Colors: Purple Color

Budding engineers aged eight to 15 can explore the world of design, modelling and manufacturing at special two-day Future Makers Clubs this summer in Birmingham.


Young people attending the sessions in August, organised by Make UK, the manufacturers’ organisation, will be given a unique experience to work in the state-of-the-art facilities at the Make UK Technology Hub in Aston. They will spend their days immersed in the world of engineering, learning a variety of aspects of design, manufacturing and modelling techniques, and complete a practical task that will bring engineering to life.


Fiona McGarry, Engagement Manager at Make UK, said: “Our Future Makers Clubs are enjoyable, hands-on sessions, where children will get a true taste of what opportunities engineering can offer them. 


With limited access to education over the last four months, it’s also a good opportunity to get some extra learning in over the summer - with fun added in - to get them ready for school or college in September, or to start thinking about a career.”


The Future Makers Clubs are divided into two groups - Secondary (age 11-15) and Primary (age 8-11). Each two-day session costs £75.


Dates are as follows:


Secondary: Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th August

Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th August


A fun filled two days of STEM exploring manufacturing and developing an understanding of energy, mechanics, electronics and control. They will design and make their own race car exploring traditional modelling techniques and their understanding of aerodynamics. 

Primary: Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th August

Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th August


An exciting two days where the children will develop their understanding of shape, form, electronics and computer control. The children will be given the opportunity to design, make, test and race their very own F1 race car. They will explore electronics and control technology, developing their understanding of simple circuits, mechanisms and computer control.


All the Future Maker Club activities have been risk assessed and planned with limited numbers and social distancing, to ensure Future Makers are kept safe at all times. Plans and risk assessments are available to parents and guardians on request.


A plumbing and heating entrepreneur from Willenhall in the West Midlands swapped showers for cauliflowers and bath spouts for Brussels sprouts, as he diversified his business into delivering fresh produce and groceries, in order to stay afloat during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The business diversification has been such a big hit with both his existing customer base and local vulnerable people that Simon Newton, who owns ACS Plumbing & Heating Ltd and DJN Plumbing Supplies, has won the contract to supply a local children’s nursery, started a special trailer service, taken on three extra staff and has plans to expand his plumbing supplies shop to include food refrigeration units.

With March’s lockdown preventing him and his team from being able to install heating and bathrooms, Simon, a long-standing Mira installer, took the bold decision to start selling a range of fruit, vegetables and groceries, recognising the need for this service, particularly for the elderly and vulnerable in his community who were shielding during the grip of the pandemic.

Now able to resume his installation business, he’s continuing the food delivery service, which includes daily Facebook live videos where Simon outlines the fresh produce available for the day.

He commented: “My attitude was I couldn’t just sit still throughout Covid – I had to support the staff and the customers that I look after – even if that meant 4am starts to get to the wholesale market!”

“It’s incredible how popular it’s proved to be - as well as providing a new revenue stream it’s also become a pipeline of new customers for the plumbing business.”

Paul McGuire, Installer Communications at Mira Showers added: “It’s fantastic to see the ingenuity in our industry, and more so when it’s someone you know personally – I used to work for Simon as a plumbing and heating engineer!

“Simon has shown real entrepreneurial spirit to diversify his business as he has, to maintain his revenue and to keep his staff in employment. In addition to that, Simon has provided a real lifeline to people in his local community and should be commended.”



Birmingham and Nottingham residents lead the way with water saving as Severn Trent donates £1m to local charities

Severn Trent set its customers the challenge of saving a daily average of 150 million litres of water and raise £1 million pounds for local charities, after the hot weather at the end of May and into early June saw record levels of demand.


And customers have responded – with a bit of help from the recent wetter and cooler weather – demand dropped from a high of 2.2 billion litres a day, by more than enough to make sure Barnardo’s, Macmillan Cancer Support, Crisis, and local branches of Mind and Age UK will all receive a share of the donation.


Liv Garfield, Severn Trent CEO said: “What a fantastic effort by everyone, but special shout out to people who live in our Central region, who cut their usage by the best part of 20%, and in Nottinghamshire who weren’t all that far behind.


“But the really great news is that, together, everyone’s done enough to make sure our lovely local charities will get hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations to help them with the fantastic work they’re doing in the communities we serve.


“It’s important we all carry on though, we know the cooler weather in June played a big part in how much water was used but, with temperatures starting to heat up again, it’s still really important we carry on doing our bit by using less water.”


Severn Trent launched the challenge after experiencing the driest May in 100 years which, combined with so many people being at home because of the COVID crisis, saw the highest demand for water Severn Trent had ever seen.


