Sunday, 23 January 2022

Covid-19 and Caregiving in Europe

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised questions about the resilience of health and care systems across the world and about how they can better prepare for future threats. 

In several countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, those living in care homes have been at particular risk (Legido-Quigley, Mateos-García et al. 2020, Rajan, Comas-Herrera et al. 2020). 

Looking across health systems, we can see some common challenges related to the delivery and organization of care. Social care facilities, unprepared for protecting residents and struggling to obtain support from authorities, recorded a surge in infections and mortality.

This raises the question of how healthcare provision can be sustained for vulnerable groups, including the elderly and people with care needs. 

Elderly people are the most vulnerable in terms of the consequences of a potential COVID-19 infection. At the same time, they are also a vulnerable group in terms of the impact of measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19, as social isolation can be an important health concern for this group. 

The responses to COVID-19 may represent an opportunity for innovation and adaptation of medical and care training with the aim of protecting vulnerable groups. Given that COVID-19 could well become a part of our life, health and care systems need to be adapted to the new reality and caregivers of the elderly need to be able to provide them with the vital help they need without compromising their health. 

The MiCare project aims to develop a detailed training package for migrants to work as caregivers for the elderly and people with care needs. Taking into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of the Art Analysis implemented in order to uncover the needs of migrants wishing to work as caregivers involved the investigation of whether migrants feel comfortable working during the pandemic, whether they feel able to protect themselves and the people their care for and also if they know how to help vulnerable people cope during a pandemic in terms of social support and stress-management. 

The training package currently being developed will focus on the results of the State of the Art analysis mentioned above, showing the importance of adapting to new realities. 

Learn more about the MiCare project:   

Read the Opinion on the organisation of resilient health and social care following the COVID-19 pandemic:

Migration as a tool for addressing labour shortages


According to Eurostat, the share of people aged 80 years or more should more than double by 2100 to reach 14.6% of the whole population. Specifically, people over 65 years or over will account for 31.3 % of the EU-28’s population by 2100, compared with 19.8 % in 2018. 

The ageing of the population in the EU will most-likely result in shortages in the labour market; the Synthesis Report on “Determining labour shortages and the need for labour migration from third countries in the EU” states that the shortage of workers with relevant qualifications constitutes a major challenge for European competitiveness and is only expected to increase in the future. 

In the above-mentioned report, two different approaches are mentioned to linking economic migration to labour market shortages. The first-one is a ‘demand-driven’ approach that grants admission to migrants seeking employment in occupations with a previously identified shortage. This approach normally requires third-country nationals to have a specific job offer by a national employer before their application for a residence permit will be considered. 

For the second approach, the admission frameworks are adjusted to attract migrants with characteristics that will place them in a favourable position for the labour market and policy tools are required to attract migrants with transferable skills or other qualities (e.g. investment potential) deemed desirable for the economy without making special efforts to link these migrants to pre-defined shortage occupations. 

While some Member States have adopted one of the aforementioned approaches or a combination of the two, other EU countries do not have a strategic vision of labour migration as a tool for addressing labour shortages (CY, CZ, HU, LT, LU, NL, SK) as they consider the link between economic migration and addressing labour shortages to be indirect, leaving the admission of third-country nationals for employment to individual employers who can choose to employ TCNs often after looking for national or EU candidates first.

The MiCare project aims to develop an intensive training program for migrants wishing to work as caregivers for elder people and people with special needs to facilitate the TCNs integration in the EU labour market of host countries and help cover labour shortages now and in the future.

Learn more about the MiCare project: 

Read the Synthesis Report Synthesis Report on Determining labour shortages and the need for labour migration from third countries in the EU: 

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Exciting Science


Friday 25 February 2022 - 2pm



This brand new, exciting and educational show will amaze and astound all ages from 4 years and upwards, as we put the "Exciting" back into "Science".


With fun and fact-filled experiments, watch in amazement as we recreate a volcanic eruption, turn a vacuum cleaner into a missile launcher or take aim at you with our smoke blaster!


So stand clear and prepare for action, as this show is full of wiz, bang, pop... and splurt.


Exciting Science - prepare to be amazed!


