Colors: Purple Color

Following the success of the biggest jobs support trial of its kind in the world, the Black Country is getting more support to help people who have health conditions into work.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has secured £1.1million from the Government to continue Thrive into Work which helps unemployed people who have have mental or physical health conditions get back into the workplace. Between June 2018 and October this year the WMCA led the research study which has helped more than 600 people back into work.

Working with primary and community health teams, jobs support and health services were integrated. Employment specialists based in GP surgeries and other health and community settings across the region provided intensive guidance to help individuals find and apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews. Due to the success of the trial Thrive into Work is now being extended to run till July 2021.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands said: “Getting 600 people back into work is an outstanding achievement, creating positive health, social and economic benefits allowing residents to thrive. The pandemic has had a damaging effect on employment but schemes like Thrive into Work show that the targeted, hard work being put in by the WMCA is contributing to a fairer, healthier West Midlands.”

Research from the Centre for Mental Health on mental health at work shows that mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year and is  strongly associated with social and economic circumstances, including living in povertylow-quality work and unemployment.

Father of two young children, Matt Wagg, is one of the people who benefitted from Thrive Into Work. In 2018 he had to leave his job as a delivery driver after osteoarthritis in his knees made it too painful to do his job. Being unemployed left the 47-year-old from Oldbury feeling he was on the scrapheap. However, after six months of support Matt gained a job as a school caretaker, playing an invaluable role in keeping the school operating during the coronavirus outbreak. He said: “I feel so much better compared to how I was before I enrolled on Thrive into Work, it provided me with someone to push me in the right direction and I’m like a different person to how I was then.”

The Thrive into Work trial was originally set up to test if support in primary care settings would help people with a health condition return to employment. It helped people with a variety of conditions including arthritis, cancer and depression. The Trial was based on a tried and tested model called Independent Placement Support (IPS) which traditionally supports people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties to find work. Thrive into Work is currently provided by Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to people living in Dudley and Walsall, and Prospects part of Shaw Trust deliver the service to people in Wolverhampton, Sandwell and West Birmingham.

WMCA Portfolio lead for health and wellbeing and leader of Warwickshire County Council, Izzi Seccombe, said: “Thrive into Work is important because it can help citizens regain confidence, independence and a sense of purpose.

“I am delighted it’s previous success will be built upon, helping to support people in our region rebuild their lives and get back into the workplace.”

Local contractor Willmott Dixon was the UK’s highest placed construction company in the Financial Time’s annual European leaders for workplace diversity and inclusion list – ranking at number 43 out of 850 organisations listed for their approach to inclusivity.  

This is the West Midlands-based construction firm’s second time on the Diversity Leaders list, and saw it once again score higher ratings than any other peer company for its approach to diversity following online responses from over 100,000 employees at 15,000 companies across 16 European countries.

The 15,000 companies were rated on employee feedback which, along with the opinions of human resources and recruitment experts to refine the analysis, enabled the number to be whittled down to the top 850 companies. Willmott Dixon was also one of only 13 UK companies that appeared in the Diversity Leaders 2021 top 50.

With more and more businesses working hard to demonstrate how their activities have a positive impact on society and within local communities, promoting an inclusive work environment is essential to meeting these aims.

The Financial Times list is the third major national accolade this year that recognises Willmott Dixon’s people-first approach – after the contractor was ranked 5th in the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work for list and was also named in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women list.

Willmott Dixon has pledged to have 50/50 parity of gender across all management levels by 2030 and is rolling out a series of initiatives to support inclusivity. 

Rick Willmott, group chief executive, said: "Our inclusion in the latest Financial Times Diversity Leaders list again puts construction on the corporate map as an industry that is making huge strides in its approach to diversity and inclusion. This is important, as the industry is facing a skills shortage so broadening the talent pool available is fundamental to ensure a sustainable flow of future skills

"The Diversity Leaders 2021 list shines a welcome spotlight on the business’ imperative of workplace diversity, which will serve as an inspiration to us in how we continue as a company where our people feel valued and a key part of our growth. Successful companies are those that provide a diverse and inclusive environment where people feel challenged, contented and included within complementary teams. It is something that is embedded in our values.”