Since then the company has also been monitoring usage across its region, with figures showing customers in Birmingham, Nottingham, and Worcestershire and Gloucestershire saving the most water throughout June.


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“Even though this charity challenge is over, the real challenge is for everyone to carry on saving water,” adds Liv


“June was rainy and a lot cooler than May so we didn’t see as many jet washers or paddling pools being used. So, when the hot weather returns, we need people to make those simple water saving changes like switching from a hose to a watering can, or reusing your paddling pool water, to help make sure there’s enough water for you and your neighbours for the essential things like drinking and washing.”


Hugh Sherriffe, Barnardo’s Central, Regional Director said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Severn Trent and their customers for raising vital funds for Barnardo’s through this water saving initiative. The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on many children and families and Barnardo’s is needed now more than ever to provide support to those who need it most. Whether it be emotional support for people’s mental health and wellbeing or more practical support such as food vouchers or hampers, this donation will have a really positive impact on many children and their families.”


Some of the top ways to help save water throughout Summer include:


• Not using the sprinkler every day; lawns are really resilient and will quickly bounce back to green when it rains again;

• Water the plants with a watering can, instead of a hose – this will help save loads of water, and avoids over-watering them;

• Have fun in your garden but keep an eye on how much you’re using the paddling pool – an average pool uses as much as three people would use in a whole day. So make sure you cover it up with a bed sheet, and reuse it the next day;

• If you’ve got a traditional toilet without the two button flush, order a free Buffaloo from Severn Trent that’ll reduce how much water you use each flush; and

• Filthy cars are the new fashion – as long as you’re keeping your windows, mirrors and lights clean maybe your car would like to get a little dirty for a change.





Chief Scientific Adviser, Vallance, says there’s no reason to change working from home

The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has said that there is "absolutely no reason" to change the guidance on working from home,

Since late March the government has advised people to work from home if possible to help curb coronavirus. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled a change, saying: "I think we should now say, well, 'Go back to work if you can.'"

Sir Patrick said home working was still a "perfectly good option" for many.

Speaking to the Commons science and technology committee, he said it was his view - and one shared by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) - that distancing measures were still important for containing the virus.
He said: "Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it's easy to do. I think a number of companies think it's actually not detrimental to productivity. And in that situation, there's absolutely no reason I can see to change it."

It comes as the government continues to try to balance the economic and health risks of the pandemic.

Asked about Britain's response to the virus, Sir Patrick said: "It's clear that the outcome has not been good in the UK, I think you can be absolutely clear about that. There are many factors that are going to play in this as we look and say, 'what is it that makes some countries having done worse than others?', and there will be decisions made that will turn out not to have been the right decisions at the time."

In mid-March, Sir Patrick said it would be a "good outcome" for the UK if the number of deaths from the virus could be kept below 20,000. The latest figures show 45,119 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, up by 66 on the previous day.

Sir Patrick said it was "quite probable" that the virus will come back "in different waves over a number of years", but stressed the UK was still going through the first wave. "When people talk about second wave now, actually, what I think they're talking about really is a re-emergence of the first wave," he said.

"All we have done is suppressed the first wave and when you take the brakes off you would expect it to come back." It comes after a report, requested by the scientific adviser, suggested the UK could see about 120,000 new coronavirus deaths during this winter. This could be seen as "the tail end of the first wave still", he said. During the session, Sir Patrick told MPs the government was advised to implement lockdown measures earlier than they did.

In the run up to lockdown, he said steps were taken to mitigate the virus, including isolating households and advising against visiting pubs and theatres which caused "quite extreme" changes in behaviour. But he said after data suggested the number of virus cases was doubling every three days, Sage recommended - either on 16 or 18 March - that the "remainder" of measures to curb coronavirus should be introduced.

Speaking in the Commons afterwards, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "16 March is the day when I came to this House and said that all unnecessary social contact should cease - that is precisely when the lockdown was started." Labour MP Zarah Sultana said that "advising people to socially distance is not the same as imposing a lockdown. That week-long delay could have cost thousands of lives".

In June, former government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson said the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK would have been halved if lockdown had been introduced a week earlier.

The beginning of lockdown has usually been dated to the evening of 23 March when Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and people were told to mostly avoid leaving home and all non-essential shops were closed. In fact, Mr Hancock has previously said that is when lockdown began.

In a debate in the Commons on 2 June, he noted that the daily death figures were "lower than at any time since lockdown began on 23 March". Sir Patrick also said there was no assumption that a vaccine for coronavirus would be available in the immediate future, after encouraging early results from clinical trials raised hopes of finding one.

