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Sandwell public health briefings with the community and voluntary sector

Sandwell council public health would like to continue to engage with community and voluntary sector partners, to update on the current situation regarding Covid-19.

The briefing sessions will be an opportunity to hear the latest information about Covid-19 and ask any questions or share information about the Covid-19 response in Sandwell. We also hope to discuss and consult on how we can work together to improve the health of Sandwell residents.

As a local authority and public health department, we have found these sessions invaluable for understanding the barriers and issues our communities are facing because of Covid-19. The engagement with CV sector partners has been crucial to supporting vaccine uptake and helping reduce infection rates by disseminating key information.

We are scheduling in monthly virtual briefing sessions (the 3rd Friday of every month) via Microsoft teams which will be delivered by Sandwell’s Director of Public Health, Dr Lisa McNally. You don’t need to book onto the sessions, just click on the link at the time of the session and you will be invited into the briefing.

The dates for future sessions are:-

18th June – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
16th July – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
20th August – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
17th September – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
15th October – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
19th November – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
17th December – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
21st January 2022 – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
18th February – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
18th March – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
15th April – 3.30pm – 4.30pm
20th May – 3.30pm – 4.30pm

The meeting link for all the sessions is –

If you have any questions, or need support getting onto the sessions please email

Hate Crime

The Safer Sandwell Partnership Police and Crime Board which consists of Sandwell Council, West Midlands Police and other organisations in the community has made tackling and eradiating hate crime a key priority.

What is hate crime?
A hate crime is hostility against a person or a group of people where they have been targeted because of their:

  • Race
  • Faith
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity
  • Disability
  • Any other characteristic that is different to that of the perpetrator’s or that which the perpetrator thinks is different

What are the impacts of hate crime?

  • Victims can be left traumatised and terrified
  • Negatively impacts on the health and wellbeing of victims and their family and friends
  • Can be violent
  • Can impact on an entire community
  • Can lead to tensions and conflict
  • What can I do about hate crime?
  • It is important to report a hate crime that you have been the victim of or witnessed. By reporting, you are taking action to stamp out hate crime in Sandwell.

Your report will be taken seriously and can help stop the perpetrator from doing this again and provide the police with information that will help them to protect everyone in Sandwell from hate crime. When a criminal offence is classed as a hate crime, courts in England and Wales have the power to give tougher sentences to the perpetrator. Also, by reporting, victims can get access to specialised support and advice that will help them to feel safe once more.

If you have witnessed a hate crime, it can also be helpful to a victim to speak to them in a friendly manner and make them feel reassured if it is safe to do so. This can show the victim they are not alone and might make them feel safer.

For further information about what to do if you or someone has been a victim of a hate crime please view the link for further information.

Get the vaccine and protect your loved ones as Covid-19 lockdown eases

Sandwell Council reminds everyone living and working in the borough that as lockdown eases, it is vital that they continue to protect themselves and others from Covid-19 by getting vaccinated.

The virus has not gone away and it is still deadly.

Action is being taken to control the spread of the Delta variant first identified in India (B1.617.2), which is beginning to spread in certain areas across the country. While there is no firm evidence yet to show this variant has any greater impact on severity of disease or evades the vaccine, the speed of growth is concerning.

Coronavirus restrictions remain in place across England, including for people who have been vaccinated.

Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering where you are required to, keep a 2-metre distance wherever possible.

Sandwell’s Director of Public Health, Dr Lisa McNally, said: “For the last 14 months, the people, communities and businesses in Sandwell have done everything they can in assisting us to drive down the rates of Covid-19 infection. And we have seen an amazing reduction of cases in the borough.

“I would ask everyone to maintain this commitment, carry out regular testing using ‘lateral flow’ test kits, observe government guidelines, and protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated. If you’ve had your first jab, don’t forget to get your second vaccination to ensure maximum protection.

