Colors: Blue Color

A major new study published by the Carnegie UK Trust revealing trends in library use across the UK and Ireland is challenging stereotypes about who uses public libraries in England.

The research, which compares library use between 2011 and 2016, has revealed that young people aged 15-24 years are the most likely age group to use libraries in England (51%), whilst those over 55 are the least likely to use a library (43%). Meanwhile almost half (46%) of 25-34 year olds are also now using public libraries, a rise of 2 percentage points since 2011.

As well as reaching more young people, many public libraries in England are also now serving many more people who don’t read books. Libraries across the UK have begun providing a much wider range services and activities in recent years. More than a third of people (37%) in England who read only one book a year now say that they use their local library. Forty percent (+5 percentage points from 2011) of people who only read one book every six months also now identify themselves library users. 

These trends are good news for English public libraries as they seek to attract new customers and protect their funding. However, the Carnegie UK Trust’s research also confirms that libraries across the UK and Ireland face a number of significant challenges. Overall library use in England has seen a decline of 4 percentage points from 50% to 46% since 2011 and all UK nations have experienced seen a steady decline in the number of  people using the library ‘frequently’.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of Carnegie UK Trust says that libraries must make a persuasive case for continued investment in staff and services if they are to continue to meet the needs of local communities.

He said: “Public libraries remain an immensely popular civic resource, both in England and across the rest of the UK and it’s extremely promising that there’s been a rise in library use in England amongst those aged 25-34 and amongst non-readers.

“However, we know that the future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to the changing needs of their communities. Local authority budgets are under severe pressure. All of us who value libraries’ rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.

“We also know that the public want libraries to do even more. People in England told us that they would be more likely to use the library if they had better information about the activities on offer, if they could access more Council services there, if the library held more events or had a café or coffee shop on site.”

Neil MacInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians said: “The Carnegie UK Trust’s unique report is the only report that enables us to look across the UK and Ireland at how public libraries are used and what people think about them. It depicts the state of play, challenges and the opportunities ahead for public libraries in England.

“It is clear from the research that public libraries in England have an enduring place in people’s hearts and that they are highly valued services. We need to ensure that libraries continue to prosper and deliver against key policy goals and wellbeing. The Trust’s recommendations set out a way in which we can all work towards a thriving future public library service.”

The ‘Shining a Light’ report   is the result of a unique five year study by the Carnegie UK Trust and IPSOS Mori into public library use in the UK and Ireland The report is the only one of its kind, enabling data on changing use and attitudes towards library services to be compared across the individual jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland. Around 10,000 face-to-face and telephone interviews were involved in total in 2011 and 2016 combined.

West Midlands youngsters can take advantage of a unique and free development programme to grow their employability skills and provide at least 90 hours targeted work experience within some of the city's top creative organisations.

‘Foot in the Door’ has 60 places available for young creative types aged 16-23 and no qualifications or experience are necessary - just an open mind and a willingness to get stuck in.

Applications are especially encouraged from those from a diverse background, whose perceptions may have led them to believe they couldn’t even contemplate a career in the creative sector.

This exciting new scheme is being run by Custard Factory-based Creative Alliance (the leading training provider within the creative and cultural sector in the Midlands) in partnership with 10 organisations keen to help future industry talent get a foot in the door of the city's burgeoning creative and cultural sector – Bareface, Beatfreeks, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Blue Whale Training, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, DanceXchange, Desi Blitz, mac Birmingham and The Old Rep.

Noel Dunne, Creative Alliance Director, explains: “Foot in the Door is structured around a series of bespoke training courses, specifically designed and delivered by the 10 partner organisations and focusing on the skills that employers in this sector require.  Together we’re looking to build a legacy and help future-proof Birmingham’s young creative sector.

It’s not a fast track to performance success and becoming famous, however, rather about gaining insight and access to the myriad of other industry roles in front of house, backstage, technical, event management, design, production, marketing, administration, plus learning and participation, etc.

Project Coordinator Jodie Mason (a recent beneficiary of a similar scheme) adds: “The only cost to the lucky 60 is their time and commitment and in return Foot in the Door will open their eyes to the vast range of creative organisations available and the variety of quality roles they might not have been aware of.

There’s a lot of untapped creative potential out there and disadvantaged youngsters who think this sector just isn’t a viable option, but I know otherwise so why not give it a go?”

Creative Alliance will be undertaking a series of outreach sessions and targeting schools, colleges, youth groups and job centres, alongside ongoing social media campaigns using young creative industry ambassadors who have recently managed to get their foot in the door for that crucial first break.

