The Groups Keeping Walsall Spick And Span

Volunteer litter busters have been working hard to keep Walsall’s streets free of rubbish – even during lockdown.

Walsall Community Litter Watch organises a couple of picks a month – one around the town centre and one in another part of the borough – while community groups also organise their own.

Lockdown hasn’t deterred them and it now organises “virtual” picks called Shine A Light Sunday, where individuals or households can set out to remove rubbish from their own neighbourhood.

And in the November event alone, 31 individuals took part in 20 litter picks, covering most of the borough, including Willenhall, Bloxwich, Caldmore, Birchills, Aldridge, Streetly, Walsall Wood, Pelsall, Darlaston and Alumwell, and collected 147 bags of rubbish.

Beth Deeley, one of the volunteer co-ordinators at Walsall Council’s Clean and Green department, said: “The first Shine a Light Sunday came about back in July. Volunteers were concerned about the amount of litter that could be generated by Super Saturday, the day the pubs reopened.

“So in response we created a targeted virtual pick called Shine a Light Sunday where we would shine a light on litter. After the success of the first one we thought we would bring it back again this November as our group picks have had to be cancelled again due to lockdown.

“We have a list of all of our planned picks on our Facebook group, then the virtual picks happen wherever each volunteer chooses to pick on Shine a light Sunday but we usually get a good spread.”

It’s easy to get involved in a virtual pick: all you need is a picker, a bag, an area to tidy and a camera phone. On the designated Shine a Light Sunday, you take a before photograph of the area you plan to tidy and afterwards when the work is complete, then upload it to the Facebook page.

“Our aim was to fill social media with these posts to help show the extent of the littering issue we are facing while reinforcing the anti-litter and supportive messages via our poster,” said Beth.

“In the current situation, we have also found that it helps people feel more included in the group pick even though we are picking alone.”

Councillor Oliver Butler, Cabinet Member for Clean and Green, said: “Last year Walsall Council spent £1.5m tackling the problem of litter that has been dropped by inconsiderate individuals who have no respect for their environment.

“Fortunately local volunteers do a great job giving their support to us in our fight against litter as a part of all our efforts to make Walsall a cleaner and greener place. Litter picking events are a great way to promote volunteering, spreading the anti-litter messages and highlighting the fantastic effort these individuals do for our communities.

“Events like these are also important in the current climate as they help people to feel connected and promote both physical and mental health.”

Among the army of volunteers, Vicky Atkins said: “Litter is damaging to nature, the environment, and it breeds a ‘don’t care’ attitude. If an area has litter, then others aren’t so concerned about dumping their litter there too.”

Elizabeth Worley, who attended her first virtual pick in November, added: “It’s the first time I’ve done a litter picking event as a part of a virtual group. I felt really included despite seeing no-one.”

Teresa Webb said she is proud to be a volunteer litter picker.

“Litter picking for me is making the place I live a better place for me and nice to see for others who appreciate it,” she said. “I have met so many lovely people and like to think I have helped a few with the positive effect you get from being out in nature making an impact on the environment, too.”

To get involved with virtual or physical picks head to: or go to the Facebook page:

You can also borrow equipment for litter picks by emailing:

Tackling Loneliness Locally

Aldridge MagazineTackling lonliness locally is difficult in a normal year. The onset of winter, dark evenings and Christmas are when many people, especially the elderly, feel loneliness and isolation most acutely. Before the Covid pandemic research was already showing that loneliness and isolation was on the rise.  Now as we enter another national lockdown the impact on the health and well-being of the elderly is incalculable.

Tackling Lonliness Locally

In September 2018 Age UK published their report on Loneliness in Later Life. Follow this link to access the report

Two of the main findings were firstly, there will be a predicted 49% increase in the number of over 50s suffering from loneliness by 2025/2026. Mostly because people are living longer.  Secondly, the research found the risk of being ‘often lonely’ is much higher among people who are widowed, do not have someone to open up to, or are in poor health.

