Somerset Carers New Year Newsletter Issue 6

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Somerset Carers Newsletter

Issue Six: Winter 2021

In this issue....

l Increased Support in Somerset Carers l Latest Lockdown Restrictions & Carers l Supporting Carers at SCC l How do we work with SCC & the NHS? l The Reader l Carers Case Studies l Online Dementia Therapy l Spark’s NEW Carers Groups l 5 Ways to Stay Well & Connected l How can a Village Agent help you? l Looking After You l Somerset Community Connect l Rapid COVID Testing for unpaid Carers l Vaccinations for unpaid Carers l Free Gas Safety Training/Food Bank News l Food Vouchers & Useful Contacts

Happy New Year! We hope this finds you safe & well! Lockdown 3 is here, so this issue is packed with ideas to support you and the person you care for. Before Christmas CCS Agents delivered 200 respite meal packs - 7 days of meals - for the Carer and the cared for, to give Carers a small, well earned break. We have plenty of meals left if you feel you would benefit, please do let us know so we can deliver you some nutritious meals and give you a little respite. Just call 01823 331 222. somersetcarers somersetcarers

Latest Lockdown Restrictions & Carers The latest lockdown may bring confusion and concern for unpaid Carers as to what they can and cannot do. Full details on the lockdown restrictions are here: We have pulled out the specific areas that relates to Carers for you to quickly reference: You may leave home for one of these five specific “reasonable excuses”:

To go to work or volunteer u if it’s impossible to do so from

home, e.g. a construction or critical worker who can’t work from home.

To shop for necessities including food v and medicine. To exercise, which can be with your w

household or up to one other person from outside your household or bubble. The exercise should ideally be limited to once per day. Guidance is that people should try to do this locally.

To provide care or help to a vulnerable x person. This includes buying food or

medicine for a disabled person or someone self-isolating.

To attend medical appointments, seek y medical care, or fleeing the threat of

harm or violence.

There are other ‘reasonable excuses’ on top of these main five ones. You can also leave home to: l provide emergency assistance l visit someone who is dying l visit a care home, hospital or hospice resident l fulfil animal welfare reasons including going to a vet l attend a support group (of up to 15 people) l attend communal worship or life events such as weddings and funerals l fulfil a legal obligation l carry out activity related to buying, selling, letting or renting a property l fulfil respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.

If you have any questions about this or need support in any way for yourself or the person you care for, please contact the Somerset Carers Helpline on 0800 31 68 600.

Supporting Unpaid Carers in Somerset

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted more than ever the vital role that you as carers play in our communities. According to the 2011 census 58,000 of you have identified yourselves as carers and there are many more that we don’t know about. At Somerset County Council, we recognise the vital role you play, and always aim to ensure that your health and wellbeing is considered. Carers are a high priority for us in Somerset, where we have one of the fastest aging populations in the UK. For that reason, we are focusing our plans on ways to support you to transform your lives in positive ways. To do this we will be talking to you and the organisations and groups that support you to find out how we can improve and tailor our services to suit you. We’re working with the Clinical Commissioning Group and other partners to develop a plan of activities referred to as “The Somerset Carers Continuous Improvement Programme”, which will focus on ensuring that unpaid carers get the right support they need at the right time. Over the last few months you have shared with us how the pandemic has impacted your lives. Continuing to gather your stories will help us to more accurately focus on your current and long-term needs as well as measure the effectiveness of the Improvement Programme. We need you not only to talk to us about your experiences, but also help us to shape the way that we design, monitor and deliver our services, now and into the future. We will be looking at new ways for you to continue to share your stories with us and will shortly be promoting those opportunities through Carers Voice Somerset. For more information, please visit: carers-voice-somerset-partnership-board/ Somerset County Council, Adults and Health Commissioning Team

How do we work with our NHS & ASC Colleagues? CCS Village & Community Agents work closely with our colleagues across Somerset County Council & Somerset NHS teams. But how should people be referred to us for support?