“Those aged 30 or over can now get the Covid-19 vaccine. This also applies to those who will turn 30 before 1 July 2021. You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or chemist now. Alternatively, you can book online at:

Councillor Rajbir Singh, the Leader of Sandwell Council, said: “It has been a very difficult time for our residents and businesses with the Covid-19 pandemic, and I would like to thank everyone who has played their part, followed the rules and supported each other. It is very important that you get your vaccinations and continue to follow the guidelines to ensure everyone is protected. The vaccine is your best defence against the virus.

“The council will work with Sandwell people, businesses and organisations to recover from the pandemic, attract investment, and create a healthier, cleaner, greener and safer borough.”

If you’re meeting people, do so outdoors in the fresh air whenever possible to reduce the risk of transmission. You can meet indoors in a group of up to 6 people or a group of any size from 2 households – each household can include a support bubble, if eligible. You can meet outside in a group of up to 30 people.

The new guidance on meeting friends and family emphasises personal responsibility: you are encouraged to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and the actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Remember that the risks of close contact may be greater for some people than others, and in some settings and circumstances there will be specific guidance that you will need to follow even when you are with friends and family.

You should continue to work from home if you can. When travelling within the UK, you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance.

If you have Covid-19 symptoms, get a test and follow the stay at home guidance.

We encourage people to take a rapid (lateral flow) test twice a week. If you test positive for Covid-19 using a rapid test, self-isolate with your household and take a PCR test within 48 hours to confirm your positive result. Continue to self-isolate until you get the result of the PCR test.

And it’s really important to get your second vaccine jab to give you the maximum protection. The dates for some second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will move forward to be given eight weeks after the first dose. Your GP and the NHS will be in touch with you to make any changes needed to your appointment. Please wait to be contacted and ensure you get your jab when asked.

Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas are permitted to open with Covid-secure measures in place.

People can attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events is capped according to the type of venue, and you should follow the Covid-secure measures set out by those venues.

Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen.
Organised indoor sport can take place for all, including gym classes. It must be organised by a business, charity or public body and the organiser must take reasonable measures to reduce the risk of transmission.

Funeral attendance is no longer limited to 30 people but will be determined by how many people the Covid-secure venue can safely accommodate. Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events have been increased to 30 people. Other significant life events, such as bar/bat mitzvahs and christenings will also be able to take place with 30 people.

The rules for care home residents visiting out and receiving visitors have changed, allowing up to five named visitors – two at any one time – provided visitors test negative for Covid-19.

All higher education students are now able to access in-person teaching.

Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits have been increased to 30 people (not including under-fives).

Remember, if a business is not doing all it can to keep you safe and following Covid-secure measures, don’t go there.

For updates from Sandwell Council about Covid-19, visit


Sandwell charities scoop royal honours

Two Sandwell charitable organisations have been awarded the highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) for 2021.

The People’s Orchestra and the Volunteers Action Group (VAG) based at Shri Venkateswara Balaji Temple in Oldbury are among just 13 West Midlands charities recognised for their exceptional service within their communities.

Founded by Sarah Marshall, the People’s Orchestra is a wonderful example of an organisation delivering important contributions to its local area while the people involved have fun and enjoyment.
The orchestra has a reputation for creating exciting music and has been selected to play at the Commonwealth Games handover next year.

It is made up of 80 volunteers who often hear about it by word-of-mouth and join in. There are no auditions, and all are welcome and made to feel valued. They have a tremendous reach of 6,000 with their concerts and a further 50,000 online audience. On top of this they play to 1,000 elderly people in care homes.

There is skill training, and they inspire self- confidence and a sense of worth in individuals, as well as providing vital work experience. And the group’s support goes beyond making music. Many volunteers start with contributing to the orchestra, then receive help with CV writing, referrals, mentoring and wider guidance.

Sarah Marshall said: “We are delighted and honoured to be awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in recognition of the hard work and commitment of our wonderful volunteers. It’s brilliant that our music-making has the power to help people and make a difference to their lives. Through TPO Bridge, we offer back-to-work support to local volunteers and this work experience helps instil confidence, self-esteem and leadership, giving each person the very best chance to develop the skills and confidence they need to secure a job or go on to further education.”

