Colors: Blue Color

Public Health England (PHE) has announced the projects which have been awarded funding from the HIV Prevention Innovation Fund for 2017/18. The projects have been chosen from across England to receive total funding of £600,000 from the Department of Health through PHE.

PHE received over 70 submissions from different organisations for funding for local HIV prevention initiatives. Projects that provided innovation were welcome, especially those that addressed the following issues:

  • acknowledging and addressing the wider determinants of high risk behaviour
  • promoting the prompt diagnosis of both HIV and other STIs, especially among MSM
  • addressing stigma associated with HIV
  • integrating HIV prevention into health promotion and service delivery in other health areas
  • supporting increased knowledge, awareness and understanding including of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, especially in currently underserved populations
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) remains a public health concern despite major advances in treatment and reductions in diagnosis. In 2015 an estimated 101,000 people in the UK have HIV with 13,500 unaware and at risk of unknowingly passing on the virus to others. The risk of infection is higher in certain groups of the population; such as gay and bisexual men and Black African communities. However, targeted and innovative local initiatives that reach out to these and other groups can help reduce the risk of people contracting or passing on HIV.

Two examples of local initiatives receiving funding from PHE are the Sex Talk project run by National Prison Radio which will create information designed for prisoners to address issues of stigma around HIV and the Sholay Love project run by NAZ which aims to raise awareness of HIV and STIs and encourage testing amongst south Asian gay men in London, Bradford and Leeds.

Simon Walker, Health Improvement manager and sexual health lead for PHE West Midlands, said: “It’s great news that we have received funding for two projects within the West Midlands region. In Wolverhampton the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) has received funding for Reducing Barriers to Testing, a pilot project to test the effectiveness, acceptability and uptake of online self-testing (ST) as a method to reduce barriers to HIV testing in Black African communities.

“The Morning After Project (MAP), run by Summit House Support in Dudley, is a Black Country project focusing on education and harm reduction in the practice of chemsex – the use of drugs before or during sex to sustain, enhance, disinhibit or facilitiate the experience. Chemsex is a growing trend and the drugs commonly involved are crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone; these can be highly addictive and people often start using recreationally, thinking they can remain in control, but this can escalate and have an adverse impact on health and wellbeing.”

Summit House Support Managing Director Katy Baker said: “Summit House Support is delighted to be selected to deliver the Morning After Project through the HIV Innovation fund. We see participation in Chemsex as a real and emerging need effecting groups of men across the Black Country. We hope to address some of the main risks, specifically around contracting HIV, through a unique approach which targets both men at risk and raising the awareness and skills of local front line practitioners.”

Commenting on the Innovation Fund and the winning projects, Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “Now in its third year the HIV Prevention Fund continues to foster local innovation projects, which aim to tackle HIV in more targeted and impactful ways, especially for those most at risk. The twelve projects announced today will boost local action and spread best practice to further reduce rates of HIV across the whole country.”

Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement, Public Health England said: “The HIV Innovation Fund continues to foster new approaches to HIV prevention. The twelve projects receiving funding have been chosen as they offer new and exciting ways to address key issues in HIV prevention, working particularly with groups at high risk. These projects will help share innovation and best practice around the country, helping other areas to replicate progress in London on lowering rates of HIV.”

The Belgrade Theatre is hoping to spread the festive cheer even further this Christmas by giving away over 600 tickets for its pantomime Cinderella to local families in need as part of its Making Memories campaign.

Building on the success of last year’s campaign, the Theatre will once again partner with Coventry Foodbank to offer families from across Coventry and Warwickshire quality time together and the opportunity for every child to experience the magic of theatre this winter. Families such as Laila’s:

Laila lives in Coventry with her mum and four older brothers and one younger sister. The family have recently returned to the city, after escaping domestic violence, and are living in a two-bedroom flat until a more permanent home can be found. Laila is a bright and friendly little girl, but has found it difficult to cope with her step-father’s suicide last year.  Laila is just 6 years of age and has never been to a pantomime.

(Laila’s name has been changed to protect her identity, but her story is real.)

The Theatre is already a quarter of the way towards reaching its target of raising £7,200 to give 120 families the opportunity to see the Belgrade pantomime and create unforgettable memories, thanks to many generous donations.

