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Virtual Events to Help Combat Lockdown Loneliness

A leading charity is reaching out to its community by hosting a packed schedule of weekly virtual activities to combat loneliness and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Beacon Centre is running more than 15 free sessions every week during the latest lockdown with staff hosting activities via Zoom or telephone conferencing.

From book clubs to social chats, quizzes, yoga and the latest tech news, there is something for everyone. Staff say the sessions have acted as a support network with people sharing how they cope with their health conditions.

The Beacon Centre’s Health and Wellbeing Director Jan Burns MBE said: “From the onset of this pandemic, our dedicated staff have been committed to supporting people with services such as our lifestyle packages, Talking News and welfare calls, to check how people are. Everyone knows how tough lockdown is, and how it can be especially difficult for those with a disability such as sight loss.

“That’s why we’re delighted to be able to offer these activities so that people, from their own home, can meet up ‘virtually’ with others, have fun, learn something new and go some way to alleviate loneliness and isolation.”

The sessions are free and open to people with sight loss and associated conditions.

As well as making the sessions available via telephone conferencing the charity is also working to support those who struggle with accessing the internet with a how to guide for accessing Zoom and a separate digital inclusion project.

To find out more information and for the links to join a session please contact Kim Williams via

Alternatively, you can also call 01902 880111 Monday-Friday.

Kaleidoscope’s Complimentary Wellbeing Taster Workshops

In order to support businesses and their employees during this difficult time in lockdown, Kaleidoscope are currently offering on-line Complimentary Wellbeing Taster Workshops.

The workshops consists of Mental Health and Wellbeing Training, including Mental Health First Aid; Mental Health for Managers; Menopause Awareness and Mindfulness, along with a wide range of other options which can be tailored to suit your needs and requirements. The Trainers are happy to discuss your options in more detail and are now able to book spaces up to December 2021.

The following on-line workshops are being offered in January:

• Staying well while working from home. Tuesday 26th January, 10 am -12 pm
• Mindfulness – An Introduction. Tuesday 26th January, 6 pm – 8 pm
• Staying well during a lockdown. Thursday 28th January, 1 pm – 3 pm
• Supporting family and friends with mental ill health during a lockdown. Thursday 28th January, 6 pm – 8 pm.

If you would like to know more about the training packages, please email or call 0121 565 5605.


New Rapid Covid-19 Testing to Start in Sandwell

Rapid coronavirus testing will start on Monday (21 December) in Sandwell.

West Bromwich Town Hall has been converted into a large testing site able to accommodate 12 testing points at any one time.

In contrast to traditional testing methods which can take a few days to return a result, the new rapid testing technology offers a result on the same day.

The fastest and easiest way to book a test is online at

Anyone not able to access the internet can call 0121 569 6999 (weekdays).

To be eligible for a test you must not have any Covid-19 symptoms and you must not be self-isolating. Anyone experiencing symptoms should book a standard swab test at the Government website at

Sandwell’s Deputy Council Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “If you have no Covid-19 symptoms but want to take a test, then this rapid method gives you a quick result – I’ve been one of the guinea pigs testing out our process and I can tell you it’s very easy.

“Some people will want to get tested on a regular basis so that they can reduce the chance that they will accidentally pass the virus on to someone they love.

“Rapid tests are also being made available to health and care workers, as well as other frontline staff, via their organisations.

“Having a large site at West Bromwich Town Hall will mean we can test lots of people quickly. We will also look to open up more sites in other areas of Sandwell in the near future.”



Sandwell Outreach Recovery Team: There to Help

Working in the charity sector, Kaleidoscope know that it is not only at Christmas that people experience hard times. Organisations are supporting families who are struggling. Struggling to put food on the table or heat their own homes.

The Kaleidoscope Plus Group would like to remind you their SORT Team are there to help you and your clients. The SORT team are looking for fresh referrals over Christmas to help people work towards a Happy New Year.

