Colors: Blue Color

Despite high profile government and police campaigns highlighting the dangers of using a mobile when driving, many motorists are still flouting the law and putting their lives, and those of other road users, at risk. A new study for Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, reveals that a third (34%) of drivers are still using their mobile phone without a handsfree set.

The figures are especially alarming as the most recent government statistics show that in five years there was a 24% increase in the number of accidents in which a contributory factor was the driver being distracted by using a mobile phone.

Kwik Fit’s study revealed that more than a quarter (26%) of drivers use their satnav or GPS on their phone, while almost one in five say they take calls (19%) or read text messages (17%). One in six (16%) make calls without a handsfree set, with around one in eight (12%) sending texts. Although some drivers claim they only use their phone in an emergency, more than half a million motorists admit to making calls on almost every journey they make.

Four months on from the introduction of increased penalties for mobile phone use, many drivers remain unaware of the laws and the penalties for breaking them. More than two in five people (43%) do not know that the penalty for using a hand-held phone when driving is six points. The additional focus on inexperienced drivers has also passed many people by, with only 47% of Brits knowing that those caught using a phone without a handsfree set in their first two years will lose their licence.

It is worrying that it is the youngest drivers who are the most ignorant about mobile phone rules, despite the use of a handheld mobile phone having been illegal since before they started driving.  Drivers aged 18-24 are nearly three times more likely than the average motorist to believe it’s legal to use your phone when stopped at traffic lights, and twice as likely to say you can answer calls but not make outgoing ones, and that drivers are allowed to use their phone in slow moving traffic. All these statements are incorrect.

It is also the youngest drivers who are most likely to have experienced trouble on the road due to mobile phone use. 40% of 18-24 year olds have either had a collision or near miss, or got involved in an argument because somebody was using their mobile phone, more than double the figure for all drivers. Almost one in ten (8%) drivers aged 18-24 say they have had a collision because they were distracted by their mobile phone, with a further 8% saying they have almost done so. This compares with figures of 2% and 3% respectively for all drivers.

While many of these collisions may be minor bumps with no injury, government data reveals that there has been a large increase in serious accidents where a contributory factor has been the driver using a mobile phone. The number of accidents in which people were killed or seriously injured increased by 25% between 2011 and 2015, the most recent years for which full data is available.  Although the number of fatal accidents in which a driver has been distracted by a mobile phone has remained consistent at an average of 22 per year – there has been a big rise in the number of accidents resulting in serious or slight injuries.

Flouting the laws on mobile phone use is most common in London, where nearly half of drivers (47%) say they use their phone without a handsfree set. The most law abiding region is the East of England, yet even here, almost a quarter (24%) admit to breaking the law when it comes to mobile phone use.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “The findings of this study are very worrying indeed. While car manufacturers have made great strides in improving safety, it is vital that drivers remember that they are the most important safety feature in the vehicle. Any form of distraction can have serious consequences, as sadly, the statistics clearly show.

“It is especially important for inexperienced drivers to be fully focused on what they are doing. The fact that this report has found that younger drivers have less knowledge of the rules and are more likely to take risks means more needs to be done to educate them in the very first weeks and months of driving. Kwik Fit is working with schools and colleges around the country to hold events aimed at improving the safety of those drivers who are new to the road and education on the use of mobiles is an important part of that.”

A Birmingham School of Acting alumnus is set to appear in the internationally acclaimed production of ‘War Horse’

Lewis Howard will be playing the role of the Heart of Joey, a horse from Devon who was sold to the British cavalry during the First World War and shipped to France.

The National Theatre play, based on the award-winning novel by Michael Morpurgo, centres around Joey’s journey as he gets caught up in enemy fire, fights on both sides and eventually finds himself in no man’s land. It also follows Joey’s owner, Albert, who is on a mission to find his beloved horse and bring him home to England.

At its heart are ground-breaking puppets by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping and charging horses to life on stage.

Lewis Howard will join the production on its upcoming national tour, beginning in Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury on Friday 15 September this year. The play will then visit various UK cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Nottingham and Plymouth, before closing in Glasgow in February 2019.

