Colors: Blue Color

As the weather turns colder, Public Health chiefs are encouraging everyone to lend a helping hand to vulnerable people this winter. The elderly and those with long-term health conditions are particularly susceptible at this time of year to illnesses and are often isolated. The Met Office issued a cold weather alert for the West Midlands and Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Anyone can help elderly friends or relatives by checking on them regularly.

Carers can find out what the Care Act means for them at special information sessions over the next few weeks. The City of Wolverhampton Council's Carer Support Team is organising workshops detailing the impact that the Care Act, described as the biggest reform to adult social care in the UK for over 60 years, may have on people who look after a friend or relative. It came into force last April and sets out new rights for carers and the people they look after, including what kind of help they can expect to receive.

The Big Lottery Fund is giving communities and voluntary organisations a reason to celebrate this New Year as they receive National Lottery grants to support people across the West Midlands region. £2,680, 932 will be shared between 67 groups, including projects in Shropshire, Birmingham, Warwickshire and Staffordshire, which aim to help improve local communities and the lives of people most in need.

A pilot project designed to encourage people to dispose of litter responsibility has been hailed a success by Birmingham City Council. The Bin it for Good initiative, run for three months between September and November 2015, has led to a five per cent reduction in litter on streets in the main retail areas of the city centre.

Wolverhampton will remember the victims of Nazi persecution, the Holocaust and other genocides around the world when the city marks Holocaust Memorial Day later this month. The Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Ian Brookfield will lay a wreath during a service at the Cenotaph in St Peter's Square on Wednesday 27 January, 2016 – the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The West Midlands Police force has been criticized for lack ethnic minority officers, making It unrepresentative of the public it serves. Figures released to The Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the force was one of the least representatives of Black, Asian and ethnic minorities in the country. Less than nine percent of the West Midlands Police force is comprised of ethnic minorities, despite the fact that eighteen percent of applications received between 2006 and 2014 were from a minority group.

After the long Christmas break with family, many people will be feeling refreshed and ready to return to work. However, Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has already received a number of calls from concerned relatives of older people worried about how their mum, dad, elderly aunt or uncle are coping at home on their own after spending time with them during the festive period.

A fifth of West Midlands parents (20 per cent)  struggle to get their children to “unplug” and take part in activities away from television, phone and computer screens, according to a survey published by Action for Children. When asked which behaviour they found most difficult to control in their children, more West Midlands parents said they struggled to limit technology-based activity (20 per cent), than do their homework (10 per cent) or getting them to take a bath (3 per cent).

A local hero, who channeled his grief and anger of his brother-in-law’s murder into improving the lives of thousands of youngsters on the city’s streets, is soon set to receive the British Citizen Award. Mohammed Zafran, a community activist from Small Heath, is one of a small number of people who have been invited to the Palace of West Minister to be awarded the medal.

A migrant from Senegal who travelled to Europe by boat has won a stake of some €400,000 (£294,000; $436,000) in Spain's Christmas lottery. The man, named Ngagne, travelled from Morocco to Spain in 2007. Ticket-holders in his coastal town of Roquetas de Mar won first prize, and a share of €640m (£470m), in the "El Gordo" (The Fat One) lottery. Ngagne told one Spanish newspaper that he and his wife often did not have even €5 to last the day.

In a remarkable interfaith gesture, various religions got together in Reno (Nevada, USA) to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year at midnight in a unique and divine manner, away from the glitter of the casinos and sending a message of unity to the world. Coordinated by religious statesman Rajan Zed, standing room only “Multi-faith New Year’s Eve Service” hosted by Reno Buddhist Center included Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American prayers.

The New Year may not be very happy for hundreds of thousands of people in the West Midlands, as research by Shelter reveals over a quarter of rent or mortgage payers in the region are cutting back on winter heating and clothing to meet their housing payments. This is the equivalent to nearly 800,000 people. The study by housing and homelessness charity Shelter and YouGov shows the strain people in the West Midlands face this January, with one in eleven rent or mortgage payers fearing they will be unable to meet their housing costs this month.

Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) invites all communities to unite in prayers for peace during the festive season. The organisation has facilitated and organised eleven day prayer services for the benefit of all humanity twice every year since 1976. This year is even more poigniant in light of recent events carried out by misguided people in the name of faith

A long-serving Wolverhampton councillor has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours List. Councillor Sandra Samuels, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, was recognised for political service and services to local government. Councillor Samuels, who worked for the NHS for nearly four decades until retiring recently, was first elected to the council as Labour councillor for Park ward in 2004.

People in Wolverhampton can have their say in framing a new five-year strategy to combat homelessness. Key services in this area will be displaying information to the public on the ground floor of the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Square, between Monday 4 January and Friday 15 January, 2016, helping people understand more about homelessness and ways they can help develop Wolverhampton’s new strategy to tackle the issue.

With 2016 now upon us, national charity Suzy Lamplugh Trust is urging all West Midlands residents to keep personal safety in mind when making New Year’s resolutions. Common resolutions, often based around lifestyle changes, may inadvertently place individuals at risk, so the charity is encouraging people to factor in their own safety when making pledges for the New Year.