Colors: Blue Color

Three-quarters (75%) of students and recent graduates in the West Midlands feel that emotional rewards in their future career are equally – or more important – than practical ones. New research released today shows that millennials, the newest entrants to the job market, are looking for personal fulfilment in their careers with 53% wanting to feel their job is worthwhile.

The survey of over 3,000 students and graduates, for the national Get Into Teaching campaign, found that this generation are motivated by altruistic goals with 38% in the West Midlands wanting to make a positive contribution to society. Over a third (34%) are also looking for a job that will make them feel proud.

Coming of age during the recession, and the changing world of work, may have influenced West Midlands-based millennials - 53% report that good job security is an important practical element of their future career, with a further 35% saying clear progression routes are a key consideration.

Given these factors, the research found that this audience view teaching as a career positively with almost two-thirds (61%) feeling that being a teacher would provide more daily emotional rewards than most other careers. Moreover, two-fifths (40%) of current degree-level students and recent graduates in the West Midlands say they have experience of working with young people on a voluntary basis, and over three-quarters (79%) believe they would make a good teacher. Over half (52%) of all the West Midlands respondents felt a teaching career would offer the opportunity to make a positive impact every day.

Commenting on the findings, Roger Pope, spokesperson for the Get Into Teaching campaign, and Chair of the National College for Teaching and Leadership, said:

“As a lifelong teacher myself, I see how young people’s attitudes and ambitions change with the generations, which is something that helps to keep the teaching profession fresh too. It’s fantastic to hear that so many students and graduates believe they would also make a good teacher.

“The research also shows that students and graduates in the West Midlands are looking for secure, fulfilling and impactful careers, which is why teaching should be a real consideration for them. It marries the things that this cohort cares most about: helping make a difference to other people and the world around us, whilst also allowing committed and dedicated professionals to pursue their own career goals. Pupils in school today will go on to do jobs that haven’t been invented yet, so this generation of tech-savvy, passionate graduates would do well in teaching, guiding our children and young people as they enter a world which is changing at a faster rate than we’ve ever seen.”

Furthermore, 92% of students and graduates in the West Midlands also believe teaching would be a fulfilling career most or all of the time, with 37% believing teaching to be in the top five jobs that make a positive impact on society.

Craig Smith, a newly-qualified PE teacher from Ark Kings Academy in Birmingham, said:

“Teaching is a job that I’m incredibly proud to do. As a graduate I had lots of choices of potential careers, but I was drawn to teaching. Ultimately, I wanted a career that was rewarding and teaching ticks all the boxes – I get to inspire people in a subject I’m passionate about, it is full of emotional rewards and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile every day. It is also a structured profession where I am supported and encouraged to develop my skills and look to progress. I would encourage anyone looking for a truly meaningful career to find about more about teaching.”

The Get Into Teaching team organises a whole calendar of online and face-to-face events where students and graduates can speak to those within the profession and find out more about the teacher training options, school experience and the benefits a career in teaching offers.

Last month the funding available to trainee candidates in a range of subjects was announced. You could get a £26,000 tax-free bursary to train as a teacher in key subjects including science, computing, geography and languages. This year candidates could get £30,000 to train to teach maths – a £20,000 tax-free bursary while training as a teacher and a further £10,000 after tax once in teaching. Alternatively, prestigious scholarships of up to £28,000 are available in priority subjects for graduates with a 2:1 or above who are passionate about their subject and have the potential to be teachers.

Britain's boozers, already amongst the heaviest drinkers in Europe, are responsible for one of industry's biggest headaches – how to deal with the waste products of both production and consumption.

These are the findings of one of the UK's leading waste management companies, which says that alongside the familiar sight of bottle banks and tin recycling, brewers and distillers are having to cope with the ever-growing mountain of by-products from their business.

While bottles and tins are easily and readily recycled, some brewers have traditionally just poured away their waste products, the BusinessWaste.co.uk company says.

"The consumer would be shocked if they knew of the waste behind their favourite tipple," says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall, "but the truth is that they're only just coming to grips with a centuries-old problem."