A couple of years ago Walsall Council held a meeting for local residents. The over-reliance on the internet as a source of information was identified as an issue.  At The Pioneer and Great Barr Gazette we agree. If you are not on the internet or IT savvy, this can lead to feeling isolated and cut off from the rest of the world. Yes, we do have our website, but we are passionate about our printed community magazines. We know our magazines provide a life-line of information for many of the elderly residents of Aldridge, Walsall and across our area.

Covid-19 has made 2020 a horrible year.  The cancellation of clubs and events. The day care services provided by organisations such as the Stan Ball Centre in Bloxwich, disrupted. Many of which have only just re-opened, has been a grave cause for concern. People, especially the elderly and those caring for others, rely on these activities for companionship and support.

Help Is At Hand

We believe it is our mission to inform and involve everyone of all ages, but especially the elderly, in what is going on in our local community. Throughout the Covid pandemic we have published articles on many local support groups. Such as Linking Lives Aldridge and Making Connections Walsall and how they have adapted to deliver their services either on the phone or in Covid-safe ways. We’ve also promoted community groups such as the Anvil Chorus in Great Barr and The Aldridge Shed to name but two.

The Community Support organisations in our local area have been outstanding in reaching out the vulnerable and elderly. Here are a few organisations you can contact for help. You can always phone us on 01922 660022 and we will signpost you to someone who can help you.

Linking Lives Aldridge – a befriending service offering friendship and support across Aldridge. Email or call 07307 865973

Making Connections Walsall – aiming to address loneliness and social isolation and other issues you may be facing. To discuss or make a referral ring 0121 380 6690

The Stan Ball Centre – a community centre for older and vulnerable adults operated by the local charity Bloxwich Community Partnership. Call 01922 403351

The Aldridge Shed – a UK initiative for people from all walks of life to come together to pursue their interests and hobbies. or contact Barrie on 07985 188256

If you are feeling lonely please do not suffer in silence, reach out to any of the organisations above and the many others in our area, some are listed on our Communities Directory.  And to all local residents look out for each other and especially the elderly at this challenging time.

Yours locally

Editor Great Barr Gazette

The Watch Reopens

Pelsall, Crime, Wendy MortonAfter months of closure The Watch has finally reopened at Pelsall Village Centre and MP Wendy Morton enjoyed a visit to catch up with their latest news.

The Watch is a community initiative which offers crime prevention and safety advice. As well as information leaflets regarding many aspects of safety and security, there is also an expanding list of products which can be bought at cost price. These include car steering locks, padlocks and TV simulators which give the impression that someone is home.

Residents who have concerns around personal safety and security are free to drop by and chat to experienced volunteer Edwin Venables. The Watch also enables Neighbourhood Watch sign ups and hosts community safety presentations for Walsall residents.

It is currently open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 3.30pm. Before setting out it is always worth contacting Edwin to make sure there is someone there (contact details below).

They are currently looking for volunteers to help the community with tackling crime and helping residents with reassurance.

Edwin can be contacted on 07305 994134 or email


Caption: Wendy Morton, Bernard Cartwright & Edwin Venables Photo courtesy of Maria Smith

Heritage Project: The Americans Are Here

Advertise PheaseyIf the residents of Pheasey in Walsall could step back seven decades in time to take a stroll around their estate, they wouldn’t believe their eyes.

What would they see? Smart young soldiers peering from the windows of the estate’s newly-built houses. Armed sentry posts and gate houses guarding access to the streets. The sound of marching boots might fill the air. And outside the Collingwood Centre, which served as a military HQ, stood a flagpole – flying the stars and stripes of the US flag.

Few people who live in this quiet suburb know that during World War Two it was requisitioned by the Government and handed to the American army.

Now a 12-month project, called The Americans Are Here, and backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, aims to help local people find out how their homes were once occupied by GIs, and their streets were filled with jeeps and army trucks.

“We want the project to raise awareness of Pheasey’s past during the second World War,” said organiser Lee Mitchell, “because it’s something that people simply don’t know about.

“Many of the people who lived here at the time are sadly no longer with us, so we can’t rely on their memories to keep the story alive. Newer residents are gobsmacked to find out what went on here, sometimes in their own homes, when war was raging.”

The project aims to get local people to engage with local history and find out for themselves about how the American Army made Pheasey its home.

