Colors: Blue Color

Every summer, centres and branches end up bursting with cats and kittens as a result of unplanned litters born at this time of year and unwanted older animals.

This can lead to cats and kittens being abandoned in their droves, ending up in rescue centres.

Across England and Wales from May 1 to September 24, there were 11,313 cat abandonment complaints reported to the RSPCA.

The RSPCA is urging responsible pet owners to get their cat neutered from four months old to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

Alice Potter, RSPCA cat welfare expert, said: “They may look cute but having a litter of kittens to look after is hard work and costs money. Sometimes the reality of looking after them does not live up to the expectation and it is times like this when we see so many kittens abandoned.

“From being tied up in plastic bags, dumped in boxes, left on a bus, or thrown out with the rubbish, the RSPCA has sadly seen too many kittens abandoned this summer.

“There is a cat overpopulation crisis facing the UK and our centres struggle with the demand especially during the summer months. There are an estimated 10.3 million pet cats in the UK and although it is estimated that around 90% of owners have their cats neutered about 13% of owners of female cats say that their cat has had at least one litter. Of these owners, 70% said their cats pregnancy was unplanned which inevitably results in a lot of kittens*.

“Some people may think cats need to have a first litter to be healthy but this is an old wives tale. Neutering your cat allows them to go outside and do all the things they enjoy, such as climbing and playing.”

From May to September the RSPCA has neutered more than 4,000 cats.

The numbers of cats in RSPCA centres and branches in May reached a whopping 3,652 and June saw even more with 3,848. In July there were 2,492 and August there were 1,950 cats and kittens needing care.

Alice Potter added: “However, not all cats and kittens abandoned by their owners will have been lucky enough to make it into RSPCA care. Unfortunately there are kittens who have been dumped and will not make it, there is likely to be others who weren’t found in time, or never found at all.

“If your cat has had an unwanted litter please do not throw them out like rubbish. There are options and animal welfare charities like the RSPCA who can help.

“If your cat has reached about four months old or more there are voucher schemes which can help with the cost of neutering such as the Cat Smart scheme in Sheffield and the Cat Care and Control Consortium in London. Check with your local RSPCA branch to see what services are available.”


The survey, of more than 3,000 dog-owners across the country, found that of those owners who responded, 20% of their dogs living in the region have walks of less than 30 minutes a day.  This was closely followed by the north east of England, where 19% of dog-owners polled say their dogs get less than 30 minutes walk a day.

The survey was commissioned in the lead up to the RSPCA’s Big Walkies challenge in October, which invites people to walk 10,000 steps a day, with or without a dog, to raise money for animals in need. The results also found that 8% of those who responded  from the West Midlands didn’t walk their dogs at all.

The survey also showed that, in the West Midlands, the dog owners who responded reported that:

Almost 40% of dogs go out for a walk at least twice a day;

47% of dogs have a daily walk of 30 minutes to an hour; 26% go out for one to two hours, and 6% for more than two hours;

23% of dog-owners always let their dogs off their leads during a walk, while 23% never go off their leads.

Nationally, the survey suggested that:

Dogs in London have the ‘best walkies’ in England, as their owners reported that they  are most likely to be walked at least once a day with almost half having two strolls a day, and they are more likely to be allowed off the lead, play with other dogs and have a ball or toy to play with;

44% of owners said that their dogs go out for a walk at least twice a day, while 6% don’t get a daily walk at all;

Nationally, 49% of dog owners reported to a daily walk of 30 minutes to an hour; 27% go out for one to two hours, and 9% for more than two hours


28% of dog-owners report to always let their dogs off their leads during a walk, while 18% never go off their leads.

Animal-lovers who sign up to My Big Walkies will pledge to walk at least 10,000 steps a day - approximately five miles - with or without their dog throughout October while being sponsored to do so.

If they complete the challenge animal lover will have clocked up 155 miles in October - the same as walking from Birmingham to Brighton.

Dog-loving singer Peter Andre who is supporting the RSPCA Big Walkies challenge, said: “It's important to remember how much happiness dogs bring to our lives. Sadly there are many dogs which are ill-treated every day and the RSPCA works incredibly hard to combat animal cruelty.

“I encourage dog-owners to sign up for My Big Walkies. Taking part will help raise money which will enable the RSPCA to carry out this vital work.

