Colors: Blue Color

John Taylor Hospice has joined forces with local solicitors to offer people a discounted will writing service during September.

And every person who makes a will during the month-long promotion will also know they are helping the hospice care for local families.

From 1-30 September solicitors who are supporting the scheme are offering people the opportunity to make a single will for £60 and a double will for £110, with half the fee being donated to John Taylor Hospice.

“Making a will is the only way to ensure your wishes are followed after you are gone,” said hospice Patient and Family Support Worker Angie Donovan. “Knowing your will is made gives you peace of mind that everything will happen according to your wishes after your death.

“You may not consider yourself to be wealthy but, when you add everything up, you may find that you have more than you realise and it’s important that you are the one deciding who your beneficiaries will be. Writing a will means you can choose the family, friends and charities you’d like to remember in your will.”

Legacies form an important part of John Taylor’s fundraising with more than one quarter of the money donated to John Taylor Hospice this year received from people who have made a gift in their will.

This money is vital in ensuring John Taylor’s teams can be there for people when they are needed most. Founded in 1910, the hospice has been caring for local people for four generations. For the people who leave us a gift in their will, their legacy is helping make every moment matter for generations to come.

Carol Bernard has been receiving support from John Taylor Hospice since early 2016. She said: “I’d do anything to help John Taylor Hospice. I love going there so much, I only miss my time at the day hospice if it’s an emergency! The staff are amazing and they brighten your day if you’re feeling low. I’ve made incredible friends and I really would be lost without the support of the hospice staff, volunteers and fellow patients.”

And Carol, aged 71 of Newtown, Birmingham, added: “I’ve made my will as I didn’t want my son to have to worry about anything. By making a will, nothing is left to chance and it takes pressure away from your loved ones who are safe in the knowledge that your wishes are being fulfilled.”

Solicitors participating in John Taylor’s Wills Month include Baches, Sutton and Co and Robert Shaw and Co - for the full list see the website.

“We’re really grateful for the support of our friends at Sutton and Co, Baches and Robert Shaw and Co again this year,” said hospice Head of Fundraising Katie Mitchell. “By helping people to make a will, we’re offering the peace of mind of knowing that your wishes are followed after your death.

“The money we receive from gifts in wills is so important to John Taylor Hospice and we’re hoping that, if the time is right for them, people will consider leaving a gift in their will to the hospice.”

Sandwell Council’s taxi licensing team is carrying out spot check operations to make sure vehicles, drivers and passengers are safe.

The latest operation by Sandwell Council’s taxi licensing enforcement team, West Midlands Police, the DVSA and MOT testers stopped 22 vehicles – 18 from Sandwell and four licensed by City of Wolverhampton Council.

Of the Sandwell vehicles stopped, 14 passed the checks with flying colours. Four needed lightbulbs replacing, two were found to have brake pads that would soon need replacing and one vehicle had tyre and lighting issues as well as an insecure battery.

The tyre, bulb and battery issues were fixed during the checks.

One other Sandwell driver was issued with a delayed prohibition to get an excessively worn universal joint fixed – which will need repairing and a fresh MOT for the vehicle.

Of the Wolverhampton vehicles stopped, all four were found to have issues.

One driver was warned that their brake pads were worn and two front tyres were close to the legal limit, another driver was issued with a notice to fix an excessively worn universal joint and an Uber driver was found to have defective lights and seriously underinflated tyres. The bulbs were replaced on site.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for public health and protection Councillor Elaine Costigan said: “These operations are really important to make sure vehicles are safe to be on the road. Our taxi licensing team carry out these spot checks every couple of months.

“Many of the issues the vehicles need are easily fixed – such as bulbs -  and are done there and then to get the cars back on the road.

“Our colleagues in Wolverhampton have been informed about the issues raised on their vehicles.”

Accessing My Account got even easier for one lucky Haringey resident who scooped an Apple iPad 4 in celebration of being the 54,000th person to sign up to the online service. Jennifer Asenso receiving her iPad from Cllr Jospeh Ejiofor

Jennifer Asenso, from Tottenham, clicked her way to success by registering her details online to access a range of council services – from updating council tax details to searching the borough’s extensive libraries catalogue – through My Account. Her registration made her the automatic winner of a competition to celebrate reaching 54,000 registrations.

The milestone represents half of Haringey’s households signing up for My Account, which enables people to securely access their council tax and housing benefit accounts, report environmental issues such as fly-tipping and potholes, search and reserve from the council’s library catalogue and complete online forms for a variety of queries.