“We really want to use Pheasey’s wartime history to create community spirit, by getting local people involved,” said Lee, who is organising the project with colleague Dave Crathorne.

“It’s also about reaching out to socially-isolated people and getting local schoolchildren involved. It’s a great story that’s right here on our doorstep.”

At the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, the new Pheasey Estate was still being built. When America entered the conflict in 1942, US troops started to flood into Britain. In Walsall, the War Office requisitioned unfinished properties on the estate, creating a Replacement Depot there, as a staging post for soldiers arriving to replace those killed or wounded in the fighting. American soldiers would sail into the UK via ports like Liverpool, before trains brought them to what was then Great Barr railway station in Hampstead. The GIs would then march up the Queslett Road to Pheasey.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused some disruption for The Americans Are Here, which originally hoped to hold regularly meetings and talks, as well as practical face-to-face sessions to help people discover their area’s history. Lockdown meant that all that had to be cancelled.

But by drawing on true wartime spirit, the project has carried on.

“We launched our The Americans Are Here Facebook page to allow people to still get involved throughout the lockdown,” Lee explained. “In fact, what everyone has been going through with coronavirus has a lot of parallels with what British people experienced during the war.

“There’s an argument that in some ways it has been worse because at least during World War Two you were allowed out of your house. And the pubs were open!”

Some of today’s local pubs were regular haunts of the American soldiers who lived on the Pheasey estate, and have formed part of the project’s photographic work, which aims to bring local history alive.

“We have pictures of what the area looked like at the time, so one of the things we have been doing is tracking down the locations in those images and taking a new picture from the same perspective. It provides a ‘now and then’ version of these fascinating old pictures and really helps to bring home the fact that this happened here,” Lee said.

“We’re also trying to build links with American families whose relatives served here, and track down the families of local women who went back to the US, as ‘GI brides’, when the Americans left in 1945. There is so much to uncover.”

Beneath the surface of today’s Pheasey Estate, evidence can still be found of the area’s wartime past.

“There are lots of stories of local people decorating their homes and finding graffiti on the walls beneath their wallpaper, left by American troops,” Lee said. “One person found the tread marks from a jeep.

All of this history is just under the surface, waiting to be found”. The idea of The Americans Are Here is to make local people aware of their heritage, and help them discover it for themselves.

“It’s so important that this kind of history isn’t forgotten. It helps people better understand the area they live in, and how it played a part in world events.”

We need you!

Are you a Pheasey resident, school or business?

Would you like to find out more about the area in which you live, work or play?

We are looking for people of all ages to join us in discovering Pheasey’s fascinating past during World War Two, when it was home to American soldiers.

To get involved in The Americans Are Here:


T:  Dave 07702 082331 or Lee 07583 076495

Facebook: WW2 Pheasey Estate – The Americans are Here group

Walsall Creative Factory: A Creative Spark

Walsall Magazine Advertise
Stephanie Hasketh Wears A Face Mask For Lip Reading

Walsall is a creative place. From artists, musicians and writers to the skilled craftspeople who helped spark the Industrial Revolution, Walsall people have always had a creative spark.

And in Walsall Creative Factory the borough has a project that exists to feed that creativity, bringing people together, helping them to learn new skills, brightening up their communities and express themselves.

Walsall Creative Factory is a collective of skilled artists and craft experts led by Deb Slade, who has 27 years of experience working in community arts.

Supported by funds, including cash from the Walsall for All government grant, their role includes reaching out to vulnerable, isolated people, as well as helping community cohesion by supporting residents who use English as a second language – using crafts as an entry point to help them engage with the community and each other.

The group moved into their own premises, a former hairdressers’ shop in Westbourne Street, in February last year, providing a place for people to get together and show their creative side.

But the coronavirus pandemic has required Deb, the team and a host of volunteers to show a different kind of creativity – as they worked out ways of helping Walsall folk express their artistic side in their own homes.

The result has been a variety of lockdown-busting creative platforms.

“We have tried to still use the building, almost as billboard to let people know what’s going on,” Deb said, “and for some of our users we’ve stood at the door and talked to them, also bringing activity outside, weather permitting,

“But we’ve also set up six different platforms to help us interact with people and provide projects and ideas to get them creative during the lockdown.

