Statement from the Director of Public Health

Spring has sprung and with it has come some better weather which always helps to lift everyone’s spirits.

Spring has sprung and with it has come some better weather which always helps to lift everyone’s spirits. Along with the gradual easing out of lockdown which means we can meet up with friends and family in groups of up to six or two households, being able to eat and drink outside at pubs/restaurants, visit non-essential shops and the chance to pamper ourselves now that barbers and salons are open again, we need to find ways of improving our wellbeing and physical health after a tough year. Full information on the government’s roadmap out of lockdown can be found here here.

This is also Stress Awareness Month - stress can have a massive impact on our lives and the last 13 months have affected us all in so many different ways. It is really important to take some time out, look after ourselves and focus on things that can have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing, so that we can be at our best – physically, practically, and psychologically.

Five Ways to Wellbeing are simple and proven actions that you can find balance, build resilience and boost your mental health and wellbeing. You can also check out the Every Mind Matters pages on the NHS website, which has some tips on how to combat stress here.

We all know that being physically active helps us feel good about ourselves, be more productive, and supports better quality sleep and relaxation. Engaging in physical exercise alleviates stress and increases endorphins with positive impacts on mental health.

You can start with some of these simple steps:

  • If you are working from home, make sure you have regular breaks away from your desk and do something physical that you enjoy.
  • Set yourself some goals and commit to walking a mile every other day for the first week, and add more distance each time you walk, or increase the frequency.
  • Cycle or walk to work when you can
  • Explore your local area on foot, or get on your bike to discover new ways of getting from A to B
  • Organise a kickabout with some friends in the park – just remember for the time being it will have to be in a group of up to six or two households to comply with government guidance.

Greater Manchester Walking Festival also takes place next month to encourage residents to enjoy reconnecting with the great outdoors, their friends and neighbours and to get out and about more. No matter whether you’re a stroller, roamer, shuffler, moocher or a marcher the festival has something for everyone, with guides for those new to walking as well as regular striders! To find out more click here.

Another good way to start exercising if you’ve been negatively affected by Covid, either through contracting the virus or as a result of the shielding period, is by contacting the Stockport Moving Together programme. This is a joint initiative between the Council, Primary Care in Stockport, Stockport CCG, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Life Leisure, that continues to make a real difference to the lives of residents across the borough. by helping participants regain their strength, stamina and confidence. Activity packs have been created with the equipment needed to help people get active, combined with virtual help and support from Life Leisure’s expert coaches. You can watch Stockport resident Alan’s inspiring story here. If you or someone you know might benefit from the Stockport Moving Together programme, fill in the online referral form, or ask your GP for a referral. You must be over 18, physically able to undertake some gentle exercise and live in Stockport (or be able to access a local collection point).

For further information on how you might look after your health and wellbeing, please visit our Health and Wellbeing pages or for ways to remain healthy, please visit Healthy Stockport.

Coronavirus rates are continuing to fall in Stockport, with rates currently at *26.2 per 100,000, or around 11 new cases each day, the lowest since 3 September last year. This decrease can be seen in all age groups and areas across the borough. The latest published data can be found here.

As we begin to mix more, the likelihood of rates increasing rises, so we need to continue to act responsibly and follow the latest guidance in order to break the chains of transmission and to keep our community safe. Please maintain social distancing of two metres, wear a mask in enclosed spaces (unless exempt) and wash or sanitise your hands regularly. If you are meeting friends or family, please stick to the rule of six or two households in outdoor spaces or private gardens guidance and avoid mixing with other groups when you are at a venue.

Also, key to stopping the spread of the virus is by taking up the offer of universal lateral flow testing to diagnose non-symptomatic cases and then self-isolating. All adults can now get regular home rapid Covid tests – even if you don’t have any symptoms. They are available from Fred Perry House, the car park on Chadwick Street in Marple and a number of libraries. Find your nearest test centre or collection point here.

Please note that if you have any of the symptoms of coronavirus: a new, continuous cough; a high temperature or loss of taste and smell, or have received a positive lateral flow test you need to get a PCR test and self-isolate until you get the result. You can book this test here.

The vaccination programme continues to progress at pace, with 60.9% of the adult population in Stockport having now received their first dose and 24.5% of the adult population have received both doses of the vaccine. If you are due to have the second dose of the Covid vaccination in the coming weeks, please do take up the offer. It’s really important to get both doses of the vaccine. While you get the bulk of the protection from the first dose, you get a top up and longer-term protection from the second.

Over 45s can now book their jab appointments via the NHS website. If you are over 45, an eligible frontline health and social care worker, clinically vulnerable or a primary carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus, you can arrange an appointments by calling 119 or book online.

Please also be assured that the vaccines are safe and that side effects are very rare, even compared to other common medications such as aspirin or the contraceptive pill. The continued research and slight changes on advice around the AstraZeneca vaccine should give us confidence in the systems that exist to detect and understand these slight risks. The risk of blood clots occurring in people infected with Covid occur far more frequently, so the vaccination really is vital to keep all of us protected. If you’d like to know more, the link to the full MHRA and JCVI statements are available here.

If you need support, the council’s Coronavirus helpline can be accessed on 0161 217 6046 from Monday - Thursday from 9.00am - 5pm and Friday from 9.00am - 4:30pm. If you’re deaf or have difficulty hearing, you can use our textphone on 07860 022 876. You can also find out more by visiting our helpline page.

*This is the latest figure for Stockport validated on 23.4.21.