The Balaji Temple in Oldbury serves the religious needs of more than 500,000 Hindus every year, along with 10,000 school students 2,300 teachers and adult learners. It is home to the first Ghandi Peace Centre outside of India, with a full exhibition of Mahatama Ghandi’s life, teaching and achievements.

The Balaji VAG has more than 300 volunteers, who carry out some fantastic community support initiatives, including health and well-being workshops, business support seminars and conferences.
It works closely with local charities to support them, collecting food items for the foodbank, spectacles for Sightsavers and makes donations to St Giles Hospice and other charities – and provided more than half a million healthy meals and 100,000 snacks for children last year.

Members are also transforming a 12-acre landfill site for walks, cycling, nature and wildlife trails and they have an ambitious project to remove plastic from buildings and upgrade them with the latest technology and environmental features.

Temple chairman Dr Kanagaratnam said: “We’re so delighted that the hard work of all our volunteers – their seva – has been recognised with this prestigious award. It’s the outstanding award for voluntary service, so we’re absolutely over the moon.”

Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands John Crabtree OBE said; “Through the activities of the West Midlands Lieutenancy, I come across many people providing amazing support and giving their time to help others. It is heart-warming to see these organisations gain the recognition they deserve. I am so grateful for everything they do and am thrilled that we can praise their efforts through the QAVS Honour.

“These special charities make such an effort to support others and, like many people and organisations, have faced some huge challenges in the way they supported their community through the pandemic last year. It is truly inspirational to hear the lengths and imaginative ways the volunteers have gone to keep up their magnificent work.”

Come and join Sandwell Employment Support Network!

The Employment Support Network (ESN) is a group of employment support advisers who meet four times a year, working together to:

– Share information and good practice
– Share opportunities
– Identify gaps in provision/emerging themes
– Share resources and tools
– Find ways to address some of the barriers to employment

Our next meeting will be at 10am on 17th June 2021 via Microsoft Teams. Come and hear about:
– Updates from key partners (Sandwell Council and DWP)
– ESF Community Grant opportunities
– Local regeneration programmes

To receive the meeting invite please email Adele Smith

The Curator Programme

The Curator Programme is free to participate, and is open to young people of colour aged 16-25 based in the Black Country. It will run between May 2021 – June 2022, allowing the cohort of Curators access to regular professional development workshops led by industry professionals, and to gain practical experience of curating an exhibition and arts festival at Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery. Each participant will receive a £250 bursary, and travel costs and refreshments will be reimbursed when we are able to conduct the programme in person (initially it will take place online).

Spreading the word!
Would you be able to share this opportunity with relevant partners or contacts, and any youth groups or individual young people that you are affiliated with? Any help with spreading the word would be much appreciated, as we want to share this opportunity as far as possible!

Young people can apply by filling out this simple online form:
If applicants have any questions, or need help filling out the form they are welcome to get in touch with me via email –

This is a fantastic opportunity, and the deadline is coming around next week! Here is a tweet to share:


Unpaid carers in Sandwell urged to get Covid 19 jab

Unpaid carers in Sandwell are being reminded to get their life-saving Covid-19 vaccination as soon as they can.

People who are the main carer of someone who is at high risk from Covid-19 are now eligible.

Carers can book their appointment online at: or by calling 119.

Sandwell Council deputy leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “Unpaid carers in Sandwell provide amazing support to family members and friends year in, year out, and the pandemic will have been especially challenging for many.

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said: “The vaccine offers a very high level of protection against this deadly virus and it’s vital that as many people as possible get vaccinated.

“We have seen an excellent take-up of the vaccine in Sandwell so far and I would urge everyone to take up the offer when it’s their turn.”

In addition to carers, vaccinations are currently available to anyone aged 50 and over, anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, people with other health conditions that put them at higher risk, and frontline health and social care workers.