“So, for example, we have a ladies’ chatroom, where our users can just chat away to each other, that has been really quite a lifeline to some more isolated people.

“We’ve used WhatsApp for our youth club – it’s not used for ‘chatting’ in the same way, but we’ve used it to provide a weekly craft project along with delivering packs of materials, which has some educational value.

“Then another example would be our Cultural Dialogue Group, on Facebook, which has been really interesting because it is mainly two groups of women – Asian ladies and Polish ladies – who have been looking at cultural things together.

“So, we’ve managed to use digital platforms to carry on reaching out to people.”

Another way that the Creative Factory has overcome lockdown is to send out regular, simple packs featuring arts projects to challenge users to try new things.

“We have been using Facebook and delivered activity packs to local children in our neighbourhood every three weeks or so, giving ideas on something they can make, and even developed our usual Open Mic night into a virtual online event,” Deb said.

Now, as lockdown eases, the team behind Walsall Creative Factory are considering how to reopen their premises and start working face-to-face with people again.

“Some of our more vulnerable clients have struggled a little more with lockdown, so over the last few weeks we have been considering how to safely start bringing people in again, so that they can see someone,” Deb explained.

“That has either been one-to-one, or two-to-one if they have a carer or helper who comes with them. We’ve also been making packs and delivering them to people’s homes.

“The next step will probably be to open up to four or five people at a time, with everyone wearing masks and observing social distancing. We’re working our way through that now.”

One of the crafts that has been a big success during lockdown is crochet – with users working on a joint project to help brighten up a dull fence outside Caldmore Community Gardens.

The idea is to join clients’ crochet work together into large panels, which can then be weather-proofed, before being attached to the fence.

Similarly, the team has a plan to decorate hoardings at a building site neighbouring their premises with six-foot-tall crocheted flowers.

This kind of colourful thinking has seen the ideas coming out of Walsall Creative Factory help people through the difficulties of the pandemic.

“I think that Walsall is a naturally crafty place,” Deb said, “and I think that during lockdown people have perhaps rediscovered some of the skills they have. We’ve seen it with some of the cards that people have been making and sending to their loved ones, and the artworks that have been created to support the NHS.

“Craft is a great way to relax and unwind too – being creative is therapeutic, and helps people deal with the frustration of lockdown.”

The collective skills of the team and their clients have also contributed directly to the fight against COVID-19, by making PPE supplies.

“We heard that because of all the PPE that NHS staff are having to wear, it can be quite hard to tell what their individual roles are, so we were asked to make some coloured bibs that would help distinguish between them. In the end, we made more than 70 bibs, which went to the Manor Hospital.”

The team has also been asked to make facemasks with windows in them, to help Walsall’s deaf community lipread safely during the pandemic. It’s another crafty challenge they are accepting with relish.

The borough’s workplaces are starting to get back to business. Shops are reopening. Manufacturers’ machines are starting up. Office workers are returning to their desks. Walsall Creative Factory is one place that has been busily turning out its vital product – creativity – throughout the lockdown.

July Editions Now Available

Advertise Walsall MagazineOur July editions of The Pioneer Magazines and Great Barr Gazette are hot off the press and will be dropping through your letterboxes in the next few days. But, if you don’t receive a copy of our printed magazines or you just can’t wait to see what’s inside, follow the link to your favourite edition and read it online!

The Pioneer Magazine Walsall EditionThe Pioneer Magazine Villages Edition covering Aldridge, Clayhanger, Pelsall, Stonnall, Streetly, Walsall Wood and Great Barr Gazette

These issues are positively brimming with local stories about local people including students at Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy, dads doing home schooling and the amazing work of our NHS Workers, Key Workers and volunteers who have made such a difference during the pandemic.

As always, we are extremely grateful to our Advertisers who even through this terribly difficult time have continued to advertise with us, ensuring that we were able to put our magazines together which we know are eagerly awaited by our readers.

Stay safe.

Linking Lives Aldridge: Long-lasting Friendships

Aldridge MagazineLinking Lives Aldridge is a new project set up in October 2019 by Aldridge Methodist Church. When the Minister, Bev, arrived in Aldridge at the end of 2011, she very quickly realised that there is a real issue around loneliness and social isolation in the Aldridge community.