After an exceptionally successful campaign last year, the Theatre is setting itself the challenge of raising even more money and needs your help to give as many families as possible an unforgettable experience.

Helen Hotchkiss, Head of Development at the Belgrade Theatre said, “We are committed to making the theatre an accessible and welcoming place to all. For many families facing significantly challenging situations, such as financial hardship, illness or isolation, a trip to the theatre is a luxury they simply cannot afford – some may have never been to a theatre before. Making Memories provides them with a brief escape from the challenges of day-to-day life and the opportunity to spend quality time together as a family. A donation of £15 will help one child and £60 will help one family, so please give what you can. Thank you.”

Iain Lauchlan, who writes, directs and stars in the Belgrade pantomime said, “We want to make sure that everyone across Coventry and Warwickshire is invited to the Royal Ball this Christmas! This year’s show is set to be more magical than ever, with spectacular sets, costumes, colourful characters and plenty of laughter. There’s also double trouble, with not one, but two dastardly dames as the Ugly Sisters! With your generous support, we aim to give a touch of magic and make-believe to as many families as possible during the festive season.”

As a registered charity, all the money given, raised or earned by the Belgrade is reinvested into its work in the community and to produce outstanding productions. Last year, the Belgrade Community & Education Company was able to offer over 11,000 participation opportunities for children, young peo ple and over 50s.

According to Arts Council England, studies show that engagement with arts and culture is associated with a higher level of wellbeing and there is growing evidence to support the benefits it can have on specific health conditions. Participation in the arts can also contribute to community cohesion, reduce social exclusion and isolation, and make communities feel safer and stronger.

Cinderella is the wonderful rags-to-riches tale guaranteed to delight all the family and make a trip to the Belgrade a truly unmissable Christmas treat. Join her quest to win the heart of the dashing Prince Charming, with a little help from her best friend Buttons and the enchanting Fairy Godmother. But with her evil Ugly Sisters determined to ruin her chances and the clock about to strike midnight, will Cinders manage to win the Prince’s love before the spell runs out?

A unique 50th Anniversary celebration of Pink Floyd's legendary performance at the now sadly burnt down Ritz Ballroom next to the Hare and Hounds in King's Heath will be held on Sunday 3 December.

Still fronted at that time by the charismatic but increasingly erratic Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's appearance in December 1967 was one of their first in the Midlands and came shortly after the release of their second single See Emily Play and their first album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. On the same bill that night were The Rare Breed including Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler who would later find fame and fortune as members of Black Sabbath.

Joining Syd Barrett on the tiny Ritz Ballroom stage 50 years ago as part of Pink Floyd were Roger Waters, Rick Wright and drummer Nick Knight who was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Two years afterwards the group would return to Birmingham to record the live album Ummagumma at Mothers Club in Erdington.

50 years later they have become one of the most bestselling and influential groups of all time and were earlier this year the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

From 3 pm to 6 pm a great selection of local musicians including Peters & Dog whose recent single was about Syd Barrett will perform their favourite Pink Floyd songs at Fletchers Bar on York Road

Beloved local drinking spot, The Bailey Head in Oswestry has won the DogBuddy Dog-friendly Pub Award for the West Midlands.

Leading online dog-sitting platform,, has today announced the 12 regional winners of its nationwide Dog-friendly Pub Awards, as voted for by pub-going dog owners across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

Now in their second year, the awards recognise the deserving pubs across the UK that truly embrace ‘paw power’ and welcome not just two, but four legged customers too.

Encouraging hound-lovers and pup parents up and down the UK to show some well-deserved appreciation of existing dog-friendly establishments, the Dog-friendly Pub Awards also promote dog-friendly values across all pubs nationwide, inspiring UK dog owners to discover and visit their local pubs.

The Bailey Head is well-loved within the Oswestry community, with its friendly staff and most importantly, little touches that make the pub the perfect pit-stop for a pint after a dog-walk!

Duncan Borrowman, The Bailey Head’s landlord, is delighted with the results; “We are absolutely delighted for our doggy customers that we’ve won this award! Being dog-friendly is part of our whole ethos of creating a friendly atmosphere for everyone. It’s great because it means we can get more doggy visitors paying us a visit for a drink and a snack”.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is remembering loved ones lost this Christmas with a touching, alternative light switch on.

