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Back to School Survey for Families in Sandwell

Sandwell Council has launched a survey for parents and young people to ask for views on going back to school after lockdown.

The government has announced all pupils are expected to return to school from Monday 8 March.

Parents and pupils are encouraged to fill in the survey to enable the council and schools to learn what went well when children were last in school. This will help inform plans for when all children return.

The online survey is now open and can be found at www.sandwell.gov.uk/backtoschool.


Free Antenatal class for grandparents to be

Sandwell Council’s Parent Support Team is excited to announce another new addition to Sandwell’s Changes Antenatal offer – a two hour session specifically designed to support grandparents-to-be or other family members.

Research with new parents in Sandwell reveals that the first person they ask for advice about their new baby is a family member. As you know, advice for looking after a new-born baby is updated regularly and the Parent Support Team want to make sure that family members are giving the best advice and supporting current safety messages. Topics covered include supporting wellbeing, feeding options and safer sleeping advice.

Booking is quick and easy; either online or through Healthy Sandwell on 0800 011 46 56.

Sessions are currently being delivered online via Microsoft Teams. A printed handbook will be delivered through the post to support the session.


Sandwell Lifestyle Survey 2021

Over the past 10 months, Sandwell Council has been doing all it can to manage the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and maintain critical services that help to protect and support citizens.

The Council understand that it has been a difficult time for everyone and want to hear from you about the impact that COVID-19 and the latest lockdown measures have had on your health and wellbeing. Whether you’re an individual, family, student, retired or newly arrived in the area, your opinion counts.

The Authority is keen to hear from people of all ages and in every community across Sandwell.

Please take a few minutes to complete the short survey.

 


Sandwell’s garden waste bin collections to return in March

Sandwell’s garden bin collections will begin between Monday 15 and Friday 26 March this year, slightly later than usual. Sandwell Council, along with its environmental services partner Serco, have delayed the return of garden waste collections in order to prioritise household waste and recycling collections which have seen a reduction in staff numbers due to Covid-19 related staff absences.

Residents’ first collection date will depend on the schedule for the area and bin dates will be available at  from Saturday 13 March.

Residents are reminded that garden waste can be stored in garden waste bins until collections restart or taken to the tip in Oldbury. Alternatively, it can be placed on a compost heap or bagged up until collections begin. If you plan on going to the tip, you need to book an appointment.

People can find more advice and information on garden waste, including tips on what you can and can’t put in your garden waste bin, from the gardenwaste webpage on the Council’s website.


Calling all Business and Voluntary Groups

Have your say on how money is spent on council services

Wednesday 17 February, 3.30pm
Meeting with Sandwell Council’s Cabinet
Live via Microsoft Teams

Anyone wanting to take part in the consultation or attend the online meeting should email: democratic_services@sandwell.gov.uk by 5pm on Monday 15 February.


New Online Courses at SAFL including help with home schooling

Sandwell Adult and Family Learning (SAFL) is the adult education service for Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. SAFL have a range of new online courses, including Wellbeing and Mental Health, and Leadership and Management short courses.

Another course, Preparing to work in schools, may be of interest to local volunteers and may also be beneficial for anyone providing support with home schooling. You must be at least 19 years of age for this accredited qualification. Perhaps you’re looking to update your knowledge of working in a school setting, working with young people, mature learners, learners with special educational needs or where English is an additional language. This qualification prepares you for further learning whilst developing an understanding of a teaching and learning environment.

You could be returning to work after a period of unemployment and would like to regain your skills and confidence in using a computer to help you get back into working life. Applicants do not need to be working or undertaking practical placements to achieve this qualification. This course is knowledge-based only.

These courses have the flexibility to fit learning around busy lives. So whether you need to re-train and upskill to enhance your CV, improve your wellbeing and mental health or would just like to try something new, SAFL Online can help.

For further information on what’s on offer or to enrol on a course call 0121 557 0837, email Contact_Safl@sandwell.gov.uk or visit the website.

 


New Variant of Coronavirus Spreads Rapidly as Many People in Sandwell Still Have to Go Out to Work

Sandwell Council has issued an urgent warning to employers of the need to protect their staff against the new variant of coronavirus.

Sandwell’s Director of Public Health Lisa McNally urged people to take action now to prevent more deaths and hospitalisations due to Covid-19. Her concern is particularly focused on those that still have to go to work during lockdown.

“The number of people who still have to go to work during this lockdown is very high in Sandwell,” she said.

“For example, the proportion of our local population working in processing plants or operating machines in factories is around twice as high as the national average. It’s also significantly higher than the West Midlands average.

