Colors: Blue Color

A floral display is being constructed in the city centre as a gesture of thanks from Birmingham City Council to key workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The installation, in front of the Council House in Victoria Square, features as its centrepiece the NHS logo surrounded by a rainbow and other items associated with key workers or community activity during the pandemic.

All the features will be made up of flowers that were originally due to be used as part of the city council’s 2020 Chelsea Flower Show entry.

Following the cancellation of the event, the flowers are being put to this alternative use, along with items that formed part of past entries, including a floral double decker bus, a nod to the public transport services that have continued to operate during the lockdown for key workers.

To reflect the retail workers who kept up the supply of essential items during lockdown, there will be a planted-out shopping trolley. The display will also mark the contribution from our refuse and street cleansing teams with some planted-out bins.

The edging will be a mixture of the posters of support that council workers and employees from partner organisations have received.

Birmingham’s Chelsea sponsor, Veolia, has kindly agreed to fund the changes, to enable the 10 metre x 2 metre display to be developed.

Councillor John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks at Birmingham City Council, said: “Our Parks and Nurseries team never cease to amaze with their creativity and resourcefulness.

“It’s great that we have been able to find a fitting alternative use for the flowers and plants that would have been used at Chelsea – as well as being a way to demonstrate our gratitude, it symbolises our commitment to reuse and recycling wherever possible.

“The finished display will hopefully be appreciated by everyone who has played a part in keeping the city safe and operational during these challenging times. On behalf of everyone at the city council, I would like to repeat our thanks to everyone involved and to the parks staff for doing this.”

General Manager at Veolia in Birmingham, Mark Powell, said: “Birmingham residents have been very supportive of our teams on the front line and we are proud to sponsor this exhibit honouring all the city's key workers during the pandemic.

“Repurposing the plants that were intended for the Chelsea Flower Show aligns with Veolia's values on reusing and recycling resources and our shared appreciation for those who have contributed most in these difficult times.”

Soho Road Business Improvement District (BID) received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2020, a group of volunteers based in Handsworth, in Birmingham, have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Soho Road BID is a volunteer led organisation that manages the Soho Road Town Centre, with over 700 members and a team of approximately 100 volunteers who get involved in many different elements of their work.

And it is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Award recipients are announced each year on June 2 and the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation, with this year’s, as ever, wonderfully diverse.

They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea, a group working with refugees and vulnerable people in Stirling and a thriving community arts centre in County Down.

Soho Road BID is possibly the first Business Improvement District in the UK to receive such a prestigious award whose representatives will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands, John Crabtree OBE, later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Soho Road BID will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

It’s Chair, Bob Balu says: “We are delighted to receive such a prestigious award.

“This recognition means the world to the BID Board and pays tribute to all of our volunteers as it shows that the work we do is appreciated within our community and nationally. We are also honoured to be the only Business Improvement District to receive the award in 2020 and possibly in the history of the awards.

“We would also like to thank all of the partner organisations that support us including Birmingham Council’s Cleaner Greener Streets and other departments, West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham and Solihull LEP, West Midlands Police, West Midlands Fire Service, Kier Highways to name just a few.”

Birmingham City Council Leader, Councillor Ian Ward said: "This award speaks volumes about Soho Road BID and its importance to the local community. At their best, they are about so much more than business interests, they're about a sense of place, local pride and community.

“The Soho Road BID team clearly understand this, and the award is richly deserved recognition for a lot of hard work."

The one tortoiseshell and four black-and-white kittens, who are believed to be around two to three weeks old, were found inside a locked bin, in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham by quick-thinking mum Louise as she walked nearby, with a friend and their families.
 
Louise says: “Whoever dumped these poor kittens in the bin at Parkfield should be ashamed. They were so tiny they weren’t even ready to leave their mom. It’s got to be someone close, it’s not like they even put them in a box, they just put them in the bin one by one. Disgusting people out there. Vile.”
 
After fishing the kittens out of the bin where they had been crawling on dirty bottles and food waste, the group took the kittens to 608 Vet Practice on Warwick Road in Solihull where they were checked over. The practice then contacted Cats Protection’s South Birmingham Branch, who which arranged for them to be taken into the care of the charity’s Birmingham Adoption Centre in Hollywood.
 