"Our assumption is we won't have it and when we get it we will be thrilled," he said.

Conservative MP Mark Logan asked Sir Patrick about his face covering, which he wore as he entered the session but took off while giving evidence. "It's a fairly standard cloth face covering," he said. "It's got a nose thing to make sure it doesn't slip off my nose and it's got several layers."

Asked how long he would wear it for and whether he washes it, Sir Patrick said: "I think you should wear them for short periods. As I say, I don't think it's something you can wear all day in indoor environments - there's some evidence for that.

"And yes, like my other clothes, I wash it."

Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are among many prominent US figures targeted by hackers on Twitter in an apparent Bitcoin scam. The official accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Kanye West also requested donations in the cryptocurrency.

"Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time," a tweet from Mr Gates' account said. "You send $1,000, I send you back $2,000."

The tweets were deleted just minutes after they were first posted.
Twitter took the extraordinary step of stopping many verified accounts marked with blue ticks from tweeting altogether. There were reports that password reset requests were also being denied.

Dmitri Alperovitch, who co-founded cyber-security company CrowdStrike, told Reuters news agency: "This appears to be the worst hack of a major social media platform yet."

Twitter said it was looking into the incident and would issue a statement soon.

On the official account of Mr Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief appeared to offer to double any Bitcoin payment sent to the address of his digital wallet "for the next 30 minutes".

"I'm feeling generous because of Covid-19," the tweet added, along with a Bitcoin link address. One such tweet from Musk's account was deleted, only for another one to appear, then a third. As well as rapper Kanye West, his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, former US President Obama, Mr Biden, who is the current Democratic presidential candidate, and media billionaire Mike Bloomberg, major companies Uber and Apple were targeted.

The Biden campaign said Twitter had "locked down the account within a few minutes of the breach and removed the related tweet".

A spokesman for Bill Gates told AP news agency: "This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing." These "double your Bitcoin" scams have been a persistent pest on Twitter for years but this is unprecedented with the actual accounts of public figures hijacked and on a large scale. The fact that so many different users have been compromised at the same time implies that this is a problem with Twitter's platform itself.

Early suggestions are that someone has managed to get hold of some sort of administration privileges and bypassed the passwords of pretty much any account they want. With so much power at their fingertips the attackers could have done a lot more damage with more sophisticated tweets that could have harmed an individual or organisation's reputation.

But the motive seems to be clear - make as much money as quickly as they can. The hackers would have known that the tweets wouldn't stay up for long so this was the equivalent of a "smash and grab" operation. There are conflicting accounts of how much money the hackers have made and even when a figure is settled upon, it's important to remember that cyber-criminals are known to add their own funds into their Bitcoin wallets to make the scam seem more legitimate.

Either way, it's going to be very hard to catch the criminals by following the money. Law enforcement, as well as many angry users, will have some strong questions for Twitter about how this could have happened. Cameron Winklevoss, who was declared the world's first Bitcoin billionaire in 2017 along with his twin brother Tyler, tweeted a message on Wednesday warning people not to participate in the "scam".

In the short time it was online, the link displayed in the tweets of targeted accounts received hundreds of contributions totalling more than $100,000 (£80,000), according to publicly available blockchain records.

The Twitter accounts targeted all have millions of followers.

Up to 47 jobs could go at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, with the venue warning its survival was at risk. The jobs, at one of the country's foremost producing theatres represent about 40% of its workforce.

The Rep’s Artistic Director Sean Foley welcomed a £1.5bn emergency package from the government for the arts sector. However, the theatre said it had lost 80% of its income, a position it described as "unsustainable".

It said it was looking at a range of cost-saving measures and "with great sadness" would be consulting with staff about redundancies.

The theatre, based in Centenary Square, celebrated its own centenary in 2013 and its stage has featured the likes of Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Gambon and Derek Jacobi, among others.

A joint statement from executive director Rachael Thomas and artistic director Sean Foley, said: "Our role as custodians of this much-loved theatre, with its historic legacy, is to ensure that it survives the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Even after the new measures are taken into account, we believe that survival is threatened if we do not act now. We could still be facing many months of being unable to trade and must therefore take action to mitigate the loss of income by reducing our costs."

Two of the UK's biggest High Street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, have announced 5,300 job cuts.

Boots has said 4,000 jobs will go, while John Lewis is shutting down eight stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk.

The moves come amid warnings that new economic support from Chancellor Rishi Sunak will not be enough to stop millions of workers losing their jobs.

Mr Sunak admitted that he would not be able to protect "every single job" as the UK enters a "severe recession".

