Colors: Blue Color

Carers enjoyed a socially distanced stroll around West Park and a cake and cuppa in the Tea Rooms to mark the culmination of Carers Week on Friday.

They were joined on the ‘walk and talk’ by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services, Councillor Linda Leach, who paid tribute to their incredible efforts in providing care and support for their loved ones.

She said: "We have over 27,000 unpaid carers in Wolverhampton who look after family members or friends who have a disability, mental or physical illness or simply need extra help as they grow older, and it was a privilege to meet just a few of them on our stroll around West Park and listen to their inspiring stories.

"Each and every one of our unpaid carers is doing an incredible job, often in the most trying of circumstances, and Carers Week was a chance to highlight the help that is available to them through our Carer Support Team.”

Wolverhampton’s Carer Support Team offers a range of help to people who care for a friend, relative or neighbour, ensuring they are supported in their caring role, have access to the services they need and are able to claim the benefits they are entitled to.

Meanwhile, a weekly social group for carers takes place over Zoom every Friday from 2pm-4pm, and Friday’s event at West Park was so successful that the team hope to launch a regular carers group at the Tea Rooms in the near future.

  

Councillor Leach added: “If you are an unpaid carer, and you need any help at all, please don't hesistate to get in touch with the Carer Support Team – they are ready and waiting for your call."

Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

The theme of this year’s Carers Week was to Make Caring Visible and Valued – recognising the fact that many people have taken on more caring responsibilities for relatives or friends as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire say they are angry the government has failed to fix thousands of other dangerous buildings four years on from the disaster. An estimated 700,000 people are still living in buildings wrapped in flammable materials.

What started as a small kitchen fire in the early hours of 14 June 2017, engulfed the entire tower in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and killed 72 people. The type of ACM cladding on the 24-storey council block has been blamed for helping to spread the flames.

Safety checks on thousands of other high-rise buildings in the wake of the tragedy revealed not just dangerous cladding but other fire safety faults, including defective insulation, missing fire breaks and flammable balconies. Leaseholders across the UK now face bills of up to £100,000 each.

Last month, there was a fire at a development in east London with the same type of cladding used at Grenfell. Ventilation systems and fire doors did not respond to sensors at the New Providence Wharf building when a blaze broke out on the eighth floor, according to a report by the London Fire Brigade.

"It's really shocking in this day and age in a first world country we have buildings like this - and people living in death traps," warns Mariam Chaudhary, one of 35 people rescued.

"It's the last thing you expect when you are buying a place," adds the accountant, who is originally from Canada. "You expect to be safe. We are coming home and having to be super vigilant. It's so scary."

New Providence Wharf is eligible for money from the government's Building Safety Fund for the removal of dangerous cladding and since the fire, the developers have agreed to pay for the remaining work to make the building safe. The Bishop of Kensington is also backing a campaign, led by leaseholders, for new laws to compel developers to act and not pass on costs to leaseholders.

"We need legislation that will force the hands of developers and those responsible for putting up buildings that we now know not to be safe," Dr Graham Tomlin says. "People in Grenfell needed to feel safe in their homes and they weren't safe, and people around the country are facing mental and financial stress as a result of the cladding scandal. We need urgent action."

Churches across London will be lit up green and toll their bells 72 times later to mark the anniversary of the tragedy. The Prime Minister tweeted his "thoughts are with the survivors, the bereaved and the wider community affected by this devastating fire".

He added: "This government is committed to ensuring this never happens again." Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick echoed those words, saying: "The government will continue to stand with the community to honour those that lost their lives and ensure justice is delivered." The Grenfell United campaign is warning the tragedy will be repeated if the government's efforts to fix the crisis are not better funded and faster.

Mr Daffarn says there is growing frustration that no one has been held accountable for the disaster.

He believes the tower should, for now, stand as a monument.

"The tower must remain there as a symbol of what happened," he adds.

"The lack of progress. If I had my own way I would rip the covering off the tower and expose it in its full horror until we get some form of justice."