The latest data from the latest research from new build snagging experts, HouseScan, has revealed where the new build sector has made the most significant contribution to housing stock across the property market over the last year.

HouseScan analysed the recently released net additional dwellings data for 2019-2020 from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, looking at where the delivery of new homes has provided the biggest boost to total dwellings stock when taking the wider context of the market into account. Not just the sheer volume of new homes delivered.

The research shows that across England, the 243,770 net homes delivered has brought a 1% boost to the total levels of dwelling stock across the market.

London has seen the largest boost regionally, with 41,718 new homes increasing dwellings stock by 1.16%.

The South East (1.04%) and East of England (1.03%) have also seen some of the largest increases in overall housing stock as a result of new build delivery over the last year.

When drilling into the regional figures, the new build sector has provided the biggest increase in the number of dwellings across the City of London. While just 297 new homes have been delivered, estimated housing stock levels sit at just 6,506 meaning the new build sector has increased housing availability by 4.57% in the City.

Tower Hamlets has also benefited from a notable boost due to the delivery of new homes. The borough has seen 4,564 new homes delivered, a 3.76% improvement to total housing stock.

Bracknell Forest (3.36%), Salford (3.24%), Newham (2.88%), South Derbyshire (2.83%), Greenwich (2.67%), Vale of White Horse (2.39%), South Oxfordshire (2.29%) and Wokingham (2.27%) also rank within the top 10 areas to have enjoyed the best boost to housing stock via new homes delivery.

At the opposite end of the scale, just 13 new builds have been delivered in Adur, helping to increase housing availability by only 0.05% in the area. Southend (0.12%) and Portsmouth (0.12%) also rank amongst the lowest areas where a new build housing boost is concerned.

Founder and Managing Director of HouseScan, Harry Yates, commented: “The successful delivery of new build housing delivery isn’t solely focussed around volume, and each area of the market will present its own challenges in terms of land availability and building restrictions.

“So while we desperately need more properties to address our appetite for homeownership, it’s important to analyse the delivery of new homes not just on total properties delivered but also within the wider context of a given area

“While the City of London has seen a very low volume of homes delivered, it has actually made the biggest difference in terms of the overall housing stock in the City and so in this respect, the area has seen the biggest contribution from the new build sector.”

Priti Patel has criticised Labour MPs and celebrities for invoking the Windrush scandal in their efforts to stop a flight deporting convicted criminals to Jamaica.

The plane containing 13 prisoners took off on Wednesday - 23 were left off it following legal challenges.

Campaigners said there was a risk people were being wrongly removed as had happened in the Windrush scandal.

The home secretary said their reference to Windrush was "deeply offensive".

She said that it was "misjudged and upsetting" for "ill-informed Labour politicians and do-gooding celebrities" to invoke it in their campaign.

The Windrush scandal, which emerged in 2018, saw people who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries wrongly told they were in the country illegally.

It was cited in an open letter last month, signed by 90 public figures, including model Naomi Campbell and actress Thandie Newton.

Warning that issues linked to Windrush have "not been resolved," they argued the planned deportation flight brought "credible risks of unlawful and wrongful deportations" and urged airlines to boycott it.

The campaigners warned the UK "frequently" seeks to deport people whose crimes are linked to forced labour, and processes for identifying victims of trafficking were in "disarray".

A separate letter last month signed by over 60 mostly Labour MPs and peers also called for the flight to be cancelled.

The MPs said some children would "forced apart" from their parents and the flight posed a Covid-19 risk, adding that the government had "so far failed to learn any lessons" from a March review into the Windrush scandal.

But during a Commons debate, Immigration Minister Chris Philp told MPs the flight was about "criminality, not nationality," and had "nothing to do" with the Windrush scandal.

He added that "not a single individual on the flight" had been found eligible for the government scheme set up to compensate victims of the scandal in March.

Downing Street said all of the people on the flight were "dangerous foreign criminals", who had been born in Jamaica, adding: "Each week we remove foreign criminals - this is no different."


Tony Hsieh, the former CEO of online shoe and clothing retailer, has died after a house fire in the US state of Connecticut.

The 46-year-old, who had been on a family visit at the time, only recently retired after 20 years leading Zappos, acquired by Amazon for more than $1bn. He also played a key part in the restoration of central Las Vegas.

