Colors: Blue Color

With only a few days to go Birmingham Heritage Week organisers are encouraging local people and visitors to start planning what they will see and do, as the countdown to over 100 events begins.

New events have been added to the line-up, including Flatpack Film Festival’s Birmingham On Film taking a new look at Birmingham’s waterways, with fun sessions and film screenings – with one even aboard a canal boat! Other new events include tours of St Margaret’s Church in Ward End, which dates back to 1516 and is home to a fascinating collection of Heritage monuments, and Beatfreeks will be hosting a series of masterclasses, talks and stalls as part of its Social Exchange event at Mac Birmingham.

Birmingham Heritage Week (7-17 September 2017) will offer something for everyone, whether you want to visit places that are not normally open to the public, take part in a city tour exploring everything from architecture to the city’s musical heritage, enjoy live music in a unique setting or view a classic film in a new context.

Highlights include:

· Seige! at Aston Hall (Saturday 16 Sept) – Be part of the action and experience a live Civil War in a recreation of the siege of Aston Hall that took place in 1643. Sponsored by Weslyan, this event will see visitors become part of the story!

· Positively Birmingham Tour (Sunday 17 Sept) – Follow in the footsteps of the great Birmingham artist, Edward Burne-Jones and see some of the city’s most historic buildings and gain an understanding of the city’s origin.

· Blakesley Hall Ale Festival (Saturday 16 Sept) – Fans of real ale there will be a able to sample a wide variety of ales and ciders in the picturesque and historic setting of Blakesley Hall’s gardens.

· A Walk around Medieval Yardley (Saturday 9 Sept) – Join experts from the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society in a stroll around the village of Yardley and discover its hidden medieval history.

· Help Keep Moseley Road Baths Open Day (Saturday 9 Sept) – One of Birmingham’s most important heritage buildings and one of the nation’s most significant swimming pools will be hosting guided tours of this Grade II* listed building.

· My Story, Our Journey: Sikh Migration into Birmingham and the Black Country (7-17 Sept) – This exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery traces the journey of the Sikhs from rural Punjab, to modern day Britain.

For full listings visit birminghamheritageweek.co.uk

Birmingham is one of the greenest cities in the UK and there will be a number of events exploring Birmingham’s green spaces. 4 Ways to a Greener Birmingham will be leading a number of guided walks around the city’s parks. There will also be open days at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, as well as a number of historic gardens located at properties across the city. There will even be the chance to do an Urban Safari based around the city’s canal system.

Birmingham Heritage Week coincides with this year’s Heritage Open Days celebrations, which run from 7 to 10 September, and is the UK’s biggest festival of history and culture.

On Sunday 10 September, Stirchley Baths, a community hub on Bournville Lane, Stirchley, will be showcasing its heritage as an Edwardian swimming baths and public washhouse.

Visitors are invited to pick up a diving brick in the deep end, add their stitches to a community tapestry and put their knowledge to the test during this year’s Heritage Open Days and Birmingham Heritage Week.

Back by popular demand are the ‘hard-hat’ tunnel tours where visitors can explore the tunnel system underneath the building and venture into the pool and original bore hole, now boarded over. Brand new this year is the opportunity to pick up a needle and some thread and contribute to a permanent artwork which will recreate the 1980’s tropical poolside mural in stitch and knit, working with tapestry needle-point artist Tina Francis. There’s also a chance to take part in a Birmingham heritage quiz night, - with ten rounds of questions, homemade pizza and drinks.

Suzanne Carter, Stirchley Baths’ Community Heritage Coordinator said:  “On Sunday evening, as Heritage Open Days’ doors are closing to visitors we decided to keep ours open and invite heritage enthusiasts from across Birmingham back to our place to keep celebrating the city’s amazing history -  its buildings, inventions, historical events and even bands that have been born in Brum. It’ll be a bit of competitive fun and we would love to see teams of friends and family showing what they know about the city’s heritage whilst relaxing in one of its beautiful historic buildings.

