Colors: Blue Color

Birmingham City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council have successfully bid for £400,000 of government funding to help get people new to the streets the rapid support that they need. The Rough Sleeping Grant will be used to support people by offering them a safe place to sleep, physical and mental health checks and substance misuse screening.  Work will be co-ordinated through a team of nurses, substance misuse workers and housing and support officers and will link to existing outreach and other service providers.

The charity raffle was the UK’s favourite way to help raise money for good causes in 2016 according to new research published today by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF). Almost one in five of us (19%) have taken part in a charity raffle in the past 12 months - making it the UK’s top fundraising activity of the year. Tea and cake also play a big part in the nation’s charity fundraising efforts, revealed the YouGov poll which was commissioned by CAF.

Royal Mail predicts that ‘Take-back Tuesday’ – the first working day in the New Year – will be the busiest day for online shopping returns through the post as shoppers rush to send back unwanted Christmas gifts. On Tuesday 3 January, returns of online purchases are predicted to jump by more than 50 per cent in a single day, versus the average number of return parcels per day in December. 

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is calling on people to kick start the New Year in an eco-friendly way by backing its largest ever ‘Treecycling’ scheme. On Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th January, flocks of volunteers will be collecting more than a thousand real Christmas trees for recycling. In return for a minimum suggested donation of £10, trees will be collected by volunteers and local businesses to be recycled into compost, mulch or bio-mass fuel.

Relatives of a man who passed away recently are being asked to get in touch with the City of Wolverhampton Council. Robert Thickett, who was a resident in a care home in Bilston, was 77. It is thought he had previously lived in the Selly Oak area of Birmingham. The City of Wolverhampton Council is trying to trace Mr Thickett’s relatives so that his funeral can be arranged.

Work is starting on the construction of a £6 million new care home in Rowley Regis as part of an agreement between Sandwell Community Caring Trust and Sandwell Council. The work is part of a special link-up between Sandwell Community Caring Trust (SCCT) and the council to provide modern facilities for older people. The new care home is being built on the site of Knowle House. When it is completed, the staff and residents from Grafton Lodge in Grafton Road, Oldbury, will transfer to the building.

People with disabilities treated Sandwell’s social care chief to a performance of Christmas songs when she visited a day centre in West Bromwich. Councillor Ann Shackleton, the council’s cabinet member for social care, met people who use the Stoney Lane Day Centre, which provides day opportunities for adults with physical and learning disabilities. Councillor Shackleton joined singer Rajni Patel and others in a Christmas sing-song.

More than a third (38 per cent) of people in the West Midlands throw away or forget an unsuitable gift that could help vulnerable children and young people, according to a new survey by Barnardo’s. However, a similar figure (35 per cent) gave them to a charity shop instead, reveals a poll by the UK’s leading children’s charity. The online research conducted by YouGov also found that musical socks were considered one of the least sought-after Christmas presents by nearly half of us (40 per cent), closely followed by a selfie stick or bathroom scales.

A prosthetic leg, a sheep’s head and a Victoria Cross medal are among the most unusual items donated to charity, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) can reveal. The top ten list, compiled by CAF, also includes a pair of canaries, a live ferret and a ventriloquist dummy. Charities including Oxfam, Guide Dogs For The Blind and Cancer Research UK submitted items for inclusion.  The donations have either been left at charity shops or bequeathed as legacies.

Council staff have helped raise £200 for charity Action Heart with a Christmas hamper raffle. Staff at the Sandwell Local office in Blackheath organised the raffle. Councillor Susan Eaves, Rowley Regis town lead member, said: “It’s great to see Rowley Regis Local organising this raffle to raise money for such an important local cause. I would like to thank all the staff for organising it and everyone who entered the raffle.”

Hundreds of fundraisers from across the West Midlands did their bit in a festive knit to support Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s third Festive Jumper Day. The annual event, this year known as Star Jumper Day, saw supporters put on their silliest seasonal attire – from ho-ho-horrendous hats to wacky winter woollies – in a bid to raise much-needed funds to help the charity build the UK’s first Rare Diseases Centre for children.

Dogs Trust – the UK’s largest dog welfare charity – has welcomed British accessories label, Radley, into its pack. Shoppers across Birmingham will be able to get their hands, and paws, on a covetable canvas tote, sales of which will go towards helping thousands of dogs across the country to find their special someone. This collaboration has been born out of the popularity of Radley’s mascot Scottie dog, which is much loved by its customers worldwide.

T’is the season to be jolly but for some people Christmas will not be a silent night. Spare a thought for the new mums and dads who will spend this Christmas in the delivery room welcoming their own bundle of joy to the world. It is only fitting then that Noah and Ava (derived from Eve) top the list of names for babies due this coming festive season, as compiled by one of the world’s favourite pregnancy apps, Pregnancy+.

During December, the cathedral will play host to over 50 special services, concerts and events. The season began with a record-breaking St Basils SleepOut, where local people slept out in Cathedral Square to raise money for the youth homelessness charity, St Basils. December will encompass events as diverse as the traditional Swedish ‘Santa Lucia’ service with Ex Cathedra Choir, ‘Carols for the Business Community’ with brass band, and a screening of the film ‘It’s a wonderful life.’