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Guardian Public Service Awards: Public Health and Wellbeing Winner!

An integrated project is helping people in the West Midlands with alcohol dependence.

When people with an alcohol dependence are in the depths of despair, they can sometimes be quite suspicious of support. They may be suffering from complex physical and mental health problems compounded by other social issues. Gaining the trust of those with a drinking problem can be a battle. But the Sandwell Blue Light project is breaking through these challenges and changing lives.

Developed by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in 2015, the project has created a new system that identifies, engages and then builds a long-term rapport with the most difficult to reach drinkers. This includes those who do not engage with treatment, who are regular users of NHS services, or others involved in criminal behaviour.

While there were existing alcohol services in place in the borough, resources were limited and there was a risk people could fall through the net. With this in mind, the Blue Light project set out to ensure that people in need had access to an engaging, non-judgmental support system.

The project brings together a cross-section of partners, including public health professionals, the ambulance and probation services, and the police. Local GPs, mental health specialists, alcohol treatment providers and other NHS professionals are also on board.

The team coordinates its own work, identifying those having the greatest difficulties with alcohol in Sandwell, and develops jointly-owned action plans to provide them with support. Team members talk regularly to ensure they identify and monitor any clients at high risk. For example, a probation officer may have a phone call with a local GP to share information about a drinker’s risk and vulnerability. Every month, the team meets to review and assess client progress and agree on the next steps they can take to help.

Lisa McNally, the director of public health for Sandwell, says the project does not define people by antisocial behaviour. Instead, it looks to root causes. “Unless we get past people’s behaviours and look to see what’s driving them to continue to drink year on year, and not engage with services, we will never get anywhere,” she says.

To read the full article click here.

Source: The Guardian Newspaper

Dementia Friendly Worship in Care Homes

Sandwell Council is offering a free training session for those who lead, or plan to lead, worship in care homes. Such services offer residents an opportunity to express their faith (or spirituality) in the place they live. As 7 out of 10 people in care homes live with dementia, it’s important to know how to shape worship to include those living with dementia and connect to their spirituality.

The practical and interactive session will be on Thursday, 14 November 1.30 pm – 4.30 pm at St Hilda’s Church, 269 Abbey Road, Smethwick B67 6NQ. Resources will be provided.

The training session will be run by Su Parker, Dementia Friendly Enabler in the Lichfield Diocese and Rose Akeroyd, Bishop’s Adviser on Dementia in the Birmingham Diocese. They will draw on their own Christian experience of spirituality and dementia.

There will be opportunities for those of other faiths to explore the connections for their own worship traditions.

To book a place, email

If you need more information, please telephone 07566 835 216.

Sandwell Adult Safeguarding Board Training Needs Survey

The Sandwell Safeguarding Adults Board are currently conducting their annual Training Needs Analysis survey.

They are looking for everyone’s views across the spectrum to see what safeguarding training different organisations require and in what format delegates prefer.

The Safeguarding Adults Board would like to to put together a safeguarding training offer for 2020/21 that reflects the needs and topics required by all organisations working to safeguard the residents of Sandwell. They also want to increase their eLearning packages in line with the outcome of the survey.

Current training is a mix of eLearning and face to face sessions and covers the following areas:
eLearning courses include Understanding Adult Safeguarding – introduction for all employees, Understanding Adult Safeguarding – introduction for employees who work in Adult Services and Understanding Adult Safeguarding – your responsibilities as an elected member.

Face to face sessions currently cover Raising Awareness in Safeguarding Adults, Safeguarding for Managers, Safeguarding for Practitioners and Mental Capacity Act 2005/Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards – Managing Authorities Practice Sessions.

Training offered at present is in line with previous surveys and as such has been offered historically with a mix of responses regarding attendance. Are there any area’s you would like included in current training or completely new topics perhaps? Let us know.

All current training is available via the following link:

The Sandwell Safeguarding Adults Board would like to extend the training offer to reflect new topics and training gaps that may have arisen so please let them know either via the training survey link below or email at

Please complete their short training needs analysis survey?

The deadline is Friday 27th September 2019.