“It's also a fantastic opportunity to get out and about with your dog, while helping less fortunate dogs at the same time. It’ll be fun, great for your health and fitness, great for your dog and it's all for a fantastic cause - the RSPCA.”

Dr Samantha Gaines, the RSPCA’s dog welfare expert, said: “The results from our survey suggest that where we live has an impact on how we exercise our dogs.

“London dogs in particular appear to have more opportunities to do what many dogs love - playing with other dogs and their owners as well as toys and balls.

“There are some very lucky pooches in the capital but no matter where you live, you and your dog can enjoy some great walks.

“Taking your dog for a walk can have huge benefits for both of you. For many people dogs are a huge part of the family, and exercising with them offers great opportunities to spend quality time together and helps form a strong bond. It can also boost your own fitness and happiness levels.

“For dogs, having a good sniff and investigating their surroundings while on a walk can boost their health and happiness.

“There are also huge benefits to you as a dog-owner - as a recent study showed that a brisk 10-minute walk a day can add years to your life.** So imagine the benefits you will reap by walking 10,000 steps a day!”

The level of exercise a dog needs will depend on their age, breed and health and 10,000 steps may be too much for some dogs. So if owners aren’t sure how much exercise their dog needs we would advise them to seek advice from their vet.


Residents, businesses and organisations across the City of Wolverhampton are being encouraged to "Go Orange" and support an international campaign to end gender-based violence.

The annual United Nations’ Orange the World campaign takes place over 16 days between 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, and 10 December, UN Human Rights Day.

Organisations across the City, from small community groups and charities to schools and large public sector bodies including the City of Wolverhampton Council and West Midlands Police, are being asked to "Orange Wolverhampton".

In doing so, they will not only raise awareness of gender-based violence – violence primarily committed against women and girls, including domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour-based’ violence and sexual violence – but also the help and support that is available to victims in the City of Wolverhampton.

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Gender-based violence in any of its forms is illegal and totally abhorrent, and we are committed to working with our partners to identify and support anyone who is the victim of it.

“We are delighted to once again be supporting the United Nations ‘Orange the World’ campaign and turning the City of Wolverhampton ‘orange’ is an important part of our work to raise awareness of the issues and to make sure people know how to get the help and support they need.

"It is important to stress that the title of violence against women and girls recognises the gendered nature of these issues, in that the majority of victims are female. However, the campaign seeks to end all interpersonal violence affecting women, men, girls and boys.

"There are so many ways organisations and individuals can get involved and we're hoping people will come together to ‘orange’ the City of Wolverhampton in support of the campaign."

Organisations and individuals are invited to respond to the challenge, ‘what will you do to Orange Wolverhampton’?’

As well as using tried and tested ways to Orange Wolverhampton during the 16 days of action – including turning websites and social media channels orange, changing the colour of corporate logos, sharing key messages about the campaign with staff, customers and service users, lighting buildings orange, flying orange flags and more – organisers would like to see groups and organisations being really inventive about what they can do using the colour orange to raise awareness and more.

So whether you are a motorcycle or cycle club that could hold an orange ride and gather for an orange photo, a business with orange branding or a sports team that could play an all-orange match, please sign up your organisation and share your plans at

Individuals can also show their support by wearing orange clothing on “Go Orange” day – Monday 27 November – as well as sporting orange ribbons throughout the 16-day campaign.

People backing the campaign are encouraged to show their support on social media using the hashtag #orangewolves and by tagging @wvsafeguarding in the conversation. Alternatively, please share photos with the Safeguarding Boards via Facebook at

Councillor Sweet added: "Through close partnership working we have made significant progress in addressing gender-based violence, developing more effective ways of working together and implementing a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub which is further improving the way agencies respond to safeguarding concerns.

"The Go Orange campaign is a great way for everyone to show we are committed to ending violence against women, men, girls and boys and highlighting where people can turn to if they are affected by the issue in any way.

“Last year, many people asked if they could make a donation to local support services, and I am pleased to say that we will be setting up a JustGiving page this time.”

