Getting ready to celebrate Volunteers’ Week

We will all know someone who works tirelessly in their communities, giving up their time working with voluntary organisations, groups and charities to help improve the lives of others.

Well, National Volunteers’ Week starts this Saturday (1 June) and it’s the time we recognise and celebrate all their contributions.

For example, in our libraries and our community managed libraries there are almost 1,000 volunteers helping out, all helping the community by running community events, helping people with their IT skills, giving access to books and information to housebound people and much more.

But we also have volunteers helping out in our schools, children’s centres, country parks and our Archives and Museums services so there’s lots of different opportunities for different interests.

So, whether it’s helping out at a local sports group, youth club, library or children’s centre, or simply supporting those people in communities that are most in need –  elderly, young people, and children and families it all makes an amazing difference.

There are lots of volunteering opportunities available in Staffordshire and you can find out more at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/volunteering

And remember, volunteering not only benefits our local communities but it can also greatly benefit the people who give up their time too. Whether it is learning new skills, keeping active, improving mental health and wellbeing, or making new friends, volunteering can have real long-term benefits.

Launch of the 2019 Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism & Good Food Awards

Visitors at the National Memorial Arboretum. Last year they won an award for Best Guided Tour of the Year

I’ve blogged about this topic before about how over the last ten years tourism has really grown here in Staffordshire and how it is now the fourth largest employing sector in the county.

It also plays a vital part in our overall economy and our local tourism businesses continue to do a great job attracting visitors both locally and nationally.

Of course Staffordshire Day has been vital in helping showcase our great county across the UK. Since it started in 2016, it has really shot off and this year we saw just how big it had gotten – trending nationally on Twitter all day with hundreds of people sharing their Staffordshire Day mugshots.

But key to this success are our tourism businesses and attractions who continue to provide innovative and high quality experiences, so it’s only right they get their day to shine too.

Returning again this year, although slightly revamped is the 2019 Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism & Good Food Awards, there are a total of 19 awards this year, it’s straightforward to enter and it’s a great way of promoting your business. Entries must be submitted before 5pm on 28th June and you can enter by clicking here.

Winners will then also go forward to the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence where they’ll represent Staffordshire and take on some of the country’s top tourism businesses.

Make sure you get your entry in early and good luck…

Change a Future!

Foster Care Fortnight launch in Market Square, Stafford

I have blogged about our Children’s Services earlier in the year when we were rated as good by Ofsted. You can read the post again by clicking here.

One of the most important things the service does is to help keep vulnerable children safe. Sometimes, and for many different reasons, we need to keep children safe from harm by finding loving homes for them, either through adoption or finding a foster family for them.

We all want to see children and young people get the best possible start in life and grow up to be able to realise their dreams, and as a local foster carer that’s exactly what you could do.  

Foster Care Fortnight which started on Monday 13 May is a national campaign that we support every year and we launched this year’s campaign live on Facebook from the Market Square in Stafford. 

The team are also taking Reggie the bus on tour across the county giving people interested in fostering a chance to find out more and talk to real foster carers.

All sorts of people can and do foster with us and you’re never on your own. It is a challenge and it takes the right attitude, some core qualities and training and support, but anyone over 21 with a spare bedroom can basically do it.

Look out for Reggie between 10am and 2pm when he calls into a town near you:

  • Wednesday 15 May, Market Square, Lichfield
  • Thursday 16 May, Coopers Square carpark, Burton
  • Friday 17 May, Dovefields, Uttoxeter
  • Monday 20 May, Outside St. Edithas Church, Tamworth
  • Tuesday 21 May, Cheadle (back of Barclays)
  • Wednesday 22 May, Stone High Street (outside B&M)
  • Thursday 23 May, Market Square, Cannock
  • Friday 24 May, Ironmarket, Newcastle

Remember, if you can’t make a roadshow, you can find out more about fostering with the county council by visiting www.care4child.org/changeafuture or by calling 0800 169 2061.

A huge thanks to everyone who joined in the Staffordshire Day celebrations

Celebrating Staffordshire Day

This is just to thank everyone who helped make this year’s Staffordshire Day celebrations such a huge success and to all the businesses, tourism providers and local communities who joined in. It was wonderful to see everyone coming together to share their pride and show what great things the county has to offer.