Sandwell Council Town Teams Grants

Sandwell Councils Town Teams Grants are targeting projects and community groups that benefit residents across the six towns in Sandwell.

Sandwell Council Town Grants team continues to invest in the voluntary sector and wants to hear from Community and Voluntary sector groups that would like to apply for funding for new initiatives helping local people in Oldbury. Sandwell Council needs your support to develop exciting projects that support making a difference to people living in Sandwell.

Applications that demonstrate value for money and meet the following priorities will be considered favourably:

  • Getting more children and adults to undertake more physical activity
  • Improving health and wellbeing for residents
  • Support to one-off purchase of equipment to deliver community activity e.g. youth clubs, sports equipment etc.
  • Community projects that engage older generations in positive activities that reduce isolation and social exclusion
  • Community projects that aim to build resilience in communities, and engage people of all ages in making Sandwell Cleaner, Safer & Greener
  • Applications that have gained match funding, or are a pilot project that will eventually reduce reliance on main stream council funding

Applications will not be supported where:

  • The project does not demonstrate how it will meet council priorities
  • There is insufficient or unclear evidence of need for the project
  • The costs of the project are not clearly presented and quotes are not available for proposed expenditure
  • Retrospective funding of projects already completed

For more information, please contact the Town Grants team by e-mail on and leave your contact details on the e-mail.

A member of the Town Grants team will then make contact with you to discuss your project.

Sandwell Libraries – the place to be this summer!

Sandwell Libraries – the place to be this summer! There are for a host activities free to families and happening across libraries in Sandwell during the summer.

Flip, Dippy and Co Children’s Entertainers; Steve the Juggler; Ron Popple Children’s Entertainer; Magic Russ; Funtime Theatre – Space Party; DJ Donna Space Party; Sammy Taypot Children’s Entertainment; Fizz Pop Science; Storytwirl with Caz and her Jig Dolls, Storyplayers Cosmic and Bhangra Smash Up.

Activities run from Friday, 26 July, to Wednesday, 28 August 2019 Click here to checkout what’s happening at a library near you!

Follow Sandwell Libraries on Facebook or Find them on Twitter @sandwelllibs


Sandwell Libraries Praised for Service

Sandwell Council provides a “very valued” and “high performing” library service to people in the borough, according to a special survey of its work.

A report by the Local Government Association’s Library Services Peer Challenge makes a point of highlighting the fact that the council had retained a good service despite significant decreases in budgets since 2011.

It reports that the library service benefits from good management and staff who display inclusive and creative working styles and work well with a large bank of volunteers and partners.

The Peer Challenge team, which spoke to 45 people including staff, councillors and partners in a number of meetings involving key stakeholders, also praised the council for the fact that all of the council’s 19 strategic libraries made a significant contribution to the quality of life in Sandwell.

“It was encouraging to hear that the council continues to invest in all its buildings, for example, even the smallest of these at Brandhall, Hill Top and Rounds Green have recently installed accessible toilets,” the report says.

“The political vision for all libraries continues to be great places of opportunity and learning with a strong family and community focus,” it adds.

The Peer Challenge team advised library bosses to look carefully at the development of community hubs in libraries, such as that already proposed at Blackheath Library.

It also urges the council to expand joint procurement activity for libraries with the four Black Country authorities to explore the potential for enhanced joint procurement.

It also suggests that the council should replace old computers and modernise the digital offer in all 19 libraries.

Councillor Bob Lloyd, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for culture, said: “The council is very pleased to have such a useful and thought-provoking report from the Peer Challenge team.

“We were delighted to see that they supported the work we are doing and will look carefully at some of their recommendations for the future.”

Source: Sandwell Council

Meet the New Leader of Sandwell Council

Sandwell Council’s new Leader has pledged to “improve the lives of the people of Sandwell”.

Councillor Yvonne Davies, who represents Langley ward, was confirmed as the Leader of the Council at the Annual Council meeting last night (Tuesday).

Councillor Syeda Khatun, who represents Tipton Green, is Deputy Leader.

The meeting also saw Councillor Ann Jaron (Abbey ward) made Mayor of Sandwell, with Councillor Suzanne Hartwell (Oldbury ward) made Deputy Mayor.