According to official statistics, every year Britons get through

 

  • 1.5bn bottles of wine
  • 108m bottles of vodka
  • 70m bottles of Scotch
  • 30m bottles of gin
 

Around 70% of British people say they drink alcohol on a weekly basis, with larger numbers of younger people bucking the national trend which had previously shown a decline in adult drinkers.

"Aside from the obvious health risks, we can report that up to 50% of alcohol containers aren't recycled and end up in general waste bins," says Hall. "As an environmental health check for the nation, that's not particularly good.

"That means millions of tons of glass and aluminium not being recycled every year, and that's a terrible waste."

But it's in the brewing and distilling trade that waste is just as pressing.

Figures show that the Scotch whisky industry alone produces 500,000 tons of solid waste every year, and a staggering 1.6bn litres of waste liquids. While the solid waste (called "draff") is usually spread on agricultural land, the liquid ("pot ale") is sometimes just poured down the drain.

There's hope that chaff and pot ale can be turned into other products, and a process has just been revealed that turns the two into useful chemicals such as acetone, and fuels like butanol and ethanol.

"That's the kind of 'out of the box' thinking that could save the distilling industry thousands every year," says BusinessWaste.co.uk ‘s Mark Hall. "Not only in cutting their waste bills, but selling their by-products as a premium product."

BusinessWaste.co.uk says that other sectors of the drinks industry should take a look at their by-products to see if there is a viable alternative to waste.

"With raw commodities becoming more expensive every day, it means that the gap between waste and value is narrowing," Hall says.

"New processes could save the booze industry from a financial hangover, but they've got to invest first."

Starting mid November and now stretching into January, thousands will enjoy a few drinks with work colleagues at their works Christmas do. However whilst most will have a few drinks and call it a night, research from office provider Desk.co.uk suggests some have a desire to take things further with an office co-worker.

Jonathan Ratcliffe spokesman for Desk.co.uk said: “We were staggered at the findings, 1/3rd actually plan to take a work relationship further. Whether or not it actually works out is in the hands of the love gods I guess”.

While many single people will meet their future love interest at work, there is a darker side to it all. The new research suggests that 36% of men and women admit to having an affair with a co-worker, and 35% of men and women admit to cheating while on a business trip.

With the stresses of work reaching a fever pitch at Christmas, and plenty drinking too many free drinks, the Christmas party has long been the place where tensions can run a little high. Fights, arguments and fumbles are commonplace across the UK at this time of year.

"We’ve all seen with our own eyes what happens after a few drinks," says Desk.co.uk spokesperson Jonathan Ratcliffe, "We all know one or two people in the office who are at it don’t we - and some of these are married and in relationships”

It’s not just married workers who see the festive season as prime time to kindle a love affair. Many single people find approaching fellow office workers difficult, especially in smaller workspaces. The Christmas party gives them the perfect testing ground to see if their target feels the same way too.

Jane, 42, from Leeds, said: “I’m recently single so yeah I will be seeing if I can pull - why not! I work in a call centre and it’s basically like a nightclub the office party, lots of new faces.”

Mark, 32, from London, said: “I’ve pulled at work parties before, and cheated. Nothing came of it, but it’s a great time to go for it, everyone is happy and having fun”

Judith, 58, from Birmingham, said: “I met my ex-husband at work and we had our first snog at the works do - 30 years later we’re still together”

"Just don’t forget your mistletoe! " says Desk.co.uk spokesman Jonathan Ratcliffe.

Supervised offenders doing unpaid Community Payback cleared nearly 15 tonnes of rubbish from Sandwell’s neighbourhoods as part of the Safer 6 campaign.

Figures out today reveal offenders carried out a total of 817 hours during the six-week campaign, removing 14.96 tonnes.

Sandwell Council’s estate maintenance team works with Staffordshire and West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company to get offenders cleaning up sites.