First and foremost ANY adult who cares for someone in an unpaid capacity can ask for support from us, or any agency, charity, NHS or County Council team member can refer a person who is a Carer to our Village Agents. Call the Carers Helpline on 0800 31 68 600 . But what defines an unpaid Carer?

The person being cared for can be a friend/ family member/spouse/ child/neighbour.


An unpaid Carer may or may not be in receipt of a Carers Allowance.

‘Unpaid Carer’ means someone not EMPLOYED to be a Carer for a person.

Secondly, we simplified our teams so there was less referrals between agents. The previous 8 CCS Carers Agents are now part of the team of over 60 Village Agents, and all agents focus on the One Agent: One Family approach, ensuring speedier outcomes for people. Now ALL CCS Village and Community Agents offer support to unpaid Carers, it means we have a lot more people available to help carers.


Thirdly, we have built up fantastic relationships across the county with the many health & social care support services. Our Agents take part in daily ‘Peer Forum’ discussions with GP surgeries and Adult Social Care staff to ensure that the clients needs are met by the most appropriate person.

This has resulted in clients being helped by the teams quickly and efficiently, especially when it comes to community focused support.

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Somerset Direct: We have a shared phone line with Somerset Direct so people calling the County Council helpline can be transferred quickly and easily to our team of Agents without having to hang up the phone and redial. Working with Adult Social Care (ASC): ASC refer to our Community Agents if there is a community support need for a client. The client could be a carer or cared for person, Community Agents can only be accessed via referral from ASC or a GP.

Case Study:

Welfare & Well-being Amanda Fisher - CCS Agent

CCS Community Agent Amanda helped a couple who lost their home in a devastating house fire, with the wife also being a Carer for her husband. The Situation

Amanda received a call from her local GP Surgery requesting a welfare check on couple who had a fire at their home the night before.

She arrived to find the couple camping in their car as they waited for a temporary Caravan to arrive to keep on site, as they would not leave their cattle, sheep and dogs. The couple were going to sleep in barn if Caravan didn’t arrive until following day.

They were a very robust couple - the wife cares for her husband who was recovering from throat cancer, and they had a small holding with lots of animals. Both were adamant that they did not need any help and support.

The Solution

Amanda took food & hot water on her 1st visit so they could have something to eat and make themselves a drink. She did a follow up visit next day with more food and hot water – the couple’s Caravan had arrived so they had been able to stay in it overnight. Amanda helped to arrange for utilities for the Caravan - electric, gas cannisters, water etc which would then arrive within a few days. Amanda did a shout on Social Media for clothing for the couple - which had a great response - Amanda arranged collection and delivered the donated clothes.

Mole Valley Farmers were approached and they kindly donated cow cakes, food for the sheep and dog food for their 13 dogs.

The Outcome

Amanda had gained the clients trust and they became more welcoming of support. Clients have enough warm clothes donated by the community to keep them going through the Winter.

A new kettle, toaster and oil filled radiator donated by CCS to keep chill off and to ensure clients were not using water damaged electrical goods - the lady had burst into tears at the sight of the toaster as her morning toast and cuppa was what she had missed most since fire!! Various food from CCS has been reserved - Carers Respite Meals, Christmas isolation meals, and fresh veg boxes. Ongoing welfare checks for this couple will continue over the next few months to ensure they are coping with getting back to some sense of normalcy. Farming groups will be contacted if/when couple are ready to accept support from other agencies.

New Dementia Online Therapy New online therapy sessions for people living with Dementia Age UK Somerset have recently launched an online course of Virtual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (vCST) sessions to deliver fun, enjoyable sessions suitable for people living with a recent diagnosis of early onset dementia or mild to moderate dementia. CST is proven to initially, slow the progression of dementia and increase quality of life and is recognised by the NHS as THE leading non-pharmaceutical intervention for those recently receiving a dementia diagnosis. CST focuses on exercising parts of the brain which are not used day to day, creating new neural connections stimulating brain growth and maintenance. Encouraging new thoughts, communication, word finding and using the imagination when the memory is not accessible. Members of a CST group will meet once or twice weekly over ‘Zoom’ video calls. Each week we will have a different topic to discuss, for example one week we could be reminiscing about our school days or another week having mixed opinions on art or food. We will also be doing word/number games, quizzes and even creative and musical activities. The main focus is having fun! Full technical support will be given to help get people online. Free ‘Taster Sessions’ are available now! To get in touch or for more information please visit the Age UK Somerset Website or email lauren.foyle@ageuksomerset.

