need to reduce the cost of public transport for those on benefits and asylum support allowance in the North East. They want to understand more about the problems you experience in accessing buses and trains in the region by filling out their survey.

NHS England survey

Newcastle Gateshead CCG is  currently working with NHS England to undertake some research on what patients, current users, non-users and those with long-term conditions, think about getting involved with clinical research.

They want to know how patients and the public feel about clinical research, how they can get involved in research, what digital access they might need and if there are any barriers in place for involvement.  Take the survey. 

Free PPE for unpaid carers

In line with recent recommendations from the Department of Health and Social Care, Newcastle City Council is now able to provide free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Covid-19 needs to all unpaid carers providing care and support to a person they do not live with.

The Council is working with Newcastle Carers, their commissioned carers support service to coordinate this and carers needing PPE should contact them on 0191 275 5060 to place their order. When it is ready you can collect it from  Adult Social Care Reception adjacent to the trampoline park on Westgate Road.

Online drama for those with eligible mental health needs

Wednesday 17 February 3:30pm to 5:30pm for six weeks

A new online drama course with Converge at Northumbria University for anyone who is 18+ accessing Mental Health Support.  Email Ally or ring 07468 700881

Virtual activity  online

We’ve added Beamish Discover to our article Quick Links to Virtual Activity online.

Fell running

Run the Dales is a new website that aims to raise awareness of fell running – the original sport of the Yorkshire Dales. From April there will be a photographic exhibition to transport you to the Dales by celebrating the sport along with the events that take place across the region throughout the year.  Why not get fit and plan a run?

  • TWAM Must-see stories digital Pride
  • Online performances by Northern Stage
  • From couch to chorus – Sing into Spring Opera North
  • Sewing for women – garment manufacturing course
  • Cultural competency training from Connected Voice

New and updated Organisations

Digital Candle

Opera North

Children and Young People’s Service CNTW

Crisis Resolution Home Treatment team CNTW

Last updated: February 12, 2021

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