‘War Horse’ author Michael Morpurgo said:

“After a few months’ rest, out at pasture, Joey, the ‘War Horse’ and his great team from the National Theatre, will be touring the UK again, taking their show all over the country, to towns and cities, many of them places ‘War Horse’ has not been seen before.

“I am so pleased this is happening; that so many more people will have the chance to enjoy this unique theatrical event. Steady boy, steady Joey. Trot on.”

Lewis Howard graduated from Birmingham’s School of Acting, part of Birmingham City University in 2012 with a BA honours degree.

Since then he has performed as Callum in ‘Swivelhead’ at Pleasance Courtyard during last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has featured as Jesse alongside Adeel Akhtar in the 2016 film ‘The Big Return of Ray Lamere’.

Lewis was born in Birmingham but grew up in Falmouth, and has continued to work with Cornish theatre companies over the past few years.

Discussing his latest role, Lewis Howard said:

“I’m puppeteering the heart of Joey for this tour of ‘War Horse’ and it's my first job for the National Theatre, so I am very excited and humbled to be part of this production, which coincides with the centenary commemorations of the end of the First World War.”

‘War Horse’ completed a record-breaking eight year London run last year and has been seen by over seven million people in 97 cities and 10 countries around the world. It has won 25 awards, including the Tony Award for Best Play on Broadway, and is the most successful play in the National Theatre’s history.

As well as featuring Thomas Dennis as Albert, ‘War Horse’ also features Jo Castleton as his mother, Rose Narracott, and celebrated folk musician Bob Fox returns as Song Man. ‘War Horse’ is directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, with Katie Henry being the revival director for this new production.

Speaking of his time at Birmingham City University, Lewis Howard said:

“I had a brilliant three years at Birmingham School of Acting, honing skills on how to better my performances but also, and somewhat more crucially, how to work with many different people and enjoy teamwork – something vital on a show like ‘War Horse’.”

Rehearsals for ‘War Horse’ began last week in a 470 square metre rehearsal space, custom built by MDM Props in London to accommodate the large company, which includes a 34-strong cast.

Daniele Sanderson, Deputy Head of Birmingham’s School of Acting, said:

“We are thrilled that Lewis has secured a role in this wonderful production and look forward to seeing him in action when the tour lands at Birmingham Hippodrome next year.”

City of Wolverhampton is to hold what is hoped will be the biggest ever Wolves Pride event to celebrate its community diversity.

The newly-formed Wolverhampton LGBT Alliance is hosting the event on Saturday, September 30, with support from City of Wolverhampton Council, University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Homes.

It will take place from noon to 9pm on Wulfruna Street, the Civic Centre Ceremonial car park, St Peter’s car park and the pedestrian area outside the University of Wolverhampton’s Ambika Paul building.

William Power of E11EVEN Group, who has staged LGBT+ events across the country, will deliver the event.

It will feature a broad range of music, live entertainment and performers, as well as a fantastic range of street food, bars, information stands, merchandise stalls, and a family area with fun activities for the children.

City of Wolverhampton Council’s Member Champion for Equalities, Councillor Paula Brookfield, said: “We are delighted to be supporting what we hope will be the biggest Pride event the city has ever seen. The rich diversity of the City of Wolverhampton is a real strength and it is important we celebrate it through this event in the calendar. Not only does it raise awareness of LGBT+ equality messages – but it provides the platform for a great family day out in the city centre.”

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “As the ‘University of Opportunity’ we are always keen to work with our partners and neighbours for the betterment of the local community.  We believe that by supporting Wolves Pride we can ensure that everyone enjoys a fun event, which also affirms the importance that the City and the University places on LGBT Equality.  We are especially pleased that this event will fall within our Welcome to Wolves induction programme, and so it will be a unique opportunity to bring together students from across our campuses to celebrate the diversity of our community.”

Lesley Roberts, Wolverhampton Homes Chief Executive, said: “Wolverhampton Homes has supported Wolverhampton Pride since the first event five years ago and this year we are proud to support it as part of the newly formed Wolverhampton LGBT Alliance. Pride gives us a wonderful opportunity to show how organisations can work together to improve services to the LGBT+ community in Wolverhampton.”

William added: “Working alongside city partners we aim to bring over 3,000 people into the city centre to celebrate diversity and provide a great day out for all the family.”