For the first time ever, the local Hospice will be hosting its seasonal ‘Light up a Life’ ceremony at Brindleyplace – creating an evening of music, celebration and remembrance.

Taking place on Thursday 30 November from 6pm, Light up a Life will see the charity switch on Christmas tree lights in Oozells Square, with the lights symbolising the lives of those no longer with us.

Alongside the switch on, there will be live musical performances from The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Town Hall Gospel Choir and The Uptone Girls – a student choir from the University of Birmingham that recently competed in BBC One’s ‘Pitch Battle’.

Before the event, there will also be an opportunity to honour loved ones in the Hospice’s ‘Book of Remembrance’, which will be displayed at the Brindleyplace ceremony.

Birmingham St Mary’s is an independent hospice which provides vital care to individuals and families living with terminal illness. Its Light up a Life event is an opportunity to bring local people together to celebrate their loved ones, whether or not they were supported by the Hospice.

Tina Swani, chief executive at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “Christmas is a time to be with family and friends, and to remember those loved ones who are sadly no longer with us. The festive season can be a difficult time for anyone who has experienced loss and so our Light up a Life event is an opportunity to come together to remember and honour the life of someone special.

“We are very grateful to Brindleyplace for allowing us to host Light up a Life in Oozells Square this year. By being in the heart of Birmingham’s city centre, we hope that many more people will be inspired to join in with this special event.”

Light up a Life is part of the Hospice’s ‘Care at Christmas’ campaign – a festive appeal that aims to increase support for the charity leading up to and over the Christmas period. It costs £22,000 to run the Hospice on Christmas Day and so all donations will make a big difference to the local families the Hospice supports over the festive season.

In addition to the Light up a Life evening at Brindleyplace, the Hospice will also be hosting two more remembrance events at its home in Selly Park. They will both take place on Thursday 14 December, with an afternoon event at 4.30pm and an evening one at 7pm.

There is just over a week to go until the stunning new Christmas Light Trail is unveiled at Dunham Massey.

On Friday 1 December over 100,000 lights will officially be switched on for the first time to illuminate the brand new magical family experience, transforming the outdoor space into a glowing winter wonderland.

The Georgian Stately Home and its ancient deer park will be awash with colour as visitors explore over 22 individual scenes along an hour-long trail with interactive elements and immersive experiences.

From a Meadow of Light featuring a sea of fibre optics and a Fire Garden aglow with hundreds of flaming installations, to a giant mistletoe sculpture, visitors will be awed by the sheer scale of illuminations.

The lawn will be adorned with oversized baubles and Dunham Massey's renowned copses, will be dressed with vibrantly coloured lights as well as dramatic wintery whites to emphasise the beauty of the silver birches.

The great lake will feature floating light installations and reflections from the architectural lights will transform the House's exterior.

As well as illuminations, the landscape will be filled with seasonal sounds including Singing Trees and festive musical performances as well as delicious food and drink to keep spirits high.

The trail has been specially designed for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

John Taylor Hospice in Birmingham is asking local communities to get behind its festive appeal to raise £15,000 – enough to fund running costs at the hospice on Christmas Day.

The hospice has been at the heart of communities for over 100 years, caring for generations of families. Today more than 600 people living with a terminal illness and their loved ones will receive the care they need from John Taylor teams.

Showing his support for the Gift a Christmas campaign is Peter Knight from Birmingham. For Peter, having John Taylor’s Hospice at Home Team on hand made all the difference when he was caring for his wife Ann.

Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer in the summer of 2012. Despite intensive rounds of chemotherapy the cancer spread and in September 2013 the family was told her condition was palliative. The couple were heartbroken but determined to be together, with Ann remaining in their Tile Cross home through the duration of her life.

“Everybody loved Ann,” says Peter. “She was kind and considerate and never spoke a bad word about anybody. She was very gentle but also very strong.”

That strength was what made Ann determined to make the best of her last few months. “I was doing everything for her but by this time I realised I needed help,” says 66-year-old Peter. “So the district nurses referred Ann to John Taylor Hospice.

“They came every day and did whatever she wanted them to do. They might give her a bed bath or a flannel, they might wash her hair. Sometimes they might just sit and talk to her. It was whatever she was up for that day. And when I say every day I mean every day – even Christmas Day. The Hospice at Home Team did so much for Ann and she really looked forward to them coming to visit. They became friends.”

