Talking Dudley South with Mike WoodJun 21, 2023
Meet Dudley South Hero Dawn Keeley
I continue my Dudley South Heroes series with Dawn Keeley — Dawn does a huge amount of volunteering with the Girlguides in Wall Heath. The girls who attend do lots of adventurous activities and work in the community, and they get a lot out of it. Dawn is a true Dudley South Hero — thank you Dawn! If you know of someone doing some good work in our community, who deserves a bit of recognition, please let me know, I’d love to get them on my community podcast.
Meet Dudley South Hero Trevor Fielding
Trevor runs a charity called "Santa's Black Country Toy Appeal". He and his team of volunteers have been collecting toys for disadvantaged children for 26 years, and they now cover Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. You can donate at https://bc-santa.co.uk/.
Trevor is a Dudley South Hero and joins us for this episode.
Meet Dudley South Hero Stu Bratt
Meet Stu Bratt, my next Dudley South Hero. Stu runs a local mental health charity for men called "Tough Enough To Care". He set it up to help people struggling with their mental health, after losing two friends to suicide.
Meet Dudley South Hero Ken Smith
Hawbush Gardens is a real jewel in the community here in Brierley Hill. Ken Smith runs it — they use the space to grow fresh produce for local people and so much more. I went there and spoke to Ken for the first of my 'Dudley South Heroes' conversations — in these conversations you can hear from some of our amazing local people who are doing great things for our community.
Live from my 8th annual jobs fair
I hosted a packed jobs fair at Merry Hill shopping centre and I’d like to thank every single business and organisation that took the time to come along and speak to local people. We’ve got many thousands of good quality jobs and training opportunities in just about every industry you can think of. In this episode you can hear directly from some of our amazing employers including: Flannery Plant Hire, Waldrons Solicitors, HM Prison and Probation Service; Canal & River Trust; as well as Mayor Andy Street and an apprentice.
Taking young people off benefits
There’s just over a month left until the government Kickstart scheme ends. It is a fantastic scheme that takes young people off benefits and puts them into quality jobs. They are paid the minimum wage, they learn valuable skills that they can keep for life, and it is fully funded by government. So if you’re a local business, and you haven’t yet had a chance to look into it, please do.
I caught up with Aaron Atwal from Canal & River Trust and Dam Sood from The Indian Tavern at my recent jobs fair - they have both successfully taken on local young people as kickstarters and given them some incredible opportunities. And if you’re a business that’s participated in the scheme, or if you are a kickstart apprentice, get in touch, I’d like to hear from you!
JOBS JOBS JOBS!!!
I’m really pleased to report that Dudley and the West Midlands currently have more job vacancies than before the pandemic. And I’m talking about quality jobs that are offering quality training - in health, social care, hospitality, construction, the police, retail - just about any sector you can think of. I recently held a busy and lively jobs fair at Merry Hill and spoke to some of the employers.
Delivering for Dudley's special needs pupils
We have some excellent special needs schools here in Dudley such as Pens Meadow - I was proud to open their post-16 building 4 years ago. The issue now is that the school is spread across two sites which makes it difficult for the team to provide the care and education the children deserve. We are going to build a purpose built site that the kids deserve here at Tiled House Lane. Pleased to be joined in this episode by
Headteacher Marie and Cllr Patrick Harley.
Pandemic money for Dudley
Spring is coming and things are slowly looking up. Over the past year we’ve spent millions on helping people, families and businesses get through the pandemic. Dudley Council have done a fantastic job and I'm pleased to be to be joined by Council Leader Patrick Harley and Cabinet Member for Finance Steve Clark in this episode.
In conversation with Netherton C of E
Our local schools are doing a fantastic job taking lessons online during this challenging time. I recently joined Netherton CofE virtually for a Q&A session and the teachers and pupils certainly put me through my paces! Listen to the full session in this episode.