Brenda Franke, 56, from Bromsgrove is taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in Sutton Park, Birmingham, to remember her mother, raise awareness about dementia and money to combat the condition.

She will  join a current total of 4,000 supporters already registered to take part in the Birmingham Memory Walk, which will be on 16 September. People can register for Memory Walk as individuals or as a team. The walk will take place over two distances with options as to undertaking a 3.5 km or 5.5 km route.

Brenda said: “My beloved Mum had Alzheimer’s. Sadly she died in 2013, after becoming ill following a short time in a Care Home where her condition was managed badly. Mum was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 4 years prior to her death. She became very forgetful and kept repeating herself. She suffered mood swings and became agitated at times.  As the condition worsened over time so did her memory and mood swings. One morning, whilst Dad was asleep, Mum left the house wearing two skirts two blouses slippers but no tights (she always wore her tights) and walked into town with the dog (not on a lead) crossing a number of busy roads on the way. We were all out searching for her in a panic and the Police were involved.  A neighbour spotted her and brought her home to our enormous relief. That was an awful time.

“I do hope and pray that more money is put into research to try and find a cure for this awful disease.  Staff in Care Homes, Nursing Homes and hospitals so need to be better trained to deal with dementia patients and to give them the dignity and respect they deserve. Tighter regulation of Care Homes and Carers is needed to ensure they are providing the best care possible to people with dementia.

“I will be supporting Alzheimer’s Society in its efforts to raise awareness and funds.  I am signed up for the Memory Walk at Sutton Park in September and am walking with my sisters (we are called Sister Act) in memory of our lovely Mum who we miss every day more and more.  I hope to carry on fundraising in the future.”

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 memorywalk.org.uk and unite against dementia.”

Love was in the air at Wolverhampton’s beautiful Bantock House Museum and Park when it hosted its first ever wedding on Saturday – for a couple who live right next to the popular attraction.

Corrinne Wilde and Steven Carpenter are the first to use the house, situated off Finchfield Road, as a wedding venue.

The couple, who have five children and seven grandchildren between them, married in the Arts and Crafts-inspired Drawing Room in front of 35 guests.

Corrinne’s proud daughter, Sarah May, said: “We couldn’t believe this was the first wedding at Bantock House, it is such a lovely place, we assumed other people would have already used it as a wedding venue.

“Mum and Steve live in Broad Lane, right by the house, it’s almost a home from home for them. They walk on the park most days and are always taking their grandchildren there so it was an obvious choice for their wedding day.”

Bantock House Museum is a Grade II listed building, set in 48 acres of lovely parkland. It was the home of Thomas and Mary Bantock first and then their son and his wife, Baldwin and Kitty Bantock, who generously gave it to the people of Wolverhampton in 1938.

Much of the Edwardian house interior is influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

Sarah added: “After mum was widowed 12 years ago she met Steve, who was divorced, and they moved to their apartment overlooking Bantock Park, so it is a very special place. Following the ceremony, they travelled to the Mount Tavern, in Penn Road, where they first met, to celebrate with more friends and family.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “Congratulations to Corrinne and Steve, we wish them lots of happiness. Bantock House is a lovely place and the perfect venue for an intimate family wedding.”

Thousands of people are today being called on to unite against dementia by signing up for Alzheimer’s Society’s Birmingham Memory Walk in Sutton Park.

A total of 3,417 supporters have already registered to take part in the Birmingham Memory Walk, which will be on 16 September. People can register for Memory Walk as individuals or as a team. The walk will take place over two distances with options as to undertaking a 3.5 km or 5.5 km route.

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 memorywalk.org.uk and unite against dementia.”

The majority of adults in the West Midlands are leaving their financial and health-related affairs to chance according to Co-op Legal Services, as four in five people (82%) don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place*.

A Lasting Power Attorney is the legal document that allows a trusted person to manage an individual’s affairs in the event they lose mental capacity. Yet almost a third of adults living in the region (27%) don’t know what an LPA is and a further 58% were unaware that there are two different types: one covering property and financial affairs and one to cover health and welfare wishes, including where you’d like to live and any personal medical wishes.