Boots is consulting on plans to cut head office and store teams and shut 48 of its more than 600 Boots Opticians practices. It has not yet said which outlets will close, but about 7% of its workforce will lose their jobs.

John Lewis said department stores in Birmingham and Watford will not reopen as the coronavirus lockdown eases. It also plans to shut down its At Home stores in Croydon, Newbury, Swindon and Tamworth and travel sites at Heathrow airport and London St Pancras.

Chancellor Sunak unveiled a series of measures on Wednesday aimed at saving jobs, including a one-off £1,000 payment to employers for every furloughed employee retained to the end of January 2021.

He also announced measures to benefit the hospitality sector, including 
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the moves to support restaurants, pubs and cafes could also help retail.

"We very much hope that when people go to their local pub or their restaurant to eat out, those are often in the centre of towns, hopefully that will encourage the footfall to those areas so we get more people going to our shops as well," Mr Dowden said, speaking after announcing the reopening of gyms, indoor pools and outdoor theatres.

The government has announced that leisure facilities and beauty services in England will be allowed to reopen with pools, gyms, nail bars and tattooists being able to open their doors again, and team sports - starting with cricket - being allowed to resume.

Announcing the changes at a briefing at Downing Street, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urged people to "work out to help out".

Outdoor performances will also be able to resume with limited audiences.
It came as the UK reported the deaths of a further 85 people who tested positive for coronavirus, taking the total number of deaths to 44,602.

Dowden said "all the data was continuing to move in the right direction" despite the reopening of pubs and restaurants last weekend.

He said normal life was "slowly returning" and that this was an important milestone for the country's performers and artists, who had been "waiting in the wings since March".

"I'm really urging people to get out there and to play their part," he said. "Buy the tickets for outdoor plays and musical recitals, get to your local gallery and support your local businesses."

But the culture secretary warned the measures were conditional and reversible, adding that the government would impose local lockdowns if cases started to spike.

What will reopen when?

Outdoor pools and outdoor theatres will be able to reopen from Saturday 11 July
Grassroots sport will be able to return from this coming weekend, beginning with cricket
Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other close-contact services can reopen "subject to some restrictions on particularly high-risk services" from 13 July
Indoor gyms, swimming pools and sports facilities can reopen from 25 July
Singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments will be allowed in professional environments and Mr Dowden said specific scientific studies on the risks had been commissioned
Small pilots of indoor performances, with socially distanced audiences, will also take place to help work out the best way for them to restart

Not all forms of beauty treatment will be able to go ahead, as some are deemed too high-risk. These include face waxing, sugaring or threading services, facial treatments, make-up application and eyebrow treatments.

Vanita Parti, chief executive of walk-in beauty chain Blink Brow Bar, said that at first she had welcomed the news but then she received an email from the British Beauty Council telling her no treatments to the face would be allowed.

"I'm furious. We can't reopen," she said. "This will kill so many businesses."
Guidance for the reopening of sports facilities has been published, including on cleaning regimes, social distancing and protection for staff.

Measures include limiting the number of people using a facility at one time, reducing class sizes and spacing out equipment. Face coverings will not be mandatory in gyms. Small numbers of supporters will be able to watch outdoor sports, provided social distancing measures and group size rules are followed.

Each sport will have to submit an action plan to the government of how it will operate safely, with sports where a single ball is used having to show how they can reduce the risk of it transmitting the virus.

The government said a team led by England's deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam had been visiting sports sites to see the sector's preparations to reopen safely.
When put to him that the restrictions would make exercise "less fun", Mr Dowden said people would get used to the new measures.

He said: "The judgment we've taken with this [pubs] and swimming pools and elsewhere is it is better to reopen with those restrictions than not reopen at all."

Actors' union Equity welcomed the reopening of outdoor productions but called for further protection for venues, while Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said more clarity was needed regarding indoor performances.

The announcements follow the government's pledge of £1.57bn to support the arts industry.



TUC publishes plan to protect West Midlands from mass unemployment and build back better

A new TUC report ‘A better recovery for the West Midlands’ sets out a plan to prevent mass unemployment following the pandemic, with secure jobs and decent pay for working families.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary launched the report at a roundtable event with trade union leaders. The Labour candidate for the West Midlands’ metro mayor, Liam Byrne, respond to the report at the launch.

The TUC warns that there is a high risk of mass unemployment in the West Midlands without a recovery plan centred on protecting and creating jobs, backed by major investment.

Workers who have required support from the job retention scheme and self-employed income support scheme are most likely to face unemployment risks in the months ahead.