Anyone worried about or suffering from any form of domestic violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour-based violence, or sexual violence should call the relevant helpline:

·         The Haven Wolverhampton 24-hour Helpline for women and men on 08000 194400

·         National Domestic Violence helpline for women on 0808 2000 247

·         National Domestic Violence helpline for men on 0808 8010327

·         Wolverhampton Adults Social Care team on 01902 551199

·         Wolverhampton Children's Social Care on 01902 555392

·         NSPCC FGM Helpline on 0800 028 3550

·         Karma Nirvana helpline for victims of so-called honour-based violence and forced marriage 0800 5999 247.

In an emergency, always call police on 999.

2017 marks 125 years since the publication of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first introduced Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to readers of The Strand Magazine in 1891, but the publication of these twelve short stories, on 14 October 1892, brought the detective and the doctor to the masses.

VisitEngland's Year of Literary Heroes survey showed that Sherlock and Watson's escapades tap into the nation's love of suspense, with crime (38%), thrillers (38%) and mysteries (37%) revealed as the most popular genres to read; everything from recent runaway success The Girl on the Train to classics by Agatha Christie keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Holiday-makers who prise themselves from their page-turners can follow in the footsteps of the Sherlock Holmes books, film adaptations and TV series, play detective at Sherlock-inspired attractions, from code-breaking bars to themed escape games, and delve into the real-life locations associated with the fictional worlds of crimes and mysteries from And Then There Were None to Dracula.

SHERLOCK-ATIONS – ON THE TRAIL OF THE BOOKS, FILMS AND TV SERIES PORTSMOUTH: Where it all began… Sir Arthur Conan Doyle moved to Portsmouth with his wife in 1882 to set up his medical practice, and it was there that he first wrote the world's greatest detective into creation. Head to Portsmouth City Museum and explore permanent exhibition 'A Study in Sherlock', the largest collection pertaining to Doyle and his creation in the world. The gallery explores Doyle's life and career, Sherlock Holmes as depicted in film, theatre, advertising and more, and includes a Sherlock Holmes mystery and narration by the collection's patron, Stephen Fry. Doyle's home, which was destroyed in the Second World War, is commemorated by a blue plaque. Admission to the museum is free.

LONDON: Home of Holmes 221B Baker Street is Holmes' base in the books – however this address doesn't actually exist! Head to 237-41 Baker Street to find the Sherlock Holmes Museum, which features a recreation of the detective's disorderly study. Baker Street underground station has a statue of Holmes, and a short walk away takes you to Madame Tussauds, home to waxworks of both Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch as the detective, plus interactive theatrical challenge the Sherlock Holmes Experience. The BBC adaptation used a townhouse at 187 North Gower Street to play the role of 221B Baker Street, and many scenes were filmed at next-door Speedy's Sandwich Bar & Café, where you can get a Sherlock Breakfast of eggs, avocado and salmon. The Criterion in Piccadilly Circus (now Savini at The Criterion) was where Dr Watson first heard about Sherlock Holmes, sowing the seeds of their relationship; a plaque commemorates the literary claim to fame. Brit Movie Tours runs a Sherlock Holmes Walking tour of London.

Celebrate in true British style this festive season and serve one of England's finest wines.  Named as a favourite by many of the country's leading drinks writers, the innovative Lyme Bay Winery has a selection of wines for every occasion, a perfect pour this Christmas and New Year.

Having painstakingly prepared a delicious selection of canapés for a stylish Christmas drinks party, the drinks offering needs to be carefully considered to ensure it enhances the flavours and adds elegance to the occasion.

A serious wine which will appeal to the discerning wine audience, the recently launched Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs is made using 100% Pinot Noir grapes and provides a wonderful accompaniment to food.  The red fruit characters have a strong presence in this white sparkling wine.  It has a light copper hue in its appearance with fine, consistent bubbles.  On the nose it is rich and earthy with forward strawberry and cherry notes and a delicious richness on the palate is offset by a crisp acidity and a light toast finish.  There is no doubt that guests will be impressed.

The wine to have in the fridge which offers great versatility is a bottle of Lyme Bay Sandbar 2015.  Fresh and zesty with a range of characteristics including grapefruit, guava, box wood and a hint of blackcurrant, this makes a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc.  It is produced from 100% Bacchus, a grape which is rapidly growing in awareness and popularity.  Light to medium in body, Sandbar has a beautiful balanced acidity with a great affinity to food pairing, particularly light, citrus-led fish or chicken pasta dishes.