Jennifer said: "My Account makes everything easier. I was surprised I was the 54,000th person – I was like, wow!”

Delighted with her prize, Jennifer pledged to use her new iPad to regularly access My Account. Cabinet member for Customer Services, Cllr Joseph Ejiofor said: I was delighted to present Ms Asenso with her prize. This is a significant milestone for the council as we continue our commitment to modernise services and make it easier and quicker for residents to access the services and information they need. With council budgets facing significant reductions, My Account is also a really cost-effective way for residents to access council information, saving local taxpayers money that could be better spent on providing the services that local people rely on.”

Cats Protection has outlined a series of steps which can be taken to help keep felines safe throughout the year.

Although cats often enjoy exploring, their curiosity can lead them into trouble. A few simple measures can help keep cats away from danger and enjoying life.

Keep cats inside during hours of darkness. Cats are at increased risk of road injuries and theft after nightfall. Keeping cats indoors overnight and timing meals to coincide with rush hour will help keep cats away from busy roads.

Ensure cats are neutered, vaccinated and microchipped. Making sure cats are neutered provides a host of benefits in addition to preventing unwanted kittens being born. Neutered cats are less likely to roam, lowering the risk of car accidents and less likely to fight and contract serious diseases which are spread by saliva. Microchipping offers a safe and permanent method of identification, while ensuring cats are vaccinated will protect against parasites and diseases.

Encourage cats to stay close to home. If cats are content, they are more likely to stay within their own home and garden. Planting cat-friendly plants such as catnip and lavender, providing logs for scratching and long grass for relaxing or to assist with expelling hairballs can all add to the creation of a cat-friendly space.  Poisonous substances often found in the home or garden, such as antifreeze, disinfectants, insect and pest killers should be kept securely.

Certain plants can be toxic to cats, for example lilies can be lethal if any part of the plant is ingested. If your cat does show any signs of poisoning, you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.  A full list of plants that are hazardous to cats can be found on International Cat Care’s website

Remain vigilant to possible acts of cruelty. If you suspect somebody is acting suspiciously towards cats in the area, report your concerns to the local police and/or RSPCA, along with any descriptions and car number plates you may have noted. If there is a local Neighbourhood Watch, make them aware and inform your neighbours that there may be suspicious activity taking place.

Mark Beazley, Director of Operations for Cats Protection, says: “We often have reports coming into our branches and centres across the country of cats that have strayed, become injured in fights or been poisoned by seemingly harmless substances around the home. Simply following these guidelines and remaining vigilant can help keep cats safe and enjoying themselves throughout the year.”

Back in 2008, Victoria Ganderton was 36 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with an aortic dissection. The aorta is one of the body’s major blood vessels and so when doctors diagnosed heavily-pregnant Victoria as having an aortic dissection the doctors had to act quickly. Of all people who have aortic dissections, 50% die before making it to hospital and of those who do make it to hospital, 50% will not recover.

Amazingly, Victoria had been walking around for ten days before she was correctly diagnosed. After the diagnosis she was immediately taken off for an emergency caesarean. Victoria said: “I got to spend ten minutes with my son Jack and husband Leigh before having open heart surgery under the care of the amazing, late Professor Bonser at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.”

The operation was a success and after a long period of recuperation, Victoria was able to return home to her family. Victoria had follow-up surgery in 2013 and final open heart surgery in 2014. During the course of this operation, Victoria’s kidneys failed, her lungs went into respiratory shock, she contracted pneumonia and her heart began to fail.

Victoria’s life was saved thanks to the ECMO machine at QEHB, one of the few hospitals in the UK to have one, which performs the role of the heart and lungs in order to keep the patient alive. Victoria spent a month in a coma and a total of 56 nights in intensive care. This long period of recuperation was made far easier by the staff at the hospital, Victoria said: “There is nowhere in the world where such care and compassion is shown by all staff, from surgeons to nurses to porters and cleaners. They never failed to greet me with a smile and bring a little light to my days.”

Nearly three years on, Victoria’s husband Leigh is taking on the 100-mile Velo Birmingham cycling challenge, the first closed-road cycling race in the area, this September.

Leigh will be cycling for QEHB Charity alongside England cricketing legend Ashley Giles. Both men have been inspired to take part in Velo Birmingham after the treatment that their wives have received at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Ashley Giles and his wife Stine set up The Giles’ Trust, part of QEHB Charity, after Stine was successfully treated for brain tumours at QEHB on two separate occasions. Stine said: “It is wonderful to see that other people have been motivated to take part in fundraising events after their loved ones have been treated here at QEHB. I wish Leigh all the best for his training and I look forward to seeing him cycling alongside Ashley on the day itself.”