Places where offenders worked during campaign were as follows:

Oldbury:

  • Cleared dumped rubbish from a passageway/communal area on the Lion Farm estate and cut back an overgrown area at an old allotment site in Beeches Road
Rowley Regis:
  • Cleared overgrown bushes in Perry Park Road, tidied up an area by garages at Falcon Place and helped at a major community tidy-up at Mousesweet Brook Nature Reserve
Smethwick:
  • Cleared rubbish, fly-tipping, moss and weeds at the side and rear access paths in Roslyn Close, to make them safer to use
Tipton:
  • Cleared rubbish and overgrown areas at Upper Church Lane open space, and joined councillors, neighbourhood officers and police cleaning up Fred Perry Walkway
Wednesbury:
  • Cleared overgrown shrubs at the pedestrian underpass and cycle route in Dudley Street, to make it safer for people to use
West Bromwich:
  • Cleared dumped rubbish and overgrown areas at the Harwood Street to Mason Street walkway and Wood Lane garage site, and cleared dumped rubbish and overgrown areas at Wallface, Hill Top, on the West Bromwich/Wednesbury border
Councillor Elaine Costigan, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “Through the Community Payback scheme, residents can see offenders serving their sentences, carrying out clean-up projects that benefit our towns and neighbourhoods.

“I would like to thank our estate maintenance team and Staffordshire and West Midlands CRC for making this happen.”

The council’s estate maintenance team, neighbourhood officers, Litterwatch, volunteers, councillors, Serco and other partners also held clean-ups and litter-picks at places across Sandwell for the campaign.

City of Wolverhampton Council's gritting crews are on standby 24 hours a day, ready to swing into action whenever ice, frost or snow are forecast.

The city has a plentiful supply of 4,500 tonnes of rock salt in stock for the winter season. There is also a fleet of 9 gritting lorries and a team of drivers who each have a specific route to treat around the city should temperatures plummet.

City of Wolverhampton Council routinely treats 239 miles every time the gritters go out - that is more than 50% of all roads in the city. They are divided into priority 1 and 2 routes.

Each gritting run uses approximately 40 tonnes of salt and takes between 3 to 4 hours to complete.

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment, said: "Keeping people safe and the city moving is our priority and vast amounts of work behind the scenes takes place to make that happen.

"Our gritting crews are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - including over Christmas and New Year. That call out could come at any hour of the day or night and they have to be ready to respond immediately.

"There is also a dedicated team which constantly monitors the forecast - including data coming in from across the region and information specific to Wolverhampton - to be able to choose the optimal time to send the gritters out. It really is quite a scientific operation and there is a lot more involved than many people think."

Last winter, the gritters were called out in the city 47 times which meant they treated 11,233 miles of road (this is the equivalent of driving from Wolverhampton to Bolivia and back) and used 2059 tonnes of rock salt.

Shocking new figures show Shelter received a call for help from the West Midlands every 5 minutes in the run up to Christmas last year, and the charity is warning that the situation this winter could be set to get worse.

New research from Shelter and M&S shows that in 2016 the charity’s national helpline received nearly nine thousand calls from the West Midlands in the two months leading into Christmas.

And crippling combination of rising homelessness, sky-high rents, problems with Universal Credit and a dearth of affordable homes means this winter the charity is preparing for huge numbers of people struggling with homelessness and housing problems to come to them for support.

And with calls from people in the West Midlands to the free Shelter helpline increasing by 26% over the past year, their expert advisers are overwhelmed with pleas for housing help.

The Shelter helpline is funded by M&S customers throughout the festive season, with 5% of every purchase made from the ‘Festive Collection for Shelter’ going directly to the charity. This means the helpline can offer housing advice and support every single day of the year for people battling bad housing and homelessness.

Mark Cook, a helpline adviser for Shelter, said: “Every Christmas I speak to parents in despair as they face the trauma of homelessness, when they should be filling stockings and looking forward to Christmas dinner.

“Even though I’ll be working at Christmas, I think myself so lucky to be able to go home at the end of the day when there are so many families having to go without such a basic need.

“No family should face the agony of losing the roof over their heads, which is why we’re calling on people to get their lunch from M&S’s Festive Collection for Shelter. Something as simple as buying a sandwich could make the world of difference to a family whose home is on the line this Christmas.”