Tributes poured in on social media. Zappos said that the world had "lost a tremendous visionary". Tony Hsieh also wrote the book Delivering Happiness, which set out his philosophy of focusing on both customer and employee care.

A statement from, DTP Companies, the company Mr Hsieh invested in to transform downtown Las Vegas, said he was with his family when he died on Friday. Details of his injuries and the cause of death have not been released.

"Tony's kindness and generosity touched the lives of everyone around him, and forever brightened the world," the statement said. paid tribute on its Twitter feed:

Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009 but Tony Hsieh stayed on as boss, saying: "We think of Amazon as a giant consulting company that we can hire if we want."

Current Zappos chief executive officer, Kedar Deshpande, said Tony Hsieh's "spirit will forever be a part of Zappos".

His "Downtown Project" helped fund start-ups, restaurants and other ventures.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said Mr Hsieh's death was "a tragic loss".

Bruce Castle Museum & Archive has received a grant of £40,000 from the Art Fund’s Respond and Reimagine programme to deliver a new project; #Unlocking the Castle: The Key to a Digital Future.

The project will use innovative approaches to bring Bruce Castle Museum and the wonderful heritage it holds about Haringey to new audiences online. Providing a new digital platform, for the first time the museum will be able to take digitally-curated collections to be explored not only locally, but beyond Haringey and around the world.

It will provide additional online resources to complement this and offer ‘tasters’ for visits to Bruce Castle itself, but would also support remote access to those local communities which have been especially vulnerable and isolated due to Covid-19.

Over the first six months of 2021, Bruce Castle will be working with different audiences and communities, offering opportunities to co-curate exhibitions and projects online using 3D-digital scanning of collections to develop fun and exciting interactive content for schools, families and life-long learning.

Councillor Mark Blake, Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “I’m delighted that Bruce Castle Museum has been awarded this grant. The Museum is a Haringey treasure and vital guardian of the borough’s history.

“This grant will allow even more people in Haringey and further afield to enjoy the museum’s fascinating collections and learn about our local heritage.”

Enterprising University of Birmingham student Harriet Noy is launching a smartphone app that helps fellow students reduce their carbon footprint by ‘shopping’ locally.


Harriet’ s already-successful zero waste online marketplace Hazaar enables students to be more sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint by buying and trading items from clothing and textbooks, to costumes and household items. Now, following a recent funding win, Harriet, a third year Economics student, from Northamptonshire, is launching an app to support Hazaar’s rapid expansion.


Hazaar users can buy items online that they hand over in person, which cuts out wasteful packaging and travel miles. It runs through Facebook Marketplace, but has more than 13,000 members and 37 different universities across the UK have a dedicated page.


Harriet said: “Hazaar grew out the society I founded, ‘Plastic-free UOB’ that aims to reduce single-use plastic on campus that opened my eyes to the issue of waste within student consumption habits.


“Our consumption is so immediate now and while it has many benefits, it also brings waste. For example, many students ‘Amazon Prime’ clothes and costumes to almost always use them only once, when a neighbour on a nearby street may already own those items. I knew I had to find a solution to this problem.”


A £20k funding win plus a further cash and equity deal with Niam Marketing are supporting the Hazaar community to grow by around 2,000 members every week. Each University’s Marketplace has its own ‘Head of Hazaar’ to help organise trading, community events and encourage a love of sustainable living.


Harriet also plans to expand Hazaar to other audiences and markets and said: “While supporting sustainable living is my primary objective, our success so far shows that there is a clear business case for investing in green initiatives. Further funding will support our ambition to scale to all UK universities by September 2021 before moving to European universities and eventually explore other market opportunities at a global level.


“While Hazaar is an online community, it greatly relies on like-minded people coming together to support the sustainability cause, and this is why our leaders at each new local branch are so important.”


The all new Hazaar app launches in January 2021 and updates will be shared across Hazaar’s social media channels. Followers also benefit from regular posts that challenge habitual student practices to prevent harm to the environment and inspire sustainable living.

Many Black businesses, who contribute enormously to Birmingham’s economy, have been severely hit because of COVID-19 and recent start-up businesses are at risk.