She added: “I’m just glad that we got the kittens out in time.  It was a real group effort, it was my son, pal Sophie, her son and her niece. The kids were really brave, they were able to reach the kittens after we ripped the bag and pulled them to the top of the bin, then played with them while Sophie went home to get a box.
 
“It was cruel that someone had done that. They were meowing all the time, it was so sad, they only calmed down in the car when my kids were holding and cuddling them. I’m glad they are being looked after. I would have loved to keep one but I didn’t want to separate them at such a young age, especially after they had been through so much already. It’s nice to see the photos of them looking so much better.”  
 
The kittens have been named Spike, Giles, Xander, Faith and Willow after characters from TV show ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, as the centre thought they could use a little slayer-inspired strength after their ordeal. They are receiving round-the clock care from one of the centre’s volunteer fosterers, who is also a registered veterinary nurse, providing them with bottle feeds to top-up their first tastes of solid food.
 
Deputy centre manager Paula Beswick says: “Seeing the video of the tiny, vulnerable kittens struggling on top of rubbish at the bottom of the bin is heart-breaking. They are so lucky that Louise, Sophie and the children not only heard them but had the patience and kindness to get them out and take them to the vet. They were still terrified when they came to us, screaming and covered in dust and dirt.
 
“We know having an unexpected litter of kittens is a shock and can be difficult but we would urge anyone in a similar situation to bring the kittens to us. We won’t judge, we will just ensure the kittens are given the best care before finding them loving homes. 
 
“We’d also like to hear from whoever dumped the kittens, anonymously if they wish, as we can support them to ensure the mother cat is neutered so that the same situation doesn’t happen again. Luckily the five bundles of fur are now safe and well but the situation could have been very different.”
 
The kittens are expected to return from foster care back into the centre by mid-June and will be available for homing once they are at least nine weeks old.

Anyone wishing to give the kittens a home or find out more about Cats Protection’s work in Birmingham should visit www.cats.org.uk/birmingham where details of the kittens’ availability will be posted first.
  
A video of the kittens in the bin and being rescued as well as images of the kittens on arrival at the centre and in their foster home are available at:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/20bgp64e8a9ecy7/AABUdNZu_vMSjKcHf9NKSe9Oa?dl=0
                                                                                                                                    

People caught spitting at bus drivers or passengers are increasingly likely to be caught and face long jail sentences, transport and police bosses have warned.
 
The act of spitting has moved to potentially being life threatening for victims following the coronavirus outbreak as highlighted by the recent death of a London ticket collector following an attack.
 
Only last month a 43-year-old man from Northfield, Birmingham was jailed for 17 weeks for spitting at a bus driver after refusing to pay his fare.
 
And in June 2019 a 28-year-old was jailed to 14 weeks in prison after spitting at a driver in Erdington.
 
But new figures have revealed that during the year to March 31, 2020, while there was a fall in all other types of recorded crime on the West Midlands bus network, there was an increase in common assault incidents.
 
This increase was to a large extent accounted for by incidents of spitting, with male bus drivers frequently being the target. 10% of attacks have also been racially aggravated.
 
The Safer Travel Partnership, through which West Midlands Police, British Transport Police and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) collaborate to fight crime on buses, trains and trams, has been encouraging more drivers and passengers to report incidents.
  
Measures taken include:
 
Issuing DNA spit kits to all drivers meaning that vital DNA evidence is now gathered in more than half of incidents
A dedicated Safer Travel team officer dealing with incidents
Driver training to encourage reporting of incidents and to improve the quality of evidence gathered
Regular electronic bulletins to bus company staff highlighting incidents, arrests and successful prosecutions
Since the coronavirus outbreak the talk holes in driver screens have been covered to further protect staff
 
The DNA evidence, combined with security camera coverage - buses have up to 12 cameras on board - means there is a 75% chance of identifying attackers.
 
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Spitting is not only a vile act but one which can, as we saw in London, have fatal consequences in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
 
“I am pleased to say that we are getting results and that the courts are backing us with stiff sentences for those found guilty.
 
“The vast majority of people using our public transport are polite and law abiding. But we will do all we can to root out and deal with those who act in a violent and abhorrent way and make the transport network safe for both our frontline staff and passengers.”
 
