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covid update 26th Jan 2021

BREAKING

UK COVID news live – latest updates: PM expected to rule on plans for quarantine hotels to protect against new strains

Coronavirus latest: UK access to Pfizer jab threatened; quarantine hotel plans expected to be approved; UK records 592 new COVID deaths.

Students mental Health

Room self-isolation with flatmates they barely know halls of residences emptying out over lockdown to struggles to get the wifi to work for Zoom lectures, the start to the 2020 term has been riddled with uncertainty for most university students. Just one thing’s for sure: it’s been a strange year.

It’s perhaps unsurprising that students across campuses have been grappling with loneliness, anxiety, and depression as a result of their experiences.

“Students aren’t just disappointed that their university experience looks different in terms of teaching and learning, they’re also asking: ‘What does it mean for all the other things I wanted out of uni life? The people I could have met? The sports and societies I could have joined?’” said Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, vice-president for higher education at the National Union of Students.

Mental health is a critical part of students’ overall health and well-being.

Students today face a range of demands that can impact their mental health. From meeting high academic expectations to navigating the world of social media to maintaining relationships with their peers, and parents being so far away from home. students often have busy schedules that result in a lack of sleep and self-care. Many students are also dealing with distress, crises, and trauma in addition to typical life stressors. Mental health challenges can negatively impact all areas of functioning in students, contributing to social, emotional, behavioral, and academic problems.

 

 

 

 

Students returning home

The government is committed to ensuring that students that have been living away from home are able to return home at the end of term, if they choose to do so. HE providers should support students to ensure that this is possible, following the period of national restriction, whilst mitigating the risk of transmission of the virus. It is essential that measures are put in place to ensure this can happen as safely as possible for students, staff and the communities that they return to.

 

Your students must follow the rules on movement and self-isolation after a test.

If a student tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) they are required by law to self-isolate for a period of 10 days.

If a student has been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive but can access testing via the mass testing programme, they should seek a test. If they test negative, they must still self-isolate for 10 days from the day after contact with the individual who tested positive, but this can be done at home if they wish to do so, taking into account the risk of transmission to their family. Students should only use public transport if they have no other option. They should strictly follow safer travel guidance for passengers. Where mass testing is not available, students must self-isolate in their current accommodation and not return home.

If a student tests negative and is not a close contact of someone who has tested positive, they can travel home by any mode of transport and do not have to undertake any further periods of self-isolation. If, after travel, they subsequently develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or are alerted by NHS Test and Trace that they are a close contact of a case, they should immediately self-isolate at their new location and get tested.

Students who are unable to self-isolate safely and practically at home, whilst continuing their studies, should be supported to do so at university (see the section on specific support for students).

The LFD tests we are deploying have a high specificity which means there is a very low chance of false positive test results occurring. The test does not detect all positive cases, however, and works best in cases with higher viral loads – those who are most infectious. As the test is easy to administer and does not require a laboratory, repeat tests can be carried out. The benefit will be the ability to detect a significant number of people without symptoms who are infectious who will then be asked to self-isolate thereby reducing the transmission of the virus.

LFD tests will not be available in all locations. If you cannot provide LFD testing, you should inform them of the broader guidance in this document and they should return home, either:

its real 

It is against the law to leave your home to travel unless for work or other legally permitted reasons.

Where you need to travel, walk or cycle if you can. This will reduce pressure on public transport and the road network.

You should stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings).

Your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.

You must observe social contact rules while walking or cycling in England.

Where possible, keep a suitable distance from other people. For example, when waiting at crossings and traffic lights. Take precautions where this is not possible.

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

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Studying safely on Exeter campuses

Studying safely on Exeter campuses

shared from the Exeter university site.

exeter.ac.uk/coronavirus/students

The Prime Minister has announced a period of national lockdown in England, starting from Tuesday 5 January and expected to last until at least mid-February. Find out more on our latest updates page. For information on in-person teaching and when you should be coming to campus visit our dedicated webpage.

Your safety is our highest priority and we are working to ensure our campuses are as safe as possible. We’ve done this by assessing every building on our campuses and giving them a COVID-19 secure certificate.