In the West Midlands, TUC analysis estimates that at least 882,000 workers (32% of the workforce) have required support from these schemes.

On top of these figures, there will be many other people who have been laid off, or who entered the employment market during the crisis, and have been unable to find work.

And the union body says economic uncertainty will affect all industries, so there will be pressure on the jobs of many workers who have not been furloughed too.

The pandemic alone did not cause the current crisis. It was made worse by a decade of austerity and failure to strengthen the West Midlands economy, says the TUC.

Choosing the wrong approach now risks embedding low growth, long-term unemployment and all the social ills that go alongside.

The report recommends an approach based on recently published TUC research (see notes), which found that the fastest recoveries from economic crises in UK history were based on investment for growth.

An investment for growth approach must be resourced by central government, and will need action at regional level in three key areas:

1. Investing in jobs: Combined authorities, local councils and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) should work in partnership to:

Secure investment for local infrastructure needs
Leverage public sector spending to support local jobs and enterprise
Develop a regional-level green industrial strategy that builds on the region’s strengths to meet climate targets

2. Decent work and a new way of doing business: Combined authorities, local councils and LEP’s should attach conditions to commissioning and procurement that will improve job quality, strengthen worker voice, increase training opportunities and tackle discrimination and disadvantage in the workplace.

3. Rebuilding public services: Combined Authorities and local authorities should adopt a policy of managing all services in-house by default, so they can raise employment and delivery standards, and strengthen the resilience of essential services such as social care.

These priorities complement the national priorities that we have already published in the TUC’s national recovery plan.

The report calls for the formation of a West Midlands recovery panel with representation from unions, employers, Job Centre Plus, relevant civic partners and local and regional government.

Regional panels would work in tandem with a UK National Recovery Panel to turn headline objectives into tailored strategies for each region.

The TUC says that regional structures with devolved powers are essential to achieving the best recovery possible, because the nature and scale of the challenge varies greatly across different parts of the UK.

The West Midlands’ strong manufacturing base and links to academic institutions places it in an ideal position to lead a green manufacturing revolution.
The report identifies the need for investment in:

A green housebuilding programme and extensive retrofitting to deliver the housing needs of the region and enable the region to be at the forefront of green construction
Green transport infrastructure. Presently there are more electric car charging points in Westminster than the West Midlands
Clean technology: Bring local authorities together through progressive planning polices to support the supply of clean energy. And to build links with academic institutions to support the development of green cluster
Further Education: To make the FE sector more accessible for working people and ensure the sector is meeting the needs of businesses and residents.  

Both the regional and national bodies should have worker representation so that workers’ voices are at the heart of decision-making for recovery plans.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “People are very worried about their jobs. Many have been laid off already. Losing your job is a dreadful experience – devastating for families. And if we allow mass unemployment to take hold, our economy will be smaller, and the recovery from the pandemic will be slower.

“That’s why good jobs are at the heart of our recovery plan for the West Midlands. Jobs in a reborn manufacturing sector. Jobs in the green tech we need to safeguard our future. Jobs in a revitalised transport system.

“And we must value our public services in the West Midlands too. Key workers kept us going through the crisis. But after ten years of cuts, it was much harder for them than it should have been. It’s time to rebuild local public services for the future.

“This week, we’re asking the Chancellor to put his faith in people in the West Midlands and across the UK with big and bold investment. If he backs us in this way, we can avoid mass unemployment, work our way to recovery and build back better.”

Lee Barron, TUC Midlands Regional Secretary, said: “The TUC supports the WCMA’s recovery plan as an additional first step. But this can only be a starting point.

“We now want to build upon this to deliver a genuinely world class economy that works for all working people.  This report gives us the roadmap to build back better.”

Liam Byrne, Labour Shadow WMCA Mayor, said: “We stand on a precipice. The jewel in the crown of British manufacturing is now at risk, which thousands of good manufacturing jobs in jeopardy. Yet government’s plan for ‘build, build, build’ in the West Midlands announced last week came to the grand total of 50p per person a week. That is frankly too little, too late.

“We need ministers to think again and this report shows how. It’s a not only a plan for real help now to save manufacturing, it’s a blue print for how our region, the home of the industrial revolution can become the Britain’s Green Manufacturing Capital’ 

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners will receive vouchers of up to £5,000 for energy-saving home improvements, with the poorest getting up to £10,000.


Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to set out a £2bn grant scheme in England for projects such as insulation as part of a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions. The Treasury said the grants could help to support more than 100,000 jobs.


Labour said renters appeared to be left out and called for a "broader and bigger" plan to cut carbon emissions.


