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Microsoft Releases Updates for Older Windows Versions Following Wannacry Attacks

Microsoft has issued a number of security updates for its Windows XP operating system to help users protect themselves from cyber-attacks.

The move has been heralded as good news for those charities still using the older operating system.

Windows XP was targeted by the much-publicised WannaCry ransomware attack last month. At least 75,000 computers in 99 countries were affected by the malware, which encrypts a computer before demanding a ransom and unlocking it.

Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April 2014, but the software giant is now taking the unprecedented move of including it in the company’s security updates this week.

“In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyber-attacks by government organisations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors or other copycat organisations,” Adrienne Hall, head of Microsoft’s Cyber Defense Operations Center, wrote in a blog.

“To address this risk, today we are providing additional security updates along with our regular Update Tuesday service. These security updates are being made available to all customers, including those using older versions of Windows. Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber-attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks with characteristics similar to WannaCry.”

For more technical information and links to related articles, visit the Microsoft Security Response Center blog.

Source: Charity Digital News


West Midlands Police – Offender Management Referral Pathways

Nosheen Khan is the Pathways Coordinator at West Bromwich Police Station Offender Management Team. The majority of crime is committed by a small proportion of the community. It is the job of the Offender Management Team to work with offenders to support them away from their criminal lifestyle by looking at the pathways to offending, which are:

1) Accommodation
Having nowhere to live, sofa surfing or living in the wrong location.

2) Education, employment and training
Occupying time with positive activity and accessing employment opportunities.

3) Health
Physical and mental health support.

4) Drugs and Alcohol support
Rehab and support away from this lifestyle.

5) Finance and debt
Support through benefit support, debt management.

6) Children and families
Family support with access to children, where appropriate.

7) Attitudes, thinking and behaviour
Changing the way the person is thinking and going through processes like Restorative Justice.

Women offenders need to be supported with:

8) Domestic abuse
Is she a victim? Does she need support through civil injunctions? Advice and support.

9) Sexual health
Has sexual abuse taken place and is medical and/or mental health support required.

Nosheen’s role is to build a database of local support organisations that can support offenders in their rehabilitation, by making local referrals to these organisations for the officers.

If you can support this work please contact Nosheen at West Bromwich Police Station on 101 Ext. 8811 3230, or email



Vigil for Manchester in Oldbury Civic Square – Thursday Evening, 25 May at 7 pm

Communities in Sandwell are joining together for a vigil in memory of the victims of Monday’s Manchester concert attack.  Everyone is welcome at the vigil in Oldbury Civic Square outside Sandwell Council House, Freeth Street, Oldbury, tomorrow, Thursday 25 May, from 7 pm to 8 pm.

People can bring candles and tributes if they wish, and there will be an opportunity to sign a Sandwell letter of solidarity that will be sent to Manchester.

Should you need more information, please contact


Identifying How Best to Support Victims in the West Midlands

 The University of Leicester, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Midlands, would like to invite you to share your expectations of hate crime support services in the West Midlands by completing a questionnaire.

Alongside this survey they are also conducting interviews. If you would like to tell them more about your ideas for how support services for hate crime victims could be improved, please fill in your contact details at the end of this questionnaire.

Who should complete the questionnaire?
Anyone aged 16 or over who live in the West Midlands.

What will the results of the survey be used for?
The findings from this research will help to develop new and improved support services for hate crime victims in the West Midlands.

All of the information included within the survey will be treated in the strictest confidence and stored securely by the research team.

Access the survey here.

Council Invites Views on New Vision for Sandwell

Sandwell Council in its leadership role in the Borough has recognised that the time is right to refocus Sandwell’s vision for the future. The Council has kicked off the process of refocusing the vision by suggesting 10 ambitions for Sandwell. It is now inviting local voluntary and community organisations to share their views, ambitions and vision for our borough.

This process aims to:-
• Set shared aspirations for what we want for the borough in 2030
• To drive and focus what the Council does to achieve this
• To focus partnership working and influence others to help achieve the vision

Since January the Council have been engaging with various groups of people in Sandwell to see what they think, including residents in the six towns, businesses, the voluntary and community sector and other public bodies.