It is mandatory to wear a face covering when inside buildings on our campuses. To support this, we provide three re-usable face coverings to all students. Hand sanitiser is available at approved entrances / exits to buildings, and clear signage sets out how you’re able to use each building safely. You’ll also notice enhanced cleaning arrangements are in place.

REGISTER FOR SAFEZONE

We’ve recently purchased SafeZone, an online app that helps us to help you whilst on campus – if you request it. The app is available for all colleagues and students to download and sign into if they wish. Once installed if you press Emergency, Help or First aid, your location will be sent to relevant staff on campus and allows us to keep you updated, via text messages, and relevant information relating to your emergency.

To download the app please go to: www.safezoneapp.com and follow the instructions for your device. You will need to register with your University of Exeter email address and review the permissions for the app to enable the app to be aware of your location, by using the transmitting signals on your phone. You should also allow push notifications, to enable the University to communicate with you if you raise an emergency alert. You can read more information about the SafeZone app online.

Compensation must be available for Exeter students unable to live in private accommodation

Compensation must be available for students unable to live in private accommodation they still are paying for, a union says.

The National Union of Students (NUS) said it was “simply unacceptable” that there is no financial support for students and landlords.

Universities, including Bristol, Bath and Bath Spa, plan to give students who cannot use accommodation rent rebates.

The Department for Education said there is funding for those “most in need”.

A students’ representative at Bath Spa University said many students “feel completely cut off” from their academic community.

That is despite them spending thousands of pounds on tuition and accommodation this year.

And an NUS spokesperson said: “All student renters must now be offered rent refunds and the option of leaving their tenancy early.

“If universities and landlords need financial support to make this happen then government must step in.”

‘Such an injustice’

Ciara Martin, an education studies student who is in her third year at Bath Spa, said she has spent about £1,500 in the last three months on a house in Weston-super-Mare.

She has spent all of that time living at home in Surrey.

Ciara MartinIMAGE COPYRIGHTCIARA MARTIN
image captionCiara Martin said she’s spent about £1,500 on a house that she’s not legally allowed to stay in

Ms Martin decided to go home for a reading week in November – but was then unable to travel back because of the second lockdown.

“I haven’t lived there since November. I’m paying all these bills and I’m not even using it. It’s ridiculous, it’s just such an injustice,” she said.

“It’s great the universities are helping those in university accommodation but something really needs to be done [about private rentals]. There’s the extra worry of the money we’re spending”, she said.

“It just feels totally helpless.

“Landlords haven’t said anything about paying less or anything like that so we’re definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

‘If there was mould, we didn’t see it’

Poppy Colbourne is currently spending about £550 a month on rent and bills for a house in Bath that she cannot visit or live in.

She is completing her Master’s degree in neuropsychology while living at her family home in Northampton.

Poppy ColbourneIMAGE COPYRIGHTPOPPY COLBOURNE
image captionPoppy Colbourne was unable to view her house before agreeing to stay there because of coronavirus restrictions

Ms Colbourne and her two housemates signed up to the property without seeing it in person because of coronavirus restrictions.

A virtual tour of the house was the closest they could get to a typical viewing.

“We just had to take the landlord’s word for it. If there was mould, we didn’t see it”, she said.

She has not been in a classroom since March but has graduated and started studying for her current degree.

“I feel like my life’s on pause but I’m still expected to do the same and it’s not possible. I’m overwhelmed, it’s making me ill about how stressed I am. I just need a sense of normality.”

‘I didn’t want to waste my money’

For Jess Foster, a second year human nutrition student from Somerset, it seemed like “everything was slowly getting back to normal” when she returned to Bath in September.

She had signed up for a year in private accommodation with housemates for the first time.

Jess FosterIMAGE COPYRIGHTJESS FOSTER
image captionJess Foster stayed alone in her student house in Bath last year because all her housemates left

But just a couple of months later, she was the only person living there.

“All my housemates, because of uncertainty, and because they live so much further away from Bath, decided to go home”, she said.

“Because of how much I’m paying in bills I wanted to go home but I didn’t want to waste my money. So during the second lockdown I lived on my own in my house.”