“This is a free event and people are welcome to bring their own alcoholic drinks and ChangeKitchen CIC can deliver freshly-made pizza to your table. We’re open during the day too, so come early to soak up some local history for the Stirchley Baths’ and Stirchley History rounds!”

Karen Cheney, Head of Selly Oak District at Birmingham City Council, who oversees the Stirchley Baths’ heritage programme which is now in its final six months, added:  “We are open from 11am and really excited to show off the building above and below ground. Our very popular tunnel tours can be booked on the day and there will be family trails and activities, animated films and displays to help visitors understand the building and its fascinating history.

“Our Big Stirchley Baths Stitch Project is really capturing people’s imagination and so far we’ve had over 100 local people aged between 4 and 93 take part. We’d love our heritage weekend visitors to contribute to our art work which is turning out, quite literally, to be a piece of history in the making.”

On Friday 8 September there will also be a special family event with Beryl of the Baths.  Beryl will take you through a 45 min, fast-paced and hugely entertaining time-travelling experience through the Bath’s history. Beryl of the Baths is a specially commissioned storytelling session devised by Toni’s Drama Tots.

Spencer Broughton of Leicester has been named as the Midlands’ Best Best Man by leading stag and hen travel expert, Red7, and is now in the running to be crowned the nation’s finest.
Each Best Man had to prove he had gone the extra mile, a test which Spencer passed with flying colours.
Although Spencer almost created a wedding day disaster by accidentally destroying a number of the groomsmen’s buttonholes, he redeemed himself by inviting surprise guests of honour for tortoise loving groom Alex Broughton – a group of Aldabra tortoises, the second largest species in the world. Spencer also ensured that the wedding celebrations went without a further hitch, keeping guests dancing until the small hours and even paying for the bride and groom’s taxi back to their wedding night hotel.
The judges were looking for a Best Man who showed himself to have a host of gentlemanly qualities, from diplomacy to loyalty, as well as a fun and entertaining edge, which Spencer displayed in abundance.
Alongside this, he was chosen as the Midlands’ Best Best Man based on those moments where he went above and beyond for the groom, Alex, as well as glowing feedback from the man himself.
Alex commented: “We had the best day we could have hoped for, and it wouldn’t have been as perfect as it was without my Best Man. Competition or not, he made a quality Best Man. Cheers to you Spence!”
Spencer narrowly pipped Birmingham-based Best Man duo Dale Craig White and Vijay Chauhan to the title. They wowed judges by devising a show stopping first dance routine for the happy couple.
Out of hundreds of entries and tough competition, Spencer is now one of just seven vying for the title of Britain’s Best Best Man.
The final seven will attend a luxury event in Brighton, where Britain’s Best Best Man will be crowned on 22 September.
Ian Lucas, Founder of Red7 commented: “During 20 years in business as the UK’s original specialist hen and stag party travel agent, we have seen the role of the Best Man change significantly. Gone are the days of organising a few pints down the groom’s local and cobbling together a stitch-up speech for the wedding day while nursing a hangover from the night before!
“Today’s Best Man has a big job, but Spencer and his fellow finalists have shown that they really made the role their own.
“Whittling down the entries was a tough task, Spencer has done the Midlands proud and set a fine example of what a Best Man should be. I wish him the best of luck for the final of the competition!”

Getting married is one of the most life-changing moments people experience, so it stands to reason that people choose to spend it with their nearest and dearest. But many Brits will have noticed a subtle change in the wedding pictures peppering their social feeds of late: alongside the bonny brides and gorgeous grooms are esteemed guests of a furrier variety. In fact, new research conducted this wedding season by national pet charity Blue Cross has today revealed that as many as one in 10 Brits have given pets a central role in their wedding ceremony.

When asked why, over a quarter (26%) said they did so because it helps them remain calm and overcome anxiety on the big day. Brits also said they involved their pets because they are such an important part of the family (20%) and some said they had to come along simply because they are so cute (12%).