A series of 90-minute briefing sessions will commence on April 27 and 28 and conclude on May 4 and 5, with at least two of the partner organisations presenting at each one. The final deadline for applications is May 15 and the lucky 60 will then attend a launch event in early June where they will meet all the partner organisations and declare their favourite three to work with. The actual skills courses commence end June to December ’17.

For Foot in the Door application details visit where you can ‘nominate a mate’ too.

A delegation of UK Islamic Mission visited Alkhidmat Child Protection Centre Green Town. Dr. Arif, Incharge UKIM Relief Program and Mr. Riaz Ahmad, Secretary General UKIM led the delegation. They distributed School Bags and Toys among more than 50 Street Children of the Centre. The delegation expressed its satisfaction after visiting the centre. They also asked for the feedback of enrolled children and appreciated the work done by Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan.

Birmingham’s Broadway Casino have announced that they will be sponsorship one of the UK’s best-loved boxers when, on Saturday April 22, Birmingham-based Tommy Langford enter the ring at Leicester Arena to face Avtandil Khurtsidze for the WBO World middleweight title.

Just three years after turning professional, Langford claimed his first regional championship, (the WBO Middleweight title), which led seamlessly into a stellar 2016 which saw him claim the British strap in and reclaim his Commonwealth title.

On the sponsorship, Broadway Casino’s Managing Director, Denis Dowling, said; “We are sure that our sponsorship of Tommy will see avid fans flock to the casino. He has bags of talent and we are honoured to be able to associate our brand with him.”

The Leicester Arena will be filled with BT Sport cameras documenting the monumental fight between the pair.

Two London-based clubs - Croydon Domino Club and Cosmopolitan Sports & Social Club – have announced their support for a major blood donation drive, in association with Kiwanis Brixton, a children's charity raising money, through raffles and events, to fund a children's hospital, Saturday Supplementary School, contributing to schools in Africa. As well as hands-on projects at community centres for adults and children alike.

#EveryCaribbeanDonorMatters, a collaboration between RAFFA International Development Agency, Blood4Life and NHS Blood & Transplant, with support from UK Caribbean High Commissioners and MCW Ltd. are working together to raise awareness and improve Caribbean Diaspora communities understanding about blood donation and it’s life saving contribution to helping people of all ages lead healthier lives.

The overall goal is to increase the number of people from the Caribbean population group to register to donate blood and get involved in health promotion and self-care activities.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has announced a new partnership with Park Regis Hotel. The four star hotel in Five Ways will be a corporate partner of the Birmingham-based hospice and will be holding exclusive fundraising events throughout the year.

The partnership follows on from the ‘ Fright or Flight’ challenge, a breath-taking corporate event which saw members of the local business community abseil down the front of the prestigious hotel, and race back up 17 flights of stairs in November last year.

The Hospice, which is based on Raddlebarn Road , needs to raise £8 million each year to provide vital care and support to individuals and families in Birmingham and Sandwell who are living with terminal illness.

Charlotte Anson, Corporate Partnerships Manager commented:

‘We are thrilled to be working  in partnership with the  team at Park Regis. Their support will help us reach even more people who need end of life care and support.  Last year’s Fright or Flight event was made a great success by the Park Regis team’s generosity and we can’t wait to build on this success. Thank you to all involved in helping us to showcase our local Hospice in a fantastic venue with great hospitality’.

Robin Ford, General Manager said ‘It is an honour to be supporting Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice this year. I know what a difference their services make to people in Birmingham and Sandwell so we’re delighted to have them as our chosen partner this year. We’re looking forward to hosting some great events at the Hotel this year to support all the work the hospice does. “

Ryan Richards, a seventeen year old from Great Barr in Birmingham, received a charity award and wide acclaim on Saturday for his significant contribution to the work of a national children’s charity.

The young volunteer was nominated for taking on a leadership role and being a positive role model in his work at The Children’s Society, a charity working to support vulnerable teenagers who experience abuse, neglect and poverty in the UK.

Ryan joined The Children’s Society’s participation group, The Hub Squad, a year ago to get involved in mental health projects and be the young people's voice for Pause, the mental health drop-in centre in Birmingham.

He went onto accompany his project workers to give talks to schools and colleges in the local area and also came up with the idea of a drama project to spread mental health awareness. The teenager worked above and beyond to get the project up and running and recruit and inspire professionals and other young people from the Hub Squad to take part.

Dave Guard, Ryan’s project worker, worked closely with Ryan and nominated him for the award. He said: “Ryan has been instrumental in his local project to gain funding and appoint a drama practitioner to work with young people.