With the support of the district nurses and the Hospice at Home team, Ann’s wish to die peacefully at home was fulfilled in February 2014. Peter, a retired company director, was so keen to support other families that he is now a volunteer photographer with the hospice and supports staff at events such as Light up a Life.

“I don’t know how we would have managed without them and now I feel I need to pass on to others the help that we had,” adds Peter. "I would encourage people to show their support for the Gift a Christmas campaign as I know just how compassionate and caring the hospice staff are and what a difference they make for the families they care for."

The hospice is now inviting everyone, not just those touched by hospice care, to join the Gift a Christmas campaign and help make a huge difference for local families.

“Every moment matters here at John Taylor Hospice and our patients are at the heart of everything we do,” explains Darren Dudley, Community Fundraising Manager at the hospice.

"We do everything we can to make sure the festive season is an extra special time packed full of fun, entertainment and laughter. If patients are unable to spend Christmas at home then we bring it here to the hospice and help families to create precious memories they can cherish. Patients and their loved ones are welcomed as if they are part of our family and our home is their home.

“Our services are free to those who need them but it costs £15,000 every day to provide this care. We’d be really grateful for your support as together we can help ensure we’re there for families when they need us most – now and in the future.”

Leakage is always a hot topic, and with a target to reduce our levels by 15%, Severn Trent is determined to rise to the challenge.  The company is already using drones to spot leaks from the air, and now they’ve gone one step further - leakage detection from space!

Dr Bob Stear, Head of Innovation at Severn Trent, explains: “At the moment leakage detection hasn’t developed much in the way of new emerging technologies, so we’ve chosen to take a chance on satellites. We’re doing two trials to find leaks in different ways.”

We’re working with Rezatec, who analyse different types of satellite data and imagery to monitor changes in the landscape near to the pipe. This includes changes to the vegetation, water content in soil, water accumulation and sub-centimetre ground movement all of which help to identify potential leakage.

We’re also doing some work with Utilis, using a Japanese satellite, 637km above the earth.  It works by picking up a signature of longwave radiation of chlorine in water, tracking the “signature” of drinking water escaping into the ground.

The trials have so far identified many points of interest, which teams are then following up with onsite investigations.  Any leaks found are then planned in and fixed as soon as possible.

Bob added, “We’re really excited to be working on this. Its early days so far, but it’s looking really promising.  What’s really impressive is that we’re picking up leaks as small as boundary boxes and leaks on valves – something that is normally incredibly difficult to pinpoint.

“With this new Satellite technology, the time it takes to locate leaks should significantly reduce, which is obviously great news for leakage levels and our customers. We can see clearly the value that this level of geospatial data insight can deliver and we fully expect to be able to improve our costs and efficiency by making better informed decisions when finding and fixing leaks.”

Philip Briscoe, COO of Rezatec said: “It’s incredible what we can understand from satellite data in relation to monitoring asset networks. Identifying high risk areas of underground pipeline infrastructure and detecting symptoms of leakage is a cost-effective alternative to more traditional methods as its non-invasive, frequently updated and highly scalable.”

Nick Haskins of SUEZ UK, who are exclusive representatives of Utilis in the U.K. and Ireland, is very excited to be working alongside Severn Trent with this ground breaking technology: “Having the opportunity to work with Severn Trent on this project is very exciting.  Using a satellite, orbiting the Earth at 633km, offers the most up to date and innovative method for locating water leaks. This gives water companies the ability to survey the whole water pipe network in a single operation. This, of course, has the added benefit of being completely discreet to the customer and without any disruption to them.”

Birmingham’s internationally renowned Frankfurt Christmas Market returns to the city for five weeks from tomorrow.

The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Anne Underwood, will officially open the Frankfurt Christmas Market in Victoria Square on Thursday, 16 November at 5.30pm – before she switches on the city’s festive lights.

The Frankfurt Christmas Market – which celebrates its 18th year in the city – is organised by Birmingham City Council in partnership with Frankfurt Tourism and Congress GmBH, and sponsored by Fortem.

The Lord Mayor said: “This is one of the most anticipated events in Birmingham’s calendar, drawing millions of visitors to the city, and for many it marks the start of the festive season. Therefore it’s a great honour to officially welcome the Frankfurt Christmas Market back to the city.”