Putting a Lasting Power of Attorney in place is often considered to be of as much importance as drawing up a Will, yet research finds that over half (52%) of adults in the West Midlands have made a Will in comparison to just 18% with an LPA in place. With one person developing dementia every three minutes in the UK it’s expected that over 1 million people will have the disease by 2025, emphasising the significant importance of an LPA**.

James Antoniou, Head of Wills at Co-op explains: “The findings highlight that vast numbers of people are unaware that there is no automatic right for a next of kin to have authority over an individual’s affairs. If an LPA is not in place and a person becomes unable to make decisions, it can lead to a long and expensive process that involves applying to Court.

‘’At Co-op Legal Services, we advise that an LPA is put into place at the same time as a Will. Both are crucial parts of later life planning and can help to alleviate stress and worry for loved ones further down the line.’’

As well as the option to solely take out a Lasting Power of Attorney, Co-op also offers a range of Estate Planning Packages as part of its #AWill2TackleCancer campaign to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. These include a professionally drafted Will and Lasting Power of Attorney for a discounted price, compared to when bought individually. With every #AWill2TackleCancer Estate Planning package sold, Co-op will pay 10% of its fee (excluding VAT) to Cancer Research UK

A Wolverhampton councillor and his wife have handed over a cheque for over £8,000 to the hospital which saved their baby son's life after completing two charity fundraisers.

Bushbury North Councillor Ian Angus completed the Stafford Half Marathon in March, while his wife Sandi tackled her first ever 10km run in Birmingham a month later.

And in doing so they have raised vital funds for the Cardiac Unit at Birmingham Children's Hospital, which performed life-saving open heart surgery on their son Joshua when he was barely 10 weeks old.

The pair presented a cheque for £8,235.89 to the hospital last month and Councillor Angus said: “We'd like to thank everyone who contributed to our fundraising efforts for Birmingham Children's Hospital – it’s a very special place which saved our little boy's life.

"The fundraising total far exceeded our expectations and we've been truly overwhelmed by people's kindness and generosity."

When Joshua was just four days old, Ian and Sandi were given the devastating news that he had a life-threating congenital heart defect that would require open heart surgery to address.

Aged just 10 weeks, he underwent a successful five-hour procedure at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Councillor Angus said: "It was the toughest day of our lives but the care he received was exceptional and we now have a beautiful, bonny, healthy little boy who has every chance – if I get my way – of playing for Wolves in the Premiership one day.”

Sandi said: “We are so fortunate to have this wonderful, world-class health service on our doorstep. We wanted to give something back and have been fundraising throughout the year for the Cardiac Unit."

Their fundraising efforts were supported by Councillor Angus' brother Jamie and colleagues from the City of Wolverhampton Council who also took part in the Stafford Half Marathon, including Head of Planning Stephen Alexander, Voluntary Sector Coordinator Martha Cummings, Head of the Healthier Place service Richard Welch and Councillor Paul Sweet, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing.

Over 85 per cent of pet owners in the West Midlands believe having a dog can help to bring stress levels down. In fact, research, conducted by leading manufacturer of premium pet supplements Lintbells, has found that on average dog owners in the West Midlands are less stressed and happier in life because of their pet.

With almost a quarter of households* in the UK now owning a dog the study found that dog owners are happier, more satisfied at work and more sociable than people without a pooch. In fact over 80 per cent of people in the West Midlands now consider their dog to be an integral part of their family.

The national study, of 1,000 dog owners and 1,000 adults without a dog, found 80 per cent with a dog are ‘very happy’ or ‘happy’ with their life overall, compared to just 70 per cent of people without a four-legged friend.

In addition the research found that people with no dog spend longer watching TV and less time outdoors. In fact, it was discovered people without a pooch watch 14 hours more TV a month, averaging an extra 3.5 hours per week, than those with a four-legged friend.

Over 87 per cent of dog owners in the West Midlands put their general health at average and above average levels than those who don’t have a dog. Unsurprisingly, nationally dog owners spend an hour and 12 minutes longer outdoors each week than those without a dog. Dog owners’ hobbies are also more likely to be active and outdoor pursuits, with dog owners being bigger fans of cycling, going for walks and gardening.

The survey also found that over a third of dog owners in the West Midlands say their dog has their own spot on the sofa.