The 10 ambitions listed below reflect the rapidly changing world around us that bring huge opportunities but also potential threats. The key message of Vision 2030 is to create a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and aspirations are raised. A place where people choose to raise their families and a resilient Sandwell that can cope with and benefit from the changing world around us.

Five of the ambitions focus on creating resilient Sandwell PEOPLE

Five of the ambitions focus on creating a resilient Sandwell the PLACE

The Council is seeking your views:-
• Are these the right ambitions for 2030?
• Which do you think are the most important for Sandwell?
• What are the most important aspects to address in your local area?
• How do we ensure that Sandwell is a place where families choose to bring up their families?

Please take time to complete the online survey and have your say:

Ambitions for People

Ambition 1

By 2030, Sandwell will be a borough where families’ aspirations are raised and that prides itself on equality of opportunity and resilience to change.

Ambition 2

By 2030, Sandwell will be a place where people and families are healthier for longer and are safer.

Ambition 3

By 2030, Sandwell’s young people will have better skills and working people will have developed new skills – giving Sandwell a workforce geared up to respond to changes in business needs and the economy.

Ambition 4

By 2030, secondary school quality will have been raised, and superb primary schools will be giving children the best start.

Ambition 5

By 2030, crime will have fallen and anti-social behaviour incidents will be few and far between.

Ambitions for Place

Ambition 6

By 2030, Sandwell will have excellent public transport links to jobs in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, the airport and the wider West Midlands.

Ambition 7

By 2030, Sandwell will have significant numbers of new homes built along key transport routes and there will be major new employment sites.

Ambition 8

By 2030, Sandwell’s six towns will have continued to develop a strong sense of local identity and pride and will be a better environment in which people choose to bring up their families.

Ambition 9

By 2030, Sandwell will host the industries of the future and will have boosted the best performing companies to grow.

Ambition 10

By 2030, Sandwell will have a national reputation for getting things done, focussing on what really matters in people’s lives and their wider community.

Big Spring Clean Back for 2017

Sandwell’s ever-popular Big Spring Clean campaign is back for 2017 – and local people and organisations are invited to get involved with litter picking, graffiti removal, planting and painting.

The campaign will launch with a community litter-picking event at Victoria Park, Smethwick, on Friday 3 March 2017.

Sandwell Council has teamed up again with waste partner Serco and local charity Litter Watch to recruit volunteers for the 11th annual Sandwell Big Spring Clean.

Sandwell’s campaign this year ties in with a national Great British Spring Clean and will run until the end of September. It will also help celebrate Litter Watch’s 20th birthday.

Residents are also asked to help identify pieces of land that, subject to the owners’ permission, could be transformed into wild flower areas, herb gardens or potato patches.

Email or call 0121 544 3916 to register your interest.

Councillor David Hosell, the council’s cabinet member for highways and environment, said: “The Big Spring Clean is always popular with local people and organisations, and we thank the thousands of people who’ve taken part in our previous campaigns.
“It’s a great way to get people together – with residents, community groups, faith groups, schools and businesses all supporting the campaign.

“Volunteers can decide what they’d like to do on their Big Spring Clean event including litter picking, graffiti removal, planting or painting.

“This campaign builds on our regular cleaning and upkeep of streets and parks, and encourages volunteering and community partnerships.”

Jason Holtom, partnership director for Serco in Sandwell, said: “We are very pleased to be getting involved in such a positive campaign for another year running.

“The campaign continues to go from strength to strength and it’s really great to see the enthusiasm for the Big Spring Clean and what can be achieved when members of a community come together.

“Pledging a small amount of time can make a big difference to a local area and we encourage volunteers to get involved to help improve their neighbourhoods.”

Go to our Big Spring Clean webpage for more information.

Spotlight on Listening Ear

Tell us what you do.
Listening Ear is a service based in Cradley Heath Salvation Army that provides counselling to people with a range of emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, bereavement and relationship issues.

What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement is working with people to better understand the reasons why they are feeling the way they do and support them in the counselling process, to make changes that enables them to improve how they feel and respond to these situations.

For us it is so rewarding to see the positive shift in people’s emotional well-being after counselling and know that the service has had such an impact on a person’s life, often in a very short time.

