Birmingham wins national award for innovative health improvement programme

Birmingham’s innovative Be Active programme won a national award for health improvement this week.

The collaborative programme run by Birmingham City Council and the local Primary Care Trusts scooped the 2010 Local Government Association’s LGcomms Reputation Campaign Award for improving health.

The Be Active scheme is an extension of ‘Gym For Free’, a pilot project introduced by Heart of Birmingham Teaching NHS Trust and Birmingham City Council in 2008, which offered residents in the Ladywood area of Birmingham access to free gym sessions at council leisure centres. This recently won the national overall Best Public Services award at the Guardian Public Services Awards 2009. Commenting at the Guardian awards ceremony, BBC presenter Jeremy Vine said:

‘This is a fantastic example of a local authority and the NHS thinking imaginatively and working in partnership to make a real difference to people’s lives. The impact has been simply stunning.’

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We’ve adopted a charity

 

Our fundraising barometer for Birmingham Children's hospital

Part of getting the Investors in Excellence standard involved identifying areas that the Observatory could improve in.  One of these improvement areas was our engagement with society.  We decided that one way to engage better with society would be to adopt a local charity.  This in turn will help our local community as we raise money through fundraising activities.

We held an internal vote last year to decide which charity to adopt and Birmingham Children’s Hospital won.  Birmingham Children’s Hospital provides health services to children, young people and families.  It is a leading paediatric teaching centre in the country, with international research and development in a range of areas.  The hospital has over: 200 departments; 20 wards; 285 in-patient beds; and treats 225,000 sick children from all over the UK.  More information is available from Birmingham Children’s Hospital fundraising webpage.

To help organise fundraising activities, we’ve set up a fundraising committee at the Observatory.  We aim to raise at least £1,000 by the end of 2010.  So far, Andrina Dhillon has undertaken a sponsored silence which raised an amazing £224, and we held a dress down day before Easter which raised £36.  We’re planning a number of other activities over the year to raise more money.  If you’d like to take part or have any fundraising ideas, please contact Raj Kaur, Clare Rapkins, Naomi Winchurch or Evette Jayatilake.

West Midlands innovation fund delivers eleven-fold return on investment and brings jobs to region

Central Technology Belt - Birmingham - Worcestershire

An independent evaluation of the Technology Transfer Fund (TTF2) (pdf, 431kb) has underlined the value that the SME support fund has played in regional economic growth.

The fund was launched by Advantage West Midlands in 2005 to assist development of small and medium sized science and technology businesses within the Central Technology Belt, the high technology corridor that follows the A38 from Birmingham, through Worcester, to Malvern. TTF2 offered grants of up to £25,000 to more than 150 local companies.

The report (pdf, 431kb) produced by ekosgen on behalf of Advantage West Midlands found that the TTF2 realised more than £25 million of additional net turnover for the businesses it supported, and also created an additional 47 jobs during the two year project lifespan.

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Sustainable Cities Index: analysis for the West Midlands

Cover of Sustainable Cities Index 2009

Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton are the three cities from the West Midlands included in the Sustainable Cities Index (pdf, 4.3mb) published recently by Forum for the Future.

This is the third year that the index has been published, which tracks sustainability progress achieved in Britain’s 20 largest cities. The index is designed to give a snapshot of sustainability in each city, aiming to encourage healthy competition, stimulating discussion and suggesting new ways of thinking about cities.

This post provides a short analysis of findings for the West Midlands cities and also highlights the similarities that this work has with our State of the Region dialogue on sustainable communities.

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Birmingham is ‘best performing city’

Selfridges store in Birmingham

According to the Cushman & Wakefield European Cities Monitor 2009, Birmingham is the ‘best performing city’ in the country in terms of improvement on last year’s ranking.

The influential survey of 500 of Europe’s largest companies shows Birmingham rising seven places from 21st to 14th as the best European city for business, overtaking Manchester in the process which fell to 16th.

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Summary of data, mashups and APIs event

Birmigham Social Media CafeLast Wednesday, I went to an event at Fazeley Studios in Birmingham to explore innovative, useful and important applications of data.