Leigh is busy preparing for the challenge and said: “I’m really looking forward to cycling for QEHB Charity and raising money to support the amazing research and work that goes on at the hospital. The care that they gave Victoria was nothing short of incredible and it’s really nice to give something back.”

Regional law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, which has offices in Wolverhampton, Willenhall, and Shropshire, is the official legal partner of Warwickshire County Cricket Club, where Ashley is Sports Director, and is supporting the cycling event.

Adam Wilson, an Associate in the Serious Injury and Clinical Negligence Team at FBCMB said: “Leigh is a close friend of mine and knowing about his wife’s treatment and the firm’s links with the cricket club, we wanted to sponsor the challenge.

“The treatment that QEHB provides to people in our region and beyond is nothing short of amazing so we’re delighted to support the fundraising effort for the hospital.”

Cathryn Worth, fundraising manager for QEHB Charity said: “Velo Birmingham promises to be a brilliant day and it will be great to know that Leigh and Ashley are there cycling with the other QEHB Charity cyclists. They’ve both got amazing stories to tell and I know that they’re making their wives very proud. Our thanks also go to FBC Manby Bowdler for their support.”

Staff and volunteers at Haden Hill House Museum in Cradley Heath are preparing for their annual popular live music in the park event to round off a fabulous summer of activities.

Proms in the Park is free and is on Sunday 10 September at the popular attraction off Barrs Road.

"We want visitors to bring picnics, picnic chairs and blankets and sit for the afternoon enjoying live bands and singers, said Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for leisure.

The event kicks off at 2pm with Martinique Jazz, followed by easy listening songs with lots of familiar tunes. The afternoon finishes around 6pm with the rousing sound of Halesowen Brass Band and lots of flag waving.

The Friends of Haden Hill Estate are providing great cakes, drinks and snacks in the tearoom and Haden Old Hall will also be open for visitors to look around.

The event co-insides with national Heritage Open Days, which aim to celebrate and showcase England’s heritage across the country.

The event is absolutely free and for more information visit

Energy providers are being urged to do more to promote green energy after a survey revealed just 2 per cent of Birmingham residents are on a green tariff.

Despite years of education and falling costs for green energy options consumers still say renewable energy isn’t a priority.

The poll, conducted amongst energy bill payers and commissioned by ENGIE, revealed:

  • A quarter of people in Birmingham say they have done nothing to be environmentally friendly in the last year.
  • 1 in 5 (20 per cent) don’t understand enough about the benefits a green tariff would have for the environment.
  • Almost half (45 per cent) of consumers in the city say saving money is a priority for them and assume a green tariff will cost more.
Yet increasingly green tariffs are affordable. ENGIE, the largest new entrant to the UK home energy market for 15 years, has led the way by offering 100 per cent renewable electricity on all of its tariffs at no additional cost. Plus, customers can also receive 100 per cent green gas guaranteed at minimal extra cost – one of the few plans of its kind on the market. Recent research by uSwitch has also revealed that green tariffs are becoming increasingly affordable.

Renewable energy tariffs are backed by 100 per cent green electricity – meaning that, for every unit of electricity used, the same amount is produced and put back into the grid from a renewable source.

Paul Rawson, CEO of ENGIE’s home energy business, says: “With so few people in Birmingham choosing green energy tariffs, it is the responsibility of energy providers and the wider industry to offer solutions which appeal to and persuade consumers.

“We don’t believe customers should have to make a choice between saving money and choosing a green option and we are optimistic that increasingly they won’t have to.”

There was some good news in the poll results, which also revealed:

  • 14 per cent of people surveyed said environmentally friendly tariffs influence their choice of energy provider, the highest in the UK.
  • Half of people in Birmingham said they would be prepared to pay more for a green energy tariff (even though the evidence suggests they won’t).
In other positive news, June saw the UK experience a new renewable energy record with a remarkable 70 per cent of its electricity coming from low-carbon sources at one stage.

Paul Rawson adds: “By working collectively we can take a more sustainable approach to energy consumption to the benefit of ourselves and future generations.”

One in four (24 per cent) parents with school age children have either bought or rented a new property in order to secure an address within their desired school catchment area, according to new research from Santander Mortgages.

The study also found that those families willing to move are prepared to spend a 12 per cent premium for their desired catchment area, equivalent to an extra £26,800 in the current property market. This is just under the average full-time salary in the UK, which currently stands at £28,213.