It comes ahead of a summer statement from Mr Sunak, in which he could announce changes to stamp duty and VAT. Business leaders and a former chancellor have called for radical action to bolster the economy, which is still reeling from the impact of coronavirus.


Under the Green Homes Grant, the government will pay at least two-thirds of the cost of home improvements that save energy, the Treasury said.


For example, a homeowner of a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house could install cavity wall and floor insulation for about £4,000 - the homeowner would pay £1,320 while the government would contribute £2,680.


The scheme will launch in September, with online applications for recommended energy efficiency measures, along with details of accredited local suppliers. Once one of these suppliers has provided a quote and the work is approved, the voucher is issued.


Business Secretary Alok Sharma added that the poorest households could receive up to £10,000 towards costs, and that double glazing would also be covered by the scheme. He continued: "What [the scheme] ultimately means is lower bills for households, hundreds of pounds off energy bills every year, it's supporting jobs and is very good news for the environment."


The government said about half of the fund - which is due to be spent in one financial year - will go to the poorest homeowners, who will not have to contribute anything to the cost.


Better insulation could save some people £600 a year on energy bills, the Treasury said.


Sunak said the investment would also help to "kick-start our economy" by creating thousands of jobs and providing business for existing skilled workers, as the UK recovers from the economic shock of coronavirus.


"As Britain recovers from the outbreak, it's vital we do everything in our power to support and protect livelihoods across the nation," he said.



Phoenix Group, a leading savings and retirement business, is sponsoring Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s lifesaving CPR and Bleed Control Mission Support training programme for 18 months.

Phoenix Group has previously invited clinicians from Midlands Air Ambulance Charity into its local Wythall-based offices to provide staff with critical Mission Support training consisting of basic CPR skills and information on how to control severe bleeding wounds.

The sponsorship will enable the charity to continue providing the training to adults in businesses, organisations and community groups in the West Midlands.

Cardiac arrests and stabbing incidents were consistently ranked in Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s top five missions over the last 12-month period. Both types of incident require immediate bystander support before the arrival of advanced clinical care teams, such as Midlands Air Ambulance Charity’s aircrews, to give a patient the best possible outcome and to increase their chances of survival.

While social distancing is in place, training will be delivered virtually, and once restrictions have been lifted, the charity will deliver Mission Support training across the Midlands region, providing local people with practical advice on how to undertake CPR and utilise severe bleed control techniques. In addition, the funding will provide each group that undertakes the free training with a bleed control kit, which contains items, including bleed control gauze and a tourniquet for limb injuries.

Emma Gray, fundraising and marketing director for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, states: “From August 2019 to February 2020, 14 full days of our Mission Support training has been delivered to over 800 people. The programme offers two hours of crucially important lifesaving techniques for each person that takes part. As well as practical skills, each participant will receive an official certificate, and handy Mission Support pocket guide.

“The continued support we have received from Phoenix Group during the past six years of partnership has been integral in allowing our service to grow. By sponsoring our training programme, Phoenix Group is helping give back to its local community by enabling us to reach a greater number of businesses, organisations and community groups within the region, which could help save more lives in the Midlands.”

Andy Moss, Heritage CEO at Phoenix Group said: “We’re proud to support the vital work Midlands Air Ambulance Charity does on a daily basis and are delighted to be sponsoring the training programme which will ensure more people in the local area are able to help save lives.

“At the start of this year we extended our partnership with Midlands Air Ambulance Charity to the end of 2020, given the important role the charity is playing in the face of COVID-19. At a time when finances may be stretched it has never been more important for businesses, who are able to do so, to help their local charities.”



The boss of Deliveroo, Will Shu, has said that “restaurants are hurting” due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “Even if restrictions are lifted, there is going to be a long period of social distanced dining”.

Deliveroo has expanded its UK customer base, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating the adoption of delivery apps.

Mr Shu said: “Covid-19 has really marked a new era of delivery.

“Since we started Deliveroo, there has been this incredible adoption towards online and apps.

“But I think that Covid-19 has brought forward this consumer behaviour by about 1 to 3 years.

“On the other hand, though, our restaurant partners are hurting”.

He said: “Technology firms like Deliveroo need to develop better tools for restaurants to operate safely and profitably”.

It comes as Deliveroo launches a new feature called ‘Table Service’.
From July 15, UK users will be able to order food and pay through the Deliveroo app when they have a sit-in meal at participating restaurants, cafes or pubs.

The firm says that it is aimed at making social distancing easier when eating out.


