Colors: Blue Color

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, – 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 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

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

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.’

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse VC & Bar, MC;  one of only three people to be awarded the Victoria Cross twice, and namesake to one of the four Help for Heroes (H4H) Recovery Centres.

The British Medical Doctor, Olympic athlete and British Army Officer died on August 4, 1917, during the Passchendaele offensive. He was just age 32. Captain Chavasse received serious head injuries during the battle, but refused to be evacuated and continued to venture into no man’s land and tend to the wounded.

Despite being injured Captain Chavasse saved the lives of an estimated 20 seriously wounded men while under heavy gunfire. A few days later, while resting, his trench was hit by a shell. Mortally wounded, the Captain crawled half a mile to seek help for others. He was eventually evacuated but died of his wounds two days later.

Captain Chavasse’s great-great niece, Anna Sinfield, has explored her uncle’s story in detail during the past year, and has read countless archived letters that describe his legendary feats, as well as speaking to experts. She is humbled by the honour bestowed upon Captain Chavasse.

She said: “It is great to see so many people and organisations paying respect to Noel's legacy, including the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester. It feels very apt to have a centre dedicated to the care of those who served, named after a man who was totally dedicated to his fellow soldier’s wellbeing. Whilst I cannot claim any credit for his extraordinary story, I do feel lucky to be able to keep the story alive and not forgotten”.

Noel Chavasse was the most highly decorated British Officer of the First World War and had previously displayed courageous acts of bravery during the Battle of the Somme. When the time came to build the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre in Colchester, it was widely agreed that it should bear his name, not only to acknowledge his sacrifice but to those who fell during the Great War.

Chavasse VC House, inspires, enables and supports those who are wounded, injured or sick while serving our country, encouraging them to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives, while also supporting their loved ones. With an adaptive gym, an award winning reflective garden (Hope on the Horizon), a Support Hub made up of multiple charities and other organisations, psychological well-being suite, en-suite bedrooms, family rooms and a creative studio, the Centre has been specially designed to offer the very best recovery environment.

Steve Schollar, Help for Heroes’ Head of Recovery Services East, said: “No matter when someone served, H4H gives them the support they need to put them back on the road to recovery. In recent years we have supported individuals aged from 18 to 90 years, focussing on the five key areas of Medical, Mind, Body, Spirit and Family. The specialist teams here create the conditions for our heroes and their families to recover and move forward with their lives.  I’m proud to say that Help for Heroes and Chavasse VC House continue to play a major part in the Nation’s commitment to our veterans”.

He continued: “It’s a common misconception that H4H is no longer relevant as the Iraq and Afghan conflicts are perceived to be over. Unfortunately, the day-to-day physical and psychological battles continue for many serving personnel, veterans and their families, and not only for those who served in those most recent conflicts. Physical and mental wounds remain with someone throughout their life and often only emerge years after the trauma. Help for Heroes will continue to play a significant role in meeting that national obligation”.

The Mayor of Sandwell is holding a cake bake sale to raise money for his charities – and everyone's invited.

Come along to the sale at The Big House, Church Street, Oldbury, on Wednesday 23 August, 11.30am to 2.30pm.

Sandwell freeman Blind Dave Heeley will be joining the Mayor, Councillor Ahmadul Haque, at the event.

All proceeds will go to the Mayor's charities, which are

  • Midlands Air Ambulance Charity; and
  • Your Trust Charity, run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, specifically raising money for cancer services and research.
To donate cakes, make a donation or provide a raffle prize, please contact the Mayor's Parlour. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0121 569 3041 for more information.

Mayor Councillor Ahmadul Haque said: "We want to raise as much money as we can for these two great local charities. I invite people to join me at my cake bake sale – it'll be a fun event and a very friendly welcome awaits everyone at The Big House."

The animal welfare charity is warning cat owners against ‘dangerous’ collars which could leave felines with fatal injuries.

This comes after almost 100 incidents involving cats injured by their own collars have been reported to the RSPCA since the start of the year.

In the last three months there were more than 50 reports and 26 of those were reported to the RSPCA in May alone.

Poor Nugget, the three year old tortoiseshell cat, has been suffering from a large wound in her armpit after getting her leg stuck in her collar - possibly for weeks.

Chunks of fur and skin were pulled off when the collar was finally cut loose.

RSPCA’s Animal Collection Officer Lucy Green was called last month (June 29) by a member of the public in Hutton Cranswick, Yorkshire, who spotted the cat limping around the area.

ACO Green said: “I went out that day and I smelt the poor cat before I saw her. It was pretty putrid and infected. There were a lot of flies on her but luckily there were no fly eggs or maggots in the wound or it could have been a much worse prognosis for her.”

