Category Archives: News

News about MFA and its events!

Update from North Somerset Council

Update from North Somerset Council

2 vacancies in the Inclusion and Corporate Development Team I currently have 2 vacancies in my team; suitable for anyone with a passion for equality and diversity. – A full time (37 hours), permanent Inclusion and Corporate Development Officer. – A part time (18.5 hours), permanent Inclusion and Corporate Development Assistant More information about the roles can be found on the council’s website.

£350K fund for North Somerset projects opens North Somerset community groups are invited to apply for up to £20,000 each to improve health and wellbeing in North Somerset as we exit lockdown. The North Somerset Community Partnership (NSCP) Fund held with Quartet Community Foundation provides funding in perpetuity to support local health and wellbeing, as well as educating healthcare providers in North Somerset. The money in the fund comes from reserves previously held by the NSCP. This year the new NSCP Fund has over £350,000 to award over two rounds in 2021 (spring and autumn) to local charitable causes in North Somerset. Grant applications need to be made before the first deadline of 3 June 2021. The last round of grants went to a diverse range of groups. One, Escapeline, supports vulnerable children at risk of exploitation from county line gangs. Another, Vision North Somerset, is using their grant to alleviate loneliness and isolation for people suffering sight loss. Apply for NSCP funding nowThe programme particularly seeks to support local voluntary and community groups and organisations in North Somerset that:• support people to improve their health or social and environmental wellbeing• support early intervention and prevention around health and wellbeing, including mental health• support health and wellbeing groups and their beneficiaries that have been affected specifically by the outbreak of Covid-19, including core costs• support new ways of working that have emerged from Covid-19 outbreak• support health and wellbeing organisations to plan for the future of their organisations, aiding long term sustainability• support health and wellbeing initiatives, including sports facilities for schools. Deadline for applications: 3 June 2021, 2pm. Apply on the Quartet Community Foundation website

Consultation on a wide range of council policies, services and projects The council regularly consults on new policies, services and projects.  Information about all of the consultation that we do can be found on the Council’s webpage.  You can register on this page, which allows you to choose the consultations that interest you and you want to receive information about. If you require any of our consultation information in a format other than via our website please contact the council officer that is leading the consultation and they will be happy to enable you to participate in the consultation in your chosen format.   

NSLGBT+ Forum Please see attached information about the NSLGBT+ Forum’s support groups.  For more information please contact

Fertility Assessment and Treatment Policy BNSSG’s Commissioning Policy Development Team are revising their Fertility Assessment and Treatment policy, They have developed a survey to gather feedback from the community about certain aspects of the Fertility Assessment and Treatment policy.  If this is something you are interested in commenting on, please see the links attached.  If you would like more information please contact  Please do let me know if there is any help or information you or the communities you support need and I will do my best to help or to point you in the right direction. 

For up to date information about COVID-19 please go to our North Somerset Together webpage, on there you will find current information about vaccines, testing and support for those who need it. 



COVID-19 Vaccination – when my turn comes, you will find my sleeve rolled up.

COVID-19 Vaccination – when my turn comes, you will find my sleeve rolled up.

Paranoia, fear and uncertainty can sell a product or an idea, to millions of people. It is used by commerce, influencers and would-be dictators all around the world since civilisations began to flourish 12,000 years ago.

Thankfully, paranoid delusion, which is associated with mental illness, is not too common but every living person has to deal with fear, at many points in their life. That can be separation from a parent as a child, worries about money, or the health of our loved ones. As a doctor, I have spent my career dealing with uncertainty, which feeds into my patients’ fears.

Uncertainty is at the root of our worries about coronavirus. We have been living with other coronavirus organisms for generations and they have only given us symptoms of a common cold. The arrival of the CoViD-19 variant was not entirely unexpected, as we had seen similar severe respiratory illnesses arising from other new coronaviruses, in the middle east and China within the last 15 years. 

The new virus had found a way to enter our lung cells and brutally damage them. What is more, it was able to stimulate our immune systems in such a way as it caused damage to many other organs in our bodies, leading to death.

Very soon it was noticed that in stark contrast to other respiratory viruses, severe disease and death due to COVID-19 was relatively rare in children. Differences in the immune systems and better blood vessel health were among the factors protecting them.

Earlier in the course of the epidemic it had also been noted that patients from BAME groups seemed to be experiencing higher infection rates and worse outcomes, including death. This was puzzling, since genetic research has revealed two deep truths about people. The first is that all humans are closely related. Secondly, in a very real sense, all people alive today are Africans.

Despite this knowledge, some racial and ethnic groups suffer relatively more often, and fare worse, from common ailments compared to others. Prostate cancer is one disease where such health disparities occur: Risk for the disease is about 75% higher, and prostate cancer is more than twice as deadly, in Blacks compared with whites.