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Spitting is one of the most disgusting forms of behaviour there is. Not only is spitting repulsive and contemptable, but with the coronavirus pandemic, this action is deliberately a life threatening attack.
 
“Evidence suggests that a significant number of these offences are racially provoked. There is never an excuse and we will do all we can to stamp it out.
 
“Tremendous progress has been made since spit kits were first introduced on our public transport in 2017 and the perpetrators of these horrible actions in many cases are identified and action is taken.
 
“Therefore my message to anyone who indulges in this vulgar form of attack in which spitting is so dangerous because of coronavirus, you will be found, you will be arrested and you will be prosecuted.”
 
David Bradford, managing director of National Express West Midlands: “Spitting is not only disgusting - it's a criminal offence. Our drivers and passengers should not be expected to tolerate it.

“We work very closely with the Safer Travel team, and we have spit kits on every bus. These give us irrefutable DNA evidence to help us track down offenders and secure convictions at court. In addition, we have CCTV all over our buses which give police crystal clear images of offenders.”  

 

The City of Wolverhampton Council will introduce phase two of re-opening its markets on Wednesday June 3.
Phase two includes:
Strict social distancing measures
Separate entrance/exit
Sanitation station
A guided one-way system
A queuing system
Managed maximum capacity at any given time and extra security  
The measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of staff, traders and the public. 
 
Phase two will see traders of household items (including DIY, hardware, electrical goods), confectionary, pet supplies, key cutting/shoe repair. Along with take away food, mobile phone accessories.
The third phase will see all three markets re-open fully - subject to level of compliance and feedback.
Under the Government guidance, it is recommended to shop where possible on your own or for others who are self-isolating. 
 
Councillor Steve Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment at City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “On review of Government guidance and the success of phase one re-opening, phase two will be in operation from Wednesday 3 June across the city markets.
This, like phase one, will be carefully managed and reviewed so we can get markets back up and opened fully. We understand there will be concerns from residents, but measures are in place to ensure the safety of the public, staff and traders. 
 
“Traders who fall into the category of phase two have been informed and we are working with them to make sure they have the correct measures in place to operate safely. To support stall holders further, we will continue to charge only 50% of rent charges.”
 
Bilston indoor and outdoor market opening times are Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (8.30am to 4pm). Wolverhampton City Centre Market opening times are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (7.30am to 4pm). Wednesfield opening times are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (8am to 3.30pm).
When out in public, people must stay 2 metres – or 6 feet – away from other people at all times, unless they are from the same household. 
To enable shoppers to keep their distance, retailers which have been permitted to remain open, and encouraged to place limits on how many people can be in-store at any one time.
And to ask customers to stand two metres apart when in-store and while queuing.
In addition, customers are encouraged to pay using contactless to reduce the amount of cash being handled by staff. The council has produced a poster for shops and businesses to print off and display, advising staff and customers of social distancing measures in operation on the premises.

Following the record-breaking efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, a nine-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy was inspired to follow suit by walking the distance of a marathon in his street.

The Sheffield-born school boy used a walking frame to walk about 50 metres a day having originally planned to complete I kilometre in his local park to raise money for charity,.

Instead, Tobias, who is also autistic and cannot stand or walk unaided walked 750m per day until he completed the 26-mile challenge.

Saying that heard about Captain Tom and that he wanted to raise £10,000 by doing what he described as a “ginormous challenge”, he raised a staggering target sum – and still counting – for his two favourite charities; Sheffield Children’s Hospital where he attends for regular treatment and Paces School, where he attends for conductive education, which emphasises on developing the children so that they can achieve as much independence as possible by following physiotherapy programmes as well as being educated at the same time.

His proud mother, Ruth, said: “When Tobias heard about Captain Tom’s challenge, he felt a kinship with him and decided to replace his sponsored walk with a marathon attempt instead.

He started on March 21, which was pretty much the time when the lockdown started and looked to finish by the end of May.

“Tobias”, she added, “is just thrilled at the response that he has got – and still getting”.

The plucky young boy wants to raise money towards the ‘A New Home for Paces’ to provide a new school with improved facilities.