What is your experience of support received from SCVO
Listening Ear received invaluable hands on support from the SCVO when applying for a grant and without it, it is unlikely the bid would have proceeded, or indeed been successful. SCVO has also been helpful in providing advice around our constitution and has further offered support in the future.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Sandwell?
The most valuable lesson we’ve learnt is what a privilege it is to work with people in a counselling capacity, who open up and share very personal and private details about their lives; it is very humbling.

What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our plans for the future are to continue to serve people in Sandwell and provide a counselling service which has been supported by the grant that will be awarded. The challenge is to maintain the volunteer base and continue to source funding opportunities to ensure our valuable service continues, and provide stability for those accessing us.

How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
SCVO will be able to support our organisation moving forward, by aiding us to identify new funding possibilities for our organisation and with providing advice to around these potential funding opportunities which enables us to access these funds.

For more information on this service please call Cradely Heath Salvation Army and ask to be referred to Listening Ear on 01384563570.

Britannia Park Friends Group Needs a Treasurer

Rowley Community Activity Network are in the process of setting up a ‘Friends of Britannia Park Group’ in Blackheath. The Friends of Britannia Park Group will support plans to improve the facilities in the park, organise and develop a range of community activities and events, to bring people of all ages together to have fun and enjoy the park.

The Friends of Britannia Park Group are seeking a community minded individual to join us on our committee, taking on the role of Treasurer (on a voluntary basis). Don’t worry no prior experience is necessary, as access to training and support will be provided and you can give as little or as much time as you can spare (as a guide you need to be prepared to spare approximately 1-2 hours every 6 weeks for attendance at meetings and on an occasional basis a few hours in between meetings as required).

Here are some of the things you’ll be undertaking as a treasurer of the group:

  • The treasurer is responsible for handling the group’s finances/account books and holding them.
  • Reports the group’s financial transactions at meetings.
  • The Treasurer will advise the group on whether they need to cut back on activities, etc. and if fund-raising is required to cover their costs.
  • The Treasurer will keep/maintain all receipts and invoices.
  • The Treasurer is expected to bank the group’s income.

So why not get involved and help us to make Britannia Park a real hive of community activity.

You’ll have the opportunity to learn new skills with like-minded individuals, support the development of the facilities and community activities taking place within the park.

We would love to hear from anyone who is interested in making a positive difference within their community or would just like to find out more about what is involved.

We want to bring Britannia Park back into the heart of our community to make it a community facility that everyone can be proud of!

If you or anyone you know are interested in this volunteering opportunity please contact Matt Hill (Rowley Community Activity Network Development Officer) for more information at or call 07790 945111.

Don’t be a victim this Christmas

victim-support2Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for burglars. With the evenings drawing in early, the longer nights are an ideal time for the opportunist burglar to strike. Do not neglect home security.

The best way to keep presents safe is too keep them out of sight. If passers-by can see presents under your Christmas tree, this could suggest that you have something worth stealing.

If your home is left empty during the festive season, leaving the lights on constantly says you’re not there, and your home could be an easy target for burglars   Use timers that switch lights on and off. Lock doors and windows and ensure the exterior of your home is well-lit. Remember, too, to lock the garage door and chain and padlock ladders.

Be sure to properly dispose of any packaging for items in the house. Do not leave by the side of the bin.

If you have been affected by crime, Victim Support offers free and confidential support. Call 0300 303 1977.

Police and Crime Plan 2016 – Consultation

West Midlands PCCDavid Jamieson, West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, has launched a major consultation to find out about what matters to people in the West Midlands and to understand their policing priorities.

By law, every Commissioner has to produce a Policing and Crime Plan that sets out priorities and will be the basis for how they hold the Chief Constable and the police force to account.

This plan will set the direction for policing and community safety over the Commissioner’s term of office and the “Your Police Your Priorities” consultation aims to get people involved in setting the priorities with the Commissioner.

David Jamieson wants to hear from as many people as possible about what matters and is important to them in their local communities.

David Jamieson said: “I want to hear from you about your priorities and what you want to see happen in your local area and across our region to make the West Midlands a safer and more prosperous region.

“I want to make sure that you have a voice and I will listen carefully to what local people have to say and what their priorities are.

If you want a say on the policing in your area, take part in the consultation and fill in the survey – Your Police Your Priorities”-  here

The survey will be open until 18th July 2016.
Paper copies of the survey are also available. Call 0121 626 6060 for more information.

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