There is now clear evidence that COVID-19 does not affect all population groups equally. Many analyses have shown that older age, ethnicity, male sex and geographical area, for example, are associated with the risk of getting the infection, experiencing more severe symptoms and higher rates of death.

Death rates from COVID-19 were higher for Black and Asian ethnic groups when compared to White ethnic groups. However, scientists in Japan and the US found no differences in seven genes associated with viral entry. Pre-existing medical conditions, environmental and socio-economic factors are more likely to blame for people of ethnic minorities being disproportionately impacted.

This was confirmed by a report published by Public Health England in the middle of 2020. The University of Leicester told the committee which produced the report, that people with heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, were at higher risk of having more severe CoViD-19 symptoms. High blood pressure is considerably more common among black African and Caribbean people than in the white population, and Asian and black ethnic groups develop diabetes at a younger age compared to white individuals.

All around the world researchers began to find out more about the virus and how some people were at more risk. A Spanish study in October last year found that 80% of hospitalised coronavirus patients had lower levels of vitamin D and increased signs of inflammatory reaction. Vitamin D is essential for regulation of immune function and has been shown to reduce inflammatory reactions.

Vitamin D is synthesised under the skin following exposure to UVB radiation from sunlight, so individuals who get insufficient sunlight are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. This is a particular issue during winter in countries further from the equator, when sunlight has insufficient UVB for vitamin D synthesis. People with darker skin colour who live in these countries, which includes many BAME communities, are at even greater risk, as are those who rarely go outside or expose very little skin to the sun.

None of the research to date, has been sufficiently analysed and reviewed to be certain about the cause of the differences.  What is clear though, is that herd immunity is not developing quickly enough to suppress the epidemic, without the help of an effective vaccine.  For measles, it’s a 95 percent immunisation rate whereas for polio it’s around 80 percent. It is estimated that 70% would have sufficient impact to halt the epidemic.  

The most comprehensive study of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK to date, shows a majority willing to be vaccinated but a substantial minority remain concerned. Analysis of the survey in the December 2020 Journal Psychological Medicine, indicated that 72% are willing to be vaccinated, 16% are very unsure, and 12% are strongly hesitant.

Additionally, approximately a quarter of the population are entertaining the idea that the virus is a hoax, with around one in five people thinking that vaccine data may be fabricated, and another one in four people unsure whether such data are made-up. Similar proportions of the population still think that there is a cover-up of a link between autism and vaccines, despite years of evidence to the contrary.

These fears and uncertainties are rooted in longer-standing issues of mistrust. Higher levels of hesitancy are associated with negative views of doctors, poorer NHS experiences, concerns about the financial motivations of vaccine developers, discontent with institutions, coronavirus conspiracy concerns, and vaccination conspiracy ideas.

All of this is about trust. Trust in our institutions, our professionals and our politicians. Paranoia, fear and uncertainty is the life blood of the fringe conspiracy theorist, the criminal confidence trickster and the autocrat manipulator. Our population, both white and BAME, have greater access to more information that ever before, thanks to the internet, mainstream and social media.

Whatever our background or privileges, as we grow up, we all have to learn to make balanced decisions that affect our lives and survival. Being able to distinguish informed advice from deceitful misinformation takes time and experience. No one can be forced to have a vaccination or see a collective benefit, when they do not see themselves at risk.

I see the pandemic through the lens of research that is reviewed and challenged by people who have nothing to gain except knowledge. The speed of development of the vaccines are a testament to the dedication and skill of those who have made them. Safety has not been compromised and the effectiveness is uncertain but probably going to be high. When my turn comes, you will find my sleeve rolled up.

Dr Peter Smith M.B.,B.S. D.R.C.O.G. D.Occ. Med. AFHEA

COVID19 Vaccines

COVID19 Vaccines

Fee online information event:

This event is an opportunity for you to find out more about COVID19 vaccines and allow you to make an informed choice.

With three COVID-19 vaccines approved and more trials taking place, Dr Rajeka Lazarus, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at University Hospital Bristol & Weston, and our expert panel, will be available to discuss how vaccines work and help answer many of our concerns and questions around getting access to the vaccine.

Some common questions which will be addressed will be:

•       How did the vaccine get approved so quickly?

•       Is the vaccine safe? What ingredients does it contain?

•       What are the side effects of the vaccine?

•       Will the vaccine give me COVID-19?

•       Will the vaccine be effective against all the new strains of the virus?

•       I’m fit and healthy, why should I have the vaccine?

•       Where will I receive the vaccine? How do the vaccine centres operate? How will I get there?

The event, run by Bristol, North Somerset South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Healthwatch Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire will feature updates from keynote speakers and a panel discussion to address some of the questions above and more.