Measles cases are rising
Plus: do you want to star in a short film?
Morning Patchers — here’s your Friday mini-briefing.
It’s Kate bringing you your final round-up for the week and we open on the concerning news that measles hasn’t gone away. In fact, cases are continuing to rise at a worrying rate here in the West Midlands. A man has also sadly died in Ireland after contracting the disease, following a trip to Birmingham. Please stay safe out there and follow NHS advice to get vaccinated if you aren’t already.
In other medical news, a new NHS centre has opened in Birmingham offering a safe haven for families suffering the loss of pregnancies and babies. Having never experienced anything like this I hadn’t considered how painful it must be to be around happy new parents on maternity wards following such a loss. It’s comforting to know a peaceful and well resourced place now exists.
Away from health news, I’ve included an update on a major city centre planning project, and a couple of arty stories including your chance to audition for a role in a short film. If you go for it, do let Dan and I know how it goes won’t you?
Finally, look out for your Saturday read at 7am sharp tomorrow by a brilliant journalist from Birmingham making his Dispatch debut. And, as always, let us know in the comments what you think. Have a wonderful weekend.
Brum in Brief
💉Measles update: 71% of measles cases in the current outbreak have occurred in the West Midlands — that’s 329 of 465 since October. The UK Health Security Agency (HSA) has warned the rise is continuing at “disproportionately high rates” in the region. The news comes after a man, who travelled to Birmingham recently and was in his late 40s, died in Ireland after contracting the virus. It is the first confirmed case in Ireland this year. Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: "Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your children. I strongly urge parents to take up the offer as soon as possible and protect their child now."
🕊️A safe haven: A UK first-of-its-kind pregnancy and baby loss centre has opened at the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital (BWC) to give families a private place to grieve. Woodland House was completed following 18 months of work and £3m of fundraising. Daljit Athwal, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at BWC said Woodland House “sets a new standard of bereavement aftercare” and staff hope it “will be replicated at hospitals up and down the country”. Approximately 2,000 women a year experience loss at the hospital and feedback from bereaved families has shaped the delivery of the centre.
💰Curzon Wharf cash: The developer behind a £360 million city-centre project will pay for £2.49m of public realm works, £20k for canal improvements, and will offer 5% of its 620 rented flats at affordable rates. By affordable, Woodbourne Group means rent will not exceed 80% of the local market average, including service charge. The current average price of a two-bed is £1,500pcm, so that would be £1,200pcm at the reduced rate. The Curzon Wharf development will sit near the Aston University campus, right by the Dartmouth Circus roundabout, and will also include student accommodation, retail, and leisure space. Chief executive Tani Dulay said it had taken “years of unwavering determination” and the result won praise from Council leader John Cotton and Mayor Andy Street.
🚄The two Andys: Andy Burnham joined Andy Street in Birmingham on Wednesday to announce progress on their plans to deliver a high speed rail line between the West Midlands and Manchester. The pair revealed three options for the privately-funded venture but said no precise figures existed at this stage. “The country won’t be able to move in a timely way if we just do nothing,” Burnham said. Read our interview with Andy Street for the background.
📽️From “Derbados” to Hollywood: For any wannabe performers out there this could be your big chance at stardom — BAFTA-winning casting director Des Hamilton is looking for two actors with Midlands accents for a short film. It’s not clear which accents exactly, and let’s be real, there’s a lot of range within what is quite a large area of the country. Still, whether you're Brummie, yam-yam, or from “Derbados” as I’ve heard our East Midlands pals refer to Derby, you could be in for a shot. Des wants a male and female each, in their 40s, of any ethnicity. If you try out, let us know how you get on in the comments or an email! Thanks to Bozzers for highlighting. Click through to apply.
📖Art attack: Ruth Millington, who wrote yesterday’s feature about the reopening of BMAG and the Victorian Radicals exhibition, has written a new book. Her first read for children, This Book Will Make You An Artist, helps little ones explore 25 different art techniques from around the world. There’s a huge range here; she takes inspiration from cave painting to Salvador Dali and Liu Bolin, for a fun and accessible introduction to art theory and practice.
🧘Namaste-sty: You can enjoy a healthy yoga session followed by delicious Indian street food snacks at Bundobust tomorrow between 11am and 1pm. The one-hour yoga class will take place in the restaurant’s “bright and airy” upstairs space (thankfully, as doing a downward dog in the middle of confused diners might be a bit weird). You’ll need to bring your own mat and dress in comfy clothes. Oh, you also get a cup of chai or a refreshing soft drink too. Tickets are £22.38 and you can pick one up here.