Those without a dog are more likely to enjoy reading, listening to music and watching TV. And while non-dog owners are most likely to opt for a quiet night at home alone, dog owners prefer a more social evening in with friends or a night at the pub. Dog owners are also the biggest social media users with 80 per cent spending some time on social media each day compared to just 71 of non-dog owners.

John Davies, co-founder of Lintbells said: “The results of this survey highlight the many benefits of owning a dog, from health to happiness.  Dogs are amazing companions, offering their owners much more than just a wag of their tail in the morning. They are often the first to greet anyone arriving home, they inspire us to spend more time outdoors and offer unconditional love to their owners. That said we owe it to them to take care of their needs – even those we can’t see. Natural supplements can aid your dog with their mobility, skin irritations, digestion and anxiety, helping them to be happy for longer.”

Guided tours of Sandwell’s medieval Manor House are now underway every Sunday until 10 September.

Visitors can try on some armour, play medieval games and see some of the rooms displayed as they may have looked in the late medieval period.

The free tours last around an hour and start at 11.30am and 1pm, and there’s no need to pre-book.

If you are unable to get around the whole building you can pre-book a virtual tour with a member of staff using a tablet by calling 0121 588 2985.

Councillor Richard Marshall, cabinet member for leisure, said: "The guided tours days offer the only opportunity to see the whole of this fantastic building at the moment.

"The medieval Great Hall dates from 1270. It is an amazing space which you would never believe has survived in an industrial area like West Bromwich for 800 years.

"Our museums staff are also organising a number of family-friendly events during the summer holidays ranging from a teddy bear's picnic and other special themed events to entertain and capture the imagination of young minds.

"Our tour season ends on 9th and 10th September with a weekend of medieval fun as historical interpretation group Buckingham's Retinue set up camp in the grounds bringing to life 'The Wars of the Roses.”

Summer events at the Manor House:

  • Horrid Histories – Tuesday 8 August 11am-3pm (last admission 2.30pm). Admission 50p per child, adults free with a child.
Come and find out some of the terrible truths about the Greeks and the Tudors as well as other periods of history. The Sandwell Storyplayers will be telling horrible history tales at 1pm. There’ll also be themed crafts and food tasting. Refreshments available.
  • Fairies, Elves and Goblins – Tuesday 15 August 1am-3pm (last admission 2.30pm). Admission £2 per child to include a ‘creature hunting pack.’
Come along and see if you can find the fairy, elf and goblin doors all around the Manor House grounds. If you dress up as a mythical creature, it may be easier to spot them. Find them all and you could win a prize!

The Sandwell Storyplayers will be there at 1pm with tales of magical creatures. Crafts to make. Refreshments available.

  • The Manor House Pirates – Thursday 17 August 11am-3pm (last admission 2.30pm). Admission £1 per child, adults free with a child.
Come and meet the pirates of the Moat Pond at the Manor House. There’ll be party games, crafts, magic and balloon shows, a treasure trail and you can meet some of the pirate’s pet animals from nearby Dudley Zoo. Refreshments available.
  • Heroes/Villains – Tuesday 22 August 11am-3pm (last admission 2.30pm). Admission 50p per child, adults free with a child.
Come dressed as your favourite hero or villain. The Sandwell Storyplayers will be telling ‘super stories’ at 1pm along with crafts and food tasting. Refreshments available.
  • Mystery-solving Detectives – Tuesday 29 August 11am-3pm (last admission 2.30pm). Admission 50p per child, adults free with a child.
The Sandwell Storyplayers will be telling mysterious tales at 1pm. There’ll be detective-themed crafts making disguises and equipment for every good ‘sleuth’ as a crime-solving trail with prizes. Refreshments available.
  • Back to School Crafts – Thursday 31 August  11am – 3pm (last admission 2.30pm).
Come and make all the things you will need for your return to school – pencil cases, rulers, pen-toppers and more. Refreshments available.
  • Heritage Open Weekend – Medieval Re-enactment – Saturday 9/Sunday 10 September 11am-3pm.
The Manor House welcomes the Buckingham's Retinue who will be setting up their medieval encampment in the grounds of the 13th century Manor House.

They will be bringing to life the late medieval period, recreating the time now known as ‘The Wars of the Roses’, displaying an encampment, with visitor activities, both military and civilian.

