Colors: Blue Color

Martineau Gardens, a Therapeutic Community Garden in Edgbaston, Birmingham is on the shortlist to win a share of Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures £1million pot supporting under-18s nationwide but first they need online votes to win.

Persimmon Homes West Midlands is backing Martineau Gardens to be a prize winner in October, where cash awards of £100,000, £50,000 or £20,000 will be made to those winning the most online votes.

Tim Bruton representing Martineau Gardens said: “It is a huge achievement to have been selected as a regional finalist, but now we really need people to get behind us and get voting so that we are in the strongest possible position to earn one of the top three cash awards on the night.

We have an excellent Environmental Education programme and thousands of family visits each year. If we are fortunate enough to win the public vote we will be able to build a dedicated classroom and improve the children’s play area to enhance the natural play experience.”

Tim added: “Voting could not be simpler. Just log on to and select Martineau Gardens and vote for us. We would really appreciate everyone’s support. Please vote as often as you can.”

Building Futures is being delivered through the Persimmon Charitable Foundation. Through the scheme, a total of 128 grants of £1,000 have been awarded to groups supporting sport, education & arts and health across Persimmon’s 31 regional businesses and its head office.

Persimmon Homes is an official partner of Team GB and the Persimmon Charitable Commission enlisted the help of athletes Jason Kenny and Laviai Nielsen to help determine the three regional finalists for each business division.

One initiative from each category will go on to win £100,000 each through a national award scheme to be decided by a public vote.

As well as the £100,000 first prize, there will be a £50,000 second prize and a £20,000 third prize in each sector; while a further 87 shortlisted projects will each receive £5,000.

Online voting opened on 27 July and will close at midnight on 18 September 2020.

Sandwell Council has today issued urgent advice for Sandwell residents in an attempt to avoid a local lockdown.

The council’s emergency committee met to discuss the rise in Covid-19 cases in Sandwell, which has seen 85 people test positive over the past seven days.

The committee has issued three key pieces of advice to people in Sandwell as part of ongoing efforts to slow the spread of the virus and avoid a local lockdown:

Sandwell residents who are currently shielding are being strongly advised to continue shielding for their own safety.
All residents are being strongly advised NOT to go inside the homes of other people.
Anyone who has symptoms must self-isolate and book a test.

All Sandwell residents are asked to follow this advice and play their part in reducing the number of Covid-19 cases.

Sandwell Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton said: “The coronavirus situation in Sandwell is serious.

“To avoid a local lockdown we’re strongly advising those who are shielding in Sandwell to continue to do so after the national shielding period ends today (31 July) while there is an increase in cases locally.”

Cllr Crompton re-iterated that the advice was a strong recommendation from the council and public health professionals for everyone in Sandwell who is shielding.

“We know that people who are shielding are vulnerable to Covid-19 and they are more likely to become very ill or to die if they are infected.

“We know people are looking forward to going out again but we’re really strongly advising people who are shielding to stay put for now and go out as little as possible. This applies to everyone in Sandwell who is shielding.

“We’re also asking people across Sandwell not to socialise with others inside each other’s homes.

“We know that Covid-19 spreads more easily indoors. So, we really strongly recommend that people do not go inside other people’s houses while the infection rate is increasing.

“We also need people to continue washing their hands regularly, wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport, to social distance from other people and – most importantly – to get a test and self-isolate if you have symptoms.

“We really need people to follow this important advice.

“We are seeing a significant increase in coronavirus cases and by working together we can do our best to avoid lockdown in Sandwell.”

Further announcements will be made by the council as the situation develops.

The continuing efforts of health and social care workers in the city have been praised as they continue to face up to the coronavirus pandemic.

Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor Ian Brookfield, and Cabinet Member for Adult Services Councillor Linda Leach visited the council-run Bradley Resource Centre and HARP (Home Assisted Reablement Programme) last week to meet staff who provide short term intensive reablement for people when they are discharged from hospital.

And they paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of care workers across Wolverhampton who have continued to support the city's most vulnerable residents throughout the national emergency.

Cllr Brookfield said: "It was a pleasure to visit Bradley Resource Centre and speak to the team who work there. They have had a really difficult time over the last four months, but their energy and commitment to the elderly and vulnerable people who need their help has been absolutely amazing.

“We got the chance to speak with staff and service users and see for ourselves the various safety measures that have been put into place at Bradley, like other council facilities, to make them Covid-secure.”

Cllr Leach added: "We should all be incredibly proud of the work of health and social care staff in our city.

"They have shown incredible dedication and compassion through what has been a terrible time for our country, and on behalf of the council I want to thank them all for their fantastic work."

The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time.


Some of Birmingham’s most fascinating historic venues are opening their sites for a series of special events that will delight families, food fans and culture lovers throughout the rest of 2020.

These are the first events the Birmingham Museums Historic Properties, including Aston Hall and Blakesley Hall, have been able to run following the coronavirus lockdown – and there’s not long to wait as they begin in August!
Alex Nicholson-Evans, Commercial Director at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We’ve really missed our visitors, and while we can’t fully reopen our Historic Properties, we’re thrilled we can welcome the public back for these unique events. We’ve created a fun programme we are confident we can run safely, so everyone can relax and enjoy themselves. What’s more buying a ticket is a great way to support Birmingham Museums in these incredibly difficult times. We can’t wait to see you!”
The first event on Sunday 23 August is an outdoor theatre experience in the stunning grounds of Aston Hall. Enjoy a charming performance of the classic children’s tale Wind in the Willows by the Attic Theatre and Tread the Boards Theatre Company, with the grand mansion as the backdrop.
Join Toad, Badger, Ratty and Mole in this heart-warming and hilarious show suitable for all ages. Add a Badger’s picnic box, with a range of tasty options to choose from, for an extra treat.