Dementia support from the Alzheimer’s Society If you are an unpaid carer supporting someone with dementia, contact a dementia support worker for one to one support, practical guidance to help you understand the condition and help you to cope with the day to day challenges and prepare for the future. Contact the Alzheimer’s Society Somerset office today: 01458 251541 or email:

NEW Carers Support Groups with Spark

Would you like to connect with other Carers over the Winter, to share ideas and thoughts, support each other and find out useful information? Join us for a fortnightly carers online support group where carers from across Somerset can come together in an informal and friendly setting and chat with others. We’ll be alternating the time of the groups to make sure all carers are able to access support during a time of uncertainty from the pandemic.

The next meeting is on the 8th February via Zoom.

Please use this link to the Spark Somerset website to register for the group meeting

Staying Well & Connected Ideas & Support for your Well-being Keeping yourself well during Corona-virus is important, especially if you are a Carer for someone. Here are some suggestions for keeping physically and mentally well from local charities Spark Somerset, Age UK Somerset, CCS and the Alzheimers Society Somerset.

We’ve grouped them under the



Ways to Well-being;

Be Active Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness. During Lockdown 2, you can meet one other person outdoors, so you could go for a sociallydistanced walk with a friend or neighbour. SASP and Age UK have produced free exercise videos you can watch via your smart-phone, tablet or computer. See & activities-and-events/online-exercise-classes/ There are free activity Apps like Active 10 and Couch to 5K available here:


Staying Well & Connected Connect

This is obviously more difficult during lockdown, but try to connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Keep in touch through phone calls or video calls. If you don’t have a smart-phone, you may be able to borrow/get one from us, the Community Council for Somerset (CCS). Tel 01823 331222 You can borrow an iPad for free from Somerset Film (01278 433187), and soon Spark Somerset will have tablets for free loan with a help-desk to support you getting online. If you would like someone to call you regularly, a number of local charities have ‘Friendly Phone Call’ services including CCS (01823 331 222) Age UK Somerset (01823 345610), Somerset Sight (01823 333818) and The Alzheimer’s Society (01458 251 541). You can also find details of these and more on local Health & Well-being Directories such as Well-being South Somerset and Health Connections Mendip. Join in one of our Facebook Talking Cafe Live Stream each weekday at 11am, where you can connect with a Village Agent and ask questions. You can also watch on YouTube after You can learn how to use Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams to meet friends and family, or join online meetings and webinars. The Alzheimers Society are running weekly online Singing for the Brain sessions - email or call 01458 251 541 Goldies are offering online sing-a-long sessions every Tuesday & Thursday. For more details You could try the support App ‘Jointly’ -


Staying Well & Connected Take Notice

Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you. Slowing down and noticing the things around you, nature or the food you’re eating can help your mental well-being. There are free Mindfulness videos and apps you can watch or use to help you do this - one is Smiling Mind.


Keep Learning

Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun. There are many places online who offer free or low-cost courses, including our own Somerset Skills & Learning and the Somerset Recovery College (explain in a line what this is). l Cooking is something we all have to do, so why not try a new recipe? Cookbooks and videos are available from Zing l Online crafting videos l Doing jigsaws or puzzles l Some charities offering outdoor activities are staying open – such as Ark at Egwood near Merriott, who are offering therapeutic volunteering sessions with their farm animals. l Well-being info and digital skills courses from Somerset Libraries https://www.somerset. and the Red Cross