Parents are going to great lengths to be within these sought-after catchment areas, with their sacrifices going far beyond financial. A fifth (20 per cent) of those who moved changed jobs, while 20 per cent say they were forced to downsize and 19 per cent moved to an area where they did not feel safe. One in four (25 per cent) admit they overstretched themselves, paying more for the property than they could realistically afford and 26 per cent moved to a location that was far away from family or friends.

The bank’s study suggests that the moves made by many of these families are temporary, with only 26 per cent planning to continue living in the area once their child leaves school. More than four in 10 (44 per cent) of those who moved to be within a catchment area said they will leave as soon as their child has secured a place. This figure rises to two thirds (66 per cent) for parents in London.

Amongst families who have moved to be within their desired catchment area, 51 per cent said they had sold their previous property and purchased a new one within their chosen area. Three in 10 (30 per cent) said they purchased a second home in the catchment area, while 19 per cent secured their desired address by renting a property.

This trend looks set to continue as 40 per cent of parents who expect to move house before their children leave school say catchment areas will dictate where they choose to live.

Miguel Sard, Managing Director of Mortgages, Santander UK said: “Living within a certain school catchment area is top of the wish list for many families but often these addresses come at a premium. Our study highlights the significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices that parents are making to be within the catchment area of a desired school.

“Buyers need to do their research as properties in catchment areas often come with a hefty price tag, especially in London where competition for school places is fierce. We urge parents not to over-stretch themselves, but to find a mortgage provider that not only offers competitive rates and products but also has the expertise to ensure that the right deal is secured and the repayments are affordable.”

A high ropes course which allows wheelchair users to experience a new challenging outdoor adventure has opened at The Lake District Calvert Trust. Based on the shores of Lake Bassenthwaite, it's thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.

The nature of the sloping woods behind the centre allows wheelchair users to access the course, before using the horizontal ropes and obstacles taking them to a maximum height of 10 meters above the ground. Built using a series of trees as the main supports, this unique and specialist facility is 100 meters long and stretches across eight platforms, with seven separate challenges.

The Lake District Calvert Trust is a residential outdoor centre with more than 40 years of experience in delivering adventure holidays for people with disabilities. With this unique high ropes course now up and running, it will be incorporated into The Calvert Trust's existing activities programme which includes sailing, canoeing, horse-riding and abseiling.

To celebrate the opening, a group from the charity BackUp had a sneak preview. The organisation helps people rebuild their independence and confidence after devastating spinal cord injuries.

Julie Hill, Group Leader of BackUp said: “The new addition at the trust is fantastic, as it isn't something we'd be able to do anywhere else in the country. As wheelchair users, we all took great delight during our trip in testing this new activity out before anyone else. As a specialist centre, The Calvert Trust was already a great destination for us, but this is really the icing on the cake.”

Sean Day, Centre Director at the Lake District Calvert Trust says: “We wanted to make our residential stays at the centre more exciting, creating a unique course that could challenge both those with learning difficulties and those with restricted mobility. We already had a wheelchair accessible challenge course and zip wire on site, so our task was to think about how to make a high ropes course accessible so it could get maximum use from our visitors.”

The course was designed and developed by adventure specialist Technical Outdoor Solutions. It cost £84,000 and support from the Harold and Alice Bridges Charity, the Bailey Thomas Charitable Fund, the Leathersellers' Company Charitable Fund, and a personal donation from Michael Toulmin, who until 2015 was a trustee of The Calvert Trust, made it possible.

Tate Modern is offering free entry to its hit Soul of Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power exhibition today.

Visitors can see the landmark exhibition of African American art as part of the gallery’s upcoming Uniqlo Tate Late, taking place this evening.

The event, which coincides with the start of Notting Hill Carnival weekend, will also feature music, films and interactive activities.

What did it mean to be a Black artist in the USA during the Civil Rights movement and at the birth of Black Power? What was art’s purpose and who was its audience? This summer Tate Modern will present Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, a landmark exhibition exploring how these issues played out among and beyond African American artists from 1963 to 1983. At a time when race and identity became major issues in music, sport and literature, brought to public attention by iconic figures like Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali and Toni Morrison, ‘Black Art’ was being defined and debated across the country in vibrant paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures. Featuring more than 150 works by over 60 artists, many on display in the UK for the first time, Soul of a Nation will be a timely opportunity to see how American cultural identity was re-shaped at a time of social unrest and political struggle.