The Frankfurt Christmas Market features 93 festive stalls in Victoria Square and New Street selling a wide range of products and tempting foods, plus live performances on the bandstand and music from Free Radio – it has become the biggest authentic German market outside Austria and Germany.

The Lord Mayor will also attend the launch of the big wheel and ice rink at Eastside Green, New Canal Street, on 15 November at 6pm. These have moved to this location as refurbishment work continues on Centenary Square.

Both attractions will be open from 16 November until 7 January, from 10am to 10pm. Ice rink sessions are on the hour and last an hour. Tickets can be booked in advance at

Birmingham is one of 11 UK locations supporting NSPCC’s Light Up Christmas for Children campaign in their festive displays. The lights around Victoria Square will showcase their campaign, which is raising money to enable the charity to be there for every young person who desperately needs support.

Visitors are being reminded to use public transport wherever possible, as important works continue as part of the well-publicised Paradise redevelopment.

VisitBritain has announced a partnership with Birmingham and the surrounding areas to promote more of England’s regions to overseas visitors.

The three-year partnership is a joint initiative with Birmingham Airport, the West Midlands Growth Company, Shakespeare’s England and Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire.

Together, the organisations will market Birmingham and the surrounding areas to a global audience, convert inspiration to visit into bookings, and promote direct flights to the area. In the first year, the partnership will focus on the US market.

From stunning rural landscapes to cosmopolitan retail and world-class cultural gems, Birmingham and the partner destinations offer a wide range of experiences to overseas visitors.

VisitBritain Commercial Director Carol Dray said: “Tourism is one of the UK’s most valuable export industries, worth £127 billion annually to the economy.

“Increasing regional connectivity not only makes it easier for visitors to see more of Britain, the West Midlands and the Peak District, it boosts economic growth, and helps keep us an attractive destination in this fiercely competitive global market.”

West Midlands Growth Company Director of Marketing and Communications Emma Gray said:  “Birmingham and its surrounding areas have become increasingly popular tourist destinations, attracting some 1.5 million international visitors in 2015.

“By working in partnership with our destination partners we will be in an even stronger position to attract more visitors to the region, increasing economic development and growth. We look forward to capitalising on the opportunities and benefits that this initiative will bring to the tourism industry in the future.”

Birmingham Airport’s Commercial Director Jo Lloyd said:  “We’re proud and excited to be working with partners on this gateway campaign to drive more visitors to the region over the next three years. England’s Heartland offers visitors everything they could possibly imagine - from adventure and history to culture and arts – and with new long haul low cost direct services commencing next summer, Birmingham Airport offers the perfect gateway for visitors ready to discover our vibrant cities, beautiful villages and rolling countryside.”

Birmingham Airport is the UK’s third largest airport outside of London and is the gateway to England’s Heartland. Next year, Primera Air will launch low fare direct flights into Birmingham from New York, Boston and Toronto in the US and Canada.

The US is Britain’s most valuable inbound visitor market and also one of its largest. Latest figures from VisitBritain show that there were 1.9 million visits from the US to the UK in the first six months of this year, a 31% increase on the same period last year. Visitors from the US spent £1.8 billion between January and June this year, a 28% increase on the same period last year.

VisitBritain’s forecast shows that overseas visits are expected to reach 39.7 million in 2017, up 6% on 2016 figures. Spending by overseas visitors is forecast to reach £25.7 billion, up 14% on 2016.

Tourism is worth £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting economic growth across its nations and regions.

Christmas dinner catastrophes, a spaghetti-covered baby and a dinner which went less than plain sailing are all in the running to win the UK’s best dinner time disaster competition.

To celebrate the launch of its new dining and living room collection, furniture specialist, ScS, is asking people to submit photos and stories of their funniest foodie fails and mealtime mess-ups and has already received a heap of hilarious entries.

The competition will crown the nation’s best dinner time disaster and the lucky winner will receive a new dining table and four chairs.

Simon Nicholson, Furniture Buying Director at ScS, said: “Meal times provide a great opportunity to bring the family together, whether it’s to chat about your day, share a giggle or get something off your chest. But family dinners don’t always go to plan and can result in some hilarious situations and fond family memories!

“We launched our Dinner Time Disasters competition to celebrate quality family time and the hilarious blunders and mishaps that often come with sitting down to enjoy a family meal. We’ve received some fantastic entries so far and can’t wait to see more.”