Make your guests feel special this New Year's Eve, serve Lyme Bay Classic Cuvée.  Blended from the noble Champagne varieties Pinot Noir (81%) and Chardonnay (19%) this sparkling wine, with its delicate fine bubbles, golden colour and slight blush tint, has a refined finish.  Underlying lemons, peach and apricot are accompanied by cooked apples, breadcrumbs, honey and almond on the nose.  It has a crisp finesse and a classic look.

Looking ahead to Valentine's Day, Lyme Bay Sparkling Rosé is a stunning choice.  With its vibrant soft pink colour with notes of wild strawberries, pepper and redcurrant on the nose and a bright, fruit-driven palate with a richness of honey and hits of brioche and almond it is utterly divine.  A perfect gift for a loved one and a delicious wine to serve to create a romantic mood.

Charities in the City of Wolverhampton have shared £20,691 courtesy of former Mayor Cllr Barry Findlay.

Cllr Findlay was the city’s first citizen during 2016/2017 and throughout his time in office he and his wife Margaret, the Mayoress, raised money for four good causes.

His chosen charities were Wolverhampton Samaritans, The MS Therapy Centre, Help for Heroes and the Wolverhampton United Ex Service Council.

Over the year, Cllr Findlay and Margaret organised a variety of fundraising activities including an online auction, quizzes, concerts and coffee mornings.

They presented the charities with their cheques at a ceremony last week.

Cllr Findlay said: “It is a dilemma for any Mayor to select the charities they will raise money for during their year of office. There are so many deserving causes out there and we would want to help them all if we could.

“However, the charities I did choose do superb work for our communities and Margaret and I were proud and delighted to fundraise for them.

“I would like to personally thank everyone who donated or attended one of our events. These contributions have now been passed over to the charities and will be used to help people.”

Vernon Dodd, from Wolverhampton Samaritans, said: “We were absolutely delighted that Cllr Findlay nominated us as one of his charities. We take around 2,000 calls a month, day and night, from people in Wolverhampton and all our work is done by volunteers.

“We have to raise 100% of our running costs ourselves, so this help is much appreciated.”

Paul Nicholls, from Wolverhampton United Ex Service Council, said: “It’s a great honour to be nominated as a chosen charity. We will use the money to pay for a new flag known as a standard. We can now go out and people will recognise Wolverhampton Ex Service Council and it will bring us closer together.”

The MS Therapy Centre will use the money to enable it to continue offering various treatments such as oxygen, reflexology, aromatherapy and physiotherapy to people suffering with MS. Help for Heroes, will use the money to look after wounded, injured and sick service personnel.

Eden Project visitors will be pitted against villains springing from the pages of some of the most popular children's books ever as Roald Dahl's Halloweden is unleashed this October half-term (October 21-29).

The whole family can brave challenges from notorious characters such as the ghastly giants from Roald Dahl's The BFG and those devious practical jokers, Mr and Mrs Twit.

Roald Dahl's Halloweden will consist of a terrifying trail of immersive experiences across Eden based on five of the most iconic stories.

The Witches inspires a scary – but vitally important – training session for spotting real witches while Fantastic Mr Fox's Farm challenges visitors to travel through tunnels and sneak out plump chickens whilst evading capture from Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

Mr and Mrs Twit's house is full of terrible tricks and pranks and The BFG's cave is a magical, mystical wonder – just be sure to tiptoe from the dream-making station so as not to wake the sleeping giants.

Matilda's formidable headmistress and former Olympian Miss Trunchbull has set some demanding sports day challenges which must be mastered to avoid ending up in the Chokey.

Polly Randle, Eden Live Project Lead, said: “This Halloweden is going to be extra special with the addition of some of the scariest and most memorable villains from everyone's favourite Roald Dahl's stories.

“We're delighted to have the involvement of the Roald Dahl Literary Estate in creating this unique and imaginative programme that is all set to delight – and terrify – all our visitors.”

Bernie Hall, Marketing Director at Roald Dahl Literary Estate, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Eden during the Halloweden event this year as it provides the perfect opportunity for some of our most infamous villains to be a part of one of the most popular events in the UK and at Eden, and for visitors to be able to experience this enchanting event.