She was treated by vets initially who named her Nugget before she was transferred from the RSPCA Bridlington Branch to the Hull and East Riding Animal Centre where her care is now continuing.

She continued: “It was pretty nasty. Nugget was in a lot of pain. She was lashing out and hissing when I first found her but it must have been because she was in so much pain - as soon as I cut the collar off she was absolutely lovely.

“Staff at the Hull centre said that this is the worst embedded collar injury they have ever seen. As an animal collection officer I would say that it is definitely up there as one of the worst.

“Her wound was so large vets worried it would keep reopening every time she moved if they stitched it up so staff have been working round the clock to keep cleaning and dressing her wound and giving her pain relief and antibiotics. Now it has healed a little bit more they can stitch her up.”

A quick release collar is designed to snap open when tugged with sufficient force and can ensure that a cat is released from its collar if they become stuck.

Elasticated collars, or collars with buckles which do not release without human help can leave cats struggling to free themselves when their legs become stuck - causing horrific injuries.

ACO Green continued: “She is doing really well at the animal home. She is a really friendly little cat but unfortunately we haven't had an owner come forward for her yet.”

One year old black and white cat, named Brian by RSPCA staff, was found in Brierley Hill in the West Midlands on Tuesday (July 11) with his front leg trapped in his collar.

The poor cat was limping around Stourbridge Road with the collar cutting into his armpit.

RSPCA’s Animal Collection Officer Shaun Howden was called to the scene after a member of the public found the cat and tried to cut him free from his collar but Brian became scared and ran away.

ACO Howden said: “I managed to contain him and cut the collar off. He was clearly in a lot of discomfort as the collar had got stuck and ended up around his armpit.

“The collar was embedded into an infected wound and it looked and smelt quite bad.

“There was no ID on the collar and no microchip so we have been unable to locate his owner.”

Brian is now recovering at Birmingham’s Newbrook Farm Animal Centre where his injury is being treated and he is doing much better now.

Alice Potter, RSPCA cat welfare expert said: “These stories serve as an important reminder to cat owners to only use quick release collars on their pets as other collars can be lethal.

“All too often we get called to cats that have become injured due to a collar as there are too many dangerous collars on sale. We would strongly advise against purchasing a collar with buckles that don’t snap open, or collars made from elastic.

“The majority of flea collars are also not advisable as they do not have safety buckles, so we would encourage pet owners to prioritise safety first and give your cat flea treatment another way.

“Cats are natural hunters and curious explorers that enjoy climbing trees or pushing through tight spots and for these reasons it is imperative that any collar is designed to free the cat should they become snagged during their adventures.

“If the collar gets caught on something the cat may try to free itself by using its foot and then, in turn, get its leg stuck with the collar ending up under the cat’s armpit causing painful injury.

“The most reliable way to identify your cat is to have them microchipped rather than having a collar and tag which may fade over time, or hinder them when they explore.

“It is also far better to have to pay for a new collar if your pet has lost theirs than to have to pay for urgent veterinary treatment when your pet becomes injured due to its collar.”

If you are the owner of either Brian or Nugget, or have any information which may help trace them, please contact the inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018.

If you see a cat in distress, or any animal in need, contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.


Commonwealth governments, development partners, youth leaders and stakeholders are expected to make an historic commitment to invest in young people – every country’s greatest resource – at a major summit in Uganda this week.

The 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Kampala brings together over 200 senior government representatives from more than 30 countries, as well as young people, youth workers and donor organisations.

Ministers are set to agree a raft of policy objectives to advance the ambitions and needs of young women and men aged under 30. The theme of the meeting, held between 31 July and 4 August, is ‘Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering Young People’.  The theme acknowledges young people’s role as nation-builders and the imperative to invest in their social, political and economic empowerment.

The summit, taking place 25 years since the first ever Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, comes as the world’s youth population has reached a record 1.8 billion people aged 15 to 29. In many Commonwealth member countries, young people make up a quarter to a third of the population.

Leading development partners and donors joining Ministers at the summit include the African Development Bank, the Amersi Foundation, Comic Relief, DFID, the IFRC, the MasterCard Foundation, NEXUS, UNICEF, UNFPA and USAID.

It comes as the Commonwealth Secretariat publishes the findings of a study of the status of youth work in 35 countries, which unearths a gap in legislative and policy provisions that protect and professionalise the status of youth workers.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “This meeting offers an historic chance to seize the opportunities created by our expanding youth population. In order for young women and men to contribute to national well-being and economic prosperity, we must find innovative ways to promote their participation in civic and political life, remove barriers to entrepreneurship, and expand opportunities for education and meaningful employment.”

