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West Midlands Awarded £3.85 Million to Get the Region Cycling and Walking

Plans for pop-up cycle lanes, wider pavements and many other measures to encourage more cycling and walking across the West Midlands have been given overwhelming backing from Government.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and its partner councils a £3.85 million grant to implement these fast-track measures over the next two months.

A list of more than 45 projects includes a pop-up cycle lane linking Coventry city centre to the Canal Basin, a Birmingham city centre cycle lane connecting the A38 and A34 blue routes, and road closures to improve pedestrian and cycle safety in Wolverhampton city centre.

The grant from the Emergency Active Travel Fund is £400,000 more than the West Midlands asked for and means that some projects could be accelerated or new schemes added to the list. The extra money is an indication of the strength of the region’s bid.

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), and the seven councils are now in discussion over the allocation of the extra funding.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said:

It is fantastic that the DfT has not just fully endorsed our quick start plans to get more people cycling and walking this summer but offered extra funding. This money will be used to create a range of pop-up cycle lanes and re-allocate road space and widen pavements to make it safer and easier for people to get around on two wheels and two feet. We have seen a significant shift towards cycling and walking during the coronavirus outbreak and as we emerge from lockdown we want to provide safe alternatives to car use so that we can maintain both the health and environmental benefits we have clearly seen.”

The investment in active travel – the collective term for cycling and walking – also meets the WMCA’s aims of improving the region’s health and reducing carbon emissions as set out in the region’s #WM2041 plan to tackle climate change.

Cllr Ian Ward, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Birmingham City Council, added:

This emergency funding will deliver results for our residents right away. In fact, some schemes have already been implemented to allow people to walk and cycle in greater safety as we emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. But this is just one part of a £40 million investment in cycling and walking we are making across the West Midlands, which will deliver long-term improvements and offer people a safe, healthy and fun alternative to the car while helping us reduce traffic congestion and improve the air we breathe.”

This wider investment includes the £23 million Transforming Cities Fund and a further £14 million Emergency Active Travel Fund grants, which are being used to create permanent cycling and walking infrastructure, including safe cycle routes.

Source: Active Black Country

Black Country Touring Dial-A-Story Launching August

Connecting isolated people with unique performances via a phone call.

Continued social isolation has meant the closure of nearly all of the community venues we work with – libraries, community centres, places of worship… the places that bring people together. Since lockdown began, we’ve been exploring new ways to connect people with the arts, as a way of bringing something special into our ‘at home’ version of normality – through projects such as Zoom Café.

Black Country Touring quickly realised that while online performances are a great way of connecting with audiences at this time, many people without the internet are unable to use these services in the Black Country. These people are some of the most at risk of feeling isolated and lonely during the current crisis.

In August, we’ll launch Dial-A-Story, a project that will see three locally based artists perform 1-to-1 with people via a phone call. We’re partnering with Sandwell Advocacy and other community and voluntary organisations in Sandwell to reach people who would most benefit from a creative connection with an artist.

This project has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Heart of England Community Foundation’s ‘Doing Things Differently’ fund, SCVO & Sandwell MBC’s Vision 2030 fund and Creative Black Country. We are really grateful to our funders for enabling us to explore new ways of bringing the arts into the lives of local people at this challenging time.

‘Relax and Chat’ Sessions – Beat It Percussion

Can we help? Beat It Percussion is reaching out to provide free support to people in Sandwell who are being touched by mental health or anxiety issues in this difficult time of COVID19.

Beat It Percussion are offering live Zoom sessions contact them for the zoom joining instructions.

‘Relax and Chat’ sessions offer a live sound relaxation experience using gongs, singing bowls, bells and other beautiful instruments to create a sense of total relaxation and give you some quality ‘me-time’. We work with small groups to give people the chance to chat and share their stories, creating a sense of community and friendship at this time when many of us are still feeling isolated.

Who is this for? Anyone who wants to take a break from the cycle of anxiety, to recharge their emotional batteries and enjoy an informal chat. Get in touch to find out more.

‘It’s like a deep tissue massage for the mind’

Free taster sessions!  Please contact us to get your Zoom invitation:

  • Tuesday July 14th at 12 noon
  • Tuesday July 14th at 2pm
  • Friday July 17th at 7pm
  • Sunday July 19th at 12 noon

Volunteering opportunity. We are looking for people to support the groups by:

  •  Directly by joining the session and taking an active part in the ‘chat’
  • Assisting people with Zoom and helping them build their confidence
  • Helping with phone call reminders and gathering feedback after the session

We look forward to hearing from you by phone: 07875 090946 or email at

Outdoor Physical Activity, Sport and Recreation COVID-19 Guidance

Public Health have created an overview from the official Government COVID-19 guidance and Sport England resources to aid organisations returning in their delivery of outdoor physical activities, sport and recreation.

Please note, there is separate guidance for Out of School Activity for children. If you are providing out of school activities for children, please refer to this guidance as well.

The report can be accessed by clicking the adjacent link Physical Activity Providers V3.

Source: Public Health


Nominations for the 2020 National Lottery Awards Are Now Open!

The National Lottery Awards celebrate the ordinary people who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.

This year,for the first time, the Awards will, honour individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in their community especially those who have adapted during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

There will be no public vote, but your nominations will be put before a judging panel made up of members of The National Lottery family and partners who will crown which of our hometown heroes or lockdown legends will pick up a coveted National Lottery Awards trophy and a £3,000 cash prize for their project.

We are looking for individuals or small groups of people who have made an outstanding contribution in any of the categories below. Young Hero nominees should be under 18 years of age and all suggestions must have been either funded by the National Lottery or be associated with a project which has received National Lottery funding. If you are not sure, don’t worry, nominate them anyway, and our team will check it out.

