Community spirit gets a boost from railway funding

A whole host of community projects in a West Midlands district – from restoring a rare natural amphitheatre in an area that inspired JRR Tolkien to helping youngsters read more – have been boosted thanks to funding from West Midlands Railway. Various community groups in Hall Green, Birmingham, joined forces to enhance the area for residents and visitors with litter picks, planters and a link-up between the library and the railway station. There was already a long-running poetry project, with verses posted on boards in the waiting rooms at Hall Green Railway Station for passengers to enjoy. That is now …

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Station artwork reveals town’s medieval magic

Stunning artwork panels are being installed at Ledbury Railway Station, giving visitors an insight into the history and heritage of the medieval town. The artwork will detail the history of the town and its iconic buildings and structures and explore the town’s railway connection. The work, produced by three respected local artists, will be displayed in a three-panel glazed cabinet set within an existing brick planter at the station, offering a permanent and eye-catching display for rail passengers. Gareth Davies, from public transport user group Rail and Bus for Herefordshire, is the project leader. He said he hoped the artwork, …

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Rail promotion project putting Halesowen on the map

Halesowen is being promoted as a visitor and shopping destination at nearby Rowley Regis Railway Station. Organisers hope that new signs and artwork will drive some of the thousands of passengers that pass through Rowley Regis every day to neighbouring Halesowen by raising awareness of the many attractions on offer. New signs at the station highlight bus, walking and cycle routes into Halesowen; artwork designed by Halesowen students reflecting the heritage of the area is being installed and a new volunteer station adoption team have been hard at work enhancing the station environment. Vicky Rogers, manager of Halesowen BID, said: …

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Students on right track to improve railway station

School students have adopted a West Midlands railway station and are working on a fresh new look with landscaping, artworks and colourful planters. The students from Woodrush High School in Wythall, Worcestershire, set up their own Station Adoption Group at Wythall station as part of a project to enhance the experience for rail users and promote rail safety. As well as planting shrubs and flowers, they are also working on two pieces of art, which will be mounted on to the inside walls of the platform shelters and will portray the history of the area. The school team has been …

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Drive to tackle community isolation after lockdown

People left isolated or lonely during the Covid pandemic are being offered a lifeline as a project to bring them together expands. SNJ Charitable Trust, based in Wolverhampton, has increased its Chat and Chai Bringing People Together sessions, with one now taking place every day. Bringing People Together (BTP) is a network designed to connect people and was set up by the organisation Transforming Communities Together (TCT). TCT, which covers Staffordshire, the Black Country and north Shropshire, set up BPT after the success of its Places of Welcome initiative, where members of the community are invited to get together at …

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Training plan to bridge the ‘digital divide’

People in Bilston will be offered free training in how to use technology as part of a new drive to ‘bridge the digital divide’. The SNJ Charitable Trust, based in Wolverhampton, found that the Covid pandemic had had a huge impact on some communities in the area. And many had a fear of computers and digital technology, leaving them isolated and unable to access vital services. SNJ founder Neena Julka said: “We identified a big need and found people could not use digital technology to connect to each other or use the internet to access essential health or care services. …

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Hampers for Heroes opening new pop-up shop

A Midlands organisation set up to help key workers during the Covid pandemic is opening a new pop-up shop to boost funds and celebrate its first birthday. The Hampers for Heroes shop opens at the Touchwood shopping centre in Solihull on April 12 – when retail in England is allowed to restart. The shop, in the Poplar Arcade, will offer a range of branded merchandise, such as water bottles, tote bags, wellbeing items and gifts like sunflower pots for children. It will also include a wellbeing hub where people can drop in to discuss therapies such as mindfulness, meditation and …

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Caring Staffordshire start-up supports children in women’s refuge with Buddy Bag pack

Staff at a community-focused Burton business filled 180 backpacks of essential items and teddies for children escaping violent homes.  The first Buddy Bag pack at Payaro gave its team a hands-on insight into the charity they have pledged to support with £10,000 a year.  Payaro directors Danny and Lee Dunne then delivered some of the bags to a local women’s refuge.   They were joined by Karen Williams OBE, founder of the Buddy Bag Foundation, which funds the supplies to children entering emergency accommodation entirely through donations.  Payaro is a new start-up where every time a payment is made through its payment technology, a share …

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Ambitious community hub plan for Hednesford

Hednesford is to get a new community hub, café and garden under ambitious new plans. The scheme is going ahead following the award of a £105,000 grant from the Customer and Communities Fund at West Midlands Railway. The main attraction will be a fully-restored rail carriage converted into a café and community hub set within a newly-created leisure garden. There will also be Incredible Edible planting boxes, outdoor seating and a greenhouse. Local mining heritage will be celebrated with a restored coal wagon and secure cycle racks will create an integrated travel hub for visitors and local people. David Wisehall, …

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