Staying Well & Connected Give

Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

l You can volunteer during Corona-virus – in fact, volunteer groups made a major

contribution to the response in the first lockdown and beyond. There are many roles you can safely do that are permitted in the latest Government regulations. To see current opportunities to help, see Spark A Change, Somerset’s volunteering portal

l Helping a neighbour with shopping or chatting with them over the phone can be a great

help to them and make you feel good too!

l You can volunteer and work with animals - some local Corona-virus support groups offer

dog-walking and charities like the Cinnamon Trust provide volunteers to walk elderly and ill people’s dogs, who can no longer exercise them.

l Finally, if you are struggling emotionally, do call Mindline Somerset on 01823 276 892. This emotional support and mental health helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How can a Village Agent help Carers? We often get asked what exactly a Village & Community Agent can do for carers...which is difficult to answer as every persons situation is unique. We do advise people to start with our Agents, and then the pathway for support will be devised, but below are some real life quick examples of how an Agent has helped:



A wife who cares for her husband who has dementia contacted CCS for help as her husband requires support at night.

l The Village Agent put the wife in touch with a local Micro-provider who was able to assist & linked up with the virtual carers support meeting.

She had been let down by their current care provider (that they self-funded) & didn’t know where to turn. A self-funding wife caring for her husband with memory loss, incontinence and mobility issues contacted CCS for advice and support

l A discussion was also had and information provided on a Council tax discount. l Micro-provider information discussed and ASC directory delivered. l Falls Team referral made to look at mobility aids, falls prevention etc.

Her husband was also due to have an operation which would have an impact l Incontinence referral made. on his care needs. l Carers food box delivered for the One of our Agents client’s looks after client and the neighbour that he cares their elderly neighbour. They keep up for to give him respite. a good community spirit in the flats l Fruit & vegetable box also delivered where they live & looks out for others. to the client to make sure that he is eating properly (shares with neighbour) The client is on Pension Credit, has l 2 x Food bank vouchers issued COPD, and was struggling to pay for l Client linked up to Citizens Advice heating and food. regarding debt and bill management.

Case Study: Continence & Falls

Lisa Cudlipp - CCS Agent

Working with Paramedics over a safeguarding concern, our Agent found two very independent brothers that were in need of additional support.

The Situation

Paramedics raised a safeguarding concern with the Community Agent about a pair of elderly Brothers who were living together. Brothers A & B had lived together for 30 years ever since their parents passed away. Brother A had now become a Carer for Brother B and the Paramedics were concerned that Brother A was struggling to manage the care of Brother B. The Brothers were visited at home by a Community Agent. Various issues were discussed. Brother A was struggling to manage Brother B’ incontinence issues, he worried about him when he is out in the garden or when he is not present, such as when he is doing the shopping. Brother A was keen on the idea of a Micro-provider but Brother B was not keen on having different people in the house.

The Solution

l Brother A allowed the Community Agent to source a Micro-provider to support for 1 hour in the morning with washing and personal care plus an extra hour on a Friday whilst Brother A did the weekly shop. l The Agent also arranged to replace things such as a soiled carpet and mattress in addition to help purchasing a new cooker. l Carers Grants was used to fund 2 x waterproof mattress protectors to assist in managing continence. l The Agent also supplied Carers Respite meals supplied by CCS to give Brother A some respite from cooking. l The Agent did a joint visit with ASC being present when a Carers Assessment took place looking at equipment which may help the brothers.

The Outcome Sadly, Brother B had 2 falls at home and was admitted to Hospital, where he developed pneumonia and passed away on Christmas Eve. He also had traces of Covid. The Community Agent made contact with Brother A to offer support on Christmas Eve and organised a welfare call for Christmas Day. They have since provided ongoing support with regular calls, obtaining a free fridge/freezer and providing frozen meals. Brother A said after “Thank you for all that you have done, I know that you are just doing your job but it’s the way that you do it that makes the difference.”