Financial support from the government is available. However, applications have been particularly low from the Black community due to lack of communication and trust, knowledge or access to community leaders.

Now, CJ Webley, a young playwright and theatre-maker from Birmingham, has founded The Black Pounds Project which, through its own fundraising, aims to be the conduit needed within the community to help black business owners access business and financial support.

CJ said: “The most important thing for us at The Black Pounds Project is to make it possible for black business owners, however small, to access the business and financial help that will help them to kick start their business.  


“We want to break down barriers, build up trust and confidence and work alongside them every step of the way at this unprecedented time.”

Since the initial Black Pounds Project fundraising page went live in June, CJ has dedicated his time to develop the project further so that Black businesses can not only apply for available funding but, if successful, will receive access to professional business mentors across a range of sectors who will provide quality advice including:

  • Professional development, coaching and mentorship
  • Funds to help with set up costs, business and digital strategies
  • Signpost Black owned SME's to local business networks
  • Training to support businesses in becoming legally and regulatory compliant across all areas

Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce commented:  “It is imperative for us as business leaders and consumers to do all that we can to ensure the Black community have equal access to the support streams which will allow them to grow and sustain their businesses.

“I applaud CJ for creating this initiative and am delighted that they are actively engaging with our regional business community as a member of the Chamber. I very much look forward to seeing how it all develops.”

For successful applicants, The Black Pounds Project will support each business over a twelve-month period and, as the project develops, the team will compile a directory of high quality, professional Black owned businesses that everyone can benefit from.

Pam Sheemar, Entrepreneur Development Manager at the NatWest Accelerator commented “The Black Pounds Project is a fantastic initiative that will provide the lighting rod that businesses need to grow and access support.  Having a programme that is bespoke and aligned to Black business owners provides relatable role models and targeted support. The access to the wider eco-system partners ensures that we all collaborate to support diverse businesses and SME’s.”

Applications for The Black Pounds Project will open on Tuesday 1st December 2020 and will be eligible for Black business owners who are SME registered or a sole trader with a UTR number. Applicants must be residing in the West Midlands.  Applications can be made via the website:

Councillor Sharon Thompson,  North Edgbaston Ward (Birmingham) added:  “I am delighted to be supporting The Black Pounds Project and would like to thank the team for keeping Black businesses at the forefront at this time of economic uncertainty.  This project will help to bring the community together.


“Therefore, I would strongly urge businesses to get involved as we take active steps towards a brighter more inclusive future.”


The Black Pounds Project initially launched its fundraising page in June and in order for the project to support as many Black businesses as possible during this time, further funding is desperately needed.

For those needing assistance with their application, email CJ Webley at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For individuals or businesses wishing to make a donation go to:


Multidisciplinary architecture and planning firm Urbanist Architecture has reported a surge in enquiries for homes in the countryside, a trend seen as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis, with the practice seeing a 65 per cent increase compared to Q4 of 2019.


The London-based practice is renowned for helping its clients achieve remarkable extensions, conversions and new build homes in the capital, and specialises in handling projects on constrained urban sites, listed buildings or those set within the green belt. But with the UK population confined to their homes for the majority of 2020, lockdown has caused an increasing number of city dwellers to rethink their current surroundings and yearn for greener pastures and open spaces. This is having a knock-on effect on the property market, and firms such as Urbanist Architecture, which have a proven track record of securing green belt planning permissions and delivering exceptional countryside homes, are witnessing the effects first-hand.


Ufuk Bahar, Managing Director at Urbanist Architecture, comments: “Prior to COVID-19, around two-thirds of our projects were focused in highly desirable London boroughs such as Westminster, Islington, Camden and Greenwich, with work ranging from extensions to new build homes.


“More and more clients are coming to us looking for large plots of land in truly rural locations, with many deciding to ditch city life and the daily commute for good in the wake of the pandemic.”


Urbanist Architecture also attributes increased demand to its historical ability to successfully leverage Paragraph 79, a section of the National Planning Policy Framework that relates to sustainable new build homes in the open countryside, which are notoriously difficult to get planning permission for. One of the team’s most recent success stories was obtaining planning permission to build two family dwellings on green belt land in Amersham – approved due to its high-quality design which was sympathetic to the surrounding landscape.