“He is determined and gives a lot of time and energy to his youth group to highlight issues that they are passionate about. He is a natural leader with a ‘can do’ attitude that inspires others.”

Ryan was shocked to receive this national recognition, he said: “I feel honoured to have been nominated, let alone to actually receive an award. Thank you for the opportunity to try and make the world a better place.

“Being involved in this initiative has brought me to a better place than I was in before. It brought me out socially and gave me an opportunity to make change.

“This project is about allowing young people to be seen and understood. We have made a great start but there is still a lot of work to be done. I hope to continue working with Hub Squad to see this through.”

Dog owners urged to microchip their dog and check the chip details are up to date on 1st anniversary of Compulsory Microchipping law.

One year on from the introduction of this important law for dog welfare, 89%* of dogs in the West Midlands are now fitted with a microchip, meaning they can be reunited with their families if they are lost or stolen. However, owners the West Midlands are being urged to microchip their dog if they haven’t already and keep the details up to date to ensure they can be reunited should they become lost.

Dogs Trust statistics show that 1,693** strays were reunited with their owners in 2015-2016; however, owners who don’t update their details risk the very real possibility of being permanently separated from their beloved family pet. 10%** of the 6,667 stray and abandoned dogs that remained unclaimed in local authority kennels in West Midlands last year, couldn’t be reunited with their owners simply because they didn’t have up-to-date microchip details.

Whilst more needs to be done to target the minority of dog owners falling foul of the law, the legislation has overall been a positive influence over the past 12 months. Local councils across the UK have issued 2,751 enforcement notices to owners since the legislation came into force – 1,464 for dogs that aren’t chipped and 1,287 for owners whose details are incorrect on the microchip database. The average fine issued to dog owners was £340, with the maximum penalty recorded as £500. It’s estimated that fines will total around £73,000 over the next five years.

What you need to know;

·      As of 6th April 2016, all dogs over the age of 8 weeks must be microchipped.

·      Under the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs must wear collar and identity tag in a public place. The tag must show the owner's name and address.

·     Anyone breeding a puppy for sale, is required to microchip the dog at the age of 8 weeks, and register their details to the microchip before the sale.

·      The owner of the puppy must then update the details on the database once they take ownership.

·      Anyone buying a puppy should be aware that the puppy should be microchipped and the microchip should be registered to the breeder

·      The only dogs that shouldn’t be chipped are those with a vet issued Defra exemption form

Hamad International Airport (HIA) is set to host the 12th Airport Council International (ACI) Asia Pacific Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition in Doha, Qatar, from the 10th to the 12th of April 2017. The event will be under the patronage of H.E Mr. Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, the Minister of Transport and Communications of the State of Qatar.

The event’s agenda includes two ACI board meetings, namely the World Governing Board meeting and the Asia Pacific Regional Board meeting. In January 2017, Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer of Hamad International Airport, was unanimously appointed by ACI’s Asia Pacific Executive Committee of the Board as Special Advisor to the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board. This prestigious position is earned by airport leaders who have proven their ability in providing leadership to the region and guidance on policy development, management and finances. The ACI Asia Pacific Board comprises mainly of the Chief Executive Officers of 22 member airports including, Beijing, Shanghai, Incheon, Tokyo-Narita, Kuala Lumpur, Airports of Thailand, GMR, and Muscat.

The ACI World Governing Board is composed of Chief Executive Officers of 28 member airports nominated by the regional ACI Boards including Singapore-Changi, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Amsterdam-Heathrow, Paris, Istanbul, Toronto, Beijing and Sydney.  It meets twice a year and has the authority to take decisions on all relevant issues that advance the collective interests of airports and promote professional excellence in airport management and operations.

During both Board meetings, Engr. Al Meer will be presenting the achievements of Hamad International Airport, highlighting its key success factors and explaining the strategy that has, within 3 years of its operations, made HIA one of the fastest growing hubs in world, the 6th best airport in the world and an example of a corporate social responsible airport.

The ACI Regional Assembly, Conference and Exhibition, which is hosted annually by airports around the world, will have in attendance aviation leaders and industry influencers who will speak about industry hot-topics through moderated panel discussions. The event will also see exhibitions of innovative products and award-winning services by a large number of service providers.

Hundreds of farms across the UK will throw open their gates to welcome the public and showcase the fascinating world of farming. As well as being a fun and informative day out for all the family.

On Sunday June 11 LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) Open Farm Sunday’ will give visitors the opportunity to see first-hand all that farmers do and the impact their work has on all our lives.