Looking After You Somerset Community Connect have LOTS of info to support your mental health: looking-after-you/how-to-look-after-you/ Find help with STRESS information-advice/looking-after-you/stress/ Find help with DEPRESSION information-advice/looking-after-you/depression/ Find help with ANXIETY: information-advice/looking-after-you/anxiety/ Every Mind Matters has been created by Public Health England, with tips and advice developed with experts and approved by the NHS, created to help you manage and maintain your mental health To find urgent support:

Looking After You

Relaxation and Mindful Breathing online programme Age UK Somerset are hosting three sessions each week, each with a slightly different approach but all focusing on techniques to help you unwind and de-stress, quieten the mind and sleep better. They are part of a six-week programme designed purely to give a short respite from the worries and constant chatter of a busy mind in this unusual time. The sessions will be led by Lorraine Sula, Terry Wood and Anne Bond and each will hold three, different sessions, repeated in sequence. All sessions are booked separately through the website and full details can be found here: The sessions will be held on the following days and times. Lorraine Sula’s classes – Mondays at 12.00 noon Terry Wood’s classes – Tuesdays at 3.30pm Anne Bond’s classes – Thursday at 3.30pm Please note that these relaxation and mindful breathing sessions are not a substitute for seeking medical support and if you feel overwhelmed then contact your GP or phone Mindline 01823 276892.

Are you, or anyone you know, aware of your welfare benefit entitlements, or struggling on a low income? If you are receiving your state pension the Age UK Somerset Information & Advice advisers can help to assess your eligibility: Just ring us on 01823 345613 and ask for a Benefit Check, leaving your name and contact number and they’ll call you back to arrange a telephone appointment.

Case Study: Struggling with bills

Steve Ballinger - CCS Agent

A Carer was struggling with bills and managing day-to-day tasks due to rising utilities costs.

The Situation The cared for has skin and Prostate Cancer and Dementia, with associated Incontinence, as well as Type 2 Diabetes and Cellulitis. His wife, and full-time carer, has been struggling to cope, particularly as her husband has been unable to go into respite care during Covid. They were at a point of struggling to pay their fuel and water bills, which have increased dramatically over the last year as a result of needing to wash pyjamas, sheets and towels on a daily basis and also need a new tumble dryer.

The Solution The Carers Grant was used to l Fund a new tumble dryer to make life easier in terms of drying bedding,

towels, pyjamas etc.

l Help towards the payment of current fuel and water bills to enable the couple to keep their heads above water. l The Village Agent also made a referral to the Centre For Sustainable

Energy to help the couple to find a cheaper energy supplier and receive any additional grants or discounts that they may be entitled to.

The Outcome She was absolutely over the moon to receive the Carers Grant, and it made a real difference to her. Although no respite facilities are currently available due to COVID, the grant did give her some respite making her everyday life easier to manage removing some of the obstacles that were causing worry & concern.

Somerset Community Connect & Carers Somerset Community Connect is about your care, health and well being. More than just a website and Facebook page, Somerset Community Connect is an ethos, a positive and supportive way of living involving the whole of Somerset. Somerset Community Connect is about individuals, groups and organisations all working together to create a safe, healthy, supportive, kind compassionate and vibrant Somerset. Carer information on the Somerset Community Connect Website The carers information tile on our Somerset Community Connect website has also recently been updated. Please see link below. support-for-carers-in-somerset-overview/ Keep up to date with us on social media!

COVID-19 Rapid Testing Unpaid carers in Somerset can now access Covid testing through a number of Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) sites across the county. These tests screen individuals for Sars CoV- 2, the virus that causes Covid19. Somerset County Council are keen to target these tests to people within the community where they can have most impact, by protecting some of the most vulnerable people and also to prevent asymptomatic transmission amongst staff and enable care and support to continue. The test is very straightforward and you will be supervised by a trained member of staff to complete the swabbing yourself. A swab is a small piece of soft, absorbent material on a plastic stick that is used to take a sample from your nose and throat. Staff in the hub will process the specimen whilst you wait in the car and takes about 30 minutes to get the result! There is a booking system that has been set up and you can access this through the links below depending on the site you wish you visit.