The government has allocated £5.1bn to remove dangerous cladding on the highest risk blocks over 18 metres. Those in lower-rise buildings will be able to access a loan to help pay for cladding removal, with repayments capped at a maximum of £50 a month.

Ministers have repeatedly said that building owners have a responsibility to make buildings safe.

As the weather starts to warm up, Severn Trent is encouraging customers to put on their metaphorical capes and become water saving heroes this summer.

As part of the campaign, the company is also offering its water saving customers the opportunity to win a day out. All customers need to do is upload a photo, video or drawing/design of their top tip to Facebook or Instagram and explain the idea or top tip in the description – by using the hashtag #STWaterSavingHero they’ll be entered into a free prize draw to win a £200 gift card for use in a variety of restaurants, theme parks and hotels.

Doug Clarke, water resources manager at Severn Trent, said: “We noticed a huge increase in water demand during the hottest period last summer, especially as more people were spending time at home and in the garden. With another summer of staycations ahead of us we’re asking for customers to help by leaving the car and jet washing for another day and just enjoy the good weather.”

The company has revealed that demand increased by a whopping 40% during the hottest period last summer when everyone was at home, and while its reservoirs often remain full of raw water, the challenge is treating and pumping it out fast enough to meet demand - especially when temperatures increase and more people head into their gardens.

Doug added: “We’re really excited to see our customers tips and tricks for saving water, whether it’s swapping from a garden hose to a watering can, jazzing up their water butt to make it a garden feature or turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, there are so many easy ways to save water and we cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with.”

Severn Trent’s top water saving tips:

·         Always use a watering can instead of a hosepipe when watering the garden

·         Try switching from a hosepipe to a bucket and sponge when washing the car

·         Be proud of your yellow lawn, it’ll bounce back in no time once it rains

·         Sprinkle Swell Gel in your pots, planters and hanging baskets - these clever granules store water and then slowly release it as your soil dries out, keeping your plants happier for longer

·         Use recycled water wherever you can - collect rainwater in a water butt, empty pets water bowls in the border when you refresh them, you could also use leftover paddling pool water to water your plants

·         Don’t forget that you can also get free water saving devices to help save water in your home too!

The Queen's official birthday was marked with a scaled back celebration for a second year due to Covid.

This year's Trooping the Colour saw a reduced parade in the grounds of Windsor Castle, rather than in central London, led by the Scots Guards. In 2020 the event was cancelled due to the pandemic with a ceremonial tribute performed at Windsor by Welsh Guardsman and a band of the Household Division.

It came ahead of the Queen hosting US President Joe Biden. The monarch's actual birthday is on April 21 but her official birthday is marked on the second Saturday of June each year.

It is traditionally celebrated with a military parade near Buckingham Palace in which the Household Division marches carrying a regimental flag, known as a colour. The Duke of Kent - the Queen's cousin - was also present for the ceremony, which saw the F Company Scots Guards troop the colour of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards through the ranks of guardsmen on parade.

The celebration was a lot smaller than normal and has been dubbed a mini Trooping the Colour. But the military officer in charge of planning the parade said his aim was to create a memorable and uplifting day for the monarch, who has been based at Windsor during the pandemic.

Lt Col Guy Stone said: "Last year we had 85 on parade, this year we've got 274, plus 70 horses, so we're really excited about the event having grown and getting us back to normal for next year we hope.

"It's been very challenging, but we like a challenge. Covid has got a lot to answer for in so many ways, it's made this difficult but what we want to do more than anything is give the Queen a memorable and uplifting day."

Residents, landlords and business owners will have their views heard on how housing conditions can be improved, and anti-social behaviour can be reduced in the borough.

Haringey Council have launched a 12-week public consultation for a new property licensing scheme that will cover properties that are privately rented to single households or two unrelated individuals in parts of Haringey. The consultation runs from 17 May 2021 to 8 August 2021.

Haringey is a vibrant, diverse borough where people want to work and live. 

As a result of this the increased demand for housing has seen a growth in our private rented sector. 