“The life expectancy in Aldridge is ten years higher than in other parts of the borough,” says Bev. “A quarter of the population is aged over 65, and almost two thirds of those are living alone. Many older people don’t have family living close by, many have acted as carers for their partners and have become isolated through their caring role, which has resulted in them losing confidence and the ability and opportunity to interact with others.”

Experts agree that social isolation is the biggest challenge facing our ageing society and many older people fear loneliness more than lack of money or deteriorating health.

Research has shown that loneliness and isolation are harmful to our health. The ‘Campaign to End Loneliness’ states that almost a fifth of older people only have contact from their families, friends and neighbours once a week, and for a tenth of older people it is less than once a month. Age UK research showed that for two fifths of older people, the television is their main company. Loneliness has been shown to be as harmful to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and how lonely you are this year will determine how depressed you are next year.

Social isolation and loneliness began to be recognised as an issue across the whole of the borough and towards the end of 2015 Walsall Public Health appointed Angela Aitken as Senior Programme Development and Commissioning Manager with a remit that included older people. Bev met with Angela in October 2015 to share her knowledge about Aldridge. The Health & Wellbeing Strategy of Walsall Council for 2017-20 resulted in the setting up of Making Connection Walsall (MCW). MCW provides older people in Walsall with support to build their social networks and engage in community activities. MCW also provides the health community and social care professionals with a single route of referral into appropriate local community based social support networks.

Aldridge Magazine
Elaine – Linking Lives Aldridge

Bev has been in regular contact with Carol and Mags at the MCW East hub, based at Manor Farm, since it was set up and soon became aware that the referrals coming in showed that there was a great need for a befriending service in Aldridge. Aldridge Methodist Church applied for funding and once that was secured the role of the Project Coordinator was advertised, interviews undertaken, and Elaine was appointed to the role.

Linking Lives Aldridge is a member of the Linking Lives UK network of befriending schemes who work primarily with churches and Christian agencies to provide the support, advice and resources required to set up a project in local communities. Jeremy Sharpe, the National Director, who delivered training to Elaine & the Management Committee, and then to the first volunteers, says: “We are so delighted that Linking Lives Aldridge is now up and running and reaching out to those isolated older people in Aldridge.”

What Linking Lives Aldridge does is exactly what it says on the tin – it links someone who would like to be befriended to a volunteer who would like to befriend. Elaine explains how it works.

“When we receive a referral, I make contact to help to understand the Link Friend’s needs. Our volunteers, who are vetted and trained, are then matched with a Link Friend, considering personality, experience, interests, availability and geography. At an introductory visit, I introduce the volunteer to an assigned Link Friend in the Link Friend’s home. Assuming this meeting goes well, the Link Friend and volunteer will then agree regular ongoing visits. Visits usually happen once a week/fortnight for around an hour or so and it takes the form of informal conversations over a cup of tea/coffee and the aim is for the volunteer to provide crucial support to their Link Friend.”

This has been quite a change in role for Elaine, who was previously a teaching assistant.

“I love stepping into other people’s worlds and finding ways the project can help,” explains Elaine. “I love the job because it’s helping people, but on a personal level it feels really good to know I am doing something that makes a difference to people. Linking Lives is not a team, it’s a family and the partnerships are not clinical; they’re a network of friendships that you know will last a lifetime. That hour a week that the volunteers give makes such a difference to someone who is lonely. I sometimes feel like a teacher standing on a playground watching friendships blossom.”

She goes on to say that parts of the job are ‘gut-wrenching and hard, because when you do step into someone’s world and see the pain and agony they face, it breaks your heart.’

Linking Lives Aldridge has responded to the Covid-19 crisis by changing from face to face befriending to telephone befriending.

“We put an appeal on facebook for volunteers,” says Bev. “Aldridge responded brilliantly, with over 60 people volunteering for telephone befriending and to pick up prescriptions and shopping for people. We are working closely with MCW and receiving referrals from them.”