She went back home in December and remains there, still unsure whether she will be able to undertake practical units of her course in the next few months.

What do the landlords say?

Many landlords are reliant on rental income “for their livelihood and pension and cannot afford just not to be paid”, the chief executive of the National Residents Landlords Association said.

Ben Beadle said the association has “encouraged landlords to show whatever flexibility they are able to provide”.

But he added: “If the desire is for students not to be required to pay rent where they are temporarily not occupying their housing but want this to be kept available to them when they return, then the government needs to provide a package of compensation.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said it recognised it had been a “very difficult time for students” and that it “encourages universities and accommodation providers to ensure they are fair, transparent and have the best interests of students at heart”.

They said it has announced funding of up to £20m to help students “most in need of support in these exceptional circumstances”.

Universities have been given £256m which they “can use to help students”, they said.

Exeter Tier 4 restrictions: Questions for university students answered

Tier 4 restrictions: Questions for university students answered

Posted by:Posted on: – Categories:CoronavirusHigher EducationMyth bustingUniversities

News

On Saturday, the Government announced a new Tier 4 level of Covid-19 restrictions. Here we answer some of your questions about how the announcement will affect university students.

How does this news affect our return to university?

Your university will tell you when to go back. Until then, we strongly encourage you to remain where you are and access your course online wherever possible. If you do need to return, let your university know so that they can support you.

We have already published guidance to universities and students on returning to higher education in the spring term. This guidance sets out how we will support universities to enable students to return as safely as possible following the winter break, by staggering this process and facilitating testing for all.

These plans are being kept under review in light of the latest scientific evidence.

You can still meet in groups of more than your household as part of your formal education or training – such as in seminars or study groups. Students should follow the guidance and restrictions and should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.

Can I still travel home if I have not done so already?

We expect that the majority of students, other than those who need or choose to remain at university, will now have returned to their family home during the ‘student travel window’, though they are permitted to temporarily move to a “vacation household” during the period from 3 December to 7th February.

To be clear, under the regulations, ANY student currently on a higher education course can travel home once, during the period 3 December and 7 February.

Once home, students are also allowed to return to university, but should only do so in certain circumstances such as if the in-person part of their course has started, if they have nowhere else to live or if they need to return for mental health reasons.

These students should let their universities know their plans as soon as they can, so that they can support them with this.

If you live at university you must not move back and forward between your permanent home and university home, more than once during the break.

What if I am in Tier 4?

The same travel exemption applies to students in all tiers, including tier 4, which allows students to travel and join one other household. This means that if you want to leave tier 4 to go to your permanent home or another household you can but you should stay there until you are told you can return to university.

Students in tier 4 should still adhere to all other local restrictions.

Will it be safe to study on campus?

Universities should follow guidance on reopening buildings to ensure they have safety measures in place to minimise the spread of the virus and are as Covid-secure as possible.

The Government expects all students to get tested on their return to university, wherever possible, so that we can mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and everyone’s university experience can improve.

Getting tested is free and you will usually get the results in under an hour. Students should get tested twice, three days apart, even if your first test is negative. If positive, you should self-isolate immediately and get a confirmatory PCR test via NHS Test and Trace.

Those returning to face-to-face education after a negative test must still exercise caution and follow national guidance on social distancing, wearing face coverings and hand hygiene.

To minimise the risk to themselves and others on their return to university, students should also use local community testing programmes where possible and take a test before travelling if they have spent the winter break in a Tier 3 or 4 area.

I am a medical student who has to return for work over the Christmas period, how many times can I travel?

Under the regulations, any student can move from their student household to travel home once during the period 3 December to 7 February and can travel back to university. A student could commute from their family home or ‘vacation household’ directly to work where this is necessary, but they must not move between their student household and family home more than once.

What about international students who have gone home for Christmas? How will they be affected?

Our borders are open for both returning and new international students wishing to study in the UK. English universities have been asked to stagger returns to campus in January and February, to help ensure students are able to resume studies as safely as possible.

Universities will tell students when to return over the course of January and February. Until then, students should stay where they are and access course content online; this includes international students.