The show begins in 1963 with the formation of the Spiral Group, a New York–based collective. They questioned how Black artists should relate to American society, with key figures like Romare Bearden and Norman Lewis responding to current events in their photomontages and abstract paintings. Artists also considered the locations and audiences for their art – from local murals to nationally circulated posters and newspapers – with many turning away from seeking mainstream gallery approval to show artwork in their own communities through Black-owned galleries and artist-curated shows. The exhibition will use archive photographs and documentary material to illustrate the mural movement, including the ‘Wall of Respect’ in Chicago and the ‘Smokehouse’ wall paintings in Harlem. The way artists engaged with street activism will be explored through posters and newspapers, such as the work of the Black Panther Party’s Culture Minister Emory Douglas, who declared “The ghetto itself is the gallery”.

The call for Black Power initiated powerful and inspiring images of political leaders such as Malcolm X and Angela Davis and even works of radical abstraction invoking Martin Luther King’s legacy. Soul of a Nation will showcase this debate between figuration and abstraction, from Faith Ringgold’s American People Series #20: Die 1967 and Wadsworth Jarrell’s Black Prince 1971 to Frank Bowling’s Texas Louise 1971 and Sam Gilliam’s April 4 1969. A highlight will be Homage to Malcolm 1970 by Jack Whitten, who was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Barack Obama in 2015, which will be going on public display for the very first time.

Away from New York artists across the Unites States engaged in the Black Art debate. In Chicago in the late 1960s, Jeff Donaldson, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Nelson Stevens and Gerald Williams, formed AfriCobra (the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists), the only group to devise a manifesto for Black Art during this period. Their striking works offered a unique aesthetic combining bright colours, texts and images in dynamic ways. Meanwhile in Los Angeles the Watts Rebellion of 1965 had a direct impact on the art being produced there, with many artists calling attention to the politics of a divided city. Constructions by Noah Purifoy made use of debris found on the streets of Watts, while the work of Charles White and David Hammons shows the development of a distinct approach to the figure while responding to current events such as the restraining of Bobby Seale at his trial.

Further themes investigated in the exhibition include the emergence of Black Feminism through the work of Betye Saar and Kay Brown, showing how the period marked arevolutionary moment of visibility for Black women, and debates over the possibility of a Black aesthetic in photography featuring work by Roy DeCarava. It will also spotlight Just Above Midtown gallery (JAM), a pioneering New York commercial gallery that displayed the work of avant-garde Black artists and whose legendary programme spanned innovative approaches to sculpture and performance, using materials as unexpected as Black hair and tights.

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power is curated by Mark Godfrey and Zoe Whitley, with assistant curator Priyesh Mistry.It will be accompanied by a catalogue from Tate Publishingand a programme of talks and events in the gallery. Following its presentation at Tate Modern the exhibition will tour to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas and the Brooklyn Museum, New York.

The Queen’s Baton has finished its visit to England, as part of its tour of the Commonwealth nations ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Baton arrived in the country by military aeroplane from the Falkland Islands. On the morning of Wednesday 16 August, it was parachuted into RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire before being formally received by Commonwealth Games England Chairman Ian Metcalfe and Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin.

This was the first stop on the Baton’s tour of England on its journey through all Commonwealth nations across, 388 days, ahead of the Opening Ceremony on 4 April 2018. England was the 40th destination on the tour, with the Queen’s Baton now moving on to Scotland as it continues its global journey.

Commonwealth Games England Chief Executive Officer Paul Blanchard said:

“We have thoroughly enjoyed having the Queen’s Baton in England, for what has been a thrilling five days, where we hope to have shared the fantastic sentiment of the Queen’s Baton, and the Commonwealth, around our country.”

Following its arrival at RAF Brize Norton, the Baton travelled to London to be welcomed by the Australian High Commissioner and a number of athletes such as Commonwealth and Olympic champion Max Whitlock at the London Guildhall Gallery and Amphitheatre.

The Queen’s Baton continued, on Thursday, to Stoke Mandeville Stadium, home of the para sport movement, and the Lawn Bowls National Championships in Leamington Spa. Commonwealth and Paralympic champion Ollie Hynd, MBE, supported an open sports day at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, before the Baton was greeted by the nation’s leading Lawn Bowls stars at the Lawn Bowls National Championships in Leamington Spa.

Commonwealth swimming champion Ollie Hynd said:

“It’s not long now until the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and it’s great to see everything, and everyone, coming together with the Baton. I was lucky enough to go to Glasgow, which was a wonderful experience with such a high level of sport and the opportunity to be in that athlete environment with all the different sports – para and able bodied – was fantastic. And I am looking forward to hopefully experience that next year, it will be really special.”

