Colors: Blue Color

People across the region are being asked to kick off their work shoes and snuggle into their slippers on 9 December to raise money in support of homeless families. This year there are over 3,600 children homeless in temporary accommodation in the West Midlands this Christmas. 46% increase in last year. Shelter is calling on local businesses and community groups to take part in this fun and easy fundraiser and support the charity’s work in the area.

Community-minded Snow Champions will be helping to keep Sandwell clear of ice and snow for the sixth year running. The council is providing snow shovels and salt shakers to people willing to clear pavements and pathways to help out in their communities this winter. Five hundred kits, which include 6kg of salt, a shovel and a high-vis vest, are available for new Snow Champions who haven’t applied to join the scheme in previous years.

Abbeyfield is marking its 60th anniversary with the launch of its national Companionship at Christmas campaign for isolated older people living in the communities around its 500-plus houses and homes across the country. The older people's charity is holding nationwide events where Abbeyfield houses will be offering plenty of festive food-focused events, from coffee mornings to mince pies and carols, as well as overnight stays for over-55s who would otherwise be waking up to an empty house on December 25.

The results are in for the Safer 6 campaign’s fourth week, which had a special focus on West Bromwich. Community clean-ups, tackling knife crime, speeding and anti-social behaviour and promoting fire safety and crime prevention were among the key achievements of the week. The council, fire service and police, together with councillors, health and probation services and community and voluntary groups, all support the six-week Safer 6 campaign – a campaign that promotes safety, crime prevention and healthy living as the nights draw in.

A group of young disabled people from Birmingham have enjoyed a supported short break in Gloucestershire, organised by national disability charity Sense. 10 holidaymakers, supported by a team of experienced leaders and volunteers, travelled to Macaroni Wood in the south west of England for a week of active and stimulating indoor and outdoor experiences, including woodland walks, cooking classes, a circus skills workshop, musical sessions and a visit from a travelling zoo.

Opening to the public this Friday 25 November, Christmas at Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a stunning outdoor event that celebrates Chinese heritage and the tradition of handmade lanterns. Visitors will enter through a giant 12-metre wide lantern entrance, before following a stunning trail around the gardens. A visual spectacular never before seen in the region, visitors will see everything from a giant peacock that stands at 12 metres wide and three metres high, to a 12-metre wide lantern scene featuring penguins, snowmen, Christmas trees and baubles.

The Commonwealth will help member countries access funding and innovative solutions to make the Paris climate agreement a reality, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will tell delegates at the global climate change conference this week. The Secretary-General will speak at the high level segment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference, COP22, on 17 November.

A new home built to the latest building regulations can cost half as much to heat as a Victorian house of the same size, according to a new report by the NHBC Foundation. The advantages of new homes is based on a survey of 2,000 people who had recently moved into a new home and were asked what they considered the advantages of new homes to be. Many pointed to the energy efficiency benefits of new homes - the better standards of insulation enhanced draught-proofing and improved ‘airtightness’ that help to lower household annual energy bills, and improve levels of comfort.

To coincide with the start of Canine Health Testing Week (21 – 27 November) and to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the Hereditary Eye Disease Scheme, part of the Canine Health Schemes (CHS), run by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) in conjunction with the Kennel Club (KC) and the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS), free eye examinations are being offered to 50 working dogs and 50 dogs over eight years of age.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter is appealing for help to fund its free helpline after seeing a surge in demand from the West Midlands, with over 39,000 received in the past year alone. In a sign of the deepening housing crisis, the number of calls to the charity’s helpline from the West Midlands - which is part-funded by M&S - has increased by 11% with a call now received every six minutes.  Worryingly, one in five cases in the West Midlands dealt with by the Shelter helpline in the past year were people who were homeless or within 28 days of losing their home.

Police are encouraging people to back a campaign to "Orange Wolverhampton" and eliminate violence against women and girls. The United Nations’ Orange the World campaign takes place annually over 16 days between 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and 10 December, UN Human Rights Day.

Local people have voted for six Sandwell heroes to be commemorated in the Raise a Glass to a Local Hero project 100 years on from the Battle of the Somme. History groups nominated three First World War heroes from each of Sandwell’s six towns to be put to a public vote. The six heroes chosen will be commemorated on specially-designed beer mats which will be distributed in pubs across the borough. The poll was organised by Sandwell Council’s libraries and archive service as part of the local commemorations of the Battle of the Somme.

Yesterday saw the launch of the Superkart Charity Challenge – a Le Mans style race, open to teams from the community as well as corporate, raising money for some important charities including Love Brum, Birmingham Childrens Hospital, Radio Lollipop, Cure Leukaemia, The National Autistic Society, Include Me Too and the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity working in partnership with Birmingham City Council and in association with Teamworks Karting.

Despite the popularity of smartphones, traditional handwritten Christmas cards top social media messages and text messages as the West Midlands’ favourite festive greeting by far. A survey by fair trade pioneer Traidcraft, found that more than 8 in 10 (85%) people in the West Midlands prefer to receive their Christmas greetings in a card, while only 8% appreciate a festive text and no-one thinks highly of a social media message.

The independent domestic violence service, delivered by Birmingham LGBT has recently received confirmation of funding from the Henry Smith Foundation enabling the service to run beyond the pilot stage. The campaign supported by Birmingham Community Safety Partnership, hopes to continue to promote this service to encourage more members of the LGBT community to seek help and is the only one of its kind in the Midlands.

The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has opened applications for a new Non-Executive Director (NED) that will represent and inspire young people across the region.  The GBSLEP is the first LEP in the UK to create a youth representative role on its Board, reflecting the area’s uniquely youthful profile. Birmingham is one of the youngest and most diverse cities in Europe - 40% of its population are aged under 25. Across the wider region, 38% of the population are aged between 18 - 30.