Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ to champion Sutton

Hight Street guru Mary ‘Queen of Shops’ Portas is being recruited by Sutton Coldfield BID

High street guru Portas is ready to inspire town businesses

World famous shopping and retail guru Mary Portas is bringing her expertise to Sutton Coldfield to help invigorate the heart of the town.

Royal Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID) – which is funded by 377 local businesses – has invited Portas to address local businesses at a seminar in the town centre this June.

BID chair Alison Clack, Managing Director of Cerda Planning, said: “We are very excited by the prospect of Mary Portas coming to Sutton Coldfield and sharing her knowledge and expertise in a way that will inspire local businesses.

“The BID understands that Sutton Coldfield town centre, like most towns and High Streets across the UK, is going through a period of change and we simply cannot ignore the concerns expressed in the media and on social media.

“We feel that an inspirational seminar from a renowned expert in this field will help to bring local businesses together with a renewed sense of resilience and pride in their town centre.

“High Streets and town centres are changing and, at the seminar, businesses from all sectors will hear first-hand how they can work together and overcome the challenges they face.

“As a BID representing hundreds of local businesses in the town centre, we want to change the narrative that Sutton Coldfield is more than just retail and be as proactive as possible. Bringing in Mary Portas to share her knowledge and expertise will go some way to help in these challenging times.”

Businesswoman, broadcaster, author and activist Portas is the UK’s best known retail guru who, in 2011, conducted a review of the future for high streets for the British government.

After becoming a board member at Harvey Nichols at the age of 30, she founded her creative consultancy Portas, going on to work with some of the biggest names in global retail.

Her BBC series – Mary Queen of Shops and she has presented on television and radio for the BBC and Channel 4 ever since. Mary’s current podcast series include Beautiful Misfits and #1 business podcast The Kindness Economy.

As Chair of the Better Business Act campaign Mary remains very relevant and responsive to the changing business agenda.

Sutton Coldfield town centre is the Second City’s second biggest shopping and business area, second only in size to Birmingham city centre, and its BID delivers year round events to boost footfall such as the monthly Farmers and Craft Market and Christmas events.

Last year the BID commenced its new five-year term by launching a vibrant new ‘Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield’ brand – with special events, competitions and improvements designed to make it a destination to spend time, eat, drink, shop and relax.

The programme of events has seen a significant upturn in footfall for the centre, and more are planned throughout 2023.

BID Manager Michelle Baker said: “Bringing an expert of Mary Portas’s stature to Sutton Coldfield for this seminar is the next step in the renewal of our town centre, which the BID is driving through investment in special events and improvements.

“We know there are exciting regeneration plans for the town centre and until that gets underway we will continue to play our part and host events to boost footfall and support local businesses.

“We encourage businesses to attend this event with Mary Portas, to hear how town centres are changing and how we can all play our part.”

The seminar, which will be held on Wednesday 7th June at Sutton Coldfield College, will free to BID Members – but will be invite only.

To find out more about the event, inquire about attendance and discover sponsorship opportunities, contact Michelle Baker, Sutton Coldfield BID Manager, by emailing:

Education scheme aims to support future generations

Phil Arkinstall

Businesses across Sutton Coldfield are being encouraged to support a scheme which promotes engagement between the business community and local schools.

The Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce Business and Education Scheme is an initiative designed to create better links with education by allowing businesses to give advice, support and opportunities to young people.

The scheme was announced by Sutton Chamber