Mark Morris, Planning Consultant at Urbanist Architecture, comments: “The fact that we’ve received so many commissions for Paragraph 79 homes is testament to our world-class team and our ongoing commitment to designing exceptional schemes for clients. With enquiries for rural dwellings up 42 per cent in Q2 of this year and then increasing to 65 per cent as we enter Q4, we expect more and more people to be asking for this kind of planning application – which offers them the chance to build their dream home in the country.”


Segun Osuntokun, Managing Partner at top 20 international law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) London Office, has been named as Business Person of the Year at the Black British Business Awards (BBBAwards) ceremony on 30 October 2020. Osuntokun impressed the judges with his strategic leadership at BCLP on complex projects for over 30 FTSE 100 companies and more than 50 Global Fortune 500 companies all with his unwavering passion for race equity in his 25+ year career in business.


For the seventh year in a row, the BBBAwards celebrated the outstanding achievements of Black British professionals and entrepreneurs, highlighting the community’s commercial contribution to the UK economy and identifying formidable role models and mentors across a number of sectors. The awards ceremony crowns a landmark year in history for racial equity and featured a special recognition for Black British frontline workers.


In addition to naming the Black British Business Person of the Year, the event also recognised the rising stars and senior leader winners in six industries. This year’s winners are some of the most determined and innovative Black leaders in the UK across a variety of professions; from a Founder of a revolutionary equine nutrition system to a Project Manager at Transport for London and Senior Partner at BWF Solicitors. They are inspiring the next generation of Black talent to challenge convention and follow in their footsteps.


Melanie Eusebe, Chair and Co-Founder of the Black British Business Awards said: “After a year filled with so many challenges, it was rewarding to take a step back this month to reflect not only on the history of the Black community here in the UK, but also to celebrate the incredible individuals who are making their mark now. Our Category Celebration events along with the Awards Ceremony provided us with many opportunities to reflect on how far our community has come, while recognising there is still much work to be done.”


Sophie Chandauka, Co-Founder of the Black British Business Awards said: “Each of our finalists and award winners is a source of inspiration, highlighting the significant accomplishments and important contributions the Black community is making in every sector of the business world. They all deserve recognition and congratulations for their accomplishments and it was our pleasure to honour them at the Black British Business Awards events this October.”


Tia Counts, Head of Advancing Black Pathways in EMEA at J.P. Morgan said: "J.P. Morgan continues to be a proud sponsor of the Black British Business Awards, which shines a light on exceptional talent in business. Year on year, the individual stories behind the awards never cease to make us proud of what our community can achieve. We would like to extend our warmest congratulations to all of this year’s winners and finalists.”


The BBBAwards ceremony distinguished outstanding business talent in six industry categories, which are divided into rising star and senior leader awards. The full list of winners of the 2020 BBBAwards are as follows:


Black British Business Person of the Year

Segun Osuntokun, Managing Partner at BCLP, London Office


Arts & Media Rising Star

Nnena Nwakodo – Producer at Bartle Bogle Hegarty


Arts & Media Senior Leader

Anthony Andrews – Co-founder and Creative Director of We Are Parable


Consumer & Luxury Rising Star

Rachael Corson and Joycelyn Mate – Co-founders of Afrocenchix


Consumer & Luxury Senior Leader

Sandra Murphy – Founder of Equidiet UK Ltd


Entrepreneur Rising Star

Ayesha Ofori – CEO and Founder of Black Property Network


Entrepreneur Senior Leader Winner

Trevor Robinson OBE – Founder and Executive Creative Director of Quiet Storm


Financial Services Rising Star

Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy – Senior Digital Product Manager at Barclays


Financial Services Senior Leader

Gavin Lewis – Managing Director, Head of UK LGPS at BlackRock


Professional Services Rising Star

Natalie Carter – Senior Associate at Greenberg Traurig LLP


Professional Services Senior Leader

Bennard Owusu – Senior Partner at BWF Solicitors


STEM Rising Star

Ninarita Williams – Project Manager at Transport for London


STEM Senior Leader

Dr Abdullahi Sheriff - Executive, Solutions Strategy, Strategic Partnerships & Solutions, Europe at GE Healthcare


The BBBAwards have the privilege of partnering with J.P. Morgan as Key Partner of the Awards.