A new survey of writers has yielded powerful evidence that writers have been more resilient to the impact of lockdown. Whether or not we see the next big literary success story, we are on track to see a flurry of new books, unlike new film and TV content where productions have stalled.

With book downloads and Kindle sales currently going through the roof, more content and talent discovery is fantastic for avid readers. And many more people have taken up reading since pandemic restrictions locked them into their homes.

The survey by Page Turner Awards, an award for published and unpublished fiction and non-fiction from all genres judged by high-profile experts from the literary world, tallied responses from writers across 15 different countries.

Surprise findings showed that 61% of writers are able to write more since the lockdown started.

This would indicate that the lockdown hasn’t had as big a restricting effect on the majority of those within the writing community as it has with many other leisure, social or employment pursuits.

Among the notable results:

  • Looking at the percentage splits shows that 39% of writers are writing less during lockdown. However, 61% are writing more or about the same as they make the best use of their extra writing time.
  • Being able to write more or about the same would be encouraging for the 34% of writers who write full time, so the lockdown hasn’t disturbed their main livelihood, unlike so many other professions and creative interest areas.

Writers who have been able to write more during lockdown claim they can write more due to home working freeing up more time and less socializing means more writing time. Unfortunately, 33% of those who are writing more are able to do so because they have lost their job.

The top reasons why people are writing less during lockdown is mainly due to new calls on their time, such as caring for family, more home working, and the need to do home-schooling.

One writer reported a serious block in creativity and had to find other methods to draw it out, saying the stress of the situation had stymied their creative process.

In the UK this ‘writing more trend’ is even more acute. Key results from UK writers revealed that nearly twice as many writers are finding it easier to write more, and writing a lot more than the survey average, with 60% of UK writers spending more time writing.

This has mainly been driven by a loss of job, using extra spare time to boost their writing output, with UK writers happy to turn to their passion for writing as a means of using their spare time positively. 70% of UK participants are part time writers.

Results from the US revealed that women were more likely to be full time writers, with 43% of all replies from US women were full time writers.

48% of writers surveyed in the US are writing less, a lot less, in fact, on average 30% less, and in many cases 100% less. The main reason for this shows the increased responsibility and time needed to care for family particularly, it would seem, by the many female writers who find themselves in this position. The most notable US result shows that only 28% of the American writers surveyed have been able to write more.

Co-Founder of Page Turner Awards, Paula Sheridan said, “It’s wonderful to see that writers are determined to use an increase in their spare time to dedicate to their writing ambitions.”

The Page Turner Awards, sponsored by ProWritingAid, gives writers and authors the chance to enter unpublished or published fiction and non-fiction books, where a group of literary agents will read the work. Two writers are guaranteed to be published.


According to the latest rental market analysis from deposit replacement scheme, Ome, London has been the most affordable city for renting in England and Wales over the last five years when taking into consideration the increasing cost of renting.

Ome dissected rental market statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) across 19 major cities in England and Wales to see how the cost of renting in each area had increased over the last five years, as well as the average yearly increase during that time.
The data shows that as a whole across England and Wales, the cost of renting has increased by 8% in five years; increasing by an average of 2% annually.
While London remains the most expensive region for flat out rental costs (£1,697), the city has proved the most affordable where rental increases are concerned. The average rent in the capital has increased by just 1.3% in the last five years, an average annual increase of just 0.3%.

Leicester has seen the largest increase in rental costs with tenants seeing a 26.8% increase in the last five years, increasing at a rate of 6.1% a year.
Oxford (6%), Cardiff (5.8%), Bristol (5.7%) and Nottingham (4.9%) have also seen some of the largest average annual increases in rent, with the cost of renting in each city increasing between 19.7% and 25.3% in the last five years.

Not only has London seen the lowest increase in rental outgoings, the capital has also seen a reduction where the initial financial barrier of renting is concerned.

With the recent ban on tenant fees capping rental deposits at five weeks rent, the cost of a rental deposit in London has actually declined -11.4% in the last five years, down -2.9% a year on average. Of course, this still requires tenants to stump up an average of £1,958 and this remains the largest deposit sum across England and Wales.

Cardiff, Newport and Leicester have seen the largest increases in the initial cost of a rental deposit, up 2.8%-5.9% on average each year with a total increase of 10.9%-25.2% over the last five years.  

Co-founder of Ome, Matthew Hooker, commented: “The high cost of renting in London is nothing new and while many tenants object to this cost, especially in the current climate, it’s important to remember that in normal circumstances the vast majority of London renters also benefit from higher wages when compared to elsewhere across the nation. 