Friday saw the Queen’s Baton head to Manchester, where it was joined by English gymnastics stars Ellie and Rebecca Downie at MediaCityUK, Salford in the morning, and England Basketball stars Georgia Jones and Dominique Allen who offered a ‘come and try’ session on a special basketball court at MediaCityUK.

The Queen’s Baton was then greeted by cricket fans at Old Trafford Cricket Stadium for the Lancashire Lightning V Birmingham Bears T20 Blast fixture, where it proudly undertook a lap of honour before the match.

Commonwealth gymnastics champion Rebecca Downie said:

“It’s been really exciting to see the Queen’s Baton. The Baton is so unique, with all of its different features and how it brings everyone together. It’s starting to feel very real now. The Commonwealth Games is one of those big milestones you want to win a medal in and go to, amongst the likes of the Olympic Games and world championships. The Commonwealth Games is always a special one and being a multi-sport event you get to meet lots of different athletes, and have a lot of fun.”

Saturday and Sunday saw the Baton head to Liverpool and Birmingham, who are both currently bidding to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Saturday’s trip to Liverpool commenced with a visit to Liverpool Parkrun at Princes Park, which saw former team England star Beth Tweddle greet the baton, ahead of heading to Albert Dock, ahead of the Clipper Race, before visiting a community sports day held at Chavasse Park. Following a quick trip on a 'Ferry across the Mersey', the Baton was greeted by over 50,000 football fans at Anfield at half time of the Liverpool V Crystal Palace Premier League fixture.

In Birmingham on Sunday, the Baton was given a grand tour of the city, visiting a number of key landmarks throughout Sunday 20 August, including the Bullring, Library, Edgebaston and Brindley Place. The trip to the city commenced with a trip to the New Testament Church of God Gospel Choir, where it was welcomed by the colourful, vibrant and fun members of the church, with the choir treating the team to uplifting music. The Baton then headed to the Alexander Stadium for the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham. It was on display in the fanzone and completed a lap around the historic athletics track by the men’s 4×100m relay team that won gold at the recent IAAF World Athletics Championships.

The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Commonwealth Games tradition that celebrates the Commonwealth’s diversity, inspires community pride and excites people about the world-class festival of sports and culture to come.

The Queen’s Baton carries a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that calls for athletes to come together in peaceful and friendly competition.

A Dudley woman is taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in Sutton Park, Birmingham, for her mother whom is living with dementia, raise awareness about dementia and money to combat the condition.

Louise Overton, 32, from Dudley said: “Everyone knows someone who's life has been affected by Dementia and my mum, at the young age of 44 developed dementia. We noticed things weren't quite right, mom was finally diagnosed when she was 50 and since then we have watched the painful process of deterioration. Growing up I have always needed my mom as any girls do, especially when I had children of my own, but I've never had that luxury and never will. My mom is now on complete bed rest and struggling to eat. I'm doing this walk for her, for other women who will need their mom, for the children who will need their nan. Let's all stand together and try and find a cure for this horrible illness.”

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“My mum is now 57, she was diagnosed in 2010 after lots of tests and investigations into her behaviour, deterioration has been slow but has been much more rapid the past year. She has gone from being able to walk about to complete bed rest and very limited movement. It took her speech completely just after diagnosis but she still recognised family until about 3 years ago but now there is nothing. For people going through the same I think they just need people that care around them, to be as strong as they can for them and appreciate that they are in there somewhere, let them feel sun on their faces, let them sit in the fresh air and listen to the birds sing, smile and talk to them like you would anyone else, I cling to the fact that there is a little part of her that can still hear me and feel me holding her, hearing me tell her how much I love her and miss her."

More than 26,000 people over-65 in Birmingham and the Black Country are estimated to be living with dementia and last year’s event at the smaller location of Cannon Hill Park was attended by 5000 people, raising more than £322,000 to help people living with the condition.

Janice Le Tellier, Alzheimer’s Society Operations Manager for Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. We are calling on family, friends – and furry four-legged supporters – to unite against dementia this autumn. Dementia devastates lives. Walk with us at Memory Walk and dementia won’t win. Every pound raised will help Alzheimer’s Society provide information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia. Alzheimer’s Society is urgently calling on people to register now at and unite against dementia.”

One in ten UK adults, equivalent to 5.3 million people, intend or would like to write their autobiography, according to new findings from Type & Tell, the leading self-publishing company.