Adults £12, Children £10, Family of Four £40

*Booking fees apply


January online history talk by Warwickshire Local History Society


The Black Book of Warwick 

Warwickshire Local History Society (WLHS) continues its programme of online talks on Saturday 15th January 2022 at 2 pm with a talk given by Emma Bromley about The Black Book of Warwick.   

In this online meeting, Emma Bromley shares her research on this Elizabethan manuscript for the Corporation of Warwick (later known as Warwick Town Council). Originally intended for use as a minute book, it evolved into the personal diary of the town clerk, who recorded notable events. This book provides a fascinating contemporary account of Tudor life in Warwick.  

Please visit WLHS’s Eventbrite page to register your interest for this talk WLHS January Lecture Tickets, Sat 15 Jan 2022 at 14:00 | Eventbrite.  

A link and joining instructions will then be sent to you a few days before the lecture.  Non-members are welcome to attend online meetings free of charge, for a limited time and subject to ticket availability. 

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

A Black Country Night Out

Dandy - Ollie Spencer - Vivo - Joe Thomas - Emma Rollason as 'Dolly Allen'


Friday 8 April 2022 - 7.30pm

This show has been rescheduled from Wednesday 21 October 2020 and Friday 17 September 2021. All tickets remain valid for the new date.

Everyone loves a great variety show….just look at Britain's Got Talent.

Well here is a show that is bursting at the seams with talent! Not only that but it is full of variety… comedy, music and even a tribute or two!

Let's start with the comedy - Dandy are the number one comedy act on the Black Country circuit and now causing a storm at the Peaky Blinder theme nights! Ollie Spencer stormed it on his first tour in 2018 and he’s back hosting the show with a bag full of gags for you.

We have a new act on the show… an original Fizzog, Emma Rollason is bringing her wonderful tribute to the original Black Country comedienne, ‘Dolly Allen’.

Ladies and gentlemen the musical accompaniment will be from Joe Thomas who made a massive impression on his theatre debut last year. He's back with his ukulele (I know it looks like a banjo).

Last, but certainly not least, the incredibly talented Vivo.  Great musicians who put on a wonderful show… we know you are going to love them.

"What a great night... just like it used to be…"

"This is what Britain's Got Talent should be like…"

Book tickets

Kum-n-avaloff Monthly Comedy Night


Our monthly comedy show brings you the best new and established stand-up talent from across the UK.


Previous comedians to have appeared include Alan Carr, Lost Voice Guy, Patrick Monahan, Stephen K Amos, Reginald D Hunter and Hal Cruttenden.


Please be advised that the show will contain swearing and material of an adult nature. Not suitable for under 18s.


Curry and rice is served during the interval (vegetarian option also available) - included in the ticket price!




Thursday 3 February 2022

Line-up to be confirmed  


Thursday 3 March 2022

Line-up to be confirmed

Sleuthing Supper a Sell-Out Success

Suspicion and intrigue were on the cards at WAITS’ murder mystery fundraising dinner, where guests kept a close eye on the action to work out whodunit.

Titled Haunting at Redstone Manor, actors took to the stage to host a fictitious ghost hunt where a grouchy guest presenter, an obsessed fan and an unpopular producer added to the mix of characters.

Between courses, diners were teased with snippets from the story and allowed to interview the suspects in a bid to find clues and discover who the murderer was.

After the big reveal and confession, actor and stand-up comedian John Simmit hosted a raffle and auction. Prizes and lots included paintings from local artist Paul Langford, an overnight stay for two and VIP theatre tickets.

WAITS CEO, Marcia Lewinson, said: “It’s exciting to be hosting in-person events again and I’m delighted and grateful that we sold all of the tickets. I’d like to say a special thank you to the actors from Best Guess, everyone who came and to our event sponsors TOA Taxis, E W Bookkeeping and Accountancy, Arkade Property and Richard Austin Alloys for their generous support.

“The money raised will make a huge difference to us, especially after the rise in domestic abuse during lockdown and the postponement of some of our vital fundraising activities.”
The event took place on Saturday 02 October 2021 at the Macdonald Burlington Hotel in Birmingham, raising £2,094.19.

WAITS was established in Birmingham over 20 years ago. The charity helps women suffering domestic abuse to achieve their goals, feel empowered and gain independence. They offer several services including refuges, an integration project, counselling, befriending and signposting.