“The landmark 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognised that investment in young people is critical to achieving sustainable development. This aligns closely with the Commonwealth’s track record in recognising and empowering young women and men as nation-builders. The task before us now is to agree and fund strategies to realise the full potential of young people and unleash their talents to achieve the Global Goals.”

The Ministerial Meeting from 2 to 4 August 2017 will support governments ministers and senior officials to identify and adopt innovative solutions to financing and resourcing youth development, take stock of pioneering initiatives and forge new partnerships. Practical measures will be recommended to ministers by delegates participating in a Youth Leaders Forum and a Stakeholders Forum, between 31 July and 1 August. Youth leaders will also join ministers at the table for their meeting.

Uganda’s Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Janat Mukwaya, who is chairing the ministerial meeting, said: “The Government of the Republic of Uganda and the people of Uganda are delighted to welcome all delegates to the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting.

“It is my conviction that the meeting will come up with fundamental resolutions and strategies that will revolutionise the resourcing and financing mechanisms for youth programmes. The most important outcome should be to come up with innovative ways and initiatives that can cause a ripple effect in the overall development agenda of our young people.”

Kishva Ambigapathy, Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, which is convening the Youth Leaders Forum, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to have an intellectual discourse with fellow youth leaders on the dynamics of youth financing. I appreciate the time and commitment given by youth ministers to work together with young leaders for not only looking at financing but also nurturing young leaders with capacity-building and empowerment.”

Lillian Aber Young, Chairperson of the National Youth Council, co-organiser of the forum, said: “There is an urgent need to equip young people with information that will enable them to take advantage of the opportunities in the commonwealth by activating their governments to include youth in their development agendas. This Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting will offer youth the opportunity to spread awareness and draw attention to the need for increased funding of youth programmes.”

Mpaka Mwine, Chairperson of the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs, co-organiser of the Stakeholders Forum, said it would provide a space for engagement on sustainable youth financing and resourcing. “The need for youth development requires structured and organised youth financing,” she said.

During the summit, two new Commonwealth network organisations will be formally launched: the Commonwealth Consortium on Youth Work Education and Training, and the Commonwealth Alliance of Youth Worker Associations. Both groups are focused on enhancing the critical work done by Youth Work Professionals to support and develop young people to become positive, productive citizens.

War is coming to Warwick Castle with an all-new horseback jousting spectacle which runs to the 3rd September.  Families must pledge allegiance to either the House of York or the House of Lancaster and join a 2,000-strong cheering crowd in the jousting arena as the pummeling of horses’ hooves and the splintering of lances reverberates throughout Wars of the Roses LIVE.  .

In the Wars if the Roses, two sides of the same fractured royal family battled, besieged and betrayed each other for three bloody decades of the fifteenth century.  Across England, brother fought brother, cousin slayed cousin, all vying for the English crown. History books tell which side triumphed and who was slain, but now families visiting Warwick Castle this May half-term can feel the heat of battle for themselves as their hearts pump for the glory of England!

An all-new live action horseback battle with jaw-dropping special effects, the Wars of the Roses LIVE is set in a specially-constructed riverside arena and promises to be a fist-thumpingly spectacular show of knightly heroism, demanding bold battle strategy and fearless fighting from both sides. The spectacle is included in castle admission at no extra cost.

The arena holds a crowd of 2,000 and evokes magnificent mediaeval jousts recorded in historical sources. Wars of the Roses LIVE breathes new life into the extraordinary events that ripped apart England six hundred years ago. Key players in the wider Wars of the Roses story with direct links to Warwick Castle include Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick - known as The Kingmaker, who switched sides from York to Lancaster and imprisoned Edward VI (whom he had helped to ascend the throne) at the castle; and The Kingmaker’s daughter, Anne Neville – born at Warwick – who became Queen of England upon marriage to Richard III.

On Saturday evening, hundreds gathered at The Robin 2 Hotel in Bilston to watch the institution that is Magnum play their hometown gig. Magnum, a band formed in 1972 had a string of hit singles and albums in the 1980s and 1990s, and are currently enjoying a new lease of life that has brought in countless new generations of fans. On Saturday, this was quite clearly on display, as the age range was somewhere between sixteen and sixty. As one concert attendee said. “It’s fabulous seeing so many people here, and of such a different age range as well.”

As the doors opened at seven thirty, a murmur of excitement spread through the crowd, this was going to be the first time Magnum had played in Bilston in a long time, and as such, a lot of people wondered what would be included in their setlist, would they go for a set full of old classics, a set filled with new songs or a mixture of both?