Once again, the day itself and the 70-plus events over the week and bank holiday weekend brought thousands out and we were trending nationally on Twitter. Hundreds of people rushed to share their mugshots on social media and we even got a tweet from the House of Commons!

If you’ve been following the action, you will know that events took place right across the county, including at key Staffordshire attractions like World of Wedgwood, Alton Towers, Drayton Manor Park, Uttoxeter Racecourse and the National Memorial Arboretum.

As we all know in our great county tourism is really booming and our local tourism businesses continue to do us proud and a great job attracting more and more visitors. 

Having Staffordshire Day as an annual event now in our calendar is a really great opportunity to raise the profile of our fantastic county and place us on the national and international stage.

We’re now looking forward to our next Staffordshire Day next year which we hope will be even bigger and better. And, remember, if you have any ideas for next year’s theme let us know.

Happy Staffordshire Day everyone!

Today is 1 May, and it’s Staffordshire Day.  It’s our day and the day we join together to celebrate our wonderful county.

It’s our fourth Staffordshire Day and each year it’s getting bigger and bigger. This year’s theme is ‘Made in Staffordshire’, which as the name suggests is a celebration of all the great things to come out of Staffordshire, from its brewing and ceramic heritage, as well as food and drink, to the music and some of the most famous people from the county.

As in previous years, there’s plenty of events and activities to get involved with, and not just today, but throughout the week and weekend as well.

There’s the Staffordshire Day Plate Raceday at Uttoxeter Racecourse on Saturday 4 May; the World’s Biggest Oatcake Morning at Canalside Farm; the Staffordshire Day Vintage Fair at the National Memorial Arboretum.  There’s also the Made in Staffordshire art exhibition at the Guildhall Gallery in Stafford and much more.

Our libraries are also joining in the celebrations so it’s worth checking out what’s happening in your local library too.

Tying in with this years’ theme is the Made in Staffordshire Playlist. The playlist can be found on Spotify and showcases some of the best music to come from the county, from big named musical legends to rising stars. You can even add your own tracks to the playlist and recommend songs by tweeting @enjoystaffs.

And, returning once again are the Staffordshire Day mug shots. It was a huge success last year when hundreds of people got involved and perfectly fits the Made in Staffordshire theme. All people need to do again is take a quick selfie holding a Staffordshire mug and share it on social media with #StaffordshireDay and we’ll do the rest.

Keep up to date with all the events and activities at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/staffsday

Let’s make it a great day.

Over 60 ways to celebrate Staffordshire Day

Date for your diary – 1st May is Staffordshire Day

I’ve been keeping you posted about our Staffordshire Day celebrations and with less than a week to go, here’s a quick update.

There are now more than 60 events to enjoy across the county throughout the celebrations, highlighting the range of visitor attractions on offer and helping communities show their pride in their county.

As the day itself falls midweek, the celebrations have been extended to include the weekend before and the weekend after.  That means there are events to enjoy from Saturday 27 April right through to Monday 6 May.

As I have spoken about in previous posts, the day is all about celebrating what’s great about our county and we’re really delighted with the way people have rallied to the Staffordshire Day cause.  It promises to be a great day and we hope as many people as possible turn out and show their pride in their county.

See an awesome Hurricane fighter plane fly-past as part of the Museum of Cannock Chase’s VE Day Celebrations or help to celebrate the Staffordshire Hoard, ten years after it was discovered, by creating a Saxon Shield at Cannock Library.  These are only a taster and you can view the full list of events at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/staffsday.

You can also find out how to get involved in the ‘Staffordshire Day mug shots’ and our ‘Made in Staffordshire Playlist’ by clicking on the links. 

Hawaii, Australia, Barcelona and once again Staffordshire

IRONMAN 70.3 returns to Staffordshire

Here’s another date for your diary! Staffordshire’s biggest triathlon competition IRONMAN 70.3 returns for 2019 on Sunday 9 June.

This will be our fifth IRONMAN event in Staffordshire and the second time the race will finish in Stafford town centre. Once again, the race will see around 2,000 competitors take on the gruelling challenge of completing a 1.2 mile swim at Chasewater, 56 mile bike ride through the Staffordshire countryside and 13.1 mile half marathon in Stafford.