For more information about WAITS visit 

Article from BVSC News Blog 

The Springfield Project welcomes Zoe Challenor as ‘Artist in Residence

Artist in Residence

The Springfield Project is delighted to welcome Zoe Challenor as ‘Artist in Residence’ for 2021-22. Zoe is co-founder and director of B’Opera and has been a valued partner of The Springfield Project over recent years, performing at our Creative Families Festivals and being part of the Sounds of Play Early Years Music Project. Zoe and The Springfield Project have a shared passion for increasing access to the arts for our children, families and the wider community. We value the role that the arts can play in child development, emotional wellbeing, self expression, confidence, family relationships and social cohesion. This exciting development will allow us to develop this work further and bring some musical joy to everyone at The Springfield Project.

Aims of The Artist in Residency

The residency has three primary aims:

  1. To provide our children and families with a rich experience of music and singing, through regular artist-led Music and singing will be used to enhance and develop the EYFS provision in our settings, providing children and families with the opportunity to develop their musicality and love of music, as well as using music to enhance other areas of the curriculum and support all round development.
  2. To provide opportunities for the artist to explore their practice for children, young people and the wider community with a view to continuing their development as an artist alongside the teams at The Springfield
  3. To support the continual professional development of staff and volunteers at The Springfield Project, through increasing their understanding of the value of music in their practice, and developing their skills and practice in music

Zoe will be with us approximately once a week over the next academic year and will be working with children, parents and staff in all of our children’s services.

Zoe Challenor – Biography

Zoe Challenor is a freelance creative practitioner, who graduated in Singing as a prizewinner from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She has been an Early Years Music Workshop Leader for Birmingham Hippodrome, with weekly sessions over two years. For Welsh National Opera she mentors animateurs, leads sessions in person and online for refugee families with young children, facilitates workshops in creative composition with refugee women, and leads primary school vocal workshops introducing young people to opera.

Zoe co-founded and now runs and directs B’Opera, which sits on the Birmingham Early Years Music Consortium alongside the city’s major arts and Early Years organisations, shaping best practice in Early Years Music. Zoë delivers CPD sessions to musicians and members of the Early Years workforce as part of the project.

Zoe has written and co-written five baby operas for and performs regularly with B’Opera, including Arts Council funded show Alice and the Library Tree in 2019, which played for the community in which it was made, then toured to Birmingham Hippodrome last February. Until recently, Zoe was choral director and singing teacher at Junior Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London (for eight years).

Creating interactive baby operas for families of all backgrounds in the Midlands has been a driving force in Zoe’s work for the last four years. Babies are inherently musical, and need a variety of skillfully-delivered, high-quality musical experiences from a young age. As enshrined in law through Article 31 of the UNCRC, they have a right to free and full participation in cultural and artistic life. Living in a society that has largely lost musical confidence impacts how they access music. Tackling that has been the focus of her work. She is intent on reclaiming the word “opera” which simply means “work”, and demonstrating that it is for everyone. She believes that when audiences “find their voice” and participate actively in the arts, change happens, which led to making Stolen Moments, enabled by an ACE Emergency Response grant, employing other creatives to tell the story of babies separated from their older relatives, using children’s voices to make the soundtrack, giving a voice to young children and their families.

Zoe has recently been awarded a ‘Developing Your Creative Practice’ grant by Arts Council England to further develop and research the idea of empowering audience voices in a variety of ways, from using technology to live sample and include children's voices in her work, to running singing circles for new parents.

Watch B’Opera’s short promotional video here:

Hear Zoe speak about B’Opera at The Royal Society of Arts View B’Opera’s Arts Council funded short animated film about babies separated from older relatives during lockdown: 'Stolen Moments' is here

For more information visit 

Women in Social Enterprise - Let's Start Talking!


Our Women's Enterprise & Community Hub Manager Kirsty Palmer is currently seeking members for an exciting new network for women in social enterprise. The first meeting will take place in January and the network will offer:

  • Post Pandemic Help – Creating an informed network where individuals are sign posted to the best service / social enterprise.
  • Addressing Gendered Poverty – Gathering data to examine the causes and more importantly the support and solutions out there.
  • Promoting Women in and into Business – how do we do this as a collective movement across the city ?
  • Supporting Women in Business – Creating a collaborative network that promotes partnership working, mentoring, sharing information and best practice ideas.
  • Sharing our Stories – We know that women are great for the workforce, we know that women are good leaders, so let’s start shouting about it.