Before that question could be answered however, the opening act in the fantastic Rebecca Downes gave the crowd a lot of bang for their buck.  Rebecca and her band tore through killer song after killer song including a roaring rendition of the Janis Joplin classic “Take A Little Piece of My Heart.’ When they were done there were loud cheers and calls for more.

After Ms Downes and her band had left the stage, the anticipation built up even more and as David, a fan of Ms Downes and Magnum said. “Magnum have got a lot to follow now.” Sure enough when the band got onto the stage, the crowd roared with joy, and that roar only got louder as the opening notes of ‘Solider of The Line’ were played. That was then followed by what could arguably considered one of the greatest songs ever written ‘On A Storyteller’s Night.’

Rip roaring rocker ‘Sacred Blood Divine Lies’ followed, and the crowd kept going, jumping and singing along. This continued through another series of classics and newer songs such as ‘Blood Red Laughter’ and ‘How Far Jerusalem’, and on it went. Bob Catley, the lead singer for the band at one point between songs smiled and said. “You’re a rowdy crowd tonight Bilston!” And that they were.

Magnum finished off their set with four classics. “Les Mors Dansant’, ‘All England’s Eyes’, ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Kingdom of Madness’ and when they were done the crowd was cheering, roaring and in one or two cases crying. It was a fantastic show, and a brilliant reminder of why rock and roll is the greatest type of music around.

Landing in Birmingham as part of a major new UK tour this July, this new production of Miss Saigon features an international cast of 38 plus 15-piece orchestra – one of the largest currently touring in the UK.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s West End and Broadway blockbuster Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history. Last seen on the Birmingham Hippodrome stage in 2005, this new UK touring production stars Red Concepcion as ‘The Engineer’, Sooha Kim as ‘Kim’, Ashley Gilmour as ‘Chris’, Zoë Doano as ‘Ellen’, Ryan O’Gorman as ‘John’ and Gerald Santos as ‘Thuy’. At certain performances ‘The Engineer’ will be played by Christian Rey Marbella, and ‘Kim’ will be played by Joreen Bautista. Marsha Songcome will play ‘Gigi’ until 1 August when Na-Young Jeon will take over the role.

Winner of a record-breaking nine Whatsonstage awards including Best show, Miss Saigon tells the story of the last days of the Vietnam War, in which a 17 year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he's fathered a son.

The original Broadway production of Miss Saigon opened on April 11, 1991 with what was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million).  The show went on to play for nearly ten years and 4,063 performances seen by more than 5.9 million people.

Miss Saigon has been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide. In March, this production of Miss Saigon opened on Broadway where it plays to nightly ovations.

When the smash-hit run of this production opened in London in May 2014 to record-breaking advance sales and critical acclaim, Dominic Cavendish in The Daily Telegraph wrote, “This thrilling new production spills out beyond the theatre and speaks directly to the times we live in”. The show swept the board at the 2015 awards winning a record breaking nine awards, the most awards ever won by a single show in the 15-year history of the awards including: Best West End Show and Best Revival of a Musical.

Miss Saigon runs in Birmingham until Sat 23 September.

A leading member of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) executive committee is taking a major role in the response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.

Aftab Chughtai (pictured), an ABCC executive committee member for more than ten years, has been named by the government as one of four members of a taskforce that will oversee and support the local council’s long-term recovery plan in the aftermath of the disaster.

More than 80 people lost their lives in the fire, which ripped through the West London high-rise building on the evening of 14 June.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has said that the independent Grenfell Recovery Taskforce that has been set up will support the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) in the development and implementation of a plan to help the survivors of the fire.

Mr Javid said the taskforce would provide him with the assurance that RBKC had the capacity and capability to deliver an effective plan for the Grenfell residents, taking into account their views.

Joining Mr Chughtai – also chairman of the West Midlands Police Independent Advisory Group – on the taskforce is another well-known Birmingham figure, Javed Khan, formerly assistant director of education in the city.

Mr Khan is now chief executive of Barnardo’s. The other two members of the taskforce are Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council and Chris Wood, a partner at Altair housing consultancy, and former director of housing for three London boroughs.

The government said that the taskforce members had a wealth of experience in local government, housing and the voluntary sector, as well as a track record of effectively engaging local communities in key projects.

The taskforce has been asked to look at whether RBKC has the proper arrangements in place to engage with the local community and ensure that all the immediate housing needs resulting from the fire are fully and promptly addressed.

Additionally, the taskforce will support the council to significantly improve its housing management, including addressing weaknesses in the tenant management organisation.

Aftab Chughtai said: "I am pleased to be appointed to the Grenfell Recovery Taskforce which will have a vital role ensuring that the right support and plans are in place to help the local community move on from this terrible tragedy.