Mike Barry, Plan A Director at M&S, said: “We know our customers care about this issue and purchasing lunch from our Festive Collection for Shelter is a small, simple way they can make a big difference this Christmas. With calls to the Shelter helpline increasing by 25% over the past year it’s more important than ever we support this important cause.”

During December last year and January (2017), 9,152 incidents were reported to the RSPCA in West Midlands* with 234 of those happening across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

New figures from the animal welfare charity show that during the same period (Dec 2016/Jan 2017), the charity received 118,799 calls across England and Wales - 1,916 calls a day. (79.8 calls an hour, 1.3 calls a minute.)

From poorly, unwanted pets callously dumped on the streets to animals and wildlife deliberately cruelly treated, RSPCA inspectors are preparing to see heartbreaking cruelty and neglect this festive season.

The animal welfare charity expects to take in around 19,000 animals in need this December and January and desperately needs your help to care for them.

RSPCA superintendent Simon Osborne said: “It’s a sad fact that every day at work throughout the year can be tough for our inspectors and animal welfare and collection officers, but winter really does come with its own challenges and issues. In fact, we expect to take in somewhere in the region of 19,000 animals this winter alone.

“During the festive season alone last year, we rescued over 25,000 animals, many of whom had been cruelly abandoned, injured or abused. But we also saw so many acts of kindness by animal lovers, from the passer-by who rescued a shivering and sick puppy days before Christmas, to those who reported suffering animals to our cruelty hotline or volunteers caring for animals in our centres and branches. We are asking animal lovers across the country to show kindness this Christmas by supporting our winter appeal.”

To help the RSPCA to continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care, and to support the charity’s ‘kindness’ campaign, please visit www.rspca.org.uk/winterappeal.

 

Many of graduates in the West Midlands have not benefitted from or used their degree in the world of work. New research conducted by Able Skills, found that 64% of graduates in the region felt they could be in the same position without a degree while (21%) said their degree was a waste of money. A third (33%) of the region’s graduates think they could be earning more if they had starting working straight from school.

Almost half of all graduates surveyed across the UK (48%) believe they could be earning more if they started working straight from school and (35%) wish they didn’t go to university at all. Perhaps because they are not using their degrees, almost three in ten of all (27%) graduates have never used their qualification at work. But this doesn’t look set to change, over half (58%) of employed graduates have no plans to move jobs to make use of their studies.

Top 10 Most Useless Degrees According to  Graduates from the West Midlands:
  1. Film Studies
  2. Fashion
  3. Art History
  4. Media Studies
  5. Religious Studies
  6. Fine Arts
  7. Sports Management
  8. Philosophy
  9. Politics
  10. PR and Communications
 
Even mainstream subjects have not led graduates across the UK to relevant jobs. Almost two thirds of all geography and history (62%) graduates admitted they have never used what they learnt in employment.  This is followed by a third (33%) who studied psychology or sociology that have also never made use of their learnings.

Gary Measures, Managing Director of Able Skills says: “The education, education, education boom in the 90’s has had a knock on effect. Many graduates seem to have taken this on board without seriously considering what they wanted to do post study. Evidently, further education is not the best career route for everyone and is such an investment that young people seriously need to consider their skill set and future before taking on such a commitment of their time and money. More needs to be done to educate young people on the other options available to prevent another generation making the same mistakes when they could be earning and on a career ladder.”

A lack of planning could be the problem as (31%) of graduates in the West Midlands didn’t know what they wanted to do with their degree after studying.  Able Skills offer construction training courses in electrical, plumbing, gas, plastering, carpentry, tiling, decorating and bricklaying.

Tesco's 10th Food Collection takes place in all stores across the UK this weekend, with Tesco topping up customer donations by 20% to help charity partners FareShare and The Trussell Trust feed even more people in need.

Tesco is inviting shoppers across the UK to help people in need this Christmas by donating long-life food to its Food Collection, which takes place in all Tesco stores from Thursday 30 November to Saturday 2 December.