The Sandwell Outreach Recovery Team supports people with poor mental health who have ongoing housing issues. The Team work closely with partners such as statutory mental health services, housing associations and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council housing team, to improve the quality of life for clients. Support includes assessing whether clients are receiving the correct welfare and benefits and helping them to budget and manage income and outgoings effectively. Long term support can be provided for up to two years.

Not sure if your client would be eligible? Please contact Kaleidoscope on 0121 565 5605 for a chat. Depending on a client’s individual need, you will be sent a referral form for SORT or signposted to another service.

Visit the Outdoor Room in Warley Woods for a unique experience

Warley Woods Community Trust is about to launch a new project called Outdoor Room. The Outdoor Room will be unique to the borough and the Community Trust is keen for as many people as possible enjoy the experience. The project run from the middle of December to the middle of March 2021 and has come about as a response to COVID-19.

So what is Outdoor Room?’ It won’t have walls, but it will have a roof, tables and chairs. Enough for three groups of 6 to be together but distanced. The Room’ will be located near a resident coffee take away van, so refreshments will be available. The intention behind this project is to facilitate bringing people together to be able to meet under Tier Two and Tier Three rules who currently cannot meet indoors, in order to combat loneliness and isolation.

For more information and to register an expression of interest, please click here.

A change to how people in the Black Country and West Birmingham access urgent care

For people living in the Black Country and West Birmingham, how urgent care is accessed is changing.  In line with a phased national roll-out of a new NHS 111 system, the area is now preparing to implement that change – which is likely to impact significantly (and positively) on those who use hospital emergency departments, as well as those who work within them.

The change requires people to call NHS 111 before attending an Emergency Department (ED). The national programme aims to ensure that patients get the right urgent care in the most appropriate place – whilst simultaneously reducing the risk of them acquiring COVID-19 or a hospital infection. Based on ‘talk before you walk’ principles, the programme will use NHS 111 to reduce unnecessary attendances at Emergency Department.

Instead of attending an Emergency Department unannounced, patients will use NHS 111 online or by phone to book an appointment with a service that best fits their need.

Dr Ian Sykes, Clinical Chair Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, will talk about these proposed changes at a public meeting, to be held virtually via Zoom on 17th December 2020, 10.30 am to 12 noon. There will be an opportunity to ask questions. There will also be a Healthwatch Sandwell update.

To book for the event, please email or phone 07885 214392, leaving your name and address.

Attendees will be notified of the joining instructions nearer the meeting.

Help the ‘State of Sandwell’ to access Mental Health for Everyone

Changing Our Lives are looking for people from minority ethnic communities living in Sandwell to talk to them about how COVID-19 has affected their mental health.

Changing Our Lives are a rights-based organisation working with communities to find solutions to injustice and inequality. Every year their Sandwell Mental Health People’s Parliament speaks to 100 people in Sandwell about what mental health means to them, how they keep mentally healthy and what happens when they experience mental health difficulties. This is called the ‘State of Sandwell’. Anonymised findings from the State of Sandwell are used to push for better access to mental health support in Sandwell.

Everyone has times of good mental health or times when we struggle. For the State of Sandwell, Changing our Lives don’t just want to speak to people who identify as having mental health difficulties. They want to speak to people from all walks of life.

This year, Changing our Lives are talking to people from minority ethnic communities about the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. This is because studies have shown that some minority ethnic communities in the UK are less able to access mental health support, and some minority ethnic communities in the UK have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and the effects of the national lockdown.

If you are from a minority ethnic community in Sandwell and you want to talk to Changing our Lives, please get in touch. All conversations are held in complete confidence, over the phone or video chat, at a time to suit you. It takes around 30 minutes to complete.

You can get more information by contacting Holly on or call 07534 000831. You can fill in web form here.

Combating Zoom Fatigue

We’ve all been there, a day of back to back zoom meetings that leave you feeling drained. Charity Digital News take you through their seven hints and tips to help you stay positive and feeling energised. Hints and tips include staying focused on the meeting which can help with productivity, cutting out distractions to keep yourself more motivated to minimising your screen so you can focus on others in the meeting.