If students have already booked travel outside of their universities preferred dates, and are unable to change the booking, they should tell their university who should be able to support their return.

Students returning to the UK from overseas will be required to complete a passenger locator form on arrival, and those from a country not on the exemption list will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for ten days. Universities UK have developed guidance for universities on how best to support those students.

It is also important that international students consider the travel advice in place from their home country, including whether or not the country has closed their borders to departures to and arrivals from the UK. More information is available in our guidance and on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s travel advice page.

Our borders are open for new international students wishing to study in the UK. The advice outlined in our guidance for returning international students also applies to those starting new courses.

Students should make their university aware of their travel plans in advance of their arrival date, so that they can be appropriately supported when arriving. Universities have been asked to build in appropriate flexibility for international students travelling to the UK from overseas.

Travelling to attend education in all areas of England, including tier 4 (with the most stringent controls) is allowed but please speak to your provider first.

Some countries have temporarily closed their borders to departures to and arrivals from the UK, and students should consider this and what it may mean for their travel to and from the UK. You can find more information on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s travel advice page.

University of Exeter KTP plays key role in the manufacturing process of the new Covid-19 vaccine

The project has meant that the equipment needed to create the new vaccine can be produced more efficiently and effectively.

University of Exeter KTP plays key role in the manufacturing process of the new Covid-19 vaccine

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of Exeter and Smart Manufacturing Ltd is playing a direct and key role in the production process of the new COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts from the University have been working with the Devon-based manufacturing company to optimise the production of some of the equipment used to create the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The new vaccine was approved for use last week, with more than half a million doses of the vaccine ready for use from the beginning of January.

Smart Manufacturing is a small manufacturing company specialised in industrial equipment especially for pharmaceutical and food industries aiming to increase the efficiency and productivity of the customers’ processes.

One of the company’s customers, a Fortune 500 Company with operations in North Devon, produces highly specialised filters used in various pharmaceutical applications – including the new vaccine.

Via the KTP project, part-funded by Innovate UK, KTP Associate, Sam Abraham, has been working on developing and improving the equipment performances full-time since March.

Prior to this, he has applied his expertise to improve the production flow of ATEX certified products, and created a set of procedures to ensure their compliance with ATEX regulations which guide the design and operation of equipment in explosive environments.

The project has meant that the equipment needed to create the new vaccine can be produced more efficiently and effectively.

The KTP academic lead is Ion Sucala, Associate Professor in Engineering Management at the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences.

”The right blend of academic and practical capabilities developed during the KTP helped in the design of a much more efficient process and that has been instrumental in the success of this project,” said Martin Murch, the Managing Director of Smart Manufacturing, “It has also put us in pole position in winning and executing similar projects in the future.”

Prof Ion Sucala said: “The KTP is a part of the wide-ranging collaboration between Smart Manufacturing and the University of Exeter which has been ongoing for more than 5 years. Not only has Smart Manufacturing benefitted from this partnership but also many of our students who undertake projects with the company and had first-hand experiences in a British manufacturing company. This has enriched their understanding of an SME manufacturing environment.”

Professor Zhongdong Wang, the Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean at the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, said: “I am delighted that the University, and colleagues in the College have played such a pivotal role in  helping to deliver this COVID-19 vaccine.

“KTPs such as this not only provide crucial support for businesses across the South -West region and beyond, but also enable researchers to share their expertise where it is most needed.

The work carried out by Professor Sucala and his team has made a fundamental difference to this project, and also highlights the value of long-term relationships with the University’s business partners.“

The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme – which links forward thinking businesses with specialist academic teams to drive a strategic innovation project – has been running for 45 years and helped more than 14,000 UK businesses innovate for growth.

KTN plays a key part in the delivery of the KTP programme via a network of 31 specialist Knowledge Transfer Advisers who support each project.

The Adviser on this KTP is Dr Andy Treen who commented: “The knowledge and skills embedded by the KTP project will provide a firm foundation for future innovation by Smart Manufacturing in a number of industry sectors requiring ATEX compliance.