“It has been fantastic to further our relationship with Eden which began with the Biomes hosting Lego Billy for Roald Dahl Day this year.”

Roald Dahl's Halloweden takes place every day from October 21 to 29 and is included in the price of admission to Eden with no booking required.

For an evening of fang-tastic fun the popular party extravaganza Little Monsters' Ball returns to Eden on Saturday, October 28, at 6pm.

Everyone can don their favourite Halloween costumes and shake their bones on one of two dancefloors before indulging in some ghoulish grub such as eyeball pizza or roasted bat wings.

They can then enjoy a spine-tingling skate on the eerie Eden ice rink which will be open throughout half-term week.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is searching for four choirs from the Midlands area to be part of an event to mark the Twelfth Night of Christmas on Saturday 6 January 2018.

Coinciding with the RSC’s forthcoming production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the Company is holding a Wassail in Stratford-upon-Avon.  Roughly translated as ‘be in good health’, wassailing is an English tradition taking place on the Twelfth Night of Christmas, which involves singing the health of apple trees in the hope that they might yield a good harvest.

Choirs of any size, whose members should be aged 18 or over, will be provided with the music for six wassailing songs in advance for them to learn for the big day.  The songs will be arranged by Paul Sartin, founding member of award-winning folk ensembles such as Belshazzar’s Feast, Faustus and Bellowhead.

On the day of the Wassail itself, the choirs will need to spend a full day in Stratford, arriving for rehearsals at 11am and singing between 2-5pm.  The choirs will perform in outdoor locations near the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, including Shakespeare’s New Place.

Louisa Davies from the RSC Events and Exhibition team said, “Given that we are performing Shakespeare’s great comedy, Twelfth Night, over the festive period, it felt the perfect moment to stage the RSC’s first wassail.  We are looking for choirs from within a 25 mile radius of Stratford to get involved, learn new arrangements of some rousing wassailing songs, and sing their hearts out here at this very special time of year.”

A local charity has created a new marathon challenge that everyone can get involved in – whether they’re a running novice or a busy, working parent.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has launched the ‘i-Marathon’, a new sporting event which allows running enthusiasts to cover 26.2 miles across the month of October.

The unique challenge allows participants to choose how far, how often, when and where they run – so long as they finish the marathon distance within one month.

So whether that’s one mile on the treadmill for 26 days or six miles in the local park every weekend, the i-Marathon is perfect for beginners who want to get into running, people with busy lifestyles, or those who simply want to get more fit and active.

Measuring the distance is easy, which can be done via activity trackers on watches and phones, apps such as Runkeeper, and a paper progress chart which is available in the charity’s free welcome pack.

Those runners that cover the 26.2 miles and raise a minimum sponsorship will also be rewarded with their own commemorative medal.

Created by Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, the DIY-style marathon will help raise crucial funds for the Selly Park-based charity which provides expert care to individuals and families living with terminal illness.

Lucy Watkins, events manager at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “With Birmingham gearing up for its first-ever marathon this October, our very own i-Marathon is the perfect alternative for those who want to go the distance but do so at their own pace.

“Marathons are tough but by spreading the distance across the month of October, we hope that more people feel like they can take on the challenge.

“As well as the satisfaction of completing such a gruelling distance, participants will also be helping to make a big difference to local families living with terminal illness. It costs £22,000 to run our Hospice each day and so we rely on the generosity of local people to help us continue to provide our services. All sponsorship money will go towards the Hospice, helping us reach even more individuals, families and carers living in Birmingham and Sandwell.”

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice offers a wide range of services in a number of settings, providing free care and support to over 1,200 local families living with terminal illness.

Primary schools in Birmingham have joined thousands of UK children to take part in a whale sized schools project throughout October.

ORCA, a leading UK marine conservation charity, is launching its first ever Whale Education Month to coincide with World Animal Day on the October 4th.

The new marine conservation scheme aims to inspire pupils about the wonders of whales and dolphins, pointing out that a third of all whale and dolphin species can be found in European waters and many around the coast of Britain.

The charity’s expert conservationists have produced free resources for teachers to help them inspire the next generation of marine biologists.  Teachers are encouraged to deliver the materials throughout October.

