Colors: Blue Color

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s something ambulance staff hear most weekends from the ‘friends’ of drunk patients we’re trying to treat. When you’re out this festive period, we’re urging people to look after each other by sticking together and keeping an eye on what your friends are drinking so that the skills of ambulance staff are reserved for saving lives rather than babysitting people who have simply had too much to drink.

Unwanted, good quality toys that would otherwise be destined for the tip will be cheering up needy children this Christmas. Workers at Sandwell’s household recycling centre in Oldbury are being Santa’s little helpers by collecting unwanted toys to donate to families. The project is being run with children from Bristnall Hall Academy, former recycling centre worker Tony Martin and Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals (SWBH) NHS Health Visiting Services.

Take a sneaky peak behind the scenes and discover the unique craftsmanship and engineering skills that keep the nation's beautiful waterways open for everyone to enjoy. Throughout the winter the Canal & River Trust will be holding free open days so that you can delve deeper into history. For budding builders, engineers and architects it's a chance to pull on your wellies and get muddy discovering how the canals were constructed, walk in the footsteps of the original Victorian engineers and try the traditional construction methods of puddling or mixing lime mortar. 

Helen Brook, founder of Brook - the UK’s leading sexual health and wellbeing charity for young people - has been honoured in the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List for her crusade to help unmarried women in the 1960s. This year’s Power List celebrates seven women who have made the biggest impact on women’s lives over the past seven decades. The first Brook clinic opened in 1964 with the aim of offering accessible support and contraception to unmarried women and reducing the number of illegal abortions.

It’s the busiest social time of the year, with many of us looking forward to catching up with family, friends and colleagues. Or are we? For a new study by Fisherman’s Friend suggests that as many as two out of five in the West Midlands (40.42%) will have no qualms about inventing or exaggerating minor ailments in order to get out of unwelcome parties and social functions this Christmas.

The second series of a six-part ITV documentary set onboard a Princess Cruises ship will air from Thursday January 12 at 8.30pm. 'The Cruise' reveals what life is like for crew and guests onboard the 3,560-guest Royal Princess. The second series was filmed in the Mediterranean this summer. Hugh Bonneville, who provided the voiceover for the first series, will reprise his role for series two. Royal Princess was launched in 2013 in Southampton by HRH, The Duchess of Cambridge.