Like me, you will have noticed that the nights are drawing in, temperatures are starting to drop and we have already had the first storms of winter.

With the clocks changing and forecasts of early snow, our thoughts are starting to move from Hallowe’en to Christmas, and I am minded to think about the impact of winter across our community.

I have recently spent time with some of our health and social care staff and visited services, which we have in place to support some of the most vulnerable people of our area.

I know how hard these teams work in all weathers and you will maybe recall some of the pictures of our home care staff braving the elements when the Beast from the East descended at the beginning of March.

As the seasons change, we have been preparing and planning services to ensure we continue to support our local communities at their time of greatest need.

Teams of district nurses have been administering the flu vaccine to their colleagues, to ensure that they not only avoid the flu personally, but that they also reduce the risk of infection to the many patients and clients we care for.

We are recruiting additional staff, including nurses and home carers, to provide additional support to those in our communities who need support and to look after them at home rather than being admitted to hospital.

Across the council, other teams are also preparing for winter, not least our roads teams who are ready to grit and clear roads as the weather deteriorates.

The days can be long and lonely for some of our older residents, and I have been thinking about what we as a community can do to support families, neighbours and friends, either helping in very practical ways, such as dropping in messages, or clearing paths as we did last winter.

And perhaps also by taking some time just to have a blether and a cuppa together, it is the small acts of kindness that make all the difference.

Of course, first and foremost, you should try to remember to look after yourself - keep warm, and when you are able to get out and about, wrap up well. A wee bit of fresh air can help to blow the cobwebs away.

Also, if you have an underlying health condition, contact your GP to consider getting the flu jag too.