Birmingham schools have already signed up to take part and ORCA are hoping many more will sign up to use their educational and exciting lessons packs.

The project provides three hour-long sessions about the rich wildlife that lives in UK & European waters, shining a light on the wonderful whales, dolphins and porpoises that live right on our doorstep.

The teacher’s pack includes interactive presentations, activities and games to inspire students about the creatures that live in the oceans around us and ways that we can protect them.  The packs will be available free to all teachers that sign up and all activities have been specifically designed to link in with the national curriculum.

Anna Bunney, ORCA Education Coordinator, said: “We felt a special month was the ideal way to highlight these amazing animals to youngsters.  Inspiring students about the fascinating marine wildlife around them is crucial.  Not many people realise a huge range of different species of whale, dolphin and porpoise live in and visit waters around the UK.  With these new education packs, we are reaching a whole new group of children and inspiring students all around the country about how they can help protect whales and dolphins for the future.  Hopefully these materials will inspire a whole new generation of marine biologists!”

Wolverhampton will be celebrating the first-ever National Libraries Week with a host of activities across the City.

CILIP, the library and information association, is organising the week-long celebration of Britain’s much-loved libraries from Monday to Friday, 9-14 October, 2017 – and Wolverhampton’s libraries will be marking it with a wide-ranging programme for all the family.

As well as regular activities such as story times and children’s clubs, it includes author talks, poetry events and digital workshops.

It gets underway on Saturday 7 October with African Tales with storyteller Grace Bennett at Central Children’s Library at noon, which is also marking Black History Month. On the same day, Wednesfield Library will host a talk on the Second World War by Guy McElvery from noon-12.45pm.

Pop up poet Jane Seabourne will be on the prowl at Central Library on Monday 9 October from 11am-1pm as she completes a mini residency project, while volunteers from the Coventry Building Society will be offering help to job hunters about CV writing and online applications at Central Library from 2pm-4pm.

Also on Monday, writer and performance poet Emma Purshouse will be sharing entertaining anecdotes about her life as a professional writer at Warstones Library from 5.45pm-6.45pm.

Central Library will be marking World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10 October as mental health practitioners hold a tea and talk from 10am-2pm, while a check and send service for people who wish to apply for or renew blue badges will be taking place at East Park Library from 9am-1pm.

Other attractions on Tuesday include storytime for under 5s at Warstones Library from 2.15pm-3pm, in which Peppa Pig will go to the dentist, while local author Guy McElvery will be talking about his latest publication, The Stranger at the Window, at Penn Library from 3pm-3.45pm.

Emma Purshouse comes to Central Library on Wednesday 11 October to host a workshop on creating “flash fiction” from 4pm-6pm. People will be able to take part in three fun activities which will introduce them to the art of writing short stories.

Children aged five and over can get creative at a Lego club at Finchfield Library on Thursday 12 October from 5pm-6.30pm, while digital champions from Lloyds Bank will be on hand to help people get online and improve their computer skills at Central Library from 10.30am-12.30pm.

The programme continues on Friday 13 October with an afternoon of tea and poetry at Ashmore Park Community Hub hosted by Marion Cocklin and Bert Flitcroft from 1pm-2.15pm, and concludes with three activities on Saturday 14 October.

They include a pop up workshop for 16 to 25-year-olds on writing haiku-sized poems for bookmarks led by Jasmine Kardos at Central Library from 11am-1pm, fun with magician Ronnie Cracker at Bilston Library from 1pm-2pm and a Diwali-themed storytime for younger visitors to Central Library from 12.15pm-1pm.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “Through our Transforming Libraries Strategy we are responding to demand from customers for more events in our libraries, and we are delighted to present this wide-ranging programme for National Libraries Week.

“It celebrates the fact that libraries are no longer just about books, but are places where people can explore a hobby, brush up on their IT skills, find a job or simply have some fun.”

The Arenacross Tour is set to burst into 2018 with a bigger and better format for its seven-round action-packed UK indoor Motocross race series and Freestyle extravaganza - and the third leg of the Tour will take place at the Genting Arena, Birmingham, on Saturday the 20th of January.

AX is high-octane entertainment at its very best. It throws together an intoxicating mix of world-class indoor Motocross racing, high-flying Freestyle Motocross and a show to rival any music festival. In its five-year history, it has seen thousands of fans streaming through its doors every year.