Although we might have become accustomed to the sight of animals making a cameo at wedding ceremonies, the study actually shows that pets are taking on a much more expanded role. In fact when asked what important role their pets would be playing on the big day, a massive 92% of those in favour of pets’ involvement said they wanted to walk down the aisle with their pet as maid of honour. Over half wanted their pets to have a starring role in wedding photos and video (56%) and, although their dinner speeches may leave a lot to be desired, they’re clearly doing something right as a close third came best man (54%).

Ryan Neile, Senior Animal Behaviourist from Blue Cross commented on the results: “Whether they are, companions, our best friends, or our comforters, pets play a huge role in our lives and it isn’t surprising to see how many Brits want to involve them in such an important moment. Even without weather worries, dress disasters, late caterers or missing rings to worry about, your wedding day can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience and having your pet by your side might just help settle some of those jitters, as long as you take steps to ensure that your pet is comfortable too.”

“At Blue Cross we recognise that every pet we receive, rescue, rehabilitate and rehome is a pet that can enrich its new family’s life in return. Pets are just as much as part of the family as mums, dads and siblings and this is why Brits love them to be involved in important events like this.”

When Katia and her husband John got married on Valentine’s Day two years ago, their beautiful English springer spaniel cross Bingo, who was rehomed from a Blue Cross centre, played a special role on the big day when he ‘gave the bride away’ at the altar. Katia said: “Bingo has become such an important part of our lives that there was never any doubt he would have to come to our wedding. He helped to make our big day even more special and he looked very handsome in his bow-tie! We’re so happy to have Bingo in our lives that we asked our guests to make a donation to Blue Cross instead of giving us gifts – it was lovely to be able to say thank you to them for helping us find Bingo and to make a difference for more pets like him.”

Dog walkers are being encouraged to join Wolverhampton’s very own paw patrol – and alert the authorities to any issues or to unusual or suspicious activity.

The Safer Wolverhampton Partnership has launched a new initiative, Paws on Patrol, to enrol dog walkers to act as “eyes and ears” and report issues ranging from dog fouling and fly tipping to anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and dangerous driving to the authorities.

Members of Paws on Patrol will not be expected to put themselves in any danger or approach anyone whom they suspect of committing a crime, but will instead be given the information they need to contact the police or other appropriate agencies to deal with the issue they have spotted.

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Dog walkers have always had a really important role to play in helping the authorities tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.

“In particular, they are in a fantastic position to spot things that others may not, as they often walk their dogs in the early morning or late at night.

“Through the Paws on Patrol initiative, we’re encouraging dog walkers to keep an eye out and report anything suspicious or indeed criminal to the police or council.”

Among those who have signed up to join the Paws on Patrol is Ed Boyle, who has two Lhasa Apso dogs, Millie and Maisey. He said: “Paws on Patrol in essentially a type of Neighbourhood Watch initiative, but for dog walkers.

“I’m often out and about in the community taking the dogs for a walk, and while I am doing this I am basically the eyes and ears of the community. It makes sense that I am empowered to report anything suspicious to the authorities, and I and my fellow dog walkers will be very happy to do so.”

Paws on Patrol is funded by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s Active Citizens Fund and supports the Safer Wolverhampton Partnership’s Community Safety and Harm Reduction Strategy which aims to increase the reporting of crimes, keep neighbourhoods safe and reduce the perceived fear of crime.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Paws on Patrol is a great idea. It builds on the principle that West Midlands Police relies on the eyes and ears of all of us in our local community to report criminal behaviour when they see and hear it taking place.

“Dog walkers spend more time than many of us pacing up and down local streets, which puts them in a perfect position to keep a look out for trouble and to report it to officers. I am delighted to have helped fund this community project using the ill-gotten gains of criminals.”

Dog owners who sign up to Paws on Patrol will be issued with a membership card, containing contact details for the police, Wolverhampton’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team and the Customer Services team at the City of Wolverhampton Council. As a thank-you for their involvement, they will also receive a reflective dog collar for their pet, a poop bag holder and poop bags.