It’s always a popular event with thousands turning out to watch the action first-hand and I’m sure this year will be just as exciting.  IRONMAN run events all over the world including Hawaii, Australia, and Barcelona, so it’s great for Staffordshire appearing right up there next to these world famous locations.

Previous events have not only provided a welcome boost to our local economy and tourism businesses but have also helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

And remember, as like in previous years, organisers are looking for volunteers to help make the day run smoothly. There’s a variety of roles on offer, all of which give you a great chance to gain experience of working behind the scenes of a world-renowned event. You can find out more about volunteering at IRONMAN here.

Finally, there will be some road closures on the day to ensure the event runs safely, so to help you make plans for any journeys you may have to make on the day it’s best to plan your route accordingly. You can find out details about road closures here.

Extra cash for potholes for the third year running

We are all well aware of how important good roads are for everyone.  Not only are they vital for local communities and for businesses but they are essential to growing our economy and supporting better access to jobs, education and housing.

That’s why, for the third year running we are investing an additional £5m into tackling potholes and improving our roads and the journeys we make.

This additional funding is part of a package of £30m and includes an extra allocation of £20,000 for each local county councillor to help them deal with more localised highways issues.

Maintaining such a huge road network, (more than 6,000km)  is a constant challenge for us.  That’s  why we need to make the best use of every pound we invest and focus where we can on schemes which deliver the best value and longer-term benefits.

The full 2019/20 Highways and Transport Capital programme will be presented at our meeting of the Cabinet for approval next week. 

Preparing for Brexit

Like me, I am sure that you have been following the ongoing developments about Brexit with interest and wondering what is going to happen.

Clearly this still remains in the hands of the Government and our MPs in Westminster, but there is no doubt that whatever happens, the whole issue will affect all of us

I want to reassure people that as part of our normal contingency planning, we continue to work closely with all our partners including district and borough councils, police, fire and the NHS, to put together plans for various outcomes.  

For some time now too, we have also been working with various Government departments and organisations that represent councils to help shape the national direction and raise Staffordshire’s profile in preparing for the future.

Our priority, and mine as leader of the county council regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, is to make sure that Staffordshire remains a place where everyone has the opportunity to be prosperous, to be healthy, and to be happy. 

I have blogged about this many times before, but a major part of this work is to encourage investment in Staffordshire and means Staffordshire continuing to be an attractive place for people to live and work.

By doing so, we can help people to access more and better jobs, the schools and training that they need, and the infrastructure – homes, roads, health services, schools, and transport links to be able to maintain the excellent quality of life that we enjoy.

This work would be happening whether Brexit was an issue or not. What Brexit has shown is that Staffordshire is a place that people still want to invest in and that our county is an area where people want to live, despite the uncertainty of the past few years.

I do know that there is still some uncertainty in both the business community and within the communities of Staffordshire about Brexit, but rest assured, we are keeping a close eye on whatever happens so that Staffordshire remains prepared and ready for whatever the future may bring.

Less than a month to Staffordshire Day

This year’s Staffordshire Day (1 May) is now less than a month away and there’s plenty to be excited about.

As I have blogged about before, the theme for this years’ event is ‘Made in Staffordshire’, which as the name suggests is a celebration of all the great things to come out of Staffordshire, from its brewing and ceramic heritage, as well as food and drink, to the music and some of the most famous people from the county.

Tying in with this years’ theme is the Made in Staffordshire Playlist. The playlist can be found on Spotify and showcases some of the best music to come from the county, from big named musical legends to rising stars. You can even add your own tracks to the playlist and recommend songs by tweeting @enjoystaffs.

Returning once again are the Staffordshire Day mug shots. It was a huge success last year when hundreds of people got involved and perfectly fits the Made in Staffordshire theme. All people need to do again is take a quick selfie holding a Staffordshire mug and share it on social media with #StaffordshireDay and we’ll do the rest.

As in previous years, there’s plenty of other events and activities happening all around the county, such as the Staffordshire Day Plate Raceday at Uttoxeter Racecourse, the Staffordshire Day Vintage Fair at the National Memorial Arboretum, the Made in Staffordshire art exhibition at the Guildhall Gallery in Stafford and many more.

Many libraries across Staffordshire are getting involved in the celebrations too. See a full list of Staffordshire Day library events here.

Make sure the date is in your diary and keep up to date with events and activities at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/staffsday