Sponsors also include Barclays, Baker McKenzie, Bloomberg L.P., Cisco, the Executive Leadership Council, Facebook, Fortnum and Mason, Freshfields, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Virgin Management, Wellington Management and Wells Fargo.


The logistics sector’s support of HS2 is conditional on the government pledging unequivocal support to grow rail freight, according to Logistics UK. The business group has today (6 November 2020) launched a new report into how freight capacity will be released following the construction of HS2.


Zoe McLernon, Multimodal Policy Manager at Logistics UK comments: “Logistics UK needs government to secure the future of rail freight in the UK and provide a cast-iron guarantee that freight services will have sufficient access to the released capacity that HS2 will provide. The conventional rail network is bursting at the seams; there are almost half as many freight trains using the network as there were 15 years ago as passenger services, which continue to grow steadily, take the lion’s share of the network. We are concerned that the process to allocate released capacity may favour passenger operators, because it will be run by the incumbent passenger operator (West Coast Partnership) and there is no guarantee that capacity will be provided for freight.

“HS2 presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make Britain’s transport network more sustainable, and the opportunity for freight via released capacity from HS2 is substantial. HS2’s development will free-up space on the existing rail network for up to 144 extra freight trains per day, potentially removing 10,944 HGVs from the UK’s congested roads every day. However, there is no policy or legal requirement that a proportion of released capacity must be allocated to freight; Logistics UK urges government to reconsider its principles and provide clear and unequivocal support to grow rail freight.”

The report focuses on how Phases One and 2a of HS2 will release capacity on the West Coast Main Line and proposes ways to enhance the role of freight across the project.


The report is available to view at:


Logistics UK (formerly FTA) is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. For more information about the organisation and its work, including its ground-breaking research into the impacts of COVID-19 on the whole supply chain, please visit


Construction workloads across the Midlands have fallen for another quarter as the sector grapples with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but growth expected from upcoming infrastructure and private housing projects buoy the sector’s chances of a recovery.


While workloads at the all sector level fell by a net balance of -10% this quarter, it is less than the previous fall of -32% in Q2. However, when compared with last year’s industry average of +13% it shows construction in the Midlands is far from full recovery.


Breaking down across each sector, workloads fell the most across the private commercial and infrastructure categories, with net balances of -22% and -12% respectively. Alongside this, workloads fell once again, but to a lesser degree, across the private housing and other public works. This quarter respondents reported little change in workloads in private industrial, whilst public housing improved following the declines in Q2, as a net balance of +22% reported a pick-up in activity.


Respondents said that financial constraints and shortages of materials, coupled with insufficient demand, were the main reasons for the subdued activity. 31% more respondents also cited a deterioration in credit conditions, which is having a negative impact on the cashflows of some businesses.


Looking ahead, 39% more respondents expect infrastructure workloads to rise rather than fall in the coming year, closely followed by the private housing sector – offering the construction sector a glimmer of hope as it recovers from COVID-19. Anticipated changes to the planning system, an extension to Help to Buy as well as the stamp duty holiday look likely to support growth in construction activity.


However, despite fewer respondents reporting a fall in the number of new business enquiries across the Midlands, profit margins are envisaged to decline over the course of the next twelve months with a net balance of -16% of respondents expecting a fall.


Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “With a new lockdown now underway, these are clearly very challenging times for the economy.


“The government’s commitment to delivering on its infrastructure programme provides a ray of light with the survey pointing towards a solid increase in workloads over the next twelve months which could play an important role in helping to drive a wider recovery in business activity.


“The private residential sector is also expected to see solid growth aided by the various policy initiatives that are still in play. However, commercial development is anticipated as being flatter in the face of the structural pressures facing both offices and retail.”


The growth strategy of a national engineering business, targeted at South West England’s food and beverage sector, has paid early dividends, creating a 20% increase in jobs and forcing the organisation to relocate to a larger manufacturing facility in Langford, Somerset.

adi Process Pipework, a division of the multidisciplinary engineering business, adi Group, that deals with the transit of ingredients in food and drink production is only 18 months into a five year strategic assault on the South West but is already way ahead of its own ambitious growth projections.