This September, Bullring has announced the arrival of Selfie Spots to the centre. With the iconic Bull being named in The Independent's list of the world's top ten pieces of public art in 2014, the spots will be placed in picturesque spots around the centre, highlighting the most selfie-worthy locations.

With Millennials predicted to take a mighty 25,700 selfies in their lifetime and 1 million selfies taken a day, Bullring is offering a helping hand to selfie-takers across Birmingham. Whether customers are trying to capture the Bull at its best or make sure they have Selfridges' iconic exterior in the background, the centre's Selfie Spots will guide the way with expertly placed spots that will ensure you capture the best of Bullring.

The Selfie Spots will see Bullring, technically a millennial itself, celebrate its 14th birthday on September 4th.  Here for a temporary time only, four of the circular signs will be placed in several locations around the centre on the 1st September 2017, three days prior to Bullring's 14th anniversary.

For customers looking where to find the spots, they will be in the following locations: The Bullring Bull; with three Selfie Spots on St Martin's Walk allowing you to capture the beautiful St Martin’s Church and iconic Selfridges building.

One of Wolverhampton’s most popular restaurants is rolling out an exciting new
menu this week to help celebrate its 35th birthday. Bilash, which was opened by chef Sitab Khan in 1982, is looking to tempt diners with a whole host of new starters and main meals, all infused by a combination of traditional and modern Bangladeshi cuisine.
The impressive milestone marks a rapid period of growth for the Asian restaurant, with demand for its fine dining and lively atmosphere making it a hit with local business leaders, footballers and musicians visiting the city.
Bookings are up 20% on the previous twelve months as a result of the firm’s £100,000 investment in creating a new look venue and state-of-the-art kitchen that, for the first time, allows you to watch the chefs in action.
“We are very passionate about our local roots and the fact that we have grown into Wolverhampton’s premier Asian restaurant...many diners travel tens of miles to taste our cooking,” explained Mohammed Khan, who now runs the business with his father.
“It has been a very exciting journey, from having a small place with no reputation to, today, boasting a Michelin rating and being featured in the AA, Waitrose add Haden’s Good Food Guides.” He continued: “To celebrate our 35th birthday and our re-opening after the Summer break, we are bringing in a number of new dishes that have never been seen before.
"Interest appears to be huge, with only a few tables left for the first few weeks back.” Bilash, which employs 16 people at its Cheapside restaurant, seats 50 diners downstairs and a further 30 upstairs, which can be used for private dining or corporate functions.
The latter is a growing market for the family-owned restaurant with local businesses keen to impress customers and suppliers with a visit, whilst the Grand Theatre regularly take group bookings for show performers.
“Diners can try the ‘Bilash Super’, Palak Ghosh, Keema Matar and Macher Johal...
among some of our more established dishes. We’ve also teamed up with
Majestic Wines to source a unique range of wines that complement the food on
offer.”

Learner drivers will benefit from improvements to the online driving instructor search service, DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn announced.

The ‘find driving schools, lessons and instructors’ service at www.gov.uk/drivinglessons has details of 26,000 DVSA approved driving instructors.

It’s been improved so instructors can add links to their driving school websites. New search filters allow learners to find instructors who choose to display the grade awarded to them by DVSA, follow the driving instructor code of practice and develop their knowledge and skills each year.

Our roads are some of the safest in the world but DVSA want to make sure that legal, fully-trained professionals teach learners.

It can be daunting for learners to know where to start when trying to choose a driving instructor. DVSA’s improved service gives more information to help learners and their parents.

DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said:

“DVSA’s priority is to help you through a lifetime of safe driving.

“It’s vital to choose the best approved driving instructor for you. They’ll help you learn the essential skills, knowledge and understanding you need to drive safely once you’ve passed your driving test.

“Making sure learner drivers have access to information that helps them choose the best instructor for their needs is part of our strategy to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads.”