Magical yuletide markets, grottos, light shows and craft workshops will be on offer at the Treasure Houses of England – a consortium of historic estates including Beaulieu, Blenheim Palace, Burghley, Castle Howard, Chatsworth, Harewood House, Hatfield House, Holkham Hall, Leeds Castle, and Woburn Abbey.

Highlights include:

Beaulieu – Step back in time to 1889 to join the Montagu family, played by costumed actors, as they rehearse a Christmas Day pantomime and visitors are invited to join them on stage. Then join Lady Montagu in the Library for craft activities to make your own Christmas card or sparkling tree decorations. Meet Lord Montagu's cook as she prepares the Christmas feast, see a Christmas tree in every room and enjoy carols and punch by the fire. At the entrance to Beaulieu, take your photo with the life-size gingerbread house before following the magical path lit by fairy lights down to Palace House. The event runs on December 9th -10th and then from December 16th-January 1st. Please note the attraction will be closed on 25th December.

Blenheim Palace – Marvel as Blenheim Palace's Formal gardens are lit up in a rainbow of colour during an unforgettable after-dark festive trail of lights. The lake will be aglow with brightly-lit boats and dancing fountain jets, the arbour will be adorned with fairy lights, and fibre optics will transform the hedgerows – helping to create a magical wonderland. The event runs from November 24 – January 1. Closed 25th December.

Burghley – Food markets with a difference! Come and meet over 30 local suppliers at Burghley's biggest ever 4 day festive celebration of local produce. With handmade cheeses, artisan breads, organic vegetables, luxury sweet treats and rare breed meats. In the Courtyard from 9am to 4pm on Thursday 23rd November - Sunday 26th November. Free admission.

Castle Howard – A host of angels will descend on Castle Howard's grand state rooms to spectacular effect in Angels on High – set to be particularly special during candlelit twilight visits over the weekend of December 16 and 17. Throughout the festive season, 18 November - 23 December, visitors will be treated to live music around the house, seasonal menus, lit fires, indoor markets and Christmas goodies in the shop. For younger visitors, there will also be a Magical Christmas Garden, Audience with Father Christmas, Enchanted Evening with Father Christmas, a soaring Christmas tree and the return of Bompas & Parr's Gingerbread Castle Howard.

Wood Green war memorial is looking fresh ahead of this weekend’s Remembrance Sunday commemorations, thanks to the Armed Forces – with a bit of help from Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen.

Flt Lt Will Brookes – chairman of Armed Forces Spurs – organised a clean-up of the monument, and took 13 other serving troops and veterans from the Navy, Army and RAF along with him.

The group – all from Armed Forces Spurs supporters’ group – travelled from across the country to pitch in alongside midfielder Eriksen, picking up leaves and scrubbing the monument, erected in 1920 to commemorate local soldiers who died in the First World War.

Flt Lt Brookes said:

As a supporters’ group we get to go on the pitch at games, we get to see players, we have the glamour, but we wanted to do something for the local area and get the memorial in shape for Remembrance Day. We wanted to come here and give a fitting tribute to these names on the memorial, of those who gave their lives for their country, and their families.

The Mayor of Haringey, Cllr Stephen Mann, went to meet the troops and show his support as Eriksen and Flt Lt Brookes laid wreaths at the site.

The Mayor – a former Navy serviceman – said of the clean-up:

The fact that these servicemen and women want to volunteer their free time, in between serving our country, speaks volumes about the people they are. It was an honour to meet the troops ahead of Remembrance Day. Their work at the memorial means that we in Wood Green continue to have a fitting tribute, where we can always remember the local heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in war.

The Library of Birmingham’s role in supporting innovation and creativity was praised during a visit by the Government’s arts minister.

During a tour of the iconic venue, John Glen MP, heard how the library is a centre of excellence for literacy, research, creativity and entrepreneurship

Mr Glen visited the library’s Business, Learning and Intellectual Property Centre, which provides support for entrepreneurs and inventors, including free legal advice on how to protect and develop their ideas.

Last month the Library of Birmingham secured funding from Enterprise for Success, which will enable its business support and advice services to be expanded in community libraries across the city.

