Colors: Blue Color

A local hero, who channeled his grief and anger of his brother-in-law’s murder into improving the lives of thousands of youngsters on the city’s streets, is soon set to receive the British Citizen Award. Mohammed Zafran, a community activist from Small Heath, is one of a small number of people who have been invited to the Palace of West Minister to be awarded the medal.

A migrant from Senegal who travelled to Europe by boat has won a stake of some €400,000 (£294,000; $436,000) in Spain's Christmas lottery. The man, named Ngagne, travelled from Morocco to Spain in 2007. Ticket-holders in his coastal town of Roquetas de Mar won first prize, and a share of €640m (£470m), in the "El Gordo" (The Fat One) lottery. Ngagne told one Spanish newspaper that he and his wife often did not have even €5 to last the day.

In a remarkable interfaith gesture, various religions got together in Reno (Nevada, USA) to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year at midnight in a unique and divine manner, away from the glitter of the casinos and sending a message of unity to the world. Coordinated by religious statesman Rajan Zed, standing room only “Multi-faith New Year’s Eve Service” hosted by Reno Buddhist Center included Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American prayers.

The New Year may not be very happy for hundreds of thousands of people in the West Midlands, as research by Shelter reveals over a quarter of rent or mortgage payers in the region are cutting back on winter heating and clothing to meet their housing payments. This is the equivalent to nearly 800,000 people. The study by housing and homelessness charity Shelter and YouGov shows the strain people in the West Midlands face this January, with one in eleven rent or mortgage payers fearing they will be unable to meet their housing costs this month.

Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) invites all communities to unite in prayers for peace during the festive season. The organisation has facilitated and organised eleven day prayer services for the benefit of all humanity twice every year since 1976. This year is even more poigniant in light of recent events carried out by misguided people in the name of faith

A long-serving Wolverhampton councillor has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List. Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, was recognised for political service and services to local government. Councillor Samuels, who worked for the NHS for nearly four decades until retiring recently, was first elected to the council as Labour councillor for Park ward in 2004.

People in Wolverhampton can have their say in framing a new five-year strategy to combat homelessness. Key services in this area will be displaying information to the public on the ground floor of the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Square, between Monday 4 January and Friday 15 January, 2016, helping people understand more about homelessness and ways they can help develop Wolverhampton’s new strategy to tackle the issue.

With 2016 now upon us, national charity Suzy Lamplugh Trust is urging all West Midlands residents to keep personal safety in mind when making New Year’s resolutions. Common resolutions, often based around lifestyle changes, may inadvertently place individuals at risk, so the charity is encouraging people to factor in their own safety when making pledges for the New Year.

The funeral service of radio presenter and former “boy band” member Saminder Sagoo was attended by hundreds of people. Saminder, 76, who helped found one of the first Sikh temples in Birmingham, died on 5 December, having suffered from stomach cancer. Renowned for his work as one of the first presenters on commercial Asian station Radio XL, the temple where Saminder’s funeral was held was packed with mourners, who gathered in front of an open coffin.

Former refugee and The Apprentice star, Mergim Butaja, is taking on a charity challenge to support families fleeing ongoing conflict. The 23-year-old whose emotional farewell speech highlighted the importance of remaining strong and determined in the face of adversity has joined with 50 other volunteer fundraisers from international humanitarian charity Penny Appeal to run Coventry’s Half Marathon at the end of February.

City of Wolverhampton Council will once again be collecting people’s real Christmas trees for recycling once the festive season is over. The council, through its waste and recycling partner Amey Plc, will take real trees only – not fake ones – during January. The service will be free and all people need to do is put their tree out on their normal recycling day next to their bin on the kerbside. Real tree collections will take place from Monday January 11 to Friday January 22.

The spirit of Christmas was in plentiful supply when staff and customers at building society the West Brom staged festive cake and coffee days in aid of charity. The Society’s 37 branches across Birmingham and the Black Country collectively raised nearly £4,000 from the Care for a Cake events, with all proceeds going to the Edgbaston charity Edward’s Trust, which provides bereavement support for parents, children and carers from across the West Midlands.

Young people across a number of schools from Sandwell took part in the council's child’s voice conference held at the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich on 30 November. They were there to shape the services they want to get from the council over the next year. The conference formed part of a series of events that have taken place over the past year as part of the council's SHAPE programme.

The arbiters of social etiquette from Debretts may choke on their turkey with the news that millions of Brits planned to use their mobiles at the Christmas dinner table.  New research from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals 9.9 million people planned to use their mobile at the Christmas dinner table, swapping face time with family for games and screen time with faraway friends.

Christmas has come early for children in Sandwell thanks to a new £100,000 play area with lots of new equipment in historic Lightwoods Park. The play area features a giant two-tower climbing wall guaranteed to give youngsters fun during the school holidays. Schoolchildren from Abbey Junior School, local councillors, council parks officers and representatives from Heritage Building and Conservation Ltd attended the launch.