Linking Lives AldridgeWhen asked for feedback about his Link Friend calls, one of the new volunteers described it as ‘a gift from Covid-19’ and one of the new Link Friends said ‘the phone-calls are the highlight of my week and I feel much brighter afterwards.’

“We couldn’t run the project without our wonderful volunteers,” says Bev.

Her hope is that people the relationships developed between Link Friends and befrienders during this awful covid-19 crisis will be relationships that will be long lasting.

If you would like to know more please get in touch with Elaine or Bev on  07307 865973, or by email on Follow us on facebook @linkinglivesaldridge

Bloxwich Community Partnership Make Me Smile Project

Bloxwich Charity
Make Me Smile Project – Bloxwich Community Partnership

Bloxwich Community Partnership is a local charity based in Bloxwich and Blakenall. We run two community centres, Stan Ball Centre and Palace Play Shop Eat.

Our services changed massively on 23rd March with the closure of our normal activities and the development of the Making Connections Covid 19 Community Response Hub for the North of Walsall.  This service delivered on behalf of Walsall Council now provides vulnerable and isolated people with shopping delivery of basic provisions, fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and cleaning and hygiene products, help with medication and prescriptions, befriending and welfare calls and for those most in need suffering financial hardship free food parcels. To contact this service call the Stan Ball Centre directly on 01922 403351 or email

In addition the ‘Make Me Smile’ project is a partnership working with local primary schools and funded by Big Lottery Community Fund putting together and distributing 300 wellbeing packs.  This project is putting letters, drawings and decorated craft items produced by key worker children in schools together with magazines, adult colouring books, puzzle books and other items to help stimulate, engage and bring a smile to the faces of isolated and vulnerable people.

Follow us on Facebook for more information

Going the Extra Mile

Aldridge Advertising Magazine
Victoria Mosedale & Russell Smith

Sometimes the little things are the ones which make all the difference. Our readers have nominated the following people as ones who are ‘Going the Extra Mile’ to help others.

Courtney Cure

Courtney was nominated by her mum Shantell, who believes her daughter makes a real difference to those around her. As well as undertaking 12-hour shifts (and extra shifts) as a care worker in a local care home, Courtney has found time to make face mask extenders and scrub bags to donate to the Manor hospital.

“I suffer with pre-existing health conditions so due to her job, Courtney has had to move out to protect me,” says Shantell. “She also does my shopping regularly, as well as shopping for her nan and our elderly neighbour. She phones every day to check we’re ok – she really is my hero.”

Courtney was delighted to be nominated.

“I treat people how I want to be treated,” she says. “Seeing how the smallest things make such a difference and bring a smile to people’s faces means so much.”

She also wants to thank everyone who has donated supplies to her place of work.

“We tend to be flat out when we’re working and often our hands get red and sore,” she explains. “Just to be able to put on some hand cream, grab a quick snack or bottle of water really does help and we’re hugely grateful for the donations.”

Becky Menear & Jo Hopkins

Becky & Jo were nominated by June Wigfall, a regular attendee at a Friendship Café set up by the two ladies. The café supports vulnerable, lonely or isolated people and provides sessions which include crafting, card games, a choir – or just chatting and make friends. Becky and Jo worked for 8 months with no pay before receiving lottery funding, as well as working elsewhere.

Lockdown has meant that they have had to adapt what they offer so they now keep in touch with members via reassurance calls, both to check on wellbeing as well as a general chat. They are also collating craft, puzzle and gardening packs which they are delivering to homes.

“Some of our members haven’t spoken to anyone in a week so that human contact can be a lifeline,” says Jo. “Just to know someone is there makes a huge difference to people’s lives – and it’s lovely to know that it’s appreciated.”

Becky agrees.

“We’ve watched many of our members grow in confidence and it’s been a privilege to be a part of it. Everyone is really grateful for the support and if people need help collecting shopping /prescriptions we refer them to the right place.”

As all fund raising and events have been cancelled, the ladies would very much welcome donations of craft resources, puzzle books, compost/seeds/seed trays in order to produce their packs.

Leah Collett

Leah, from Great Barr, is an NHS worker in a local hospital. Despite being anxious about shifts at the current time she still finds time to check in on a daily basis with her friend Anna Cresswell, who nominated her as someone who goes the extra mile.