“When you couple this with the fact that rental costs in the capital have seen the lowest increase over the last five years when compared to other major cities, there are at least, some positives to take when it comes to living in the London rental sector.  

“You could argue that tenants in Leicester, Oxford and Cardiff have however had a far tougher time, with the cost of renting increasing by twenty-five percent or more in the last five years. While the actual cost of renting may come in below that of London, this aspect remains relative to the area and the earnings available and so tenants in these cities have been squeezed to a greater degree than their counterparts in London.”

Business Network

March 21 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This type of discrimination still takes place, including in the workplace.

Yet the benefits of Diversity in the workplace are many.

Discrimination VS. Diversity

Just a few days before International Women's Day, the day to combat racial discrimination takes place.

This day has its origins in the fight against Apartheid (a regime in favour of racism). Indeed, it commemorates the Shasperville massacre, which took place in 1960. This is also the case for Human Rights Day in South Africa, which is on the same date.

These events have left a stigma where racism has taken root. This is the source of the exclusion of many foreign ethnic groups, leading to a vicious circle of poverty.

It is well known that humans are afraid of the unknown. Yet these differences can be sources of great cultural and innovative wealth.

Let us therefore look at the interest of a Diversity policy. Let's not just sign a charter to give ourselves a good conscience and a good image.

What is Diversity?

Engrenagem_2 It is a process aimed at creating and maintaining a positive working environment.

Every difference and commonality between members is identified and highlighted.

This enables the group to reach its full potential to achieve the company's strategic objectives.

What are the benefits of Diversity?

A company that promotes diversity becomes more efficient and creative.

The multiplication of points of view leads to more ideas: the company has a greater potential for innovation. It also allows the company to diversify the products and services it offers, satisfying a wider range of customers.


In addition, this diversity makes it possible to solve problems more effectively. It also makes it possible to come up with a lot of innovative ideas during a brainstorming session.

Beyond the quality employer brand, Diversity policies help to lift international boundaries and attract the best talent to the company.

In this favorable context, employees tend to be more engaged, satisfied and productive in their company.

Under what conditions?

To reap these benefits, it is essential to create and maintain good team cohesion and quality communication.

Without this, conflict, lack of communication and cooperation can occur.

This is one of the reasons why the diversity process is based on the identification of individual richness: to highlight it within the group. In this way, everyone gets used to the fact that his or her colleague is different, even going so far as to realize that this is what makes him or her strong and complementary. The strengths of one colleague can compensate for the weaknesses of another.

This is where the signing of a Diversity Charter takes on its full value: in internal and external communication.

The people responsible for change management must support the project and promote this charter.

The majority group must be pushed to put itself in the place of the minority group: this is a powerful way to reduce discrimination and stereotypes.

Specialized training can be offered, which at the same time promotes team cohesion through exercises that foster understanding of the other.

In particular, it is necessary to train recruiters in order to be able to select new employees from diverse backgrounds. Managers must also be trained to manage this cultural diversity and promote it within the team.

Severn Trent’s Community Fund is open for applications after being refocused to help vulnerable communities during coronavirus.

The company has awarded nearly £700,000 from its Community Fund to 39 projects across its region since March, as part of its goal to donate more than £10 million over the next five years to projects that will bring benefits to local communities and the environment, across the Midlands.

Daisy Powell, Community Fund Manager, said: “It was really important to us that we were able to directly support everyone affected by the coronavirus crisis through our emergency funding but we thought now was a great time to try and get things to back to something approaching normality.

“Community spirit and wellbeing are as important as ever right now, so we wanted to get back to supporting those amazing groups which are supporting the most vulnerable people in our region or which have great projects they need to get off the ground to help loads of people.”

The company has donated almost £700,000 so far from the Community Fund, and some of the groups that have benefitted from grants include a volunteer coding project where children can programme plants to water themselves, a Food Farmacy incentive delivering healthy organic food to doorsteps, and a Family First project, that offers advice and support to parents and families on areas including food and nutrition, physical and mental health.

“We know that there are lots of amazing groups out there itching to apply as they have amazing ideas that will bring loads of benefits to people living in the local community,” said Daisy. “And we’d urge them to apply so we can see if we can help.”

The Community Fund is open to any non-profit organisation or local charity, but the team is specifically looking for projects that show a clear link to community wellbeing, such as:

People: Projects that help people to lead a healthier life and gain new skills;
Place: Ideas that help create better places to live in and use; and
Environment: Schemes that will help look after the natural environment, give people greater access to that environment or help look after water.

Applications are then put to an Independent Panel made up of Severn Trent customers, who ultimately decide which projects are successful.