The tide of infection rates are beginning to fall, but we still remain the highest in the West Midlands, so I remain an advocate for wearing face coverings, keeping a distance in places like shops, alongside the usual precautions of keeping hands clean, sanitised, as much fresh air as possible, meeting people outdoors where possible.
There’s still time to get your vaccine and the NHS vaccine van will be in Mell Square today and tomorrow (7 August) open from 9am to 5.30pm. No appointment needed, no excuse not to grab a jab! There are many other places offering this service across Solihull and Birmingham. Take a look here.
I am asking more local businesses to sign up to the COVID Business Pledge. It is an easy way for a business to show they are remaining vigilant and keeping their customers and staff safe.
I mentioned the Council’s online domestic abuse survey last week and the deadline is actually midnight tonight, but we still need to hear from more professionals involved in this area of work, so please take five minutes and fill out the survey.
As part of our ongoing commitment to support families during the summer holidays, I’m pleased to announce that families in receipt of benefits-related free school meals will receive food support via a one-off £50 supermarket voucher, per child. If you are already registered and entitled to benefits-related free school meals in Solihull, you will automatically receive your voucher and therefore do not need to contact the council. Vouchers will be distributed during week commencing 9 August.
The vouchers are extra support to children and families this summer, with the Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF), already providing a range of free provision, available for eligible children and young people aged 4 – 16 years. For more information about the engaging and enriching activities where all children receive a healthy meal, see here.
I know we live in a beautiful borough, although sometimes we forget to look at it with fresh eyes. Let Visit Solihull’s photo competition inspire you to look anew and submit photographs of the borough to showcase just how amazing it is. The best photographs will be displayed in a special showcase exhibition in The Courtyard Gallery at The Core next year.
Also, the Visit Solihull team will feature their favourite ten photographs in a new 'Visit Solihull' leaflet designed especially for visitors coming to the borough during the Commonwealth Games. The overall winner will win a ten-week Photography Course at The Core – worth £100.
I take tons of photos, and I am sure many of you do. I do not think somehow I will qualify to enter, but I do encourage you to have a go!
To enter, submit up to ten photos to 'Visit Solihull' by direct messaging their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts or by emailing Visit Solihull along with the location and a description of your submitted photo(s).
As we all know, trees are important to help create beauty in the urban and rural environment, they help improve air quality, they capture carbon from the atmosphere, and they can help soak up rainfall. They can improve health and walking in a woodland can really be a therapeutic exercise. Obviously, we have leaves to deal with in autumn and roots can be a problem – but what a world it would be without them. And we need to plant more of them.
So can I talk about the Arden Free Tree Scheme. This is an initiative whereby an individual or group can apply for funding to create hedgerows or small woodlands on their own land, within Solihull.
We’re running this scheme in partnership with Birmingham Airport with the aim of safeguarding and enhancing the Arden Landscape. We also hope to restore features typical of the wider Arden landscape in our urban landscape.
Applications need to be submitted by the end of August and successful bids will be selected in September.
The Tokyo Olympics has seen some truly incredible sporting achievements, with Team GB once again rising to the challenge. Watching sporting excellence from 6,000 miles away is one thing, but imagine what it would be like when we have some giants of sport in our own region next year with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
It might be too late to consider becoming a competitor in the 100 metres, or maybe not, but there’s still time to get involved as a volunteer, book tickets or be a performer, more information here.
Finally, and back to trees, after recently meeting the Lord Lieutenant, Nigel Thrift, I have confirmed to him (as you would expect!) that we will be supporting the Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative which invites people to ‘Plant a tree for the Jubilee’ and will form part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations. It chimes perfectly with our ambitions to create a green and prosperous future and will also leave a lasting legacy that will honour Her Majesty.
Stay safe and keep doing the right thing for Solihull.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council