It’s the first time since the borough was created in 1974 that Sandwell has had an all-female leader, deputy and Mayoral team.

Councillor Davies, who lives in Oldbury, has served on the council since 2007. She told last night’s meeting: “I’ve spent all my adult life working in public services and the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do is make a difference to people’s lives – both working with individuals as an adviser and advocate, but also collectively and politically to fight injustice and equality, and to improve people’s life chances.

“And that is what will drive me as Leader of this Council. My job and our job as elected members is to improve the lives of the people of Sandwell.

“We have lots of responsibilities as a council, but when you boil it all down, that is our job and that is the question we should constantly be asking ourselves: how is what we are doing improving people’s lives and what else should we be doing as well?

“And it’s a huge challenge. We are one of the most deprived boroughs in the country, we have life expectancy below national averages and we have a generally less-qualified population. At the same time was also have a growing population, a wonderfully diverse population and a relatively young population. All of which provide opportunities as well as challenges.”

Councillor Davies made three further promises: to get young people more engaged in civic life; for councillors to conduct themselves with integrity and the highest standards in public life; and to make Sandwell well-known for its unity and ambition.

The Leader also confirmed new cabinet roles as follows:

Cabinet Member for Community Engagement and Equality and Deputy Leader of the Council – Councillor Syeda Khatun
Cabinet Member for Living Healthy Lives – Councillor Farut Shaeen
Cabinet Member for Skills and Employment – Councillor Danny Millard
Cabinet Member for Best Start in Life – Councillor Joyce Underhill
Cabinet Member for Safer Communities – Councillor Maria Crompton
Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport – Councillor Jackie Taylor
Cabinet Member for Homes – Councillor Joanne Hadley
Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economic Growth – Councillor Bob Lloyd
Cabinet Member for Resources and Core Services – Councillor Wasim Ali

Further appointments to other committees will be made at a council meeting to be held within the next four weeks.

Revenues and Benefits Spring newsletter

Sandwell Revenues and Benefits service have released their Spring 2019 newsletter. This includes important information on the new rules for Council Tax Reduction (help for Sandwell residents with their Council Tax bills), Discretionary Housing Payments, private sector housing news and Universal Credit.

For more information about the Revenues and Benefits Service, please contact Oliver Wright at

New rules on Council Tax Reduction

Sandwell has new rules on Council Tax Reduction – the discount on Council Tax that you can apply for if you are on a low income.  The new rules into force on 1 April, 2019.

There are substantial differences from the old rules and the changes mean some households that previously had a full discount on their Council Tax might have to pay a higher contribution towards their bills, or even pay Council Tax for the first time. You can find full details of the new rules here.

Anyone who is unsure about any aspect of Council Tax, their entitlement to a discount or responsibility to pay, can find further information on the Council website or can contact the Revenues and Benefits Service directly. Council Tax payers are particularly encouraged to set up Direct Debits which can help people avoid missing or forgetting payments. Should a discount be awarded after a Direct Debit has been arranged, the correct adjustments will always be made so that customers are not over-charged. For more information about how to make payments or set up a Direct Debit, click here.

Falling into arrears with Council Tax payments, or notifying the Council late about relevant information, can lead to penalties being imposed and only add to financial difficulties. Never ignore correspondence about your Council Tax or a bill.

Any organisation needing information about how changes to Council Tax Reduction might affect their clients, should contact Oliver Wright, Stakeholder Relations Officer for Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits Service at

Do you offer free public access to computers? Get listed on Find My Nearest…

Find My Nearest‘ is an online directory, operated by Sandwell MBC, that lists a range of different services available across the borough.

One of the services listed is that of free access to computers and support – simply enter your postcode and select ‘Computers’ from the dropdown menu to see what’s available near you.

But the listings are only as good as the information available to SMBC…and that’s where YOU can help!

SMBC has created an online survey to collect details of new locations offering FREE computer access and support, and for those organisations already listed to update their details.

You can complete the survey HERE

In an increasingly connected world, we want to see the best possible access for Sandwell’s residents…and this is a great way to help that happen.

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