Bridgwater: Bridgwater & Albion Rugby Football Club, Bath Road, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA6 4TZ Taunton: Broughton House, Taunton, TA1 2PP Shepton Mallet: 19 Commercial Road, Shepton Mallet Yeovil: Royal Naval Air Station

COVID-19 Vaccinations

The government’s expert committee - the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JVCI) - revised its recommendations on 30 December to include unpaid carers. It recommends unpaid carers who get Carer’s Allowance, or who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, should be prioritised alongside people with underlying health conditions. This means unpaid carers are now in priority group 6: (see Table 3 of the green book Work is taking place to identify all unpaid carers so that they can be vaccinated in line with JCVI advice, in the meantime, it’s a good idea to register as a carer with your GP if you haven’t done already. For information about the Vaccination process see the Easy Read Vaccination Guide here: Guidance for those who provide unpaid care to friends or family can be found here: And information on the Somerset roll out of the vaccine can be found here: (Source:

Free Training in Gas Safety The Gas Safe Charity is offering a free, on line Zoom workshop aimed at front line staff and volunteers who visit or work in the homes of vulnerable people. The workshop last about an hour and explains the sources, signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide risks in the home and includes relevant scenarios to explain what steps to take if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected. To find out more and book a workshop, please click on the link:

News from Ilminster

Ilminster Churches Together have a food bank with Food share Wednesday and Saturday mornings 10.00 till 12pm. We have plenty of stock at the moment and many offers of help. The people of Ilminster and surrounding villages are very generous with donating food in the trollies in Tesco and Coop, and donating money with which we are able to give vouchers for fruit and veg from P B Fruits. People in need of help don’t need referrals they can just come along and see how we can help them. We don’t need any more funding or other help but would be pleased if you can spread the word that we can help. Lydia Munday 07713 727 605

Somerset Food Resilience Taskforce In Somerset we have the Somerset Food Resilience Taskforce who are currently delivering 20,000 unit fo food PER WEEK to people in need. This isn’t means tested, and anyone who needs a helping hand with food can apply. Our Agents are keen to hear from Carers who would benefit from having some home made meals ready in the freezer so they can have a small break from cooking.

Who Supports Adult Carers in Somerset? Somerset Carers This service provides Carers Agents who are Somerset based individuals with a wide knowledge base of local services and information that are invaluable to carers. They are on hand to offer personal guidance and support.

Phone: 0800 3168600

Text “Carer� to 78070

Live chat also available

Somerset Community Connect This service offers a website that has lots of information and advice and a directory of providers, local groups and activities and information drop-ins for adult residents in Somerset to find information, advice and services to manage their own care and well-being.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Carers Service

This service offers support to unpaid carers and family members who look after people with mental health problems. Phone regarding - Adults:

Phone regarding - Children and Adolescents

Mendip: 01749 836597 Taunton: 01823 368396 South Somerset: 01935 428420 South Coast: 01278 720238

CAMHS East (Mendip and South Somerset) 01749 836561

Phone regarding - Older People

CAMHS West (Taunton and Somerset Coast) 01823 368368

Mendip & South Somerset: 01749 836736 Somerset Coast: 01278 720220 Taunton & Chard: 01823 368460 Email:

Somerset County Council Somerset County Council supports carers through their Adult Social Care Team who carry out Carers Assessments and offer support, advice and information. A carers assessment will look at how caring for another person affects you both mentally and physically and how it impacts on your well-being. Finding out how caring affects these things can help the council determine what support you could receive. Please use the Somerset Direct number below.

Somerset Direct

Somerset Direct is a contact centre managed by Somerset County Council. Somerset Direct operators will sign post you to departments relating to your enquiry. 0300 123 2224


Useful Contacts Age UK

0800 88 22 00

British Red Cross

01823 273 746

Carers UK

020 7378 4999

Citizens Advice

03444 111 444


0800 055 6688

Somerset Carers 0800 31 68 600 Somerset Village Agents 01823 331 222 Somerset Partnership Mental Health Team 01278 432 000 Spark Somerset

Somerset Direct

01460 202 970

0300 123 2224

Contact Somerset Direct for: l Adult Social Care l Blue Badge Scheme

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