Such is the business’ expansion that it has outgrown its existing 8,000 sq. ft. facility in Mells, Somerset, and, in order to meet the demands of new clients and a bulging order book, been compelled to secure new 20,000 sq. ft. premises across the county in Langford. The move comes after adi Process Pipework last year identified the South West as a key region for growth due to the presence of a series of food and drink manufacturers.  As a result of ongoing investment in the region, growth is trending ahead of all key performance indicators and measures set out for the five year initiative. Stephen Forrester, managing director of adi Process Pipework, explained the success of the strategy, saying: “The South West is a fantastic base for food and drink production, so we opted last year to actively expand our presence in the region.


“We have a number of long-standing relationships in the region but, having made real investments in people and in skills, we have been able to grow our order book with them and secure a number of interesting projects with new clients. But the scale of our growth in the South West has taken even us by surprise. We hadn’t really thought about needing new facilities, so, when the need arose, it was a nice problem to have.


“Our new Langford manufacturing facility increases our capacity to design and fabricate the solutions clients require. It’s in a prime location, just a few short miles from Thatchers Cider, one of our biggest customers, and gives us easy access to the motorway network and, therefore, clients throughout the South West.” adi Process Pipework has worked closely with Thatchers for a number of years, most recently on the expansion of its Sandford operation. The business also partners with Premier Foods, Saputo, Wyke Farm and Nestlé in the South West.


Stephen says adi Process Pipework success in the South West aligns well with the wider adi Group’s approach. “The Group has managed to grow during the three previous recessions since its establishment in 1990, so we see this as something of a vindication that investing in people and in capabilities at the most challenging of times makes a positive commercial impact.


“The business as a whole is focusing on food and beverage manufacturing at the moment. Self-delivering over 30 specialist engineering disciplines in-house, we’re well placed to offer solutions throughout the lifecycle of any food and beverage project. Our increased presence in the South West not only means we’ll be able to identify more opportunity for other adi Group divisions but also to create the jobs and investment in skills that go with it. To that end, we’re actively looking to bring in more people, as I speak.”


To learn more about how adi Process Pipework can integrate optimised solutions into your operation or to enquire about work as a skilled engineer, email Stephen Forrester at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0121 451 2255.

A Commonwealth prize recognising the most impactful innovations in sustainable development has been launched by the Secretary-General. Prizes totalling £45,000 will be awarded to innovators from member countries who suggest forward-looking solutions, which advance the values of the Commonwealth Charter.


Five thematic categories of the competition include improving the lives of people; boosting prosperity; protecting the planet, promoting peace; and building partnerships for development in the Commonwealth.An independent jury will select 15 winners, who will each receive a trophy, a certificate and £3,000 in prize money and ongoing support for their work.


Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland declared the awards open for entries during the annual Commonwealth induction programme, which was held virtually.


She said: “Now more than ever we need the drive of inventive and imaginative minds to be applied in solving the problems and overcoming the challenges being faced by communities throughout the Commonwealth. Year by year, we draw huge encouragement when we learn of the impressive fresh approaches being adopted and ingenious new concepts being successfully brought into operation in our member countries.


“The purpose of my Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for SDGs Awards is to recognise the enterprise and achievement of those who are serving communities in pioneering ways. By bringing their endeavours to wider attention through our Commonwealth networks, we are able to assist them towards attaining even greater success and to encourage further development and wider adoption of innovation for the benefit of people in others of our member countries and elsewhere.


“Broadening cooperation and accelerating innovation are key to achieving the targets of the SDGs so that our more marginalised and disadvantaged sisters and brothers are able to share in sustainable progress and inclusive prosperity – particularly in building back better from the ravages of the pandemic towards greater resilience.”


Christopher Nesbitt, from Belize, received a prize last year under the Prosperity category for his work on carbon farming and food security.He said: “In the 30 years I've been working in this field, the Commonwealth has shown the greatest interest and given me the most encouragement.” 


Entries will be judged on their impact or potential to advance one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in Commonwealth countries. The competition is open to Commonwealth citizens and Commonwealth country-based organisations, including those in public, private or civil society sectors.