“Leah never complains about anything and just gets on with things,” says Anna. “I’ve been furloughed from my job and I’m on my own, and I just want her to know how much I appreciate all that she does.”

The ladies have replaced their usual walks in the park and meet-ups for coffee with phone calls and video chats. Leah was really pleased to have been nominated.

“People’s mental health can really suffer when they’re cut off from the world,” she explains. “It’s tough to suddenly become isolated from family, friends and loved ones when you’re used to being with colleagues. I’m lucky that I still go to work and have some normality but it’s not like that for everyone.”

Ruth Sallis

Grateful neighbour Suzanne Cleverley Smith nominated Ruth for going the extra mile. Suzanne and her family have all had Covid-19 and Ruth stepped in to help.

“Ruth is the nominated shopper for so many people,” says Suzanne. “She can be out of the house for hours, standing in queues to make sure she gets everything people need. She also walked our dogs when we needed it and I want her to know how much we appreciate it. It was her birthday on Easter Sunday and nobody could go and get her anything.”

Ruth was surprised but pleased to be nominated.

“You do whatever’s needed,” she says. “Su’s husband was critically ill in hospital and so we were only too happy to help. Su, Martin and Lexie are some of our closest friends. And I know if we needed it, she’d do the same for us.”

Teresa Tunnell

Teresa was nominated by colleague Joanne Yarnall for her voluntary efforts in improving the lives of parents/carers who have a responsibility for children and young people with additional support needs and disabilities. Teresa’s son has now returned home from residential college, so she is now dividing her time between caring for him as well as continuing in her voluntary role.

“Teresa has a child with profound learning difficulties, and she works tirelessly attending meetings (now online) to make sure that children with special educational needs are being looked after  and are getting the help that they need,” explains Joanne. “Her work has resulted in schools contacting parents of this vulnerable group to ask if they’re ok or need any help. She never stops.”

Teresa was touched to be nominated.

“Times might be challenging but there’s still so much that needs to be done,“ says Teresa. “I have a real passion to be involved, to help shape the services of this sector and to be the voice for parents who so desperately need help.”

Russell Smith & Victoria Mosedale

Russell and Vicky were nominated by their friend Chris White who says that they deserve their nomination in recognition of their dedication and hard work.

“Russell created the Aldridge United Facebook group as a hub for providing support and information in the current crisis and he and Victoria are moderators on the group,” says Chris. “They’ve shopped for others, provided moral support and Russell has volunteered to have telephone contact with a vulnerable person. He’s started and hosts weekly quizzes and regular Zoom meetings just to have a group chat for local people. Meanwhile Vicky is collecting supplies to pass on to Acorns hospice and animal charities.”

Russell and Victoria were surprised to be nominated.

“I haven’t really done very much,” says Russell modestly. “I have a chat every couple of days with two elderly men who are both on their own. It’s ‘bloke chat’…which is what they want. And actually, I’m just about to start playing chess with one of them – we’re going to text each other our moves.”

Vicky has put sweets and books outside her home and children passing by can help themselves.

“It’s like when I was young; if you had it, you shared and nobody went without,” she reflects. “And it’s so nice to put a smile on people’s faces.”



We Need Your Nominations

We want to know about people who have gone the extra mile for others during these very difficult times.  We’ve already received some nominations but we want more!  We know there are lots of people out there in our local community going above and beyond the call of duty to help others.

Please email Give us the full name of the person you want to nominate, their phone number and tell us why they deserve a thank you.  We will publish as many nominees as we can in our next printed editions of The Pioneer Magazines and Great Barr Gazette and we will send them a small token of appreciation from our team.

Your nominee could be someone who is carrying on their usual job in public service in very difficult or distressing circumstances. They could be volunteering their time for a charity or food bank. Or they could be a neighbour who is helping with the shopping. They could be a teacher who is helping your son or daughter study whilst being away from school.  Or someone who has come up with an innovative way to help our NHS staff or Care Workers in our local Care Homes. What ever your reason for wanting to say “THANK YOU”, we want to know!

Please get nominating!

Thank you.

Editor Great Barr Gazette