Fuelled by the desire to tell their life story for reasons including self-help, to help others learn from their life lessons, or to pass on a record of their life to younger family members, aspiring authors would like to write their autobiography more than any other genre of book. One in five of those planning to write a book would like to pen their own life story (21 per cent), more than twice the number of any other non-fiction genre and considerably more than any genre of fiction.

Whilst the genre is most popular amongst more experienced would-be authors, with 27 per cent of those aged 55 or over hoping to write one compared to 22 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 and just 14 per cent of those in the 18-34 age group, their reasons for doing so differ significantly between generations.

Life after death, life lessons and self-help: reasons for writing autobiographies

Over half (52 per cent) of would-be autobiographers said they believed their life would make an interesting story to tell. However, this rises to 62 per cent of those planning to commit their life story to paper in the 18-34 age group compared to just 45 per cent of those aged 55 or over. The younger age group may have been inspired by the increase in commercial autobiographies by young sporting stars and musicians.

Possibly influenced by high levels of followers on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, the younger age group are also far more likely to believe their own life is more interesting than that of most people who publish autobiographies, with 21 per cent of them holding this view compared to just nine per cent of those aged 55 or over.

One in three prospective autobiographers (30 per cent) felt their work could help readers benefit from their life lessons (30 per cent). Perhaps unexpectedly given their relative lack of life experience, the younger age group was more likely to be motivated by this sentiment, with 33 per cent of them expressing it compared to just 23 per cent of those aged 55 or over.

The older age group is more motivated by leaving something behind for other family members, with over half of them (55 per cent) wanting to have a written record of their life for their children or grandchildren compared to just 39 per cent of 18-34 year olds with this motivation.

For many hopeful autobiographers, writing their life story would be self-help, with almost a third (32 per cent) of those planning to write their memoirs doing so for their own wellbeing.  There may be some merit in this reasoning as some psychologists encourage patients to view the events in their life as stories in narrative therapy2, a form of counselling which aims to separate individuals from their problems and externalise their issues.

Jon Watt of Type & Tell commented: “In our social media age, we already share large parts of our lives through photos and videos, so the leap to autobiographical writing is not a great one. We are working with writers who want to tell their life stories for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to entertain, other to inform; some are writing very personal memoirs for family and generations to come, others see their story appealing to a global audience. Publishing has changed and it is now possible for us to meet all these authors’ ambitions. The rise of accessible self-publishing platforms has given people the ability to cost-effectively create, publish and print books themselves, and if they want to, sell them around the world.

“For every fascinating and unforgettable autobiography from household names like Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama, there are numerous books recounting everyday stories of hardship, humour, adversity or triumph which fly under the radar but have just as deep an impact on their readers.”

While a significant 63 per cent of the UK admit to being in debt, new research from VoucherCodes’ Annual Cost of Living Life Report reveals that there has been a year on year reduction in the amount of new debt that Brits have accrued since the start of the year, with the average Brit taking out £363 in new debt in 2017, down from £446 in 2016. Despite this, it seems the nation is still struggling to stay on top of their finances, with over a quarter (27 per cent) confessing they are clueless as to just how much debt they are in.

The study over 2,000 UK adults found that while men have borrowed slightly more than women since the start of the year (£389 versus £344), where age is concerned, millennials are seemingly struggling to make ends meet, with 18 to 34’s borrowing more money since January than any other age group in the UK. Perhaps in response to the increasing cost of living and strained disposable incomes for many young people, millennials took out £540 in new debt in 2017, more than double over 55’s average of just £202.

Looking across the UK, those in Plymouth have borrowed the most money nationwide since the start of the year at £997, followed by those in Bristol (£497) and Birmingham (£426), all of which have undergone redevelopment in recent years, with rising property prices and new retail and leisure facilities in the regions pushing up the overall cost of living for many. Despite this, surprisingly, it’s Londoners who are among those who have the worst grips on their finances, with people in London and Northern Ireland being the most in the dark about money matters.

The survey of over 2,000 UK adults found that in line with 2016, student loans are the costliest driver of debt for those that have borrowed money since the start of the year (£5,162), followed by bank loans (£2,886) and credit cards (£1,378). But even in light of this nationwide debt, just 7 per cent of Brits believe they need to get better at money management, with over half of Brits (54 per cent) claiming they are ‘very clear’ on the current state of their personal finances.

In:Site Festival returns to Birmingham City Centre for a seventh year this September with recent graduates transforming the outdoor space around the cathedral with unusual craft ‘interventions’ . In:Site, a festival of graduate creativity, organised by Birmingham based arts charity Craftspace, takes place in Cathedral Square from the 4th – 8th September.