Visit for more information.

Unpaid carers are always recommended to identify themselves as carers to their GP. This means they can receive targeted support related to their status as carer, which may include the Covid-19 vaccine subject to eligibility under the guidance drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Whether you expect your time as a carer to be long or short-term, your GP surgery can help with many queries.

Everyone is recommended to register with a GP if they are not already. You can easily find GPs and other NHS services near you at

Carers can also gain advice on carers’ vaccines from local carers support organisations or by calling Sandwell Enquiry on 0121 569 2266.

People can also check if they are eligible for Carer’s Allowance by contacting Sandwell’s Welfare Rights Team. Visit for details or, if you’re not online, call 0121 368 1155.

Or go to for more information

Residents at Risk of Becoming Homeless Urged to Seek Help Sooner Not Later

People in Sandwell at risk of losing their home – whatever the reason – are being urged to contact the council’s Housing Solutions Service for help.

The service has helped nearly 4,000 people during the last 12 months and the message to people at risk of losing their home is for them to get in touch sooner rather than later.

People in rent arrears or at risk of losing their home due to difficulty paying the mortgage are especially urged to contact the team.

The team can help with the following issues:

• if you are in rent arrears in a private rented property or council property;
• you can’t continue to stay with friends and family;
• your landlord is selling your property;
• you are suffering from domestic abuse and need to leave;
• you are in mortgage arrears and at risk of losing your home;
• if anti-social behaviour (ASB) means you are being evicted or you need to move due to ASB from someone else;
• you have nowhere to stay tonight.

The majority of the people being helped are as risk of being evicted from their rented property and the team works closely with tenants and landlords to prevent evictions and help people stay in their homes.

Anyone at risk of becoming homeless or already homeless should register online at Housing Jigsaw Customer Portal (and select Sandwell) or call 0121 368 1166 (Option 2) or if you find yourself with nowhere to stay outside office hours or over the weekend you can call 0121 569 6883.

If you are a private landlord with a property to rent you can find out more information at

Sandwell Change into Action

Change into Action is an alternative way for members of the public to help rough sleepers or those at risk of becoming rough sleepers.

Donations, made online via the Change into Action website by members of the public, support specialist charities and street teams working to change the circumstances of rough sleepers.

The campaign is jointly supported by Sandwell Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) with support from other partner organisations to help make real difference to the lives of those rough sleeping, or at risk of rough sleeping, in Sandwell. So far SCVO, Brushstrokes, Cranstoun, YMCA, Centrepoint, West Midlands Police and Sandwell Homeless and Resettlement Project (SHARP) are partner organisations in Sandwell.

Through Sandwell’s Change into Action, your donations will be distributed across local charitable organisations to support projects and services working towards reducing rough sleeping. Every donation will go towards providing the best resources and support to those who are rough sleeping or are at risk of rough sleeping. By working together, we can see small change turn into big change.

To find out more about Sandwell Change into Action, or donate, please visit the following website:

If you are a local organisation, agency, charity, faith or community group that supports those who are rough sleeping, or at risk of rough sleeping, and are interested in becoming a partner organisation or finding out more about the funding process please contact:

Sandwell Reading Friend Project Set to Launch

Sandwell Libraries and Archive Service is set to launch a new Reading Friends project aimed at connecting people and reducing isolation.

The scheme will include a new telephone reading group, one-to-one telephone conversations with Reading Befrienders, and online book readings for all ages which will be showcased on the library service’s Facebook page.

It’s completely free to join the project, which is open to all adults.

Sandwell Libraries and Archives Service has been successful in receiving funding from The Reading Agency to enable the start of a Reading Friends programme.

The funding is part of £5million awarded to Arts Council England from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) for arts and library services, of which £3.5 million has been awarded to national charity The Reading Agency for their Reading Well and Reading Friends programme.

For more information on how to get involved please contact Outreach Library Services on 0121 569 2600 or email


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