The new optimists

Written by leading scientists from the West Midlands, The new optimists is a book detailing the reponses of over 80 scientists to the question”What are you optimistic about?”

The scientists who feature in the book are leading medics, life scientists, engineers, chemists, computer and digital media scientists, environmental and energy experts, all of whom work in the West Midlands.

The official book launch is on 14th September at a celebration dinner in Birmingham, on the evening of the first day of the 2010 British Science Festival which is being held in the city.

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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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Sandwell Health’s Other Economic Summit

SHOES7 logoWhen: 9th & 10th July 2009
Where: The pUBLIC, West Bromwich
How much: £50
More info: Download flyer (PDF, 95kb)

In the tradition of Sandwell Health’s Other Economic Summit (SHOES), this event will be examining how local issues can impact on world health and how global issues affect us.

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State of the natural environment in the West Midlands

West Midlands Biodiversity PartnershipOn Thursday 23rd April 2009, I attended the Annual Biodiversity Conference organised by the West Midlands Biodiversity Partnership (WMBP) at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham.

Key speakers included Olwen Dutton (Chief Executive of the West Midlands Regional Assembly), Roger Owen (Regional Director of Natural England), David Pape (Head of Ecology, Hampshire County Council), Conor Kretsch (Director of Cohab Initiative) and Heather Webb (Coordinator at Bedslife).

During the day the speakers highlighted the key role that biodiversity plays in the development of the West Midlands.

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What are the causes of worklessness?

paper_pileThe Observatory’s economic inclusion team recently posted on this site to ask for any information on the causes and dynamics of worklessness for a literature review. The completed literature review is now available.

Key findings from the review are that:

  • several groups of people are at high risk of worklessness – these include people in poor health, lone parents, some minority ethnic groups, social tenants, carers, and ex-offenders.
  • disability/poor health and low qualifications are 2 of the most common barriers to employment
  • many other barriers to employment were identified including a lack of work experience, low confidence, caring responsibilities, employer attitudes, poor public transport and the structure of the benefits system
  • several factors influence a person’s decision to re-enter employment but the longer someone has been out of work, the less likely they are to return.

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Your health and the economic recession

Logo: West Midlands Public Health ObservatoryIt is not a surprise that the current crisis has hit our wallets, but have you thought about the implications that this may have on your health?

Every day the media delivers rather pessimistic news around unemployment going up, more companies going bust, redundancies and future job losses.

The contraction of our disposable income combined with the gloomy picture we perceive generates fear, stress and concerns that can result in a diverse range of health issues ranging from obesity to mental and cardiovascular diseases.

In order to avoid considerable harm to the health across the region, the West Midlands Public Health Observatory (WMPHO) brought together local and health authorities from all over the region to discuss how to face this major issue.

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Latest health survey for England published

The latest findings and trends identified from the Health Survey for England has been released by National Health Service Information Centre.

The Survey is a series of annual surveys designed to measure health and health-related behaviours in adults and children living in private households in England.

health-survey-for-england-07-trends The latest trends report shows that obesity has increased among adults over the period from 13 per cent for men and 16 per cent for women in 1993 to 24 per cent for both men and women in 2007.

Similarly, the proportion of children who were obese increased from 11 per cent in 1995 to 17 per cent in 2007 among boys, and from 12 per cent in 1995 to 16 per cent in 2007 among girls.

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