If you'd like to join and be one of the first Brummie women to be involved in this new and exciting female led initiative, please get in touch with Kirsty. 

Know more... sleeping with your baby


Worcester City Council commits funding to support arts and community organisations through challenging times

Worcester City councillors have agreed to continue to commit over £527,500 worth of funding to support a range of arts and community organisations over the next five years.

“Arts organisations have faced a particularly challenging time across the UK this year,” said Councillor Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City Council.

“The arts play an important role in attracting visitors to Worcester and boosting the economy. Worcester City Council is fully committed to strengthening the local cultural offer and also to supporting community organisations which have given a great deal of assistance to residents in recent times.

“Our aim in awarding these grants is to give these local organisations some financial certainty for the future, so they can plan ahead with greater confidence.”

At this month’s Policy & Resources Committee meeting, councillors agreed to continue with existing funding totalling over £279,000 per year to a number of long-standing partners, including Worcester Theatres, Worcester Community Trust, Worcester Wheels and the Three Choirs Festival, amongst others.

These grants are to be provided over the next five years, in line with a refreshed City Plan which was also agreed at the meeting.

Sarah-Jane Morgan, Chief Executive of Worcester Theatres, said: “As Worcester Theatres continues to navigate the effects of the pandemic I am delighted that Worcester City Council continues to strongly support our organisation through this grant. It’s a clear indication of their desire to ensure the cultural sector remains strong in our city and will enable us to continue to provide meaningful opportunities for residents of the city to engage in the arts. The funding allows us to continue our work redeveloping and redefining our programming, ensuring more people can see a place for themselves at our venues in the future.”

The Committee also agreed to maintain a ‘small grants’ pot of £74,165 but to increase the maximum value of these grants to £5,000. Local small organisations are welcome to apply for grants at from 1 April 2022.

Rethinking Income Streams with Social Enterprise Academy


Rethinking Income Streams with Social Enterprise Academy
Online | 3 Live sessions | 8 hours self-directed learning

Does your social impact business need to diversify? Join Social Enterprise Academy's exciting new fully-funded programme to help steer through challenging times. 

Join us for an impactful and responsive online learning programme. Through a blend of live facilitated sessions and self-directed learning, you will explore what’s needed to rethink your income streams. Limited spaces, view the full programme here. 
Book now

Celebrating the unique people and stories of Wednesbury

Communities in Wednesbury are invited to take part in a series of exciting creative activities to celebrate the people and stories that make the town unique.

Multistory – a community arts organisation based in West Bromwich – will be organising exciting arts projects, artist commissions, workshops, talks and events in libraries, community centres and indoor and outdoor public spaces throughout the town until early 2024. These are part of ‘We are Wednesbury’, a cultural, community engaged programme that is being developed with, and for, local residents, communities and artists.

Multistory has launched the new programme with ‘Wednesbury Through the Lens’ – a new photography competition for the town that is now open to everyone of all ages. You are invited to send in photographs that you have taken of your favourite people, places, food, building – anything that you think makes Wednesbury unique and interesting. No prior photography experience is necessary, and you can use your camera phone or digital and film cameras.

The deadline is 10 January 2022 at 9am; please send your photographs to

Four poets will take up residency on 2, 7, 8 and 9 December, in four independent businesses that are a vital part of the local community, so please go and have a chat to help them create their poems. The businesses are:

• Vintage Tea Room & Café;
• Boobielous;
• Blue Sheep Books; and
• Junction 9 ¾ Café.

There will be free live performances by the poets on Friday, 17 December.

Tom Hicks, aka Black Country Type, will conduct a photo-walk around Wednesbury town centre, followed by a talk about his work.

In January 2022, artist duo Hipkiss & Graney will run a series of free textile workshops, as part of their project ‘Market’, to explore with Wednesbury residents the town's stories and histories. The work will be shared at a community-led celebration of the refurbished Wednesbury Clock Tower in early 2022.