“In addition we have lots of people working in schools, care settings and essential retail jobs.

“Given evidence that the new variant of the virus is easier to catch and more deadly than previous versions, it’s crucial that employers take all possible steps to protect their workforce.

“Staff should be supported to maintain a safe distance from each other and the public. They should also be given the right protective equipment to wear and be able to wash their hands regularly.

“Most importantly, employers need to ensure that people with symptoms, or who otherwise should be isolating, do not come into the workplace. That can rapidly turn into a very large outbreak with fatal consequences.”

Sandwell Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton added: “A large section of our population in Sandwell don’t have the option of working from home.

“They work in industries and services that keep the rest of the country going.

“I’m asking all employers to take their duty of care to staff seriously during this extremely dangerous time.

“Employees should not be afraid of speaking up if they feel Covid-19 guidance is not being followed in their workplace. Everyone has a right to this protection.”

Advice for operating a COVID safe workplace is here: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Workers can also get a rapid Covid-19 test at West Bromwich town hall. The rapid testing programme is available for anyone who is unable to work from home and who does not have any Covid-19 symptoms. As many as one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and may be spreading it without realising. Go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/testsandwell to book.

Any business that has two or more positive cases among their staff must report this to the council’s Public Health team. The Public Health team can also advise employers who need information or support. To contact the Public Health team email: PHCovid19_Enquiries@sandwell.gov.uk


Sandwell’s SHAPE Your Talent is back!

Sandwell Council’s SHAPE Programme is calling all young people with a talent to a virtual launch event this week.

On Friday 29 January, SHAPE Your Talent will showcase the talents of finalists from the last six years in order to encourage other young people to audition for this year’s event.

SHAPE Your Talent has grown immensely over the last six years since its launch in 2015 and talented young people have gone on to audition in programs including ITV’s The Voice Kids and Britain’s Got Talent.

Over the years, acts have collaborated with each other, appeared on TV adverts, taken part in BBC Proms, theatre shows, the National Orchestra as well as so many other achievements.

The showcase event will include performances and interviews with previous acts and guest performers including Aston Performing Arts Academy and AV4C (Anointed Voices for Christ), a group formed from Be Positive Choir who appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.

To enjoy and celebrate the launch of SHAPE Your Talent 2021 and enjoy an evening of entertainment please go to www.justyouth.org.uk/shape from 7pm – 8.30pm.

SHAPE Your Talent 2021 is due to take place in March through virtual auditions for 8 – 19 year-olds (up to 25 for young people with disabilities).

Councillor Joyce Underhill, cabinet member for Best Start in Life, said: “Over the past six years, SHAPE has showcased what talents young people of Sandwell have to offer in music, dance and entertainment and 2021 is no exception. I want as many young people to come forward in this year’s SHAPE Your Talent event!”

Deputy Leader, Councillor Maria Crompton, said: “Last year was a really tough time for our young people. SHAPE 2021 is a chance for them to show their skills and look ahead to a brighter future.”

For more information and to apply for SHAPE Your Talent 2021 visit – www.sandwell.gov.uk/info/200344/shape_programme/4239/shape_your_talent


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:

www.sandwell.gov.uk/downloads/file/31335/warning_letter_sent_to_supermarkets_from_sandwell_council_and_west_midlands_police

Customers can report their concerns about shops in Sandwell by emailing PHCovid19_Enquiries@sandwell.gov.uk


Park Pond Clean-Up Underway in Three Sandwell Parks

Sandwell Council has started major tree works near to pools at three parks – Smethwick Hall Park, Victoria Park in Tipton and Victoria Park in Smethwick.

The work includes the removal of dead and decaying tree growth and branches that go into the water. The dead wood and leaves from these branches have contributed to a reduction in water quality at these sites which can have an adverse effect on the pools’ wildlife.

Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader, Sandwell Council welcomes the new works and recently visited Victoria Park in Tipton to record a video. She said:

“This is part of our commitment to improve the water quality across all our sites, a dedicated team have been recruited to maintain our water.

“Work has already started Victoria Park in Tipton and in Smethwick Hall Park, in Smethwick this will be complete before Christmas.

“The team is cutting the trees back, clearing up the debris to make it all environmentally-friendly ready for the spring when the birds start nesting.

“This work has been waiting to be done for a long long time and our parks will look so much better and will hopefully provide a good habitat for wildlife to thrive.”

View Councillor Crompton’s video here: https://youtu.be/1YES44E7DBs

Work is scheduled to be completed in all three parks in early January with work at Victoria Park in Tipton and Smethwick Hall Park due to be completed before Christmas.


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