Enthusiastic fans packed out the Genting Arena, when the 2017 Tour visited Birmingham earlier this year. They enjoyed a night of tense race action, high-air FMX antics, lights, lasers and music. The West Midlands fans were vocal in their support of the home riders and virtually raised the roof when a British rider fought off the charge of the internationals to take a podium position for the first time.

2018 promises to again deliver an electrifying Tour. A crammed agenda will cater for mini-racing gladiators from the age of seven – who manage to fit in school and homework around the gruelling AX races - right through to the most talented line-up of Arenacross Pro racers ever to place a wheel on UK soil.

Away from the racing line, the Freestyle MX boys never fail to impress with their electrifying, high-air whips and flips which keep the audience hollering for more. In its five-year stint, the UK Arenacross series has been revered for showcasing FMX at its very best and that’s why the big-hitters of the sport, the FMX royalty, have made the series a must-do affair and worked it into their busy schedules. When it comes to AX; X-Games gold medallists and Nitro Circus superstars abound with Spaniard Edgar Torronteras and the UK’s very own Jamie Squibb and the Bolddog Team at the fore, together with arguably the most spectacular double-flipper in the world, 6’ 4” Czech uber-cool superman, Petr Pilat.

Commenting on the growth and popularity of Arenacross, ArenaSports Live (the company behind AX) boss Matt Bates said; “I believe we have a massive future! As well as ramping up the AX experience for our UK based fans, we’re extending into Europe next year and I’m set on making sure we develop both the riders’ rewards, team support and take the entertainment of AX to a whole new level.”

Arenacross 2018

20 January 2018, Genting Arena

Over 4,500 stores have signed up to the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour. Autism Hour is the UK’s first major week-long event where shops and businesses across the UK will dim their lights, turn down music and share information about autism for 60 minutes on the week of 2 October.

The National Autistic Society is encouraging autistic adults, children and their families to attend Autism Hours in their local area by using the interactive map which shows which shops and businesses will be taking part throughout the week. The map allows users to zoom in to where you live, filter by category and start planning your visit.

Marks and Spencer, Clarks, Superdrug, John Lewis, Toys ‘R’ Us, Sainsbury’s and Mothercare are also among the 4,500 individual stores that have signed up, and Lloyds Banking Group will be supporting by educating their colleagues about autism during Autism Hour to support customers.

Mark Lever, Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society, said:

“The National Autistic Society is proud to be launching the first ever UK wide Autism Hour event and is thrilled that it’s involving such a vast number of shops and businesses.

“A National Autistic Society survey found that 64% of autistic people avoid going to the shops, and 28% have been asked to leave a public place for reasons associated with their autism. We are confident that the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour will provide an opportunity for autistic people and their families to use shops and services that the general public take for granted.

“We are encouraging autistic adults, children and their families to head to the interactive map on our website so they can plan visits to local shops and businesses and enjoy a break from the overload of too much information.

“It is incredible to see that over 4,500 stores across the UK are taking part in this new event and we hope to build on this year on year.”

More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum which means that someone sees, hears and feels the world in a different, often more intense way to other people. Autistic people often find social situations difficult and struggle to filter out the sounds, smells, sights and information they experience which means they feel overwhelmed by ‘too much information’ when out in public.

The National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour is supported by shopping centre owner intu and will take place in 14 of their shopping centres across the UK including intu Trafford centre, intu Lakeside and intu Metrocentre. Staff at intu centres already receive training to provide autism-aware customer service and autistic people also benefit from guides that allow them to plan and prepare a visit to each intu centre.

Misty mornings, ripening blackberries, windfall apples and the golden, orange and red hues of falling leaves provide dazzling displays of autumn colour on the nation's beautiful waterways. The Canal & River Trust has handpicked 11 sites across the country that provide special places to visit and to wonder at nature's farewell to the summer.

Pull on your wellies and woollies and get set for some great woodland walks by the water. Prepare for conker fights, leaf-catching competitions and scrunching through deep drifts of leaves as well as some splendid seasonal views of our historic canals.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Farnhill, Nr Kildwick, North Yorkshire

As the mill towns drift into countryside follow the Leeds & Liverpool Canal as it snakes from Bingley towards Skipton. At Farnhill there's a sheer wooded cutting that provides an impressive ravine to journey through. Each side of this tiny wooded valley and Farnhill Wood provide displays of beech, oak, silver birch and sycamore interspersed with some evergreen holly bushes.