This so often misunderstood industry has a vital role in not only producing safe nutritious food, but also using the latest science and technology to farm sustainably – that means increasing production whilst managing the environment for wildlife and enhancing our natural resources for generations to come.

Since the first Open Farm Sunday in 2006 over 1.8m people have visited a LEAF Open Farm Sunday event.  This year, farms across the country, from Cornwall to Orkney, will provide young and old with an opportunity to see farming in action and learn more about the work farmers are so proud to do.

The mostly free events will offer a range of activities from tractor trailer rides, farm walks and bug hunts, to feeding lambs, sheep shearing and milking demonstrations. The technology and science behind farming and food production will also be a focus; providing visitors with a fascinating insight into the world of farming.

Open Farm Sunday is managed by Linking Environment And Farming is the leading organisation delivering more sustainable food and farming.

Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday Manager at LEAF commented: “Modern farming is incredibly diverse and impacts on all of us - from the clothes we wear to the medicines we take and the food we eat.  Farming plays a vital part in each of our lives. LEAF Open Farm Sunday gives us the rare opportunity to see farming in real life and to learn about the hard work, care and pride that goes into the work farmers do, which is so vital to the environment, our lives and the economy.”

LEAF works with farmers, the food industry, scientists and consumers to inspire and enable sustainable farming that is prosperous, enriches the environment and engages local communities and has organised Open Farm Sunday since it began in 2006.

Sponsors of Open Farm Sunday 2017 confirmed to date are: Asda, BASF plc, Co-op, Defra, Farmers Weekly, Frontier Agriculture, LEAF Marque, Marks and Spencer, National Farmers Union, Waitrose plus the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, with direct support from the Beef and Lamb, Cereals and Oilseeds, Dairy, Horticulture, Pork and Potatoes sectors.

On Saturday, 8th April, 2017 the Liberal Democrat’s candidate for mayor of the West Midlands, Beverly Nielsen launched her manifesto. Nielsen who is an entrepreneur, educator and businesswoman has vast amounts of  experience when it comes to life in the West Midlands, be it working for the Confederation of British Industry, working as the chief of Midlands Excellence Limited, or as a member of staff at Warwick University. From 2009 to 2013, Nielsen served on Worcestershire County Council from 2009-2013.

The launch of a manifesto is always an important event, but for Nielsen and the Liberal Democrats even more so. The West Midlands Mayoral Election is a hotly contested one, with the winner of the election promised broad powers as mayor, of one of the UK’s biggest regional areas. There are many areas in which the Midlands could do with improvement, in her manifesto, Nielsen promises to make developments in seven key areas.

These areas include: improving opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds, delivering affordable housing for all, tackling congestion on the roads, growing home made businesses, enhancing the regions natural assets, delivering safe and secure communities and delivering fairer public services.

In her manifesto, some of the key pledges that Nielsen makes to better society within the West Midlands include: offering all young people aged between 16 and 25 a Swift Travel Card worth up to £300 to improve the chances of young people actively seeking work by offering more opportunities for free off peak travel, advocating a shared growth culture through promoting a real living wage for all employees and achieving this through using local procurement and bringing back production to the West Midlands.

Nielsen pledges within her manifesto to begin a house building programme that ensures access to homes of varying length and levels of affordability for everyone. She also promises to make more public homes available for rent and sale, and to ensure adequate high standard sheltered accommodation and provide more options for the older citizens of the West Midlands to live in.

To fulfil her pledge in reducing congestion, Nielsen has proposed offering free bus passes to encourage more people to use the bus, expanding the tram network within the West Midlands and developing a railway link between Birmingham and Moseley.

Nielsen also proposes the creation of a West Midlands Regional Bank to draw on local knowledge of local businesses, the creation of a £1 billion innovation fund to provide grants to start ups, to the region’s businesses schools, universities and colleges, to further encourage local business growth.

Finishing off the launch of her manifesto, Nielsen had this to say:

“The current government has cut services to the bone, and is now cutting £4bn more between now and 2020. If you make me the Liberal Democrat Mayor of the West Midlands, I will be your champion for change, and a unifying voice across the political divide which has existed for far too long.”

An awards ceremony to honour members of the public from across the West Midlands who have gone beyond the call of duty to help save lives and support the work of West Midlands Ambulance Service’s 4,500 staff has taken place.

The event, sponsored by Excelerate, Mills and Reeve, Higgs and Son, Zoll, University of Worcester, Coventry University and Imprint took place at the Copthorne Hotel in Brierley Hill, recognising the efforts of Community First Responders, St John Ambulance, other emergency services and other voluntary organisations, businesses and individuals.

