Colors: Blue Color


The West Midlands has won a bid for almost £1million to help people who are struggling to keep their homes warm this winter.

The grant has been made to the charity Act on Energy, a member of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) fuel poverty task force set up by Energy Capital  which is responsible for identifying funding to tackle the problem in the region.

The Warmer Homes West Midlands programme will receive £909,358 to provide energy advice to people who are struggling to keep their homes warm. The West Midlands has some of the highest rates of fuel poverty in England, second only to the North West region.


The advice programme will help more than 7,000 vulnerable households, will create jobs and help support WMCA’s environment target of #WM2041 – to be carbon neutral by 2041.

The programme will also improve the health and wellbeing of people with pre-existing cold and damp related medical conditions through energy saving advice, energy saving measures and debt advice.

Rachel Jones, chief executive, Act on Energy said: “This an exciting programme that comes at a critical time, enabling households to have a warm and affordable home is vital especially during the current coronavirus pandemic. This programme will enable us to support vulnerable residents across the region and provide the support and guidance they need to live in warm and affordable homes.

“The programme will also enable us to recruit outreach workers directly across the local community so we can really understand and support the needs of a community and work together to address the impacts of those who are living in fuel poverty.”

This project forms part of a wider regional fuel poverty and retrofit programme being led by Energy Capital at the WMCA, aiming to provide jobs and support for local people as part of the region’s green recovery.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The WMCA remains utterly committed to tackling the region’s climate emergency by 2041, and addressing fuel poverty is a key part of those plans. This is why the Warmer Homes West Midlands programme is so important, and I am pleased we have received this new funding to enhance our work.


“As well as making homes more fuel efficient by helping people keep their homes warm, addressing fuel poverty will also help to improve people’s health by eradicating damp homes, and improve their economic situation by making energy bills more affordable.” 

The award given to Act on Energy is from a fund held by the Energy Savings Trust - which was set up to finance charities to deliver programmes to benefit the public. Called the Energy Redress Scheme, it is funded by money collected by Ofgem from energy companies, usually because they have broken the regulator’s rules.

The project aims to reduce fuel poverty, which is defined as when householders can’t afford to keep adequately warm at a reasonable cost, on their income. A total of 304,000 fuel poor households exist in the West Midlands and 12.6% of households suffer from fuel poverty due to higher than average fuel costs, combined with lower than average incomes

A team of qualified energy advisors will be recruited to provide advice by telephone, through case work, home visits and community events, where it is safe to do so. A team of community outreach workers will ensure that as wide a range of people as possible will be able to take advantage of the project.

Councillor Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council and environment portfolio holder for the WMCA said: “We have set a target for the West Midlands to be carbon neutral by 2041, but we must make sure no one is left behind. This programme will contribute to that goal.

“The grant is to be welcomed and I’m pleased that Act on Energy will now be helping us tackle the scourge of fuel poverty by running The Warmer Homes West Midlands programme.”

The news of the grant comes in the same month as a taskforce featuring some of the UK’s top property experts has been launched to help the West Midlands accelerate the construction of low carbon, energy efficient homes.

The Zero Carbon Homes Taskforce has been set up by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to support the region’s fight against climate change, making sure all new homes meet tough zero carbon standards from 2025 onwards.

The taskforce, which is being chaired by the UK Green Building Council, will provide local and expert insight into how the region plans for a net zero future as it works towards achieving its ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2041.


The night of 22 to 23 August 1791, in Santo saw the beginning of the uprising that would play a crucial role in the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

It is against this background that the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is commemorated on 23 August each year.


This International Day is intended to inscribe the tragedy of the slave trade in the memory of all peoples. In accordance with the goals of the intercultural project “The Slave Route”, it should offer an opportunity for collective consideration of the historic causes, the methods and the consequences of this tragedy, and for an analysis of the interactions to which it has given rise between Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.


The Director-General of UNESCO invites the Ministers of Culture of all Member States to organise events every year on that date, involving the entire population of their country and in particular young people, educators, artists and intellectuals.


International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was first celebrated in a number of countries, in particular in Haiti (23 August 1998) and Goree in Senegal (23 August 1999). Cultural events and debates too were organized. The year 2001 saw the participation of the Mulhouse Textile Museum in France in the form of a workshop for fabrics called “Indiennes de Traite” (a type of calico) which served as currency for the exchange of slaves in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.


Audrey Azoulay, Director General, Message on the occasion of the International Day for Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition said: “This  August 23,  we  honoured  the  memory  of  the  men  and  women  who,  in  Saint-Domingue  in  1791,  revolted  and  paved  the  way  for  the  end  of  slavery  and  dehumanization. We honour their memory and that of all the other victims of slavery, for whom they stand.