Only fully-qualified driving instructors - who have passed enhanced criminal record checks and had their ability to teach assessed to a set standard - are allowed to have their details shown on the service.

Allowing instructors to add their website makes it easy for learner drivers to quickly compare and check the type of car they use and their lesson prices. If the instructor has their photo on their website, learners and their parents can be confident they’re getting in the car with the instructor they’ve chosen.

Chief Executive of the Driving Instructors Association, Carly Brookfield, said:

“We're pleased to see DVSA working to improve consumer information about the process of learning to drive. The latest developments to the find a driving school, lesson and instructor service will help consumers to make more informed choices -and driver trainers to promote their professionalism.”

The driver training industry is supporting the campaign to raise awareness of the road safety benefit of being taught by a professional and skilled expert.

Carly, who also chairs the steering group for national approved driving instructor associations (NASP), continued:

“NASP encourages all approved driving instructors to sign up to the driving instructor code of practice to show their commitment to professional personal and business conduct at all times.”

Experience the Christmas story in a new way at The Wintershall Nativity Play, brought to you by the Wintershall Players, producers of famous The Passion of Jesus which is now performed to an audience of over 20,000 people each Easter in Trafalgar Square.

The Wintershall Players first performed The Nativity in 1989, with a cast headed by Peter and Ann Hutley and their family on the family's beautiful farm, the Wintershall Estate, an area of extraordinary natural beauty which sits within the rolling landscape of the Surrey Hills, less than an hour from London. They pushed the cows out of the barn for a night and a handful of people came to see the makeshift production. One of the wise men found himself wearing Ann's fur hat and their pregnant daughter-in-law sat on a bale of hay with a torch in her mouth to light the action.

Now Holly Barn is a licensed theatre and thousands of visitors come to see the 90-minute Nativity every year. It featured on the BBC's Songs of Praise in 1996 and again in 2004. In 2013, the Nativity was performed in the BBC's Piazza in London to critical acclaim.

Dramatic and intimate, the story begins in the open air with the shepherds. The audience then take their seats in the atmospheric barn, where the story unfolds of how Jesus changed the world.   The play is performed by a cast of 50 in beautiful biblical costumes, with songs and music, assisted by a full complement of sheep, donkeys, horses and a sheepdog.  It is truly the perfect opportunity to enjoy a show with friends and family and enrich the experience of Christmas.

This year, for the first time, there will be three performances on Saturday 16th December to meet public demand. Mince pies and hot drinks will be available before the show.

Renowned Clapham craft beer pub The King & Co will welcome back much-loved popup chef Tem Ban this September and October, and also host the first extended takeover by hot newcomer Taco Rebels. Launching on 4th September, the Autumn kitchen residency double-header will see Taco Rebels debut their bold and mischievous flavour combinations to the pub's guests every Monday and Tuesday, then Tem Ban will serve up another taste of their sensational fresh take on traditional Thai food from Wednesday to Sunday each week. The popular independent free-house will also celebrate its third birthday with a weekend of fun events from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th September, including a mini beer festival featuring brews by the team themselves plus exclusive kegs and special brewery collaborations.

Following the huge success of their residency last year, rising star Tem Ban will return to The King & Co five days per week this September and October with an array of new dishes pairing core Southeast Asian ingredients with the best British seasonal produce. Visitors will be able to tuck into a regularly-changing selection of small and large plates designed to be enjoyed together family-style, such as grilled corn on the cob with salted coconut cream, chilli and lime; red duck curry with ginger, green beans and Thai basil; and pork belly salad with crispy fish flakes, lemongrass, coriander and red chilli dressing. Having spent over a decade honing his culinary skills working in acclaimed professional kitchens ranging from The Begging Bowl to Smoking Goat and even a recent stint at Bo.Lan in Bangkok, founder and head chef Craig Broadhurst can be trusted to provide vibrant meals that pack a punch and are sure to be memorable.

