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Business and voluntary groups invited to give views on council spending

Company bosses and voluntary groups have the chance to talk to council chiefs on how money is spent on local authority services.

Sandwell Council is inviting business organisations, groups representing local firms and the voluntary sector to a meeting of its Cabinet.

The meeting will give representatives a chance to give feedback to the council on its proposals for expenditure for the next financial year and give their ideas on how services could be improved.

The council is required to consult with the groups under the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

Councillor Wasim Ali, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for resources and core services, said: “It is important that members of the business and voluntary sectors are given a chance to have their say on how they think money should be spent in the borough.

The meeting will take place at 3.30pm on Wednesday 17 February and will be streamed live via Microsoft Teams.

Anyone wanting to take part in the consultation or attend the online meeting should email: by 5pm on Monday 15 February

Bringing People Together to tackle isolation during lockdown 3 Webinar

Lockdown prevents groups meeting, which affects us all, causing more people to be isolated affecting their mental health. Bringing People Together is a network of groups that welcome everyone by telephone, mobile or computer all from the comfort of their own home.

There are now over 14 groups meeting weekly or fortnightly in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Shropshire. Each group is run by two hosts and a partner organisation who provide the safeguarding and GDPR.

At 10 am on Friday, 12th February, Bringing People Together are holding a free webinar called ‘Bringing People Together to tackle isolation during lockdown 3’. When the meetings started in July 2020, Bringing People Together had many questions which The National Lottery Community Fund enabled them to answer.

Bringing People Together will share their learning in this webinar. There will be an opportunity to have your questions answered. Some groups are now very well established, having been running for many months and are learning the advantages of meeting online. It is hoped the online meetings will continue after the restrictions have lifted.

Book your free tickets here.

Bringing People Together have funding to support more groups. To find out about joining, please visit the website or contact Su Parker on 07791 044 311.



Mayoral Vaccination Roundtable for Faith Leaders and Community Groups

The West Midlands Combined Authority is hosting a roundtable for our local faith leaders, community groups and anyone with a question about the vaccine, offering insight and support around Covid-19 vaccination communication.

Mayor Andy Street will be joined by a panel of experts, including representatives from the NHS and Public Health England, who will share the latest update on the vaccination roll-out in the West Midlands and share the facts about the vaccine. There will also be an opportunity for attendees to ask questions in a live Q&A.

The roundtable is free to attend, and everyone is welcome it is taking place on 1 Feb 2-3pm
Please register to join the event from this link –

Vaccination Leadership Programme

The vaccination programme – the biggest in NHS history – is off to a strong start, and more than 4 million doses have now been delivered across the country, covering almost one in four people over the age of 80.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective way of protecting people against this deadly and devastating virus. Our ambitions are set high and we want all communities to have a maximum uptake in people getting their vaccine. COVID-19 has adversely impacted on our marginalised and vulnerable communities. Ensuring uptake of vaccinations amongst all our richly diverse community is a way of bucking this trend.

We can’t do this alone.

As trusted and influential pillars of strength in your community we recognise the power you have to work to improve health outcomes.

Sandwell Public Health are offering an in-depth COVID-19 vaccination leader training and support programme. The programme will include:

• Exclusive online briefings with our Director of Public Health and other public health specialists on the latest local data
• How to tackle vaccine misinformation
• Tips and techniques on how to be a powerful influencer
• Access to a promotional toolkit and resources
• Priority access to bespoke creative and marketing services including: printing, graphic design, social media content and much more.

The training will be delivered virtually via Microsoft teams and will last 1.5 hours in total. The dates and times of sessions are below. You only need to attend one of these sessions.

10th February- 10:30- 12noon
11th February- 5:30- 7pm

Places on this programme are limited so book soon to avoid disappointment.
To apply please email:

Please state in the email:
• Name
• Organisation you are affiliated with
• Why you want to be a COVID-19 vaccination leader
• Which session you would like to book onto

This programme is part of Sandwell’s community response to COVID-19. In partnership with SCVO, we have also a created a new strand of the current Vision 2030 grants programme which will enable applications to be made for small grants. For more information, please visit-

What if everyone had what they needed to thrive? Latest news and updates!

Back in December, 70 people from across the Black Country & West Birmingham joined the first ‘What if everyone had what they needed to thrive’ workshop.