  • Arts
  • Charity/Voluntary
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Heritage
  • Sport
  • Young Hero (under 18s)

To nominate in any of the above categories click here.

Source: National Lottery

Help YMCA prevent Youth Homelessness in the midst of Covid-19

For any teenager, experiencing family breakdown is one of the most challenging life experiences that they could ever face. However, the risk of homelessness for 16-18 year olds leaves them with an even more daunting prospect during the Covid-19 outbreak, as many teenagers are left wondering what will happen and where they will go.

Since the outbreak hit the UK, YMCA Open Door has been helping over 50 young people across the Black Country who have found themselves in the precarious position. The Open Door project has been placing young people at risk of Homelessness with Host families for over 10 years, but at this particular time, there is even more need for more Hosts – people who have a spare room within their house and a caring heart.

Find out how you can help

Big conversation about mental health ● learning disabilities ● autism in Sandwell

As a newly merged organisation we have an ambition to support the people of Sandwell to lead healthier and happier lives. We cannot do this alone, and we want to work with you in genuine partnership to develop our clinical strategy, to listen and learn, in order to achieve meaningful change.

As the system starts to prepare for future demand for services, we are holding a series of ‘big conversations’ about the services we deliver; one Black Country conversation for those specialist service areas where we come together to achieve greater quality and scale for all our populations, and one in each of our localities (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton) for those core services where we know that the needs of our local communities need to be locally driven.

We want to start the conversation with two simple questions:

1. What does the very best healthcare provision for those with mental health, learning disabilities and/or autism look like in 3 years’ time?
2. What are the most important steps we should take to achieve this?
We wanted to share these with you in advance so you can discuss them with others you may represent or advocate for.

Our ‘Big conversation’ will be virtual for now and will take place for via Zoom on 30th July, 10.30am – 12noon.

We hope you can join us. Let us know you’re attending by emailing and we will send you the link to the session. If you can’t make this date but would like to share your feedback please contact us

The Art Yard Is Reopening!

The Art Yard (TAY) team Thank You for your continuing support during the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down.

When the gallery and studios reopen adjustments will have been made to reduce risk. Our primary aim is to remain an accessible community art space, that is, a place where all artists of any age or ability can exhibit their work safely.

Therefore, as government advice on COVID-19 prevention will change from time to time we ask TAY visitors to always comply with the guidelines and what our volunteers request.

Reopening for Exhibitions
The gallery is re-opening in stages. The front gallery will open first with 2 successive Solo Shows, as follows:

  • 1st week: From 27th July to 1st August an exhibition by ‘Learning4Life’ led by art tutor Tim Jarvis.
  • 2nd week: From 3rd August to 8th August a solo show by Luke Hudson (artist and art tutor).

Opening the centre and rear galleries: 3rd week: Normal exhibitions will resume on 10th August with the Open Art exhibition held over from 16th March – 11th April 2020. That 4 week exhibition will now run to 5th September. We wish particularly to thank all artists who have had their art held in this exhibition for your patience and understanding during these difficult times.

Cradley Heath Green Landscapes (CHGL) project
Meanwhile, CHGL project led by Martyn Harris is continuing but with adjustments. A separate email will be circulated shortly letting you know how you can get involved.

Finally, TAY team appreciate that adjusting to life after lock-down will affect people in different ways. Whenever possible our volunteers will be sympathetic to your needs, especially when you drop off or collect work, and when you visit to show friends about the gallery.

Unfortunately, exhibition ‘opening nights’ are suspended but artists will still be able to showcase work exhibited in the gallery to their friends, subject to prevailing guidelines.

Please contact the team at any time to discuss any concerns you may have on 01384 910968.

Black Country Festival 2020 – ‘Hold Still’ Photo Project

Sandwell Libraries and Sandwell Archives service are launching a new photo project for Black Country Festival 2020 this July.

This year, the theme is inspired by the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Hold Still’ photo project.
The ‘Inspired by Hold Still’ project aims to capture life in Sandwell during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sandwell Council Deputy Leader, Councillor Wasim Ali said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is a once in a generation event and has changed life for us all. This project is a chance to chronicle this period in our lives as a record for the next generation. I want as many people as possible to get involved.

“We want your photos showing life in lockdown and throughout the pandemic, covering ‘Everyday Life’, ‘Family’, ‘The Outdoors,’ ‘Isolation’ and ‘Shielding’. They will serve as a record showing how Sandwell came together as a community to help and support each other.”

Sandwell Archives will put the photos into an online gallery. The service would also like any other records residents have of life in lockdown, including video, audio recordings or in writing.

Anyone interested can email their contributions to, each contributor will be sent a deposit form so the material can be kept in the archives for the years to come. If anyone is sending several contributions or the file size is especially large, they can be sent via WeTransfer.

Other online events will be held during Black Country Festival, including the Black Country quiz on Black Country Day (Tuesday 14 July), on the Sandwell Libraries Facebook page.

For more information on the Black Country Festival and all other online projects visit or follow Sandwell Libraries on Facebook

Active Black Country Tackling Inequalities Funding

Sport England have provided Active Black Country with ‘Tackling Inequalities funding’ to invest across the region and work with those networks, community organisations and clubs within the most deprived areas.

They want to ensure that they support those in greatest need to continue to deliver a vital service and/or increase their reach into communities and residents who are most of risk.

Applications are now open! We encourage all potential applicants to get in touch with us to discuss your ideas.

For more information or to access the application form go to

Active Black Country are providing dedicated one to one support for clubs and organisations to discuss options – please contact to book a time and slot for one of the officers to get in contact.

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