The King & Co's Autumn dual-residency will also introduce up-and-coming trader Taco Rebels and their interesting innovative twist on classic Mexican tortillas. Showcasing a fusion of the most diverse and powerful flavours from around the globe, the team of four friends are passionate about exciting diners' palates and bringing people together over great food. Ideal for sharing over a few pints, the taco lineup for the twice-weekly takeover will highlight top picks from their recent supperclub series at the London Cooking Project including the Pan-Asian Piggy filling of aromatic pork belly, pineapple and ginger salsa, sriracha and crema; and their signature beet balls with spiced carrot hummus, feta and charred kiwi salsa; as well as brand new creations like the Slumdog Muttonaire mix of curried lamb shoulder, raita slaw, bhaji crisp and pickles. Those looking for a mid-week feast can take advantage of the Rebels' #TacoTuesdays deal, offering either five tacos for just £15, or three tacos accompanied by a portion of Lock 'N Load Nachos.

Having earned a strong reputation as a local pub with a difference since its launch in September 2014, The King & Co will toast its third birthday with three days of celebrations from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th September. A mini beer festival will run all weekend at the relaxed welcoming space just moments away from the busy main drag of Clapham Common, promising an unmissable tap list that will see the pub's own beers being poured alongside unique collaboration brews, limited edition drinks, and favourites from top breweries chosen by owner Anthony Gunson and his fellow craft beer loving bartenders. On Saturday night the party will be in full swing with a live DJ session until 1am; then the festivities will draw to a close on Sunday with an entertaining Birthday Bingo game compèred by beloved quizmaster Tommy McTrivia, with both spot prizes up for grabs throughout and a pot of cash to be won at the end of the evening.

The new independent chair of the City of Wolverhampton's Safeguarding Boards has been appointed.

Linda Sanders, who is stepping down as Strategic Director People at the City of Wolverhampton Council on 31 August, is an experienced director of both Adults and Children's Services with a proven track record of delivering improved services and outcomes.

As independent chair of both the Safeguarding Children’s and Safeguarding Adults boards, she will ensure the two boards and partner agencies across the City work closely together on safeguarding issues that affect children and adults, and that lessons from good practice and Serious Case Reviews are both shared and learned.

Managing Director of the City of Wolverhampton Council Keith Ireland said: "Linda Sanders has a highly respected national profile and is a leading light in her field, and we are delighted to be able to retain her extensive skills and experience in the City.

"She has made a significant contribution to raising standards of support for vulnerable children, young people and adults and was instrumental in helping to secure the recent Good Ofsted rating for Children's Services in the City of Wolverhampton, making it one of the highest performing services in the country.

"Most importantly, Linda brought a significant degree of scrutiny to her role at the City of Wolverhampton Council, driving through improvements and challenging performance as and when required.

"Linda is also a champion of partnership working and helped to establish the first combined children's and adults Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in the West Midlands, which has brought together safeguarding professionals from a wide range of partners. She has also served as Chair of the Safer Wolverhampton Partnership for the last two-and-a-half years.

"She will bring all of these skills and more to her new role and help ensure the protection that agencies are able to give to some of the most vulnerable people in our City is as high as it possibly can be."

Linda said: "I am delighted to be taking on this hugely important role. Throughout my 40-year career I have remained passionate about improving outcomes for vulnerable people and have developed an in-depth understanding of services for adults, children and young people which will undoubtedly help me to work across the system in this important role.

"I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with partners from across the City of Wolverhampton to ensure that best practice is followed at all times, that recommendations from serious case reviews are implemented in a timely fashion, and to continue to challenge performance and hold agencies to account wherever and whenever necessary so that we continue to work in the best interests of vulnerable residents.”

Linda succeeds Alan Coe, who is retiring from the role after six years. Alan was appointed independent chair of the Safeguarding Adults Board in 2011 and independent chair of the Safeguarding Children's Board in 2013.

