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Don’t be a victim of cyber crime this Christmas says Sussex Council

Every year thousands of people become victims of online fraud and the festive season can see a rise in the number of people caught out.

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West Sussex County Council’s Community Safety and Wellbeing service is leading the way in protecting residents from becoming victims via their ‘Get Safe Online’ programme.

The programme offers fraud-prevention support and advice in a number of ways including: 

  • running online safety awareness sessions for West Sussex residents in venues across the county
  • sending fraud prevention experts to targeted community events to speak to residents
  • promoting monthly themed campaigns on key subjects such as safe online shopping. 

This month the campaign focuses on expert, easy-to-follow safety tips to help protect anyone using the internet from falling victim to seasonal scams.

Duncan Crow, Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said:

“It is really important that West Sussex residents are aware of what to do to remain safe online, especially in the run up to Christmas when lots of people choose to do their shopping online.

“We hope that these tips will become engrained into people’s daily lives and prevent fraud, not just for a few months of the year, but all year round.”

With their ground-breaking work, the Community Safety and Wellbeing service has recently supported Sussex Police in the development of their Volunteer Fraud Prevention Programme.

Involved in the project from its infancy, the service has helped with:

  • developing information packs that will be sent to victims, including details of how to stay safe online, identify fraud and making safe payments
  • providing local sessions and events that residents can attend to speak to experts about online safety
  • promoting information that can be accessed on the go such as the staying safe online monthly e-newsletter and the @WSxSafeOnline social media accounts.

Francesca Blow, Lead for Safe Digital Life at the county council, said: ”This programme offers victims of fraud tailored advice and support relating to the type of fraud they have been victim of. We are delighted to be able to offer a range of local resources as part of the packages sent to victims that they can attend or sign up to. These resources will help to guide and inform them about how to stay safe online and how to avoid falling victim to other scams in the future.”

To find guidance on staying safe over the festive season, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk and search ‘How to shop online safely this Christmas’. Residents can also sign up to receive the ‘Staying Safe Online’ monthly e-newsletter from the page, which sends subscribers regular advice about their digital safety and online fraud prevention.  

To find out more about the Volunteer Fraud Prevention Programme, visit www.safespacesussex.org.uk/fraud

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Crawley vows to keep children fed as towns council looks to continue support over Christmas

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The extent of the backlash from Crawley residents to the recent voting down of a motion to keep school children fed over the half term has been both vocal and wide spread.

Their governments response appears to have completely missed the publics feeling at this disastrous time with a pandemic obliterating the life we all knew only months ago.

But Crawley has decided it will not just stand by and allow anyone to suffer.

Restaurants, charities and even social media groups across the town have pledged to do whatever they can to support children who are in need of support and who could possible go hungry without help.

Two examples of restaurants helping are The Master Fryer in Pound Hill and La Rusta in the town centre.

Master Fryer in Pound Hill is providing sausage and chips to every pupil in need.

The Master Fryer on Pound Hill Parade is one of the towns restaurants helping out.

They have pledged to feed very single school child in need next week with a sausage and chips. From Monday 26th and for the rest of the half term any school child who is in need of meal can turn up without fear or judgement to received their meal.

Owners Peter Huzzey & Barry Swan made the decision after hearing the motion had been voted down.

Peter Huzzey said:

“We saw that the government had voted down extending school meals, so we wanted to step up and do something about it.

I know a lot of people are struggling at the moment and we want to help out as much as we can and we are really pleased that we can do something, we just hope we don’t run out of sausages”

La Rusta packed Lunch

La Rusta in the town centre is providing packed lunches consisting of ham or cheese sandwich with fresh fruit and drink Monday 26th to Friday 30th October.

One of the towns well known social media pages, Spotted Crawley on facebook has already started a voucher scheme where followers can donate money for voucher cards allowing families to then be able to buy food.

Owner Dan said:

“After hearing of the vote on Wednesday, and the reaction which followed, it was clear that there would be a need out there this half term. The response to our appeal has been overwhelming and we’ve provided 64 vouchers to families so far. With the support of local businesses and the public of Crawley, no child will go hungry this half term”

But many more are also involved including charities and even individuals with one Crawley mum spending the whole weekend cooking and baking meals ready to hand them out next week.

And residents and businesses are reminded they can also donate to local groups such as The Easter Team, Open House and Giving Back Crawley, who run local foodbanks.

Official figures say that over 2,500 children across the town qualify for free school meals although it is thought the figure is now much higher now following jobs losses due to Covid-19.

But whilst the towns support is welcome there is an even larger problem only two months away, something the towns council leader wants to be able to do something about.

Crawley Council Leader Peter Lamb said that he and his colleagues had been working none-stop to try to solve the problem over half term, but with only a couple of days notice it was proving almost impossible.

Mr Lamb added that the show of support from the Crawley community was heart warming but that the council had to do more and promised they were ‘preparing to ensure no child goes hungry over Christmas’.

But Mr Lamb added that the money required to be able to do this just did not exist and that help from the community would be required to make it happen.

Mr Lamb said:

“The reality is that local authority finances have been decimated by COVID-19 and both local councils are having to make big cuts in order to keep running, meaning we will need the crowdfunding from the local community to help finance these meals and we hope to be able to use a pot of dedicated funding Crawley BC can access to provide a level of match-funding.

I would certainly hope that large local businesses who have recently made many local parents redundant might consider what support they can afford to provide.”

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