The arts minister was also shown the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which houses part of the city’s Shakespeare collection – the world’s largest in a public library - before moving onto Archives – which received its National Archive accreditation this week.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism John Glen said: "Libraries are so important to local communities, not only as places for people to access books and technology, but where they can also learn new skills. The Library of Birmingham is a great example of this and I have been very impressed with the services available to support local entrepreneurs and inventors."

Cllr Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The Library of Birmingham is one the city’s iconic cultural institutions, so this was a great opportunity to show the minister around this world-class library."

Last year the Library of Birmingham welcomed more than 1.6 million visitors through its doors, making it the busiest public library in the UK.

A special school in Oldbury is thrilled to be benefiting from volunteers from Network Rail who have transformed their school grounds.

The Meadows special school, on Dudley Road East, initially contacted Network Rail to ask for donations of sleepers to use in their memorial garden.

Network Rail responded by sending a team of volunteers who have given the school’s memorial garden a complete make-over.

The memorial garden area of the school was previously inaccessible for pupils and families who are wheelchair users and the school council and parents group wanted to improve access so everyone could have the opportunity to remember those pupils and staff that have passed away.

The team from Network Rail, headed up by Allun Edge, Infrastructure Maintenance Protection Coordinator, provided all of their labour on a volunteer basis, and used part of the ‘5 volunteer days’ that they are entitled to each year to support this worthwhile project.

Sixth Form students at the school kept the volunteers fed and watered providing them bacon and sausage sandwiches and gallons of tea and coffee.

Jo Cliffe, Head Teacher at The Meadows said: “We are absolutely stunned by the work that has been done by this wonderful team of volunteers from Network Rail.

“We would like to thank the Network Rail team for everything they have done and want to welcome them back soon for the official opening ceremony.

“When organisations engage with special schools, it is of benefit to our pupils, but also wider society – helping everyone to understand how important it is to accept diversity and celebrate the individual skills that each of us bring.

“Our pupils, families and the staff team at The Meadows are incredibly grateful for the work that has been undertaken and wish to express their heartfelt thanks for all that has been done in their behalf.”

Allun from Network Rail added: “It was a real pleasure for all of us to visit The Meadows, meet the brilliant pupils and help make the memorial garden a special place for them to enjoy. And those bacon sarnies were amazing!”

Work is still under way to get the garden finished. The school hope to raise some money for the centre piece sculpture by the local artist and sculptor, Luke Perry. This piece of artwork has been designed by Luke, along with the bereaved families, to remember the individual pupils in a personalised manner.

KIDS across the country are being encouraged to Be Kind in an effort to curb bullying ahead of the Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 November).

The Be Kind campaign – which aims to inspire kids to Speak Up, Stand Out and Be Kind – launched by ITV’s This Morning Show, is now being strongly supported by the popular stationery and gifts brand Smiggle.

Kids are being invited to visit their local Smiggle store in the West Midlands from Thursday 9th November to pick up a FREE, limited edition Smiggle #BeKind wrist band, to show their support for the cause.

150,000 bands have been produced by Smiggle and will be available across the country for anyone who wants to show their support. Celebrities appearing on This Morning throughout the week will also be showing their support by wearing a Smiggle #BeKind band.

John Cheston, Managing Director of Smiggle, said: “The happiness of our fans means everything to us – after all, Smiggle is where a smile meets a giggle. We want young people to speak out to a trusted adult if they’re being bullied, stand up if they see bullying taking place and choose kindness.

“We are proud to be working with the team at ITV’s This Morning to support the health and happiness of all young people by standing up against bullying.”

This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby said: “We really want this campaign to help children, their families and even bullies themselves to realise what they are doing. How much better would the world be if everyone was just that bit kinder to each other?”

Co-presenter Philip Schofield added: “I’m 100% behind this campaign. I hope we can save young lives and show the bullies how catastrophic one tweet, one snapchat or one text can be.”

This Morning Editor Martin Frizell said: "This Morning's Be Kind campaign has the power to save lives. Every single time somebody stands up to a bully they are stopping the devastating effects bullying can cause. So many children every day suffer in silence.

"We are grateful to Smiggle for their support. Let's all band together and Be Kind to stop bullying."

People taking part in the campaign are being encouraged to wear their free Smiggle wristbands and upload their photos to social media throughout the week to show their support, using the hashtag #BeKind.*