Keith said: "I would like to pay tribute to Alan for his excellent work as chair of both Safeguarding Boards, during which time a number of improvements have been made to the way agencies work together to safeguard vulnerable people. I wish him well in his retirement."

For more information about the work of the City of Wolverhampton's Safeguarding Boards, please visit www.wolverhamptonsafeguarding.org.uk.

A national jewellers is helping to make one clueless boyfriend’s dream proposal a reality with an ‘Engage-mentor’ and £3,000 to help him pop the question in style.

Beaverbrooks is offering a helping hand to Birmingham’s most hapless romantic, after finding that four in ten women were secretly disappointed with how their partner asked for their hand in marriage.

The family-owned jewellers surveyed 1,000 women and revealed that almost half felt their partner had missed the mark by not considering the little things that really make a proposal special.

To help inspire some local romance, Beaverbrooks is offering Birmingham’s most clueless proposers the chance to bag themselves an official ‘engage-mentor’, who will help them plan their proposal to the finest detail – from the dream location to the perfect diamond ring.

Lorna Haddon, diamond ring and jewellery buyer at Beaverbrooks, said: “A marriage proposal can be a daunting experience for a lot of men, so it's no surprise to see how many women felt their partner’s efforts didn’t quite hit the mark.

“When planning the perfect proposal, it’s important to consider the little things that will make it personal for you. Whether it’s cooking their favourite meal or planning a romantic visit to the place you first met – it’s about knowing exactly what your partner would want and the little details that make it extra-special.”

“With the help of our resident ‘engage-mentor’ we hope to give one lucky boyfriend the opportunity to plan a proposal their partner will remember for all the right reasons.

“We can’t wait to hear what proposers in Birmingham have to offer!”

Any partners planning to pop the question this autumn who would benefit from an ‘engage-mentor’ and £3,000 towards the perfect proposal should visit www.beaverbrooks.co.uk/little-things-competition before Sunday 10 September, explaining the little things that would make their day perfect.

As part of Severn Trent’s ongoing commitment to building the skills of the next generation of engineers and leaders, it has welcomed 61 young people into its award-winning apprenticeship programme.

The FTSE 100 Company, which serves 4.5 million customers across the Midlands and into north and mid-Wales, received more than 3,000 applications for its apprenticeship scheme, which offers successful applicants the opportunity to combine hands-on experience with studying, while earning a competitive salary.

Mark Smith, learning and development advisor from Severn Trent, said: “We’re really proud of our apprenticeship programme, and we’re really excited to be welcoming in more apprentices who are all ready to start their careers with Severn Trent.

“Whether you’re fresh out of school, or fancy a career change, our programmes are designed to deliver learning while also developing individuals, giving our apprentices hands-on experience in an industry that’s constantly evolving.”

Severn Trent has now doubled the number of options available to apprentices by offering eight different schemes, including new programmes such as finance, group commercial and project management, alongside the previous operational and engineering schemes.

Apprentices can spend up to three years learning and developing with the company, working in various placements across the region, where at the end of the scheme they’ll be guaranteed a role in their speciality.

“Supported by colleagues, we’re sure that our apprentices will quickly pick up the skills needed to make a real difference to our customers,” said Mark. “We offer such a vital service that it won’t take long for our apprentices to make a real impact in people’s lives as they develop their careers.”

Aaron Carter, a new Severn Trent apprentice from Coventry, said: “I chose Severn Trent after leaving a job, and rather than just going into another job I decided I wanted a career. After looking at different apprenticeship programmes, I felt like there is a future with Severn Trent which is a company that values its employees, and that’s why I came here.”

Evie Hammond, another new Severn Trent apprentice from Coleshill, said: “I decided to do an apprenticeship as I felt, being the practical learner that I am, I’d benefit much more from an apprenticeship rather than going to university. I did a lot of research into all kinds of apprenticeships and Severn Trent stood out for me in that they want you in their company, and they want to develop you and get the best out of the apprenticeship – I definitely see a future with Severn Trent.”