With two performance times to choose from (2pm or 5.30pm) this will be an enchanting experience everyone will enjoy.

On Sunday 30 August visit the beautiful gardens of Blakesley Hall for a relaxing summer picnic from 11.30am-3.30pm. The surroundings of this picturesque Tudor house are the perfect setting for this Bank Holiday weekend event. For the ticket price you’ll get a reserved picnic spot on the lawn, a delicious picnic box, be able to enjoy live music from a local folk band, and craft stalls selling handmade gifts. All picnic spots are arranged in order to facilitate social distancing.
Visited should bring their own picnic blankets, outdoor chairs and even a small gazebo and really make a day of it. Pre-order tokens for Pimm’s and cider or enjoy hot and chilled drinks from the Herb Garden Café.

Pre-booking will give you a kid’s craft activity bag, so everything is ready for you when you arrive and available at:
Are you a pizza and wine lover? On Saturday 5 September Sarehole Mill is the place to be for a fun and informal pizza and wine tasting evening. Celebrating all things Italian, you’ll enjoy delicious canapés, pizza tasters and wine tasting in Sarehole Mill’s scenic outdoor courtyard.
The stone baked pizzas are prepared and baked on site by the resident baker who uses the finest ingredients to create authentic Italian style pizza.
The event is hosted by Tony Elvin of The Wine Events Company, who will provide a brief introduction to the basics of wine tasting and guide people through an evening of relaxed and entertaining tasting.

All who attend will be provide with the chance to taste five Italian wines and learn about the regions they come from and why pizza and wine match so perfectly.

With more unique events taking place throughout September, including guided walks at Blakesley Hall and Sarehole Mill that will bring the local area to life, there’s plenty to look forward to. 

Into the autumn and winter months look out for more, including the popular Halloween Pumpkin Flotilla at Sarehole Mill and spooky Ghost Tours, Torch Lit Tours and Christmas Spectacular events at Aston Hall.

Further easing of Covid-19 restrictions - due to come in this weekend - has been postponed for at least two weeks by the Prime Minister, amid concerns over an increase in coronavirus cases.

Speaking in Downing Street, Boris Johnson said "we must squeeze the brake pedal" to keep the virus under control. Wedding receptions of up to 30 people were meant to be allowed as part of the changes but cannot yet happen. Face coverings will be mandatory in more indoor settings, such as cinemas.

He also postponed the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks and other close contact services, indoor performances, pilots of larger events to 15 August.

The Prime Minister also imposed further restrictions on slowly opening up the admission of people to large sporting events, including the Goodwood race meeting, snooker at the Crucible and cricketing.

Mr Johnson said progress against coronavirus was continuing with  the daily and weekly number of deaths falling, but warned that some European countries are "struggling" to control it. The UK must be ready to "react", he added.

But business leaders in Greater Birmingham called for a “rapid improvement” in Downing Street communications.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “Ensuring there is no second peak or second national lockdown is critical for businesses. But so too is the need for a rapid improvement in Government communication.

“One day’s notice on a huge change in guidance for those businesses due to reopen tomorrow and communication of local lockdown measures via twitter late in the evening are not effective ways of engaging businesses. In order to enforce government guidance, businesses need clear messaging and time to understand and apply it.

“This also reinforces the need for a more nuanced approach to government support for businesses including sector-specific support and ongoing access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for those businesses most impacted by ongoing Covid-19-secure measures and local lockdowns.”

A weekly ONS survey shows the prevalence of the virus in communities is likely to be rising for the first time since May and last night the health secretary announced new restrictions on household contact in the North West and parts of West Yorkshire.

Guidance for employers having more discretion over whether employees work from home or return to the workplace from tomorrow remains unchanged.

Extending the requirement to wear a face covering to other indoor settings (such as museums) where you are likely to encounter individuals you would not usually meet will become law from 8 August.

The borough Sandwell, in the West Midlands, has been named as an area of concern by Public Health England (PHE) following a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

In the last two weeks, 173 people have tested positive for the virus in the borough.
Council officials are urging those who are shielding to continue doing so, and residents are being strongly advised not to go inside other people's homes.

Sandwell Council's deputy leader said the situation was "very serious".

The local authority held an emergency meeting as the area was added to the official watchlist and called for residents' help in a bid to avoid a local lockdown. The latest figures saw Sandwell's rate of infections rise to 28.1 per 100,000 people in the week up to 27 July, up from 26.9.

However, the rate is still less than half that of Blackburn & Darwen, England's current hot spot, while areas such as Leicester, Oldham, Bradford and Pendle all saw much higher rates of infection. In recent weeks, Smethwick has been seen as the centre of the outbreak in Sandwell, but figures presented to the emergency council meeting on Friday showed the rate of infections in West Bromwich was almost as high.

While a rate of 4.5 infections per 10,000 people was registered in Smethwick for 22-28 July, West Bromwich was 4.1. Far above the 0.2 in Rowley Regis.

Maria Crompton, Deputy Leader of Sandwell Council, called on anyone with symptoms to get a test and self-isolate immediately. She also asked those shielding to keep doing so, despite a national "pause" being introduced at the weekend.

"We know people are looking forward to going out again but we're really strongly advising people who are shielding to stay put for now and go out as little as possible," she said.

"Area of concern" is the lowest level on the PHE watchlist, which helps guide the national response to the pandemic.

It reflects not just the highest weekly incidence rate and trend in areas, but also experts' advice and local plans to tackle the spread.