Visitors will be able to see the arms, armour and firepower available to a medieval army demonstrated, and perhaps get the chance to join the army, try on a helmet or hold a sword.

For those interested in more gentle activities there will be a display of medieval music and dance with the opportunity to learn easy and highly enjoyable medieval dances. There will also be a chance to play games, hear about the gruesome surgeon and see a battle display.

Local historian Ian Bott will be giving an illustrated talk looking at the journey of the Manor House during the last 800 plus years.

The Manor House will be open for free guided tours and you can sample medieval dishes too. Refreshments available.

Over four hundred supporters took part in Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity’s first-ever 5k walk to raise funds for the hospital’s sick kids.

From kids to canines, parents to grandparents, the fantastic fundraisers joined forces for ‘Fun Family 5’ – the charity’s exciting new event in association with The Big Sleuth.

During the day, attendees completed a 5km sponsored stroll through Sutton’s beautiful parkland, before enjoying the bear-themed activities on offer at the event’s Activity Zone, from circus skills workshops to storytelling sessions.

At the event some very special guests, the Chatting family, helped unveil the final Big Sleuth bear, ‘Bearhug’, who was brought to life in honour of the brave children, like five-year-old Carter Chatting, cared for at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

After Carter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in January 2016, the Chatting family, including mum Lucy, dad Matthew and their children, Monica and Carter, all turned to fundraising to say thank you for Carter’s care.

Mum-of-two Lucy, 45, said: “Carter has been receiving chemotherapy treatment at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for the past 18 months and while his prognosis so far is good, the worry never goes away and having a poorly child really is every parent’s worst nightmare.

“The Oncology team at Birmingham Children’s Hospital are simply amazing and we’ve turned to fundraising to not only help Carter’s plight, but so many other children battling an illness too. We all really enjoyed Fun Family 5 and we’re so proud of Carter for completing the 5k walk and playing his part in the wonderful bear unveiling. It was a real honour to get involved!"

Designed by artist Rob Bannon and Director of Wild in Art, Charlie Langhorne, Bearhug has now joined his furry friends on The Big Sleuth trail at New Street Station

Annie Eytle, Acting Events and Regional Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the turnout for our very first Fun Family 5 event and would like to say a huge thank you to our incredible supporters, like the Chatting family, for making the day such a huge success.

“Every year, our hospital treats over 90,000 children and young people from across the country and the money our Fun Family 5 participants have raised will make a huge difference to each and every one of our sick kids, ensuring we can continue to be the world-class hospital that everyone knows and loves.”

Parks across Haringey show no sign of flagging, after the borough retained its 22 prestigious Green Flag Awards.

Volunteers at Railway Fields Local Nature Reserve marked the achievement with a flag raising ceremony as they secured their status as one of Britain’s best green spaces.

The 22 flags – awarded by Keep Britain Tidy – put Haringey 5th in London and 8th in Britain for council-managed Green Flag spaces.

Green Flag status means the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities.

Cllr Peray Ahmet, Cabinet Member for Environment, was at the Railway Fields flag raising event and Nature Discovery Day on Saturday, set up by the Friends of Railway Fields.

She said:

“We’re incredibly proud of the green spaces we have across Haringey. Volunteers and council staff work tirelessly to create parks our residents can enjoy and these awards show we truly have some of the best open spaces in London and across the country.”

Railway Fields has had Green Flag status since 2004. Clif Osborne, from The Conservation Volunteers at Railway Fields, said:

“We are thrilled to get the Green Flag yet again at Railway Fields Nature Reserve. Volunteers work hard to ensure that this remains a wonderful space in Haringey and this award would not be possible without their efforts. Veolia also helped this year through a generous grant that allowed us to improve the paths and create new nature trails and habitats. We would like to thank everyone who has played a part in keeping Railway Fields a great place to visit.”

A spokeswoman for the Friends of Railway Fields said:

“I'd like to say how gratified we are that our local nature reserve has again been awarded Green Flag status. The Green Flag is a significant marker of value to nature, the environment and the community. The Conservation Volunteers and all of us who volunteered this year can be proud.”

Young people are being reminded how they can help keep themselves safe online – and avoid becoming a victim of child sexual exploitation.