“It is fantastic that Sam and the team at Smart have been able to apply the KTP knowledge to support the critical scale-up of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine manufacturing programme.”

Date: 7 January 2021

Student Graduate Jobs Down by 12%

The number of graduate jobs dropped by 12% in 2020 with the majority of employers anticipating further decline next year, reports Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

ISE Student Recruitment Survey 2020 reports that this is the largest fall in graduate recruitment since 2008/9 when the market contracted by 25%1. While patterns evident in the last financial crash are emerging, it is not straightforward repetition.

Mirroring 2008/9, some sectors have reduced hiring considerably while others such as the charitable and public sector has increased hiring (4%). Graduate jobs in retail and FMCG have seen the largest cut at 45%.

IT and engineering continue to struggle to source the talent they need. Nearly half (42%) of employers found it difficult to fill IT jobs in programming and development and 35% struggled to recruit engineers. Heavy competition and a lack of graduates with the necessary skills were the most common reasons.

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The data also shows the significant increased competition for jobs as seen in 2008/9. This year employers received 14% more applications for graduate roles and 9% more for internships and placements. Applications for school and college leaver roles also increased – by 8%.

The nature of the pandemic has meant that employers have had to make significant, and unprecedented, adjustments to their student recruitment. As offices closed, employers moved attraction, selection and development as well as the delivery of internships online.

Many have been forced to significantly reduce internships and placement opportunities this year – 29% and 25% respectively – the largest drop since ISE started collecting this data in 2010.

Employers also have a broader range of entry-level opportunities to manage due to the Apprenticeship Levy.

As a result the opportunities for school and college leavers (largely apprenticeships) have been relatively stable this year, increasing by 6%.

Similarly to graduate roles, employers found it difficult to recruit school and college leavers into IT programming as well as in more skilled trades. This was mainly due to the location of job opportunities and that school and college leavers find it difficult to travel or relocate to take them up.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the ISE said: “We can see patterns from the last financial crash emerging, but the effect on the student labour market is not a simple replay of 10 years ago.

“Employers have had to make significant adjustments. As a result, graduate jobs do not appear to be collapsing and school and college leaver recruitment is holding up, but the decline in internships and placements is more worrying. Around half of placement students get rehired, so diminishing these roles damages the talent pipeline

“We mustn’t forget the students or ignore the lived experience of those who are struggling to cope with the crisis and to get a good start to their career. Covid-19 has turned many lives and career plans upside down. We must continue to offer opportunities so young people can develop and experience work, even if it is from students’ kitchen tables. And we look to the government to do all it can to ensure that the pandemic does not disrupt this key career transition from education to work.”

Should I stay or should I go.

University students across England have been told they should not return home for the new lockdown. But many have already endured enforced isolation, had their lecturers moved online and are now unsure if the lockdown will be extended into Christmas. For some the prospect of four more weeks away from home is just too much to bear.

Universities minister, Michelle Donelan, has written to students advising them to stay at their current accommodation to protect their loved ones.

But the National Union of Students (NUS) said they should be able to return home before lockdown begins on Thursday.

It said many students are concerned about the new restrictions and want the support of their families.

NUS president Larissa Kennedy said it is understandable some students will want to leave university accommodation during this “challenging period”.

She said the government must ensure students are able to travel home safely before lockdown starts in line with current guidance for the wider population, which allows people to move homes and form new households until Thursday, and “stop subjecting them to stricter rules than everyone else”.

Ms Kennedy said: “From online learning to long periods of self-isolation, often from shoebox rooms, students’ experiences this term have been far from what they were led to expect.

“Many have recently gone through accommodation lockdowns and the mental health implications of making students stay longer than they want or need to cannot be underestimated.”

‘Don’t want to put people at risk’

Abbie Hobbs and Hannah YardleyIMAGE COPYRIGHTHANNAH YARDLEY
image captionAbbie Hobbs (left) and Hannah Yardley (right) are staying on in Bournemouth

Hannah Yardley, 20, and her housemate Abbie Hobbs, 21, have decided to stay at Bournemouth University for lockdown in their off-campus accommodation.

“I’m staying because all my housemates are staying and I also live with someone who is doing the same course as me so it’s easier to do our work together,” said Hannah.