Addressing the audience, West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive Anthony Marsh said: “The role of our volunteers is incredibly important to the success of West Midlands Ambulance Service and that is something which I am acutely aware of.

“You all do a fantastic job, I know many of you put in a tremendous amount of hours, and you have all played a part in making our ambulance service the best in the country and for that you should be very proud, as I am.

“I personally would like to thank you all for everything that you do, you are a fantastic inspiration to all of us and to our communities.”

Deputy-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Viv Astling OBE, who helped present some of the awards on the evening, said: “Funnily enough I’ve never felt safer than I do here tonight.

“We are surrounded by some incredible people who work very hard on behalf of others and it really is a great testament to yourselves.

“My belief is that people do not get enough recognition for the good work they do in this country and I only wish that could be addressed. We are surrounded by award winners tonight and that is fantastic, you, along with all of your colleagues deserve great credit for the time you give to support the ambulance service, you should be very proud.”

WMAS Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, added: “We are gathered here tonight to celebrate good samartians. This is an evening to celebrate those who do not pass by when someone is in need – members of the public, young children and those who work as volunteers supporting the ambulance service.

“I thank you very much on behalf of West Midlands Ambulance Service for your loyalty, dedication and hard work.”

The acclaimed artist, Charlotte Hodes, will be exhibiting new work at Wolverhampton Art Gallery from Saturday, June 3 to Sunday, September 3.

The exhibition ‘Remember Me: Charlotte Hodes’ also includes an ambitious site specific, 12-metre long frieze commissioned especially for the Lichfield Street gallery.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “The gallery has always been a great champion of new art work and we are delighted that Charlotte has agreed to work with us on this exhibition.”

Hodes has established herself as a leading figure within contemporary art, bringing together both fine and decorative arts as evidenced by her critically acclaimed exhibition at the Wallace Collection (2007) and winning the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2006).

For this exhibition, her powerful new work will consist of 120 individual wall-mounted ceramic pieces, arranged to create a single image that combines elegant historic patterns with contemporary and digital imagery.

It will also include a collection of intricate papercuts as well as a table top installation of more than 350 plates, which demonstrate the artist’s incisive and challenging approach to the aesthetic potential of domestic objects, both past and present.

A new sculpture celebrating Scotland's national animal will be unveiled one of the country's leading art attractions this week. The 7ft unicorn sculpture, designed and created by willow artist Woody Fox, takes pride of place within the 55-acre Crawick Multiverse artland in Dumfries & Galloway as Scotland's links to the mythical creature are celebrated across the country as part of National Unicorn Day tomorrow (9 April).

The fabled creature is a proud symbol of nobility and power and has been the nation's favoured beast since the 14th century.

Unicorns were written about by the ancient Persians, Romans, Greeks and Celts, and were often described as an elegant white horse-like creature with a single horn capable of magical properties.

They've been linked to Scotland for centuries and were used as an early form of the Scottish coat of arms by William I in the late 1300s.

VisitScotland Regional Director Doug Wilson said: “We are delighted to have been involved in bringing this sculpture of Scotland's national animal to Dumfries & Galloway and have no doubt it will be a great draw for visitors to the region.

“The Crawick Multiverse artland offers a unique and exciting experience for visitors and is the perfect backdrop for this distinctive sculpture in the year that we are celebrating Scotland's history, heritage and archaeology.

“2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland's fascinating stories, including those myths and legends about the unicorn.”

Duncan Mackison, director of Crawick Multiverse Trust, said: “We are thrilled to join forces with VisitScotland to play our part in National Unicorn Day by displaying this beautiful sculpture at Crawick Multiverse.

“This is a truly unique location which celebrates art, making it the perfect choice for this special installation.  We look forward to welcoming visitors to the site to see the unicorn which will be on display throughout the coming months."

Artist Woody Fox said: “I was thrilled to be asked to create this unique sculpture of a unicorn to mark National Unicorn Day.

“My previous work includes deer, badgers, foxes and rabbits which bring homes, gardens, parks and public spaces to life. It has been very inspiring for me to work on this noble and spiritual animal for the first time and to help promote Scotland at the same time.”

A regular car boot and market is returning to the West Midlands with the Oldbury Sunday market and car boot sale back on for the rest of the year.

Operated by Groupe Geraud, the market, at the West Bromwich Street car park, will open to car booters and traders from, 6am until 2pm, every Sunday, with entrance off the A4034 slip-road to West Bromwich Street. Entrance for stallholders and car booters is off Dudley Road.