The public can get involved with the making of some of the artworks using different techniques; embroidery, casting in concrete, enamelling, manipulating wire and spinning wool. With different artists working each day, at the end of the week visitors can expect to see the space adorned with twelve new art works including a Camera Obscura, a crocheted chandelier, architectural wire sculptures and a textile tribute to historical figures buried in the graveyard echoing the shape of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows.

Craftspace Director, Deirdre Figueiredo said: “A festival of making in this public square draws attention to  Birmingham’s rich heritage in a creative way, encouraging people to slow down and take time to appreciate skills and stories - strangers from all walks of life talk and make together finding surprising ways to connect in an otherwise busy world.”

In a new partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, their clay modellers will collaborate with ceramicist Sarah Christie, showing the versatility and importance of clay as a material which is used expressively by artists and as a sculpting material for design in the car industry.

Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design said: “Developed to create sophisticated surfaces that would otherwise be drawn by hand, clay models have been in existence in the car industry since the 1940s and remain a fundamental part of the design process.  Watching the car come to life through the incredible artistic ability of our clay modellers, working together with designers, is still the favourite stage for many designers.”

The festival is supported by Birmingham Cathedral, the Edward Cadbury Trust, the Oakley Trust and Radcliffe Trust.

A new £2.2m development of quality but affordable family homes has been unveiled in Stockland Green, thanks to a small group of residents that galvanised itself into action when it saw its community going into decline due to poor quality and absent private landlords.

The construction of 14 family homes at Copeley Hill on Slade Road has totally transformed a site that had been left derelict and abandoned after being bombed during WWII and then cut off from the rest of the community by Spaghetti junction.

Stockland Green Opportunity Housing and Training (SGOHT) is the community-led organisation that inspired the Copeley Hill development of aspirational and quality private rented homes, which will enable local families to stay in the area.  The homes were built by MCE Property with the backing of SGOHT partners, Pioneer Group.

Sarah Kelly (33), son Amari (11) and daughter Ivy (5months) are the first family to receive keys to Copeley Hill.  Erdington born and bred, Sarah moved to Coventry for nine years but wanted to return to Birmingham so she could be around her family and support network.

“When I discovered there was a new development being built in the area, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to move back to my roots and have a fresh start,” said Sarah.  “The houses at Copeley Hill are absolutely fantastic and we can’t wait to get moved in and into our routine back in Birmingham, just minutes away from the people we love.”

Labour MP for Erdington, Jack Dromey said:  “A loving mum, Sarah, and her two delightful children, cannot wait to move into their new home; a good home, at a reasonable rent and with real security for the future.  The SGOHT is to be congratulated for its outstanding initiative in building 14 new badly needed homes.”

Those families renting from SGOHT at Copeley Hill will benefit from living in a modern, spacious home and receiving a quality maintenance and repair service.  In addition, because SGOHT has made a long term commitment to the area, they will also enjoy the peace of mind that comes from certainty of tenure and sustainable and ethical rent levels.

Penny Holbrook, Chair of SGOHT said:  “Stockland Green has always had a rich heritage and vibrant and ethnically diverse community, which was quick to organise itself and meet the challenges head on as the area went into decline.

“We could never have imagined only four years ago what we would be celebrating today, but from small acorns mighty oaks do grow. Copeley Hill was an abandoned part of Stockland Green, an eye-sore that was blighted by fly tipping, but the transformation is remarkable and one that we can all be proud of.

“The ambition and drive of a small group of people disillusioned at the lack of good quality private rented housing, which was driving young families out of Stockland Green and destroying the community, has resulted in a fabulous housing development of three and four bedroom houses that will allow them to stay in the neighbourhood and help the community grow and thrive.”

There are 12 spacious three-bedroom (from £725 per month) and two four-bedroom homes (£850 per month) in the Copeley Hill development, all with master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, modern fitted bathroom and kitchen, cloak rooms, sound-proof windows and rear gardens.

Penny concludes:  “We’ve delivered homes with the same rents as private landlords, but with superior housing and services.  This community-based solution to a lack of quality housing in the area is one that we have committed to and intend to build on.”

As a Pioneer Group partner, SGOHT benefits from its financial support and management resource, but is able to work autonomously in the community it knows inside out and has its own board that shapes future activities and investment in the area.

SGOHT is committed to helping Stockland Green and its people flourish by providing excellent homes and creating development and training opportunities for those living in the community, including working with a local training provider on the refurbishment of its properties.

The new Copeley Hill housing development is the first in a new chapter of regeneration in Stockland Green with SGOHT planning a further 20 houses over the next four years.