“To  draw  lessons  from  this  history,  we  must  lay  this  system  bare,  deconstruct  the  rhetorical  and  pseudoscientific  mechanisms  used  to  justify  it;  we  must  refuse  to  accept any  concession  or  apologia  which  itself  constitutes  a  compromising  of  principles. 


“Such  lucidity  is  the  fundamental  requirement  for  the  reconciliation  of  memory and the fight against all present-day forms of enslavement, which continue to affect millions of people, particularly women and children.”



Less than half of private renters in the West Midlands feel safe in their home during the current pandemic

A major report by Shelter has today exposed the ugly truth of the housing crisis, as regional analysis of England-wide polling data shows less than half (46%) of private renters in the West Midlands say their home has made them feel safe during the pandemic.  

Calling on the Chancellor to act now to save the nation’s homes, the charity’s Building Our Way Out report outlines how a disastrous lack of social homes across the country has plunged England into a housing emergency, which is only intensifying as Covid-19 puts unprecedented pressure on those in poor housing.  

With grim predictions on what lies ahead, Shelter is warning the government’s existing provision for delivering new social homes is woefully inadequate. There is currently only enough funding set aside to provide one social home for every 96 households on the waiting list. And with a swelling housing benefit bill forecast to hit £24 billion per year by 2024/25 - that does not account for the impact of the pandemic - it is urging the Chancellor to intervene. By introducing a rescue package of investment in social housebuilding, Shelter argues the government could provide thousands with a safe home.  

The charity’s research demonstrates just how badly decent, affordable social homes are needed. According to a poll of English adults carried out by YouGov for the report, many private renters in the West Midlands continue to spend the pandemic stuck in poor-quality, expensive and overcrowded accommodation:  

104,000 (14%) of adult private renters in the region are constantly struggling with their rent or are already falling behind.  

196,000 (26%) live in poor conditions, with electrical hazards, pests or damp-related issues in their home.  

169,000 (35%) say they pay too much for the quality of home they have.  

112,000 (15%) say a lack of indoor living space made lockdown harder.  

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our homes are our first line of defence in this pandemic. But thousands in the West Midlands have spent months trapped in private rentals they do not trust to keep them safe. And right now, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  

“After decades of decline, a dire lack of social homes means too many people, pay too much for cramped and poor-quality housing. Or worse yet they find themselves with nowhere to live. With the stakes so high, the case for building decent social homes is clear.”
Shelter’s report calls for a targeted rescue package of £12.2 billion over the next two years to fund a total of 50,000 new social homes, out of a total of 145,000 new affordable homes. These 50,000 new social homes equate to almost four times the number of social homes currently delivered each year. Funding this programme could kickstart the post Covid recovery and reverse years of decline in social housebuilding.  

Polly Neate continued: “Before a thundercloud of homelessness breaks over us, the Chancellor needs to be as swift and bold on housing as we’ve seen him be on jobs. By turbocharging investment in social housing today, we can build ourselves out of this pandemic and lay the foundations of a better future.”  

Case study: Michelle, 58, is a store manager living in Hereford with her son. She was diagnosed with a serious and life-limiting condition in February of this year and has been shielding throughout the pandemic. In July after just four months in her home, she was served with a Section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction notice by her landlord because he wanted to sell the property.  

Michelle said: “I feel so tired of the renting game. When you’re in your late 50’s like me, even on a good wage there’s no way you can get a mortgage. So, you’re left with private renting.   

“I was diagnosed with severe Vasculitis in February this year, and then in July, after only four months in my home, my landlord gave me an eviction notice because he wanted to sell. I was in shock. I had to look for a new home while I was highly vulnerable and shielding.       

“If I could live in a social home, it would give me such peace of mind that I won’t have to move every six months. It would mean I could unpack, put things up on the wall, have a cat. Just little things in life that would make such a big difference. All I can do now is put my pictures on the hooks the landlord has left. It sounds really basic, but it is part of wanting to make a home.” 


Marking this year’s World Homeless Day and emerging from online discussions between people working to respond to homelessness from various parts of the world, English Premier League club Aston Villa will be holding its Big Villa Sleepout – which, this year, will be held virtually. And they are encouraging fans to get involved and take up the challenge from home by sleeping out in their gardens or even camping out on the living room floor, in aid of supporting the homeless community of Birmingham.In return they will be providing an evening of content on their social channels as fans will be encouraged to share selfies on social media throughout the night, using the hashtag #BigVillaSleepout.Fans will also be able to donate through an online donation link and proceeds from the fundraising event will help fund their Villa Kitchen, which provides hot meals to the homeless community in Birmingham.


The Villa Kitchen provides local organisations including Outreach Angels, Helping Hands and the Birmingham Support Group with pre-packaged meals, which are prepared by a team of staff volunteers, and the organisations distribute these across the city.