 

Almost half (45%) of pet owners in the West Midlands say they feel guilty for leaving their pets to go on holiday, according to a new study released by Co-op Insurance.

The research reveals that a third (34%) of pet owners spend their travels thinking about their pets whilst almost a fifth (18%) refuse to go on holiday without them.

Highlighting that the guilt sets in before pet owners even set off for their breaks, a third (32%) of pet owners say they treat their pets to make up for what’s about to happen.

Furthermore, the study reveals that pet owners living in the region are dependent on technology for keeping track of their pets whilst on holiday, with two fifths (45%) saying that this is the case.

In terms of the most common forms of technology used to keep in touch with their companions, one in ten (11%) and received text messages.

Video Footage, Skype and Instagram are also seen as popular choices for pet owners.

For a third (35%) of pet owners, returning from their holiday with a souvenir for their pet is a must. Three quarters (76%) opt for edible treats, two thirds (67%) purchase toys and one of six (17%) spoil their pets with new bedding.

Once back to normality, pet owners say that out of guilt for leaving their pets they continue to spoil them, over a quarter (27%) provide extra treats, one in four (26%) say they are even more affectionate, and one in seven (16%) buy their pets new toys.

 

Fear of crime is damaging the wellbeing of 203,000 teenagers in the West Midlands, with one in three teenage girls fearful of being followed by a stranger and one in four boys worried they’ll be assaulted, new research from The Children’s Society reveals.

The charity’s 2017 Good Childhood Report has found that an estimated 96,000 older children in the region are contending with at least seven serious problems in their lives, significantly harming their happiness. Fear of crime has emerged as the most widespread of the issues for children aged 10-17, with almost 2 in 5 worried about falling victim to two or more crimes.

One teenage girl interviewed by the charity said: “[They’re] blowing kisses, men beeping, standing asking [your] age, whistling, shouting stopping vans next to you, asking for [your] number.”

A 13 year old boy said: “You’ve got to fight to like kind of survive around this area. You have to stick up for yourself the whole time."

Closely following this fear were the worries of 194,000 teenagers in the West Midlands whose parents are struggling to pay the bills.

Its survey of 3,000 10-17 year olds revealed that more than half (53%) have experienced at least three hardships in the last five years, making them markedly unhappier. Teenagers who have experienced seven or more serious issues in their lives are ten times more likely to be unhappy than those who have experienced none.

The findings support The Children’s Society’s determination to focus more closely on helping children who are facing what it calls ‘multiple disadvantage’. Other disadvantages identified in the report include having a parent with a serious illness, suffering neglect and being at risk of homelessness.

The Children’s Society is calling for the government to urgently address the funding shortfall in children’s services – predicted to reach £2bn by 2020 – and for local government, police forces, schools and other local agencies to work together to improve the wellbeing of children in their area.

Gross domestic product figures (GDP) for the second quarter of 2017 are a further sign of the economy showing its resolve, Greater Birmingham business leaders said today.

GDP was estimated to have increased by 0.3 per cent between Q1 and Q2. Growth in Q2 was dominated by the service sector which grew by 0.5 per cent.

There was also relatively strong growth in government spending and investment, although household spending (0.1 per cent) and business investment (unchanged) during the same period were “sluggish”.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) said: “It was reassuring to see a pick-up in GDP growth levels for Quarter 2 as once again the British economy demonstrated its resoluteness in the face of wider political uncertainty.

“It was also heartening to see an increase in service sector output which made up for the slower level of growth in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

“Nevertheless it remains to be seen how long service sector growth can be sustained given the relative slowdown in consumer spending caused by higher inflation levels and weak wage growth.

“Business Investment was also revealed to be sluggish this quarter, a theme we saw reflected in our Q2 Quarterly Business Report, as local firms reported stagnant investment levels in light of Brexit uncertainty.

“Surveying for our current Quarterly Business Report is now open and it will be interesting to see if these are trends are still prominent in the latest findings.”