The Food Collection, now held annually ahead of Christmas, is part of the retailer's ongoing work to support its partners FareShare and The Trussell Trust, which help a wide range of people across the UK.

Tesco's support for its food charity partners has been a key part of this year's Christmas campaign, which celebrates the many ways people come together at Christmas. Alongside the Food Collection and its ongoing surplus food redistribution scheme, the retailer is donating £1 for every fresh turkey sold to help people in need, and its second television advert shines a light on the difference food donations from Tesco can make.

Since the Food Collection began in 2012, more than 40 million meals have been donated by generous Tesco customers.

Matt Davies, UK & ROI CEO at Tesco, said:

“I'm always amazed and humbled by the generosity of our customers at Christmas time with the support they give to our Food Collection.

"Last year, we provided more than 4 million meals worth of food to help people in need through our different schemes, and this year hope to provide even more support with extra little helps like donating £1 for every fresh turkey purchased at Tesco.”

Lindsay Boswell, CEO at FareShare, encouraged people to give to the collection:

“If you're heading down to your local Tesco today please do remember to donate a can or packet to the food collection at the front of the store. For charities doing their best to feed some of the most vulnerable over the Christmas period, these donations make a huge difference.

"What's more, Tesco will top-up your donation by 20% which enables our charity to help more and more people in need.”

Samantha Stapley, Operations Manager for The Trussell Trust, said:

“Trussell Trust foodbanks across the country will be doing all they can to provide emergency support so people don't go hungry – but to make sure we're prepared for what could be our busiest December yet, our network needs your support.

"During every Food Collection we've been humbled by the staggering generosity of Tesco customers, store colleagues and volunteers, and as we look to the start of the 10th collection, we would love to have your support once again. Your generosity will help stop hunger this Christmas.”

Hampshire can stake a strong claim to have been at the very forefront of the formation of the RAF, in 1918.

Farnborough, in the north east of the county, is where the Army established its Royal Engineers Balloon School in 1906.  It also happens to be where the 'daring-do' pioneer pilot Samuel Franklin Cody made the first successful powered flight in Britain in 1908; where one of the forerunners of the RAF, the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), was created; and where the so-called “Father of the RAF”, Hugh Montague Trenchard commanded the Military Wing in the RFC HQ.

Now named Trenchard House, the earliest building on the site of the Royal Aircraft Factory is where the first British Army RFC aircraft squadrons were established in 1912 – in a meeting-room which has been restored, and which the public can visit today by invitation.  Largely dedicated to operations over The Western Front, the RFC would later merge with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) to become The RAF in 1918.

Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST: https://www.airsciences.org.uk/index.html), standing on the very same site in Farnborough, commemorates all of this - and more - in its wonderfully eclectic Museum.

Which also helps to make Hampshire one must-see locations in the UK as the nation prepares to mark the centenary of the RAF in 2018.

And while FAST is planning a special exhibition for next year to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, formerly the Royal Aircraft Factory, 2018 will also see the return of the hugely popular Farnborough Airshow to Hampshire from July 16-22 2018 (https://www.farnboroughairshow.com/trade/visiting/public-show/).

Hampshire's aviation history is especially eye-catching, having become the Royal Engineers' venue of choice in 1906 when the Army was looking for a base for their balloon operations.  And in the years leading-up to the outbreak of WWI, many of the country's leading technicians, and most of the nation's leading test pilots, started to ply their new trades at Farnborough.

Amongst them, the colourful former Wild West Showman Samuel Franklin Cody also made quite a name for himself - not least by making the first successful powered flight in Britain, on October 16, 1908.  Visitors to the FAST today will find his statue at the entrance to the Museum, and can learn more within The Cody Pavillion, which houses a replica of the plane in which he recorded his epic flight.

Aviation was becoming a science, Hampshire was at the heart of it, and the Royal Flying Corps, built-up by “Boomer” Trenchard on the orders of Lord Kitchener to raise the number of new squadrons from his target of twelve, to sixty, was one of two airborne services protecting Britain from the German threat.

