The Leader's Round-up
Here's an update on what the Leader of the Council, Councillor Yvonne Davies, and the Cabinet have been working on this month (March 2020).
My normal blog will be paused for obvious reasons during the crisis and instead regular bulletins will be sent to all members to keep them abreast of developments.
This is going to be a really fast-moving environment and there will be lots of mixed messages and it’s important that councillors themselves are being reassuring, measured and helpful to all our residents.
The increasing fears around coronavirus will continue to have a major impact on all of us, we need to follow the advice about social distancing, regularly washing our hands with plenty of soap and hot water and keeping away from any people who are exhibiting signs of a temperature and a cough. I'd also ask you stay up-to-date with the latest NHS advice.
Much of our work is now moving to be done remotely via Skype, email and telephone, and I will not be continuing with the volume of appointments in my diary. We all need to take responsibility for stopping the spread of this virus. There's some good information on the council website.
International Women's Day
One of the final celebrations of last week was International Women’s Day where we hosted women from across the West Midlands to celebrate in particular, Minh Dang, Executive Director, Survivor Alliance Co-Director, Survivor Alliance UK CIC - uniting and empowering survivors of slavery and human trafficking around the world. They're on Twitter as well.
Hyacinth Jarrett from the West Bromwich Afro-Caribbean Resource and social entrepreneur Shani Dhanda also presented to us - these women in their own way were extraordinary examples of the resilience that women have and their ability to take care of others and build a more caring world for the future. All had extraordinary challenges to overcome but all demonstrated the strength of human kindness.
Celebrating women's football
In connection with International Women’s Day, I wanted to celebrate our own football team.
Sandwell Ladies compete in the West Midlands Regional Division 1 League and were founded in 2010.
They play competitively across the West Midlands and are currently going toe-to-toe with well-established teams Stoke, Shifnal and Telford for the league title.
They are a grass roots team with players aged between 16 and 40! There is a brilliant mix of ladies, mothers, nurses, scientists, vets, students, carers, teachers, nurses and even an X factor contestant!
Sandwell had their most successful season in 2018 when they scooped the league and cup to be crowned double champions. Find them on Facebook
People will be aware that there were events for the entire week and all demonstrated the linkages that women feel for each other and for others.
As part of the week we also had a council Rounders Game which the Neighbourhoods team won - well done. We also collected toiletries for Black Country Women's Aid, which will go to women they are helping.
International Women’s Day was all the more important for being the last large gathering that we will have in Sandwell for the foreseeable future.
Many people asked was it wise that it should have continued, I can assure people that we had a public health assessment and agreement that the day of celebration should go ahead.
All of our Cabinet Members are currently being assisted to understand how to Skype and all will be operating remotely in future. Cllr Ali and Cllr Millard as the two youngest and heathiest members of the cabinet will be attending as and when needed, the others will be remotely connected.
With the challenges that we are currently facing, all Councillors should ensure that they are connected into their communities and are aware of the network of volunteering and assistance that is growing even as we speak.
Councillors must keep themselves abreast of the developments, checking Public Health England and Council web pages regularly, but also ensuring that our communities are able to access and check information, too.
We will be collating all of the local community and voluntary help for those people who need to self-isolate and can’t get family or friends, who will be contacting the council for help. It is extremely likely that the council will have all its resources dedicated to dealing with people who are at risk and we need our communities to come together to help each other through what is undoubtedly going to be a challenging couple of months or more.
Local Councillors can play a large role in this and demonstrate true community values by helping people join together and help each other.
The council has information on the website but clearly not everyone has access to the internet and we could encourage councillors to ensure people know where the assistance can be found.
There is a letter going out to every household this week which will contain emergency information. Please see the letter that is being sent to residents and ensure that when people phone you, you are up to date.
You can also read my press releases on the situation on the council website.
If you are aware of growing initiatives, please let the council know so that these can be incorporated into our social media and shared with colleagues.
As of yesterday, I have begun to use my @LeaderSandwell Twitter feed to ensure that information is as up to date as it can be, please follow me to get the updates.