When people reach the ‘100’ milestone mark it’s normally for a great sporting achievement or for some lucky people, with age. For me it is just the number of messages I’ve written during the pandemic!
I never envisaged we’d still be here 20 months on, still talking about COVID, but we are, and it’s a sign that this deadly virus really is here to stay. We know that the virus will never go away completely but we have learnt to live differently. We have been on a rollercoaster of a journey and I know that you will all have your own individual stories to tell. I do hope that my weekly message continues to be of benefit to you, whether that’s finding out the latest COVID news or details of upcoming events and initiatives we’re working on at the Council.
Last week I mentioned how successful the mobile vaccine clinic had been in Mell Square and the weekend just gone (19-21 Nov) was no different. The town centre was a hive of activity, with more than one person being jabbed every minute – equating to a phenomenal 1,625 locals getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
People were queuing up at the new vaccination centre on High Street to get either their first, second or booster vaccine, which was great to see. We have worked closely with the local NHS COVID-19 vaccination service to convert the former community test hub (in-between Pret a Manger and Halifax bank), to this permanent vaccination centre.
It is open daily from 8am to 6pm and people from Solihull can use this service by simply turning up, no appointment is necessary. Alternatively you can book an appointment at the centre via the national booking system.
This new service provides an extra opportunity for residents to get vaccinated easily. Alternatively, some local GPs are also offering booster vaccinations. If your surgery is offering this, they will contact you directly, so please wait to hear from them first.
Yesterday (Thursday 25 November) marked the start of the 16 Days of Action Campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse and call for the elimination of gender-based violence. 1 in 6 women will be affected by domestic abuse in their lifetime – a reality that is hard to hear but is something we must face so that there can be change.
The Council will be joining this campaign by sharing themed social media posts each day, with the aim to educate people on the different forms of domestic abuse and provide victims with the resources/information they need to seek further help and advice. The overarching messages being, [there is] ‘no excuse for abuse’, and ‘domestic abuse is everybody’s business’.
I encourage everyone to show their support by bringing these messages into your conversations – both online and in person. The global effort to put a stop to domestic abuse does not stop at the end of these 16 days – we must continue to raise awareness and show support wherever we can.
It was also Carers Rights Day yesterday. This annual event raises awareness of the needs of carers, ensures carers are aware of their rights and where to get help and support. There are more than 27,000 carers across the borough, providing unpaid support to a family member or friend because of illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or addiction.
Commissioned by the Council, Carers Trust Solihull provide advice and support to carers no matter what age. Please do visit the Carers Trust Solihull website for full details or call Carers Trust Solihull on 0121 788 1143.
Also, on Thursday, I attended the annual Sustainable Schools Conference where school staff heard from Council members and officers on the crucial role schools must play in Solihull’s Net Zero Action plan. As part of the conference, we recognised schools for their outstanding commitment to sustainable and greener practices by awarding the Greener Solihull School Awards. As you will know from reading my messages, environment issues are a passion of mine and it’s vitally important we educate children and young people about what’s going on around us, especially climate change, and encourage them to do their bit.
These awards celebrate the achievements pupils have reached to make their school more eco-friendly. Well done to everyone who took part, it is a real highlight of the year and it makes me extremely proud to hear how children and young people across Solihull are playing their part in helping us to become a net zero borough.
Nightfall on Sunday evening will mark the start of Chanukah, the Jewish festival of light, which lasts until nightfall on 6 December. Every night Jewish people light special menorahs, adding a flame each time, until on the eighth night eight flames are burning brightly. Each year in Solihull we hold a special ceremony in the town centre and on Monday the Mayor of Solihull will be joining the local Jewish community to light the menorah. It takes place in Mill Lane (opposite the entrance to Touchwood) at 6.30pm so if you are in the town centre please do go along and join them safely.
Remember your best defence against COVID and flu is to: get vaccinated, including getting a booster // wear a face covering in crowded spaces, on public transport and in badly ventilated spaces // work from home where you can // test regularly, especially before and after attending large gatherings, to check you haven’t unknowingly got the virus // get all the jabs you are eligible for including COVID and flu for maximum protection this winter.
‘Hands, face, space’ really does work for COVID, flu and all the other winter viruses.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council