Nominations, including self-nominations, can be made via an online platform from 5 November to 31 January 2021 with women and young people especially encouraged to apply.


With just days to go until Christmas Day, Selfridges unveils its uplifting ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ campaign. The campaign launches physically in its store windows and digitally on, bringing together old traditions and new ideas.

An exclusive OnePoll survey commissioned by Selfridges and conducted nationwide as the new lockdown measures were announced, found that:


  • 8 out of 10 Brits are wishing for a traditional Christmas this year, with nearly half of those wishing it more than any other year
  • Despite the lockdown starting this week, 68% of all respondents agree that ‘this year more than ever, it’s important to try and make Christmas as normal as possible’

The survey indicates that the three traditions Brits are most looking forward to are a Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings, decorating the tree with favourite baubles and shopping for special gifts for loved ones.  

Despite store closures, Selfridges is committed to giving its customers imaginative digital solutions to help them to prepare for Christmas, combined with the magic of its 111-year tradition of extraordinary window displays. The 2020’s take on Selfridges’ famous Christmas windows will be simultaneously unveiled this morning in the London, Birmingham and Manchester stores. Customers are still able to visit the store’s Foodhall in London and its Pharmacy, whilst it’s Click & Collect service is operational across all Selfridges stores.


The Selfridges team is ready to offer its unmistakable in-store Christmas experience when stores reopen in line with Government and Public Health England guidelines.

“Through ‘Once Upon A Christmas’ we hope to celebrate the traditions of Christmas in non-traditional ways, reimagined for the challenges of today. We are here to help our customers make the festive season special, however they might be celebrating and in readiness for a Christmas like no other.” says Selfridges Executive Stores Director, Maeve Wall.

The Selfridges digital shop at and the Selfridges App offers curated Christmas edits and unique gifts, virtual services that allow customers to shop from Selfridges’ stores via video call, inspiration and ideas for the festive season and virtual experiences for customers to enjoy from the comfort of home.


Two practice areas of West Midlands and Black Country law firm Enoch Evans LLP have been included in the Legal 500 UK 2020 rankings, with its company and commercial department making the cut for the fourth year and its commercial litigation expertise recognised for the second time. 


The national guide ranks the world’s best practices and is used as a point of reference by millions of people in search of legal advice each year. The ranking is based on detailed analysis of submissions from practices across the country as well as thousands of individual interviews. The ranking recognises the quality of work as well as the commitment and loyalty of staff; attributes that are vital when dealing with difficult and sensitive issues experienced by individuals and commercial or corporate entities.  


The Legal 500 also includes a Hall of Fame in recognition of individuals that receive consistent praise from clients and have honed a high level of skill and knowledge within their specific area of expertise. Enoch Evans LLP’s Sukie Shemar was named for corporate and commercial services for the fourth time and partner Stephen Nixon was also named for the second time in relation to commercial litigation.  


David Evans, managing partner at Enoch Evans LLP, said: “Our whole team prides itself on its ability to understand client's individual needs and with COVID-19 causing complications and unrest for businesses and individuals throughout the year, a personal and tailored approach has been more important than ever. We’re delighted that the respected Legal 500 ranking again recognises our consistent delivery of this service to clients both current and new.”  


Sukie Shemar, partner and head of company and commercial at Enoch Evans LLP, said: “We’re delighted that our clients have said that, yet again, they recognise and value our commitment to providing the best service to them. In what has been a turbulent year for everyone, we have really focussed on providing a bespoke and personal level of service to communicate that our team is consistently there to provide advice and support as needed.”

“On a personal note, it’s great to have been mentioned specifically and receive some lovely comments from clients. I’m thrilled to have been named in 2020’s cohort.”


Stephen Nixon, partner and head of commercial litigation at Enoch Evans LLP, said: “I am very proud of the whole team for the high quality of service that we have continually offered to our clients. The comments and testimonials that we have received are testaments to the team’s dedication and hard work and we look forward to building on that.”


Enoch Evans has its head office in Walsall in addition to a branch in Sutton Coldfield. The 135-year-old firm has grown to over 85 staff specialising in a range of private and commercial services, wills inheritance tax and probate, management of financial affairs, matrimonial and family, childcare, employment law, litigation, residential conveyancing and criminal and motoring offences.