Getting there: park along the Main Street in Farnhill, just off the A629 to Skipton, BD20 9BW.

Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Brecon, Wales

Meandering through the Welsh countryside the isolated Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is the most popular attraction in the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park. It is one of the Canal & River Trust's most beautiful and peaceful waterways following the line of the lovely wooded Usk Valley. Travelling west towards Brecon a wooded bank of beech trees provide a golden backdrop to huge landscape views of the Usk Valley. From here it's a short walk to the basin in Brecon where there's a café for a cosy lunch. The navigable section of the canal runs for 35 miles from Brecon to the Pontymoile basin. Its location makes it a haven for wildlife and a favourite with nature-lovers, walkers and cyclists.

Getting there: park roadside where the B4558 crosses the canal and River Usk. Brecon, South Wales LD3 7UY.

Kennet & Avon Canal, Avoncliff Aqueduct, Avoncliff, Wiltshire

Surrounded by woodland the Avoncliff Aqueduct is a stately spot to view the beautiful turning colours of the Bath Valley. The woodland here is made up of a rich variety of trees and includes oak, ash, sycamore, hazel and hawthorn. The aqueduct at 100m long and 18m wide provides a pale limestone contrast with the colourful displays of leaves. If you're lucky, this is a great spot to see bats flying to and from the tall arches of the aqueduct and wandering deer feeding on hedgerow leaves and berries.

Next year’s Wolverhampton Original Literature Festival (WOLF) has received a funding boost from Arts Council England. The city’s inaugural festival in January proved a popular event with audiences.

Following a successful bid from City of Wolverhampton Council’s libraries service, it has now secured £13,250 from the Arts Council’s Grants for Arts programme to help it grow in 2018.

The additional funding means the literature festival’s future is secured for the next five years, with money from the Arts Council England National Portfolio for organisations already in place for 2019-22.

The 2018 festival, from Friday, January 26 to Sunday 28, will follow a similar format to the first as organisers look to build it over the next five years and make it a permanent fixture in the calendar.

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “We will grow the festival over the next few years to create a unique Wolverhampton flavour.

“Themes will include music and literature, politics and journalism, and community voices.

“People at different stages of their careers will also be given a chance to perform alongside headline acts.”

Organisers are keen to hear from writers, poets and community groups who want to get involved and link in with the festival’s programme of authors and speakers, which will be announced in the coming months.

Care workers in the London borough of Haringey are to be given the time and support they need to do their work, through a new ethical charter.

Haringey Council has signed up to UNISON’s ethical care charter, which sets out a series of commitments to protect the rights of home care workers’ and give them greater freedom to focus on the needs of the people they care for.

Under the charter, Haringey is committed to replacing zero hours contracts with guaranteed hours, and to make full payment for travel time between home care visits.

The new code means the commissioning of home care visits will always be shaped by what is best for the person being cared for and the care worker, not by the need to meet a certain quota of visits or complete care duties in a set timeframe.

Haringey Council cabinet member for finance and adult services Councillor Jason Arthur said:

“I’m proud to have signed UNISON’s ethical care charter. We’re committed to ensuring that Haringey’s residents get the best possible care, and to making sure that those who choose to devote their working lives to caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities get the right professional support to do so.

“Haringey has a proud tradition of union support and we are committed to protecting the rights of our residents, and of those who work on behalf of the borough.”

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Making this commitment to decent employment conditions for care workers is vital for improving the quality of life for the people they look after.

“UNISON’s ethical care charter is leading the way in highlighting the importance of care work and in fighting to win the pay and conditions they deserve.”

UNISON’s ethical care charter has three key elements covering visits, quality of care and pay. It includes abolishing time limits on homecare visits, giving care workers the freedom to provide appropriate care and spend sufficient time talking to clients and paying care workers for travel time and expenses. It also covers giving vulnerable people the same home care worker wherever possible, providing home care workers with training opportunities, paying the London living wage (currently £9.15 per hour), and giving home care workers sick pay.