The regional See Me, Hear Me campaign is encouraging all young people and parents to make themselves aware of how to stay safe online, and how to identify and respond to risky or dangerous situations.

The advice – available on the campaign website, www.seeme-hearme.org.uk – includes ensuring people don’t give out personal information and understand that the internet makes it easy for offenders to ‘hide’ behind fake profiles.

It also encourages young people to not post pictures or videos online which they would not want their parent or carer to see, and not to meet up with people they have met online.

Parents are encouraged to talk openly to their children about their online activity and help them understand what is safe and unsafe, to make use of parental controls and to limit who their children can speak with via online gaming.

Councillor Val Gibson, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "It is vital young people understand the importance of staying safe online.

“With the internet and in particular social media and online gaming becoming such a big part of young people’s daily lives, we want them to be able to enjoy their activities without putting themselves at risk.

“While they can’t monitor every click, parents and carers should be open with their children and talk to them about online dangers, such as child sexual exploitation.

"By giving young people a few key tips about how to stay safe online and encouraging them to share it with their friends we can stop the perpetrators in their tracks.

“Preventing child sexual exploitation is everyone’s responsibility and I would urge people to visit www.seeme-hearme.org.uk to find out more.”

Online grooming can affect both boys and girls and can happen through social media, gaming, chatrooms or other online communication.

It can take a number of forms and could see children being manipulated into sharing indecent images or agreeing to meet someone wishing to sexually exploit them.

Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a young person should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or in an emergency call 999. Childline also have counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk.

West Midlands councils including Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull are working with West Midlands Police to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation across the region through the See Me, Hear Me campaign, launched in June 2014. For more details, please visit www.seeme-hearme.org.uk.

Governments should do more to support youth workers by promoting their professional recognition, education and training, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The study of the status of youth work in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe and the Pacific shows that only a third of countries sampled have introduced national-level policies that regulate, protect and promote youth work as a distinct profession. This is despite a significant youth bulge in many countries, and a global development context in which young people still face disproportionately difficult life circumstances.

The report, ‘Youth Work in the Commonwealth: A Growth Profession’, aims to establish a baseline to measure progress, to share best practices and to encourage greater investment in a sector which is largely composed of volunteers, many of whom work at youth clubs, charities and faith-based organisations.

While the study of 35 countries provides evidence of major advancements in the recognition of youth work in several countries, it found that only 34 percent of those sampled (12 in total) have taken significant steps to professionalise the youth work sector.

However, reflecting the growing popularity of youth work among educational institutions, 71 percent of countries (25 in total) today offer a diploma-level qualification. This indicates that, although the sector is lacking official recognition, it remains a career of choice for many students.

The authors of the 270-page report conclude that greater investment is needed to upskill and support youth workers. Among the report’s recommendations is a call for youth work to be given the credential of a public sector profession and for relevant qualifications to be registered by national authorities.

Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: "Youth workers have an essential but often under-recognised and under-resourced role in engaging and supporting young people to be positive and productive citizens who contribute to national peace and prosperity.

"This study is encouraging in its demonstration of significant steps taken in the recognition of the profession in some member states. However, in some contexts, advances in policy statements are often still to be translated to practice, and, in others, existing good practice could be amplified and replicated through distinct policies.”

The study was launched on the opening day of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Uganda, which brings together over 200 delegates - ministers and senior officials from more than 30 countries, as well as young people, youth workers and donor organisations.

The report looked at the existence of specific policy commitments and legislative enactments on youth work. For example, Malta in 2014 brought in a Youth Work Profession Act through which the sector is given formal recognition and is regulated. The study also looked at the existence of associations of youth workers, the availability of qualifications, as well as recruitment and remuneration.

Dr Robyn Broadbent, Chair of the Commonwealth Alliance of Youth Worker Associations, said: "This study shines a light on the key challenges and opportunities in the youth work sector globally. The baseline will help to identify future priorities for the profession, including legislation and the provision of resources for education and workforce development."

The Commonwealth Secretariat supports governments to strengthen youth work policy and practice, as well as the education and training of youth workers. The Commonwealth Diploma in Youth Development Work, which was recently upgraded to a bachelor’s degree by the University of the West Indies, will soon be made universally available as an Open Education Resource through a consortium of higher education institutions.