"Getting the relations between the local community and Council right is key and I hope to use my experience in community engagement in the West Midlands to make a real difference in Kensington and Chelsea. I look forward to working with my fellow taskforce members and the Council and starting this important work."

Sajid Javid said: "I am determined that everything possible is done to support the local community following the disaster. This includes ensuring an effective recovery plan is developed that takes into account the views of the local community.

"The new taskforce has extensive experience in this area and will provide the council with the expertise needed to deliver this important work."

Mr Chughtai runs a department store in East Birmingham. He received an MBE in this year’s New Year honours list, which was awarded in recognition of his services to business and community relations in Birmingham.

He sits on the board of many community-based organisations, including Saltley Business Association (of which he is vice-chairman) and Birmingham Muslim Burial Council.

He is also a trustee of Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust and chairman of Birmingham East Independent Advisory Group, West Midlands Police.

ABCC director Anjum Khan said: “The creation of this taskforce is hugely important in helping the council deal with the aftermath of the fire and re-establish trust with the local community.

“The work being carried out will be done under scrutiny from the whole nation, so it is clear that the government has opted to choose the best people it can possibly find to form the taskforce.

“It is a huge honour for both Aftab and the ABCC for him to be part of the taskforce and the important work that it will be carrying out.”

Nominations for the twentieth edition of the UK Coaching Awards are now open.

Do you know a coach who goes above and beyond the line of duty? Have they transformed someone’s life or had a significant impact on their local community? Now is the time to show your appreciation for all they do and nominate them for the UK Coaching Awards.

Hosted by UK Coaching, the showpiece annual event is seen as one of the most prestigious within the coaching community and this year will be held at The HAC, City of London on Thursday 30 November.

The principle of Awards is to recognise the contribution coaches make in transforming lives across the UK. Previous winners include coaches making a huge difference in their community as well as the greats of sports coaching across a wide variety of sports.

Chief Executive Officer at UK Coaching, Mark Gannon, said:

“I’m very pleased to announce nominations for this year’s awards open.

“This is a particularly special year for the Awards, as we celebrate its twentieth birthday and its first under our new remit of UK Coaching.

“The awards are a unique opportunity for us to recognise and reward the work of excellent coaching at all levels across sport and physical activity, from community to high performance and I have high-expectations that the coaching community in its entirety will be out in force to nominate this year.”

Eddie Van Hoof MBE, Head National Coach for Men's Artistic Gymnastics and current UK Coach of the Year, said:

“I was honoured to have been named UK Coach of the Year at the 2016 UK Coaching Awards. To have your work recognised beyond your sport is truly gratifying and a great feeling.

“The Awards are quite unique in the sense they showcase an entire spectrum of coaching. It really is a pleasure to go to the event and hear stories of the amazing work other coaches are undertaking to aid the needs of their participants and help transform lives."

Sunil Birdy, current Community Coach of the Year, said:

“Winning Community Coach of the Year in 2016 was a fantastic personal achievement for me, and one of the highlights of my career so far. A lot of work goes in to making sure there are adequate opportunities for disabled people in my local community.

“All athletes start somewhere, and I know so many brilliant coaches and individuals across the country who continue to do incredible work, enriching, contributing and providing opportunities to their communities, despite facing numerous barriers. I was delighted for myself and the people that support me at PACE, to receive this recognition and confirmation that we’re doing a great job engaging people in sport.”

In line with UK Coaching’s recent rebrand to include a wider definition of coaching – acknowledging its impact on physical and mental well-being, as well as individual, economic and social and development – it is stressed that nominations on behalf of coaches, instructors, leaders, teachers, trainers and others who support people to achieve their sport and activity goals are all welcome.

There are 12 award categories in total, eight for coaches, three in support of coaches and an overall UK Coach of the Year award.

The Awards for Coaches are given to individual coaches who have excelled and shown outstanding commitment in a certain area, or to an individual and/or group over the last 12 months. They are:

  • Community Coach of the Year
  • Children’s Coach of the Year
  • Disability Coach of the Year
  • Heather Crouch Young Coach of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Performance Development Coach of the Year
  • High Performance Coach of the Year
  • And the Coaching Chain, which recognises contributions made by individual coaches throughout an elite athlete’s life in helping achieve their potential.
The Awards in Support of Coaches recognise those who recruit, develop, educate, qualify, and/or deploy coaches effectively in the UK. They are:
  • Coach Developer of the Year
  • Coaching Culture Organisation of the Year
  • Coaching Intervention of the Year
Public nominations will close on the 22 September and then inform a judging process, completed by a panel of coaching experts, before Awards finalists are announced.