Rolling out Covid vaccines in Dudley
Dudley’s doctors and nurses and support staff are doing an incredible job in rolling out the vaccines locally. But they are still under a lot of pressure from Covid right now. Sara Davis is a matron heading up the local vaccine programme and Diane Wake is the Chief Executive of Dudley Group NHS Trust. They join me in this episode to explain their major vaccination efforts and what they are dealing with. We can help them by staying at home.
Rethinking and reskilling after Covid
One positive to come out of the past few difficult months is that many people in the Black Country are taking the time to have a bit of a reset. They’re rethinking their career and taking the opportunity to retrain. And we’re lucky to have Dudley College of Technology, Black Country Skills Shop, and employers like Stiltz Lifts who are providing fantastic opportunities for local people. They join me in this episode.
Regenerating Brierley Hill
Brierley Hill has massive potential and work is underway to regenerate it and turn it into a successful and thriving area. The Metro extension will help bring people to the area, and our bid has recently been submitted for funding from the government’s Future High Streets Fund. It’s a community effort - and here’s an update with Mayor Andy Street, Dudley Councillor Patrick Harley and Tim Sunter from the Brierley Hill Community Forum.
Learning difficulties and Covid
One of my priorities is to make sure local children with speech and learning difficulties get the best education and care possible. Pens Meadow School is doing an incredible job with their pupils, despite Covid having a big impact. The school is now preparing for September and I caught up with Headteacher Marie Hunter and local dad Steve Hermon.
Coronavirus community information: National Express
National Express is our biggest local private sector employer employing some 350 drivers, engineers and back office staff. They’re doing a big job preparing to keep passengers safe as they resume and increase their services post-Covid. I caught up with Richard Smith about their plans.
Coronavirus community information: Black Country Food Bank
The Covid crisis has seen Black Country Food Bank work overtime and help some 7,000 people over the past few months. You can help Jen and the team by donating food items or volunteering. Jen Coleman from the food bank joins me in this episode.
Coronavirus community information: Red By Night venue
The music and entertainment venue Red By Night started up just a few months ago in Brierley Hill, and then suddenly covid hit. Vicki Wilkes joins me to talk about how she's coped, some of the help she’s received as she navigates her business through this difficult time, and what the venue may look like in the post-covid world.
Coronavirus community information: Black Country Chamber of Commerce
Whether it’s cashflow, budgets or keeping staff and customers safe, Black Country businesses will have a lot to plan and juggle as we begin to leave lockdown. Black Country Chamber of Commerce is working tirelessly to help, and I'm pleased to be joined by Corin Crane.
Coronavirus community information: Kingswinford Royal British Legion
Kingswinford Royal British Legion do an amazing job year round supporting our service men and women, veterans and their families. Now, they are bringing together local volunteers to deliver essential items to people in need during this lockdown. More here with John from the club.
Coronavirus community information: Mary Stevens Hospice
Social distancing is especially tough on families with loved ones receiving end-of-life care right now. The Mary Stevens Hospice is doing a great job helping patients and enabling their families to stay in contact through technology. I'm very pleased to be joined by Claire Towns from the hospice. Once again, forgive the audio quality as we have these conversations remotely to keep everyone safe in this pandemic.
Coronavirus community information: Russells Hall Hospital
We are coming together during this horrible COVID-19 outbreak and showing that real “Dudley Spirit”. The perfect example is the team at Russells Hall Hospital who are working heroically for their patients. Diane Wake, Chief Executive at the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, talks to us about about her team's efforts during this difficult time. Once again forgive the audio quality as we record these remotely to keep everyone safe.
Coronavirus community information: Dudley Council
As we deal with the coronavirus, I am beginning a series of short community information podcasts which aim to provide useful information and advice for people in Dudley South. In this episode, I’m joined by Deborah Harkins, the Director of Public Health at Dudley Council. They are doing fantastic work to help our community get through this. Forgive the audio quality as this episode has been done remotely in order to keep guests safe and we are getting information out in as real time as possible.
Making Budget 2020 work for Brierley Hill
Join me from the bustling Brierley Hill market as I get together with the local butcher, a property developer, the Chamber of Commerce and market management to discuss ways in which we can help our area thrive. Business rates, red tape and town centre investment all on the agenda!