Dharshini Seneviratne, Programme Manager at the Commonwealth Secretariat, and one of the report's principal authors, said: “Our objective is to help governments give clear legal status to youth work, support education pathways and help organise youth workers’ associations. These efforts will ensure the integrity and quality of youth work for the benefit of all young people.”

The countries covered in the study are Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia (Africa), Asia, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka (Asia), Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Trinidad & Tobago (Caribbean and Americas), Cyprus, Malta, United Kingdom (Europe), Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu (Pacific).

Together with the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, low-cost airline WOW airm has launched its very own bicycle sharing scheme, WOW citybike.

Similar to those in popular tourism spots around the world, the new initiative offers an affordable and convenient means of travel around Reykjavik and will allow residents and travellers alike to be environmentally considerate while travelling through the city. At the same time, cyclists can see the capital from a different viewpoint and adopt a healthy mode of transport.

An initial 100 bicycles have been introduced at eight stations, strategically placed around the city which are all solar powered. The bikes can be used for up to 30 minutes at a time at a cost of 400ISK (around £2.90), with an additional 600ISK for every additional 30 minutes. Memberships can also be bought, ranging from 30 days (ISK 3.900) to one year (ISK 16.900).

"Cycling is a great way to travel. It's good for your health and the environment and we are grateful for the promising partnership between WOW air, PBSC and the City of Reykjavik," says owner and CEO of WOW air, Skúli Mogensen.

“At WOW air we're focused on bringing attention to how people can adopt a healthier lifestyle, through events such as the WOW Cyclothon, and this is another step in that direction, by getting people biking and enjoying the great outdoors!”

Dagur B Eggertsson, Mayor of Reykjavik, commented: “I'm really excited that this initiative has become a reality. We have been aiming for this in Reykjavik for some time and we thank WOW air for their cooperation. The city supplies the land and WOW air oversees the operation. The bicycles are bright and sturdy, but also easy to ride. I hope that citizens of Reykjavik and travellers to the city will embrace this venture and explore the city on two wheels.”

WOW citybikes are rust and corrosion proof with aluminium frames and steel accessories. The bikes have three gears, handle breaks on both handles and adjustable seats. The tyres are also durable and designed to be puncture proof.

Christian Action Research Education has called for an abortion law rethink in Great Britain following a decision by the Advertising Standards Authority that it was reasonable for the Both Lives Matter Campaign to claim that around 100,000 people are alive in Northern Ireland who would be dead if the 1967 Abortion Act had applied to the Province.

The advert, from Both Lives Matter (BLM), which appeared earlier this year read 100,000 PEOPLE ARE ALIVE TODAY BECAUSE OF OUR LAWS ON ABORTION. Why change that? It sparked more than a dozen complaints to the advertising watchdog, but in a landmark ruling they dismissed the complaint.

Nola Leach, Chief Executive of CARE, responded to the ASA decision:

‘Today’s ruling presents those of us who live in Great Britain with a very awkward question.

If 100,000 people are alive in Northern Ireland today who would not be if the 1967 Act had applied in the province, what would the figures look like across England, Scotland and Wales?’

‘In a few months it is the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act in 1967: today’s news from Northern Ireland requires us all to stop and think on the effect this Act has had on our society.’

‘Some people have tried to suggest that Northern Ireland’s Abortion law is reactionary and too strict. These figures demonstrate quite the reverse. The Northern Ireland law should be celebrated and upheld as a model of international best practice. It has saved lives.’

Nola Leach continued: ‘There are nearly 200,000 abortions in the UK every year, or 17.2 per 1000 women. This figure is amongst the highest in Western Europe, which has an average of around 6.5 per 1000.’

‘Abortion law in Great Britain is failing both women and the unborn child. For instance, the failure to offer counselling to those who might need it, the sending of mixed messages on whether abortion on the grounds of gender is illegal and keeping the 24 week abortion limit even though there have been improvements in technology and babies born at less than 24 weeks are surviving. Our abortion laws need a massive rethink.’

Nola Leach concluded: ‘As we approach the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Abortion Act it must be right to look at how we can reduce the level of abortion, ensure that girls are not being aborted because they are girls, provide meaningful counselling both before and after and ensure current safeguards are strengthened to protect both mothers and babies.’