Towards the end of the war, Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts was asked by the British Imperial War Cabinet to look at ways of combining the work of the RFC and the RNAS.  His review of the British Air Services, which came to be called 'The Smuts Report', concluded the treatment of air required a separate force, and in 1918 the Royal Air Force was formed.

FAST Museum is dedicated to Farnborough's proud aviation heritage and significant contribution to air science and research.  Located in and around the former Royal Engineers Balloon School, it is open to the public every weekend from 10am to 4pm, and by arrangement for pre-booked groups from Tuesday to Thursday.  Free to visit, it is run entirely by volunteers.

This Christmas one travel company is giving a gift to its customers and the environment.

Sustainable tour operators Undiscovered Mountains are planting a tree for every booking made with them in the month of December.

The multi-activity holiday specialists have a strong commitment to sustainable tourism and are making the most of the festive season as an opportunity to encourage holidaymakers to be eco-friendly and responsible travellers.

The Alps-based company's Plant a Tree for Christmas scheme is a festive launch for the company's new carbon offsetting programme in collaboration with social enterprise Mossy Earth, which allows travellers to off-set the environmental impact of their travel.

One tree would offset the carbon cost of an average European flight for one person.

The new carbon offsetting programme will normally see customers given the option to pay €9.99 to plant a tree when making their booking, but as a special festive launch for the new venture Undiscovered Mountains are covering the cost of planting a tree for every booking made through the month of December.

Sally Guillaume, Owner and Director of Undiscovered Mountains says:

“Sustainable tourism is at the heart of what we do year-round. At Undiscovered Mountains we actively promote eco-friendly travel and we are passionate about launching our carbon offsetting scheme to compensate for the inevitable environmental impact that travel has. We are very excited to launch the scheme with our Plant a Tree for Christmas offer and we can't wait to see our forest grow.”

Undiscovered Mountains have a specially allocated area within the Mossy Earth forest in Portugal. Those who sign up to plant a tree will receive a photograph of their tree as well as GPS co-ordinates so the tree can be located on the interactive forest map on the Undiscovered Mountains website, or even visited in person.

The Plant a Tree for Christmas offer is available for one tree per booking for every booking made through 1st-31st December 2017.

CaminoWays.com are pleased to announce Mossy Earth as the recipients of the Greenlife Fund. Sticking with our commitment to sustainable and inspirational projects we are thrilled to be supporting the Native Oak Reforestation project in Northern Portugal.

Following the devastating wildfires in Portugal earlier this year this is just the type of project assist with our fund. For this inspiring project we aim to support the reforestation of areas affected by the wild fires that have destroyed vegetation and wildlife habitats in regions surrounding the Camino routes.

This year alone the Portuguese wildfires are understood to have been responsible for over 100 deaths and countless destruction of the beautiful landscapes across Northern Portugal. The fires destroyed about 29,000 hectares of land and the hope is that we can all help to prevent such devastating events in the future.

To start this initiative we have planted one tree per staff member in Northern Portugal where Mossy Earth have secured a site. We are inviting Camino walkers from around the world to support this fantastic project. For every tree bought Mossy Earth will provide exclusive GPS coordinates of the area where the trees are planted and regular updates on the forest.

Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre has become one in only a handful of theatres across the UK to be awarded Theatre of Sanctuary status, recognising its commitment to becoming a welcoming and safe place.

The award was presented to the Theatre during an event to mark Universal Children’s Day on Tues 21 Nov, which featured a showcase of music, artwork and live performances by Syrian Refugees in collaboration with the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre in partnership with The Children’s Society and Positive Youth Foundation.

Dr. Seyedeh F. Naseriniaki, a member of the City of Sanctuary assessment panel, and Reem Doukmak, Community Participation Officer at Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and President of Student Action For Refugees, presented the award which was accepted by the Belgrade’s former General Manager Claire Simpson.

In order to achieve this status as a Theatre of Sanctuary, the Belgrade has demonstrated to a visiting panel its ability to raise awareness of what it means to be a person seeking sanctuary and take action to support the inclusion of sanctuary seekers and refugees in its activities.