They will be running their annual Big Villa Sleep Out virtually on Aston Villa social channels, with proceeds going towards funding the Kitchen.


“Everyone should have a safe, secure and stable home”, the club says. “However we have seen far too often how easy it is for someone to fall into the cycle of homelessness.


“The current coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on all our lives, but the homeless community are continually facing challenges”.


World Homeless Day, which aims to draw attention to the struggles the homeless community face and inspires ways in which people can look to end homelessness.

The inaugural World Homeless Day was marked on 10 of October 2010 and since its founding, it has been observed on every continent except Antarctica, in several dozen countries.

Use of the idea of it is open for all to use... anywhere in the world.

The Big Villa Sleep Out will be returning on Saturday November 14.


Motherland Cooking Xperience, the ultimate African food immersion cooking resource, has announced its launch as “the online cultural connection” for food and fun. Motherland Cooking Xperience is a new and unique interactive African cooking experience offering cooking demonstrations, private date night cooking evenings, and hands-on cultural competency training. These interactive, in-person or virtual cooking demonstrations highlight Africa’s culinary diversity through a three-course meal cooking class, paired with drinks and live music.


Owner and Chef Mirabel Umenei, a mother of three, is also the founder of Motherland Cultural Connections. “I wear multiple hats,” she explained. “I created Motherland Cooking Experience because I love people, African culture, music, and food. Now I’ve made it possible to share my passions and joy with the world. Motherland Cooking Xperience was founded to provide a platform for immigrants with ties to Africa and showcase their talents through food, music, art, and storytelling. This is a dedicated effort to bridge the cultural gap between African immigrants and their families with their communities of residence.”


The organization also wants to mentor and empower African immigrants financially through integration and participation in local culture with their neighbors. “At Motherland Cooking Xperience, we are passionate about showcasing the diverse and exciting activities of Africa through delicious food, cooking demonstrations, beverages, and music from Africa,” Umenei added. “I am excited to be a part of this group, and I look forward to learning, connecting, and networking. We also love hosting Bachelorette and a Girls’ Night Out Parties! Foodies and adventurers — ‘We got you!’”


The Motherland Cooking Xperience team has created a hands-on and relaxed experience sharing historic and meaningful African recipes. When clients want to host this experience at home with friends and families, the organization will arrange a unique and custom online cultural experience. Some of the most popular Motherland Cooking Xperience recipe highlights include a barbecue with their unique dry rubs, stewed greens, soups, and delicious Central and West African dishes. The experiences are created for hands-on fun and deliberately curated to share the best of African culinary culture. Cameroonian cuisine is one of the most varied in Africa due to its location on the crossroads between the north, west, and centre of the continent.


Their sister programs, Motherland House Concerts offer two additional education platforms.


‘Elimu Experience’ is an interactive, in-person or virtual experience teaching cultural competency for businesses, African social studies for schools, and African dance and drumming workshops. ‘Motherland House Concerts’ showcases African music acts and storytelling in an intimate setting, which can be tailored for an in-person or online audience.


Clients can sign up on the home page at for a free cooking class.


An award-winning charity, whose continuing work with schools during the pandemic has been widely applauded, has been awarded £250,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.


Services For Education, which in normal times teaches music to some 38,000 school children each week, is amongst the first to receive funds in the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. The Birmingham-based charity is one of the 28 cultural and creative organisations based in Birmingham and one of 1,385 across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today (12 October) with further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector being announced over the coming weeks.


Sharon Bell, Chief Executive of Services For Education, said: “The award of the grant, in a highly competitive environment, is a huge endorsement of the work that our team delivered – and continue to deliver - during lockdown. We are delighted to have secured this additional funding from the Arts Council that will help us continue our invaluable work - using music to support vulnerable children and young people across Birmingham.”


Services For Education employs more than 200 people in the city and uses the power of learning and music to create and build confidence in local children, young people, adults and communities. During the pandemic it embarked on a major programme of on-line tuition and concerts – including the first ever Virtual Youth Proms Festival that included streaming live 30 new performances created during lockdown over four evenings and involving 500 young people. More recently, it has resumed music lessons in Birmingham schools whilst continuing its on-line support for both schools and individual school children.


Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. 


“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”


Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”


Sharon added: “We are delighted that we have been successful in our application for a grant under the Arts Council Recovery Fund. We are enormously grateful to the Arts Council for supporting us for enabling us to continue to do what we love doing – which is bringing music and music teaching to the children of Birmingham. We are now able to look forward to continuing our work with our schools and other cultural education partners across the city over the weeks and months ahead and keeping music alive at a time which we all know is really difficult for the sector.”