The psychology student from Overton, Hampshire, added: “I’m not too worried because I spent most of the last lockdown in halls and it was fine.

“However, if lockdown gets extended to Christmas, I probably will try to go home because everyone will want to be with their families and especially because my mum lives on her own. But I don’t know if this will be allowed and I don’t want to put people at risk.”

Abbie hopes to be able to go home to Marlborough, Wiltshire, for Christmas but only “as long as I wouldn’t be putting my family at risk”.

She added: “I think it will be more fun continuing to live with friends in Bournemouth during lockdown.

“I don’t think it will feel too different than with the current restrictions as we don’t really go out anyway.

‘No chance I’m staying over Christmas’

Will RobertsIMAGE COPYRIGHTWILL ROBERTS
image captionWill Roberts is staying in Sheffield to work as a care assistant

University of Sheffield student Will Roberts intends to stay in the city over lockdown to continue working as a part-time care assistant.

The 22-year-old has housemates who are also choosing to stay, but said students would ignore restrictions if it meant they could not return home for Christmas.

The international development student, from Prestatyn, Denbighshire, said: “It’s only meant to be a month and everyone knows students are going to go home for Christmas regardless of what happens.”

But he added: “If it came to Christmas and I wasn’t allowed to go, I’d still go home as I get tested for coronavirus every week at work.

“Also my housemates and I are quite careful, and we don’t have anyone else in our house.

“There’s no chance I’m going to stay in Sheffield for Christmas unless I’m working.”

‘I’ll be on my own if I don’t go home’

Matt WincottIMAGE COPYRIGHTMATT WINCOTT
image captionMatt Wincott thinks there is little point staying in Bristol during lockdown

Matt Wincott lives in a shared house with three other people who are all planning to go home for lockdown.

The 20-year-old, who is studying business and management at Bristol University, said: “I do not want to spend a month in Bristol on my own.

“Also, with all my lectures online I could be anywhere in the country, so it seems sensible to go home as it seems a safer place to be.”

He said the government advice “hasn’t been very straightforward”.

“I am meant to be in the university twice a week for lessons but with the majority of people I know going home I’m not sure how or if these lessons will proceed.

“As a final year student, the lessons are important, but I can’t justify staying in uni accommodation on my own to go into the university twice a week.

“The new rules have affected my decision hugely. With pubs shutting yet again Bristol has lost its last semblance of nightlife.

“I think I had my mind set from the first announcement. I feel maybe I could have stayed if my whole flat collectively decided we would but, as of now, two of them have already gone.”

‘It can get very lonely’

Lucy ColemanIMAGE COPYRIGHTLUCY COLEMAN
image captionReading University student Lucy wants to be with her parents

University of Reading student Lucy Coleman said she will spend lockdown at home rather than living at her university house.

The 21-year-old said she feels there is no point being on campus when her lectures are all online.

The mathematics student from Sherborne, Dorset, said: “When a second lockdown was announced my immediate reaction was to phone my parents to discuss it with them.

“If there are no sports or socialising it can get very lonely, so I just wanted to be with my parents.

“I know universities aren’t necessarily affected, but I feel they may end up closing the library and stuff.

“And if they extend the lockdown I definitely don’t want to be stuck here over Christmas.”

Easter Storage

If you’re going to be sticking around your student city this Easter (or even popping over to visit friends) then you’re in for a treat. Festivals, exhibitions, club nights and egg hunts all await you across the cities of London, Liverpool, Glasgow and beyond, ensuring you’ll never be bored (and it’s surely a welcome break from sitting in the pub from noon…).

EXETER

Exeter students may want to enjoy the fun of the Crealy Easter Egg Hunt, which offer tons of prizes to be won and over 10,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs to get your hands on. There’s also the Exeter Quayside craft market, which will feature local makers from the town including live music and lots of tasty Devon fudge.

Easter weekend is also a great time to get active with some outdoorsy activities. Try out Go Ape! In Haldon Forest or have a go at kayaking, climbing or sailing at the Haven Banks Education Centre, if you’re looking to experience something new.