Earlier this year, the theatre held an event to mark Refugee Week 2017, which included a panel discussion on what it means to be a place of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers, involving leading figures from organisations working with refugees in Coventry and beyond. Throughout the week, the theatre also hosted a free exhibition of community artwork based on the themes of home, belonging and identity.

The Belgrade’s Associate Director, Justine Themen said, “We are delighted to have been awarded the status of Theatre of Sanctuary. The Belgrade prides itself on welcoming and building strong relationships with the diverse communities in the city – whether as audiences, participants or artists. We recognise that a city is a continuously evolving place, and that we need to be responsive to change within it. Whilst continuing to build our longer term relationships with existing communities, we want to open our doors to newly-arriving communities to share their stories and build understanding. We look forward to the challenges and inspiration that come with this. A theatre is a space for dialogue within the city and celebrating both our differences and our shared humanity.”

Together with the Community Participation Officer at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, the Belgrade Theatre will be co-designing a short pilot programme of four workshops for newly arrived women. The workshops will use drama to build confidence and language skills. If the work is found to have significant impact, the partners will work to explore the possibilities of rolling out a longer programme.

Universal Children’s Day, organised internationally by the United Nations and UNICEF, encourages people around the world to come together to help fight for children’s rights, campaign for better welfare and help them fulfil their potential.

A group of students in Oldbury have been selected as special representatives at their Academy – after putting their names on a ballot paper in a special election.

Twenty students were elected as Excellence Leaders during an election at the Q3 Academy Langley

The students put their names and “manifestos” forward in a new move to elect representatives who will pass on the views of other students to Academy bosses.

Councillor Steve Trow, cabinet member for core council services, said: “I was very pleased to get along to Q3 to meet students who have got involved with democracy at this young age and to present badges to the winning candidates.

“I also wanted to congratulate the other young people who put themselves forward and were not successful. I am sure that the winning candidates will enjoy representing the views of the students.

"This early introduction to the democratic process may help to create some budding politicians at Q3 Academy Langley."

The election process was supported by Sandwell Council’s elections participation officer Surinder Singh.

Mr Peter Lee, the Academy’s Head of School, said:“Twenty students from Year 7 and 8 were successful and they will meet regularly and represent the student body views to the Academy.

“They will be in charge of various initiatives during the year, including matters of the environment and local community.

“They will also support our Head Boy and Head Girl who were elected last year in various Academy events, including for example the New Intake Evening.”

Mr Lee said the democracy initiative had been very interesting, with all students in Year 7 and 8 being able to put themselves forward for election.

“Voting took place, using real-life ballot boxes, after the applications were vetted with candidates pitching their manifestos to their peers.” he said.  Q3 Academy Langley, built on the former Langley High School site on Moat Road in Oldbury, opened its doors to the first pupils in September 2016.

Currently the school has nearly 400 students in years seven and eight and will eventually accommodate 1,500 students.

Building work continues on-site and is due to be completed by September 2019.

Katarina Line, winner of the “Best Croatian DMC” award, announced that its 2017 fundraising drive to help the Down Syndrome Associations of Dubrovnik and Rijeka in Croatia raised nearly $35,000. As part of the drive, launched early in the year, the company donated one Euro – approximately one U.S. dollar – for every guest who booked a cruise with them in 2017. The contribution reflects the nearly 30,000 passengers who booked with Katarina Line this season – a record for the company as it continues to expand its presence in North America and Europe.

Katarina Line presented checks of equal value – approximately $17,500 each – to the two Down syndrome centers in Dubrovnik and Rijeka in a special ceremony recently. The money will help to improve the quality of life for people with Down syndrome, providing them with improved medical care, education and employment.

“Down syndrome affects nearly one in 700 births of all races and nationalities, so we all probably know someone who has been impacted by it,” said Daniel Hauptfeld, marketing director for Katarina Line. “We felt that contributing to this worthy cause was one of the best ways for our company to celebrate 25 years of success in business.”

Hauptfeld noted that customers, partners and friends are still contributing to the drive. Therefore, the additional funds will be presented to the Down syndrome associations during the company's 25th anniversary celebrations in Opatija on November 25th.