The ‘listening event’ explored the inequalities we face, what a world without inequality would look like and how collectively, we might begin to tackle inequalities across the Black Country and West Birmingham.

The average healthy life expectancy in the Black Country and West Birmingham is 56 years of age – that’s the number of years someone will live in good health. And whilst the average life expectancy in the area (80 years of age) has plateaued, the length of time someone will live in ill health is growing.

This MUST change. So the Black Country and West Birmingham Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) wanted to start a conversation about what matters most to our citizens and neighbours that transforms the way we connect with each other and the systems around us.

The 2 hour workshop was honest, open, expansive and non-judgmental. Our guest speakers, Dominique and Vanessa, set the tone by generously sharing their stories of unfair treatment due to their race and mental health diagnosis.

A full round up of December’s workshop, which includes all of the wonderful imagery and artwork we co-produced and a link to the full analysis of the feedback gathered, is available here.

At the next event, we’ll continue to explore experiences of ‘barriers’ to being and staying healthy and the problems of inequality. Using the 6 priorities we co-designed back in December, you’ll have the opportunity to further develop the story, continue to build upon the findings from December and put forward ideas for taking action.

The date for the 2nd workshop in the ‘What if everyone had what they needed to thrive?’ series is 24th February, 2021 10:30am-12:30pm. Use the following link to register your attendance

If you were unable to attend the workshop in December, don’t panic. It’s never too late to start sharing your story. And spread the word. Share the workshop details with anyone you think might have a story to share or is passionate about creating healthier, happier communities.

Would you like to get more involved in helping to deliver the workshops? It takes an enormous team effort to co-design and deliver the workshops so let us know if you have any special gifts, talents or connections that could be of help. Or perhaps you’d like to roll your sleeves up and become a facilitator, speaker/host, event artist or Mental Health First Aider? Then let us know.

If you want to be added to our mailing list or if you have any questions about the ‘What if’ series then call us on 0121 612 1147 or email us at

Households Across Sandwell Will Soon be Asked to Take Part in Census 2021

Households across Sandwell will soon be asked to take part in Census 2021.

The census is a once-in-a-decade survey that gives us the most accurate estimate of all the people and households in England and Wales. It has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941.

It will be the first run predominantly online, with households receiving a letter with a unique access code, allowing them to complete the questionnaire on their computers, phones or tablets.

Census day will be on Sunday 21 March 2021, but households across the country will receive letters with online codes allowing them to take part from early March.

The census will include questions about your sex, age, work, health, education, household size and ethnicity.

And, for the first time, there will be a question asking people whether they have served in the armed forces, as well as voluntary questions for those aged 16 and over on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sandwell Council Deputy Leader, Councillor Maria Crompton, added: “The census helps us understand what Sandwell needs now and what it’s likely to need in the future. The information it collects helps plan and fund services in your area. This could include transport, education and healthcare”.

You must complete the census by law. Results will be available within 12 months, although personal records will be locked away for 100 years, kept safe for future generations.

For more information visit

Joint Warning Issued to Supermarkets in Sandwell

Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police have issued a joint warning to shops and supermarkets in Sandwell.

The letter has been sent to all large shops and supermarkets to urge managers to ensure customers and their staff are kept safe by urging them to ensure face coverings are worn, encourage customers to use hand sanitiser as they enter and limit the number of customers allowed in stores.

The letter also asks shop managers to reduce congestion and contact between customers such as queue management and one-way systems as well as other measures to ensure social distancing is possible for both staff and customers.

The letter is signed by both Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell Council and Ian Green, Chief Superintendent at West Midlands Police.

Lisa McNally, director of public health for Sandwell Council, said: “In recent weeks, we have started to receive more reports from shoppers about breaches of Covid Regulations and Guidance within stores being ignored. This is both concerning and alarming.

“We need supermarkets to work with us to ensure the safety of both customers and staff so have issued this open letter to let managers know we will do all we can to make shopping safer for our residents.

“Sandwell currently has very high rates of coronavirus. Supermarkets are places where we are likely to come into contact with others and therefore present a risk for infection. As customers we need to take care, staying at least 2 metres away from others and wearing face coverings

Ian Green, Chief Superintendent at West Midlands Police, said: “With Sandwell Council staff we will be carrying out observations of supermarkets in the borough to ensure that stores are following the rules and doing everything they can to keep staff and customers safe.