Over the next four months there will be plenty of other activities, including Market Place events and a project that celebrates the diverse languages, cultures and dialects of Wednesbury. During each year of the project there will also be a Hi-Street Community Newspaper and eight young citizen journalists, aged 18-25, will be invited to write pieces that shares stories from the high street.

Multistory produce creative projects that tell stories of everyday life, using the power of art to reflect the times we live in and tell stories to bring people together. In 2019, Multistory produced Blast!, a six-week festival of photography, talks and walks for Sandwell’s six distinct towns.

Councillor Iqbal Padda, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said: “Wednesbury has a rich legacy of heritage and culture, and Multistory’s programme will celebrate these aspects of the town and encourage local people to get involved.”

Councillor Maria Crompton, deputy leader, said: “By working with local people to create community-based activities, Wednesbury HSHAZ and Multistory will add to the vibrancy of the town, showcasing local talent in an engaging and inspiring programme.”

To get involved in the programme, please email to find out more.

We are Wednesbury is part of the Wednesbury High Street Heritage Action Zone, funded by Sandwell Council and Historic England.

The Wednesbury HSHAZ project is part of Sandwell Council's commitment, in partnership with Historic England, to help the borough’s struggling high streets and to highlight the historic significance of the area. The heritage-led regeneration scheme runs until March 2024.

The HSHAZ is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. It protects, champions and saves the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. Historic England cares passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists it shares its passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.

'Wednesbury through the lens' photo competition

Multistory and Tekkinpix have launched a photo competition and want you to get involved with your photographs of everyday life in Wednesbury.

The competition is open to all, with great prizes to be won! To enter, email your photographs to or use WeTransfer for larger files.

Saving Britney at Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

A super fan solo show about being hopelessly devoted to Britney Spears

Performed and co-devised by Shereen Roushbaiani | Written, directed and designed by David Shopland

SPRING TOUR: 13 Jan – 26 March 2022

Old Joint Stock, Birmingham    

“Fans of Britney Spears won’t want to miss out”  West End Wilma @FakeEscapeTC | insta: fakeescapeetc | | 

Melding together the real-world events of Britney Spears’ turbulent life with the voice of a millennial superfan, Saving Britney explores the magnetic effect of pop stars, the problematic depiction of mental health in the media and  the tricksy subject of how Britney was over- (or under-) protected by her conservatorship. 

The show takes its inspiration from the #FreeBritney movement and the public battle to get her conservatorship legally removed. It was first performed at the Old Red Lion in June 2021, when it reopened at the Islington venue post-lockdown, and was nominated for Offie Awards for Best Lead Performance in a Play and Best Director (plays), and recently nominated for a Whatsonstage Award for Best Off-West End


Shereen Roushbaiani performs as Jean, a typical Millennial who grew up alongside the rise and fall of Britney Spears. Made for devotees of pop music who came of age in the 90s and early 00s, this nostalgic show is a gentle look at sexuality, celebrity worship and growing up, drawing on the performer’s own experiences of pan sexuality. Britney Spears was a star of national television at age seven. By sixteen, she was an international pop star known for dancing in her school uniform  and looking every inch the All-American pop princess. But  then something went wrong. At 25 years old, Britney was in a  mental institution and images of a golden-haired superstar had been replaced in the popular imagination with a sad, shaved-head Britney. 

David Shopland said “We're very excited to be taking Saving Britney out on the road and introducing the show to parts of the country that have yet to experience this 5 star, multi award nominated production. We hope people around the UK enjoy  the 90s nostalgia, humour and social commentary as much as audiences in London and the South West have so far!

"Fake  Escape are a south-west based theatre  company run by David Shopland, Matthew Grace and Lewis Oatley.

Established in 2013, the company is dedicated to platforming new writing, particularly by artists based in the South West region. The company stages unpretentious, entertaining theatre that is formerly adventurous and rooted in contemporary concerns. 

Fake Escape are behind the 20:20 Vision  New Writing project at the Bath Fringe Festival which showcases the talents of playwrights aged 18-30. Running Time: 70 mins | Suitable for ages 12+Company information

Performed and co-devised by Shereen Roushbaiani | Written, directed and designed by David Shopland