Fred Jeffs – the sweetshop murder

In the days before COVID (remember them) Black Country Touring theatre company put on an event at Thimblemill library about an unsolved murder in Quinton in the 1950s. It’s a true story and the series is presented by the great nephew of Fred Jeffs, the victim.

They are now working on a Podcast around the events of the time. The story ranges across Bearwood, Smethwick and up to Sandwell Valley. Graeme Rose the presenter, has interviewed dozens of people who were around at the time and their voices feature in the podcast series. It is a fascinating series which despite the dark subject mater at its heart is about so much more – how people remember events, how certain events are fixed on by young brains (most of the people Graeme interviewed were children at the time and are in their 70s and 80s now), how we view the past – and can you solve a murder 63 years after it has happened?

It’s an interesting story with lots of local interest and there’s a link on their web page with all the episodes on it here Fred Jeffs – The Sweetshop Murder and for a quick taster – so you can get a flavour of what it’s like – in this trailer

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Help for households struggling financially this winter in Sandwell

A grant scheme has been launched by Sandwell Council to help households who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of £1.4 million has been made available to Sandwell Council from the government to help those most affected by Covid-19.

The grant is available for food and utilities – to buy food or help pay household energy and water bills – as well as other essentials like warm clothing, toiletries, sanitary products, blankets and sometimes towards other essential household equipment.

Applications for the grant can be made online at or those with no access to internet can call 0121 569 2266 to apply.

The grant is available throughout the winter until March and households can apply a maximum of twice during that period.

Councillor Farut Shaeen, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for living healthy lives, said: “It is vital we get the money from this grant to those households who need it most.

“We are writing to households we think may be most affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic and have a newly established team on-hand to help our residents.

“Residents should get in touch if they think they may be eligible.”

Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council’s deputy leader, added: “The winter can be a particularly difficult time for those struggling financially so the grant will be a real life-line to those in need of help.

“We have lots of help and support on offer to Sandwell residents including this winter grant. I urge people to look at our website for details or those without access to the internet can call.”

Residents can visit to check if they are eligible and apply online.

Anyone struggling financially can go to and should only call the team if they have no access to the internet on 0121 569 2266.

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Financial advice sessions for women

If you are a woman in need of help sorting out your finances, please snap this up! 3 x FREE one-to-one sessions for 5 women with Marsha Russell – originally from round these parts, yay! We’re teaming up with Marsha’s not-for-profit company Your Money Your Way CIC to provide this pilot programme. We’ll have a waiting list so if there are more than 5 people interested, and if the sessions work out well, we will look at how we can bring you more in the New Year.Got more ideas about what’s needed or ideas about how you can help?Contact

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Presents for Bearwood

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Lockdown…Part 2

Key messages

• COVID-19 rates are very high. Hospital admissions and deaths are increasing rapidly.

• Stay Home. Do not leave your home unless it is absolutely essential to do so.

• Do not have visitors to your home except for essential carers.

• Fines will be given to anyone not following these lockdown restrictions.

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Light up Bearwood

Light Up Bearwood and Beyond is in place of our annual Procession of Light and provides an opportunity for folks to still show solidarity with refugees from their own homes by creating a light picture in their windows. There are templates available to download at and photos can be shared with the hashtags #LightUpBearwoodAndBeyond or #LightUpBearwood. Donations can be made via our paypal,

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A useful site…

This site enables people to zoom in on an interactive map to see what the Covid-19 figures are, right down to almost Ward level.

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Coronavirus outbreak at Bearwood GP surgery

Sandwell Council, Public Health England (Midlands) and Sandwell & West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group have been notified of a coronavirus outbreak at Bearwood Road Surgery, Smethwick.

To date, three positive COVID-19 cases have emerged among the practice’s non-clinical staff. 

It was agreed at a meeting yesterday that there would be no access to the surgery building for 14 days to stop any further spread of the virus. 

However all patient services will continue, with no change to virtual appointments and information about alternative arrangements for face-to-face appointments available on the website: or by calling the surgery.

The building will reopen on 17th October following a deep clean. 

People who have had direct contact with the infected staff have been informed and given appropriate advice. The risk to patients has been assessed as low.

Dr Ian Sykes, Chair of the Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG said: “We would like to assure local people that all NHS health services remain safe and open.

“The temporary closure of the Bearwood Road Surgery building is a precautionary measure and arrangements are being made to ensure services to patients continue.”

Dr Lisa McNally, Director of Public Health for Sandwell said: “It is vital that all organisations have an obligation to follow COVID-19 guidance.

“Social distancing and the prompt isolation at home of anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms remains crucial. 

Dr Paramanathan, a GP at Bearwood Road Surgery, said: “A number of our staff are self-isolating due to COVID-19 and as a result we have temporarily closed the surgery to immediately carry out a deep clean. 

“We are still taking telephone calls and will continue to operate services via telephone and video appointment. 

“Patients who require face-to-face appointments will be seen safely at another local surgery. 

“Patients who need urgent medical care, should contact us for an appointment in the usual way or if urgent please call NHS 111.

“The decision to take this step has been clinically-led, and is supported by partners across the wider health and care system.”

This comes at a time when coronavirus infection rates in Smethwick are very high and the local population is advised to be particularly careful to follow COVID-19 guidance.

Nobody should have visitors from outside their household to their home, except for essential visitors like carers.

Social gatherings should be avoided and social distancing should be maintained at all times.

Face coverings must be worn in shops and on public transport.

Anyone experiencing a cough, fever or change in taste or smell should self-isolate at home immediately and book a test. 

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Beware of Covid Scammers

We’ve been made aware by West Midlands Police of scammers posing as NHS Test and Trace staff.

The scam involves a phone call claiming you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
You are then asked to pay £50 for a postal testing kit.

This is a scam. Testing for Covid-19 is free – there is no charge.

Do not fall for this – please share.

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Urgent message from David Stevens, Sandwell MBC Chief Executive

Government has just announced that Sandwell, along with Birmingham and Solihull, is now an area of national intervention due to a rise in coronavirus.

From next Tuesday, 15 September, Sandwell residents will not be able to mix with any other households, indoors or outdoors – as household transmission has been identified as a key driver in the rise.

It’s going to be a tough time with still more difficult decisions down the line and I will of course keep you informed of the impact on services and any fresh demands on all of us as local authority staff.

The new restrictions in Sandwell are as follows:

• People in Sandwell must not allow others from outside their households into their home or their garden.

• People from Sandwell must not go to visit other households in their homes or gardens – inside or outside of Sandwell.

Government has not yet published full guidance– but as soon as we have more details we will pass them on.

We have been on the brink of intervention for a while now, with infection rates going up and down in parts of the borough.

The new shift in status follows further discussions with local leaders, the Health and Social Care Secretary, NHS Test and Trace, the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and the Chief Medical Officer for England who have agreed this week’s changes to local restrictions across England.

The local ban on households mixing overrules the nationwide, six-person limit on social gatherings that will come into place on Monday (14 September).

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