Archive for December, 2018

This year brings to an end the culmination of a series of projects events and exhibitions to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the Great War

Thursday, December 20th, 2018
Corporal with ventriloquists dummy

A Corporal from South Staffordshire Regiment with ventriloquists dummy

One such project involved getting the Jake Whitehouse collection online which is now available for all to see at It’s a unique collection featuring over 1,600 postcards, photographs and objects relating to the county’s role in the Great War.

Much of the collection relates to the training camps on Cannock Chase where over 500,000 men were trained before joining troops on the Western Front. It details the stories of the thousands of British and New Zealand servicemen who trained there. Over 300 of these original postcards show soldiers and civilian workers working, training, and at leisure, while stories of German prisoners of war are also there to be explored.

The collection belonged to local and military historian and author of ‘A Town for Four Winters’, Jake Whitehouse, who sadly passed away last year. Thanks to his wife Gill who gave us permission to digitalise the collection, it’s now available for all to see. You can also watch a quick video here:

Over the four years our archives service have made several interesting discoveries relating to the Great War, none more so than the letter written by General Congreves about The 1916 Christmas Day Truce and football match between German and British soldiers.  The letter was discovered just in time for the 100th anniversary of the story and is still available to view in the archives service.

Some of my own personal memorabilia have also helped shine a light on what life was like on the home front during the war. Amongst these are Minutes of a meeting in January 2016 of the Rocester branch of the War Agriculture Committee.

What is fascinating is that until conscription in 1916 there was no Government intervention in the balance of recruitment, so counties like Staffordshire, where thousands signed up, suddenly had to adapt to manpower shortages.

The document I have details the gathering of local farmers who met in the Red Lion Hotel, and their concerns about this shortage of labour for farm work as men were sent off to fight. How children could be taught to milk cows and a preoccupation with food shortages was also highlighted in the documents.

You can read more about our Great War commemorations at

Good year for our economy as jobseeker figures remain below national average

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

For those of you who keep a close eye on our employment figures, I’m pleased to report that it’s more good news for Staffordshire this month.

End of year figures show that the county continues to have near full employment with  the latest statistics showing that just 1.3 per cent of the local population are claiming out of work benefits. Once again, this is lower than both regional (2.9 per cent) and national (2.3 per cent) averages. We’ve been outperforming our neighbours throughout most of the year which is encouraging news.

It’s been a pretty good year, and with even more developments scheduled for 2019, we have many fresh opportunities coming for better paid jobs to be excited about.  We have the extension of i54 South Staffordshire, beginning of construction of the Stafford Western Access Route and Lichfield Southern Bypass.

These, alongside full occupancy at sites like Four Ashes and Redhill are all projects that will support even more better paid, higher skilled jobs for people in Staffordshire.

Christmas in Care

Friday, December 7th, 2018

For most children their Christmas lists will consist of the latest gadgets, games and toys. But for many children in care, all they’ll be asking for this year is a loving family.

This is where foster families can help by providing a stable and supportive family environment which is something that many of our vulnerable young people in care have never had. It’s also why we have  launched two new campaigns in the run up to Christmas to help recruit more foster carers.

We know that in most cases, foster families can give children in care the best chance of a happy life.  And, with record numbers of children being placed in care, it’s vital that we have a strong network of foster families to give them the love they need.

The first campaign, ’12 Myths of Fostering’ is all about busting some of the most commonly reported myths about fostering. We know from talking to potential foster carers that there are a lot of misconceptions about who can and cannot foster, and this campaign is all about exploring those myths and debunking them. People who have considered fostering, but ruled themselves out for one reason or another should definitely watch the 12 Myths of Fostering videos here.  We’re releasing one each day in the run up to Christmas.

Our second campaign is all about recruiting Resilience Foster Carers. This is a specialist type of fostering, and is for people with experience in dealing with teenagers with emotional and behavioural difficulties. It could include people who have worked in residential care, ex-police officers, prison officers or people who work in similar professions. There is a real shortage of these types of foster carers, so it’s vital that we reach out to try and find them.  If you think it’s something you could do or know someone who might be suitable, you can read more about it here:

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated, you can’t cross a chasm with two small leaps. You could bring joy to a vulnerable young child by giving them a loving family, and  a feeling of fulfilment to yourself.