The event — titled Data, Mashups and APIs — was organised by Birmingham Social Media Cafe and sponsored by The Guardian, Barefoot Wine and Screen WM.

I won’t try and summarise the whole event. A huge amount of material was covered and Chris Unitt has already posted this very detailed round up pulling together all of the talks and links.

However, I thought I’d pull out a couple of highlights.

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Jobseekers allowance claimant statistics give cause for concern in Birmingham

Four of Birmingham’s parliamentary constituencies are listed amongst the five worst in the UK in terms of the proportion of the resident working-age population claiming Jobseekers allowance, according to figures for December 2008 released by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The constituencies are Birmingham Ladywood (9.9% up 1% year-on-year), Birmingham Hodge Hill (8.3% up 1.5%), Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath (8.1% up 0.9%), and Birmingham Erdington (7.4% up 1.8%).

The only constituency listed in the worst five not in Birmingham was Liverpool Walton, with a Jobseekers claimant rate of 7.4%. Wolverhampton South East was listed as having the sixth worst claimant rate of the 660 parliamentary constituencies at 7% (up 1.7%).

The BBC recession tracker provides a map of the UK illustrating these statistics, in which Birmingham can easily be seen as a Jobseekers allowance claimant ‘hot spot’.

Download the full list of statistics for all constituencies (XLS, 86kb).

Graduate recruitment and the ‘credit crunch’

Graduates in gowns and mortarboards at graduation ceremonyAccording to a student briefing recently issued by the University of Birmingham’s Careers and Employability Centre, prospects for graduates seeking employment remain positive in the downturn.

Graduate recruiters and employers who actively recruit University of Birmingham students within a range of sectors and professions report that they intend to continue to recruit graduates at the same level as previous years.

This is due to recognition that recruiting fresh talent ensures business competitiveness now and after the recession.

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Mr Mind Maps comes to Birmingham

Tony Buzan, the innovative thinker behind influential concepts such as Mind Maps and Speed Reading, will speaking at the Thinktank, Millennium Point, in Birmingham on 6th November 2008. Tony Buzan was named in 1994 by Forbes magazine as one of five top international lecturers along with Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and Margaret Thatcher.

The event, organised by the Innovation Owners Network and supported by ContactKE, is free of charge (places limited). This is an exciting opportunity to hear from Tony Buzan and to learn more about existing and new ideas to advance, as well as support, developing new ideas.

For more details on the event and how to register, email Professor Adrian Cole at Adrian.Cole@tic.ac.uk.

West Midlands Regional Integrated Economic Assessment published

Map of West Midlands regionThe West Midlands is the first English region to produce a Regional Integrated Economic Assessment. The aim of the project is to provide an assessment of the performance of the West Midlands’ economy and of the factors which contribute to it. It also assesses the relative position of the different parts of the region.

The Assessment is made up of:

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State of the Region dialogue on the knowledge economy

The new state of the region process aims to engage with the region’s policy and decision makers on a range of key issues.

One of these is the knowledge economy. While UK demand for higher level skills is mediocre by international standards (with 28% of the working age population qualified to level 4 or above the UK was 11th of the 30 OECD countries in 2006), this is even weaker in the West Midlands. Less than 24% of those working in private sector industries in the West Midlands region had higher level skills and qualifications, well below the England average of 28%.

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Birmingham boasts tourism boost

Marketing Birmingham released their Annual Visitor Survey 2007 earlier this week.

The research, carried out in August and September last year, indicate that a record 31.9 million people visited the city for leisure in 2007. A resulting £4.4 billion was spent in the city as a result.

The number of visitors was a 1.5 million increase on the previous year, with increases in spending seen in most sectors. Wining and dining proved particularly popular with a reported £55 million increase in spending compared with 2006, but the survey found that it was the retail sector that outperformed others with a £242m increase.

When asked their favourite aspect of the city, it was the city’s canals that proved to be the most popular with just over 20% of respondents saying that the waterways were Birmingham’s best selling point.

The full report includes visitor profiles, data on accommodation, eating out, shopping, leisure and transport. Further data on tourism in the city and the region is available on Marketing Birmingham’s research pages.