Unfortunately, not all privately rented property is of a good condition or managed effectively by landlords and agents, and this has resulted in various housing issues. 

We are aware of some housing conditions that do not meet our required standards and have led to an increase in anti-social behaviour, but the Haringey community are now being given the chance to address these issues and improve the standards across the borough.

Councillor John Bevan, Cabinet Member for Planning, Licensing and Housing Services said: “We are an inclusive council and continually strive to put community first and work for the best possible outcomes and this is why we a proposing change that will make a difference to people’s everyday lives. 

“Haringey has always worked closely in partnership with landlords and this proposed licensing scheme will provide a much-needed framework to enable us to ensure our high standards of accommodation requirements are applied and met across the privately rented sector in the borough.”

The council is proposing a scheme that will cover 14 wards within the borough and run for a period of five years. All properties in the area that are privately rented to single households (or two sharers) will need to have a licence to be legally let.

Areas proposed may be subject to change as a result of this consultation, as your views matter to us. See the survey link below for a full list of the areas included.

All are welcome to attend one of our online events where you will have the opportunity to find out more about the proposed Additional Licensing Scheme and share your feedback.

•    Workshop 1 – Today (Wednesday 16 June) 2021, 7pm to 8.30pm
•    Workshop 2 - Monday 5 July 2021, 6pm to 7.30pm
•    Workshop 3 - Friday 16 July 2021, 3pm to 4.30pm 

Due to the size of the areas included, approval to have such a scheme will need to be agreed locally by the council’s Cabinet and then by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). If approved, the scheme could be introduced in 2022.

May appeared to be the month nominated to focus on mental health issues. So, the many media platforms and outlets has been full of videos, articles and debates that feature the challenges faced by those with mental health issues, carers with the responsibilities of caring for their loved ones, the professionals working to deal with the current crisis levels of need and the politicians grappling with the financial burdens of dealing with the situation.

The month, for me, has only reinforced my view that the Black Communities have been left behind when it comes to dealing with our particular crisis.  Why do I say this?

Well, the diagnosis of mental health illness has been easy to make for black youth, particularly our young men, for decades.  However, dealing with the root cause has not featured highly for those in the position to take action to deal with the disproportionate numbers of black people in mental institutions or on medication.  Given that has been a major challenge in our community, should we be surprised we are faced with the same situation when we look to the mental health of our elders?

This month has featured Dementia as the topic for our focussed attention.  So, what does that mean for us a Black Community and what is Dementia?

Dementia, simply put is a collective term for the loss of memory and thinking skills.

According to studies, Black people in the UK are more likely to develop dementia than those from other ethnic groups but are still much less likely to be diagnosed and receive support, warned the authors from University College London and King’s College London who conducted the study.

Dementia affects more than 25,000 people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups in the UK. The population makeup of the UK means that these numbers will only increase with time. In fact in 2017, research findings predicted that by 2051 the number of people suffering from dementia will double, however, in the BME community the numbers will increase by 7 fold!

So, what is it that makes our life and death, and more importantly our health and disease patterns, so different?

One answer lies in what challenges we face in life and the toll it takes on the brain to constantly overcome those challenges. The most immediate environment in which our brain is born and developed, and later interacts with during our adult life, makes all the difference. It impacts how we view the world and react to it, and affects our brain health tremendously. If that environment is full of injustice, discrimination, and racism, our brain experiences huge amounts of stress that dramatically decrease its healthy function.

The question we always have to ask ourselves is,

“Armed with the findings from the many research and studies, what should we be doing to change the landscape of care for our elders?”

I believe we need to learn more and speak more openly about the subject.  Too often we deny these health issues and therefore deny the support that should be demanded for us and our loved ones.

WE need to work together to identify our pressure points and the existing organisation in a position to lead a movement to alleviate those challenges.

So, I ask you to contact me with your thoughts on the way forward and topics for discussion in this column to ensure we change the landscape of care for our elders.

Sherril Donaldson
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