Where we find significant issues of concern, we will have no alternative but to warn the public of our concerns regarding their safety in your store. Where we identify an offence being committed under the Coronavirus Regulations we will engage with that individual and formal enforcement action may be taken, where appropriate.

Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader at Sandwell Council added: “At this time our priorities have to be to protect the most vulnerable, protect the NHS and to save lives and we all have a collective responsibility to deliver this.

“Our regulatory services team has been carrying out extensive work with store managers.

“Officers are responding to specific complaints and carrying out proactive visits to stores to check that Covid-19 controls are in operation.

“We’re continuing to investigate any concerns and working with supermarket managers to tackle issues such as occupancy levels and social distancing in stores.

“We’ll also providing advice and guidance on any improvements needed following our visits.

“We urge all supermarkets to ensure that appropriate safety measures are in place.

“And if you don’t feel comfortable or it doesn’t look safe to shop in, don’t go in.”

The letter details the action Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police may take if shops fail to make shopping safer in Sandwell.

Read the open letter sent to supermarkets:

Customers can report their concerns about shops in Sandwell by emailing

Headway Appoints New Chief Officer

Following the retirement of Stephen Phipps after just over 8 years as Headway’s Chief Officer, they are delighted to announce the appointment of Claire Dale to the role.

Claire will be joining them at the beginning of March 2021 following working for a locally based health and wellbeing charity for the last nine years as Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive.

With a background in the Health and Social Care sector spanning more than twenty years, Claire has an academic background in Special Needs and Inclusion and professional experience of working in care and social housing as well as in providing both strategic development and operational support across the third sector in both employed and also in voluntary Trustee positions.

Claire is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and volunteers for a Crisis Text Messaging Service as well as nearing the end of her studies to qualify as a PersonCentred Therapist. Claire has a passion for people, seeking to develop services in conjunction with others which help people to thrive.

Claire is incredibly excited to be joining the Headway Black Country Team and is looking forward to working together to continue promoting all aspects of brain injury, providing information, support and services to people with a brain injury, their families and carers across the region.

Susan Hatton, Chair of the Board of Trustees said “Our thanks go to our retiring Chief Officer, Steve for taking Headway Black Country to the strong position we are now. It is with confidence and great pleasure that I and fellow Trustees welcome Claire to lead our dedicated team forward into a successful future“.

Claire can be contacted on:

Know any Covid Heroes?

Unsung ‘pandemic’ heroes from across the West Midlands are being given their moment in the spotlight.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has launched the Outstanding Citizens Awards 2021, celebrating those who make our communities safer and happier places to live and work. They want to show appreciation to people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community, and recognise outstanding acts of good citizenship across the whole of the West Midlands.

The deadline for nominations is Thursday 25th February 2021 at 12pm.
There are four COVID awards categories up for grabs including:
• Young Person COVID hero (under 18s)
• Volunteer COVID hero
• Community Organisation COVID hero
• Key Worker COVID hero

Further details and nominations forms are available from

The online awards ceremony will take place on Friday 19th March at 5:30pm.

Citizens Advice Budgeting Buddies Project

Citizens Advice Sandwell & Walsall have received a financial grant from the British Gas Energy Trust to fund a Budgeting Buddies Project. The initiative aims to help residents of Sandwell and Walsall gain control of household finances and assist them in avoiding energy debt. The project will not only help clients financially and practically but improve mental health and wellbeing.

Support Workers, known as Financial Capability Advisers, will work with clients to give practical advice and deliver hands-on support. They will help them to have confidence in financial decision making, managing money and give invaluable support to people impacted by fuel poverty and energy debt, as a result of the pandemic.

Many families were struggling prior to the pandemic and now face even further hardship. Financial Capability Advisers will work with families to react to their immediate issues and change in circumstance and, equally important, they will stay with families to help them remain financially in control for the future.

Budgeting Buddies will be able to help with:
• Making savings with everyday bills
• Benefit checks
• Energy saving tips and grants available
• Budgeting
• Debt – signposting into our debt team
• Understanding bills
• Form Filling & Digital Literacy

Budgeting Buddies Referral Form

To find out more please email

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