To read the full article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

Beat It Percussion Relax and Chat Sessions – FREE

Beat It Percussion are inviting you to attend one of their Relax and Chat FREE 50 minute sessions, which are sound and rhythm-based interventions promoting relaxation, stress relief and overall wellbeing.

COVID-19 has brought isolation and stress to many of us. People’s mental health has been challenged. In response to this Beat It Percussion has created ‘Relax and Chat’, a new Zoom project aimed at promoting relaxation and stress relief.

Our mental health is important. Being part of a supportive group and being able to share your story can improve your mood and resilience. Relaxation is part of self-care, which helps us deal with stress and anxiety.

In the Relax and Chat session you will experience a live sound relaxation experience using gongs and singing bowls. Moreover, you will also have the chance to chat with others and feel part of a supportive group.

If you’d like to book your place via Eventbrite onto one of the sessions available click here.

Have you got an event or good news story you’d like SCVO to promote then why not drop us a line at to find out how we might be able to help.


Ovacome is launching its Multilingual Awareness Campaign.

Ovarian cancer charity Ovacome is launching the first multilingual awareness campaign in the West Midlands outlining the symptoms of the disease — which is characterised by bloating — in seven languages.

The campaign, running from November 18th, is aimed at reaching at least 40,000 people across the region from diverse communities, with printed material, press coverage and short educational videos which can be shared on social media.

Leaflets from the charity, which opened a hub in Dudley last year, will start appearing in medical centres and other public spaces across the region in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu and English.

And for those people who do not have English as their first or preferred language, Ovacome has set up phone lines in each of these languages, in a bid to support as well as to reach out to more diverse groups with the symptoms message.

With many of the symptoms of ovarian cancer being in common with less serious conditions, they are often easy to dismiss, says Ovacome. It has come up with the easy to remember BEAT acronym of the main signs of what to look out for:

B is for bloating that doesn’t come and go; E is for eating difficulty and feeling full more quickly; A is for abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days and T is for toilet changes, in urination or bowel habits.

If you have these symptoms chances are that you will not have ovarian cancer, but it is worth getting checked out by your GP if they are new and persistent.

This is the central message of the campaign — made possible by an £86,485 grant from the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund. It comes at a crucial time in cancer diagnosis, with the pandemic causing many people to delay getting symptoms checked out, says the charity.

“We want to get the message out there loud and clear, in seven languages, that if you have persistent bloating, or any of the other main symptoms don’t put off contacting your GP”, says Ovacome’s West Midlands regional hub co-ordinator Laura Nott.

“The smear test will not pick up the disease and so it is for us all to be aware of changes to our body and not be too ready to brush off any abdominal changes as being nothing to worry about,” she adds.

Laura is also keen to hear from local partnership organisations and people in the NHS who might want to share the charity’s multi-language resources, even if they are outside of the West Midlands.

“We recognise that we are in a unique position to have this invaluable awareness material in so many languages and of course we want to make the most of this for the wider good,” says Laura.

The campaign has been welcomed by Ameena Muflihi, community officer of the Yemeni Community Association in Sandwell, who helped Ovacome put together the film and leaflet in Arabic.

“What this is doing is putting out a friendly hand and saying that ‘we are here for you in the language that you feel most comfortable communicating in’,” says Ameena. “Medical material can be overwhelming, but this content is in laymen’s terms and will build the bridge between the barriers of language. Being able to sit and listen to a video in your own language will make the information easier to process and could make all the difference between somebody getting symptoms checked out or not.”

  • If you would like to get in touch with Laura contact
  • The support line telephone numbers ask callers to leave their name and contact details and information of what support they need and Ovacome will arrange to return their call with an interpreter.

The numbers are:

Arabic – 0121 647 6630

Bengali – 0121 647 6631

Gujarati – 0121 647 6632

Polish – 0121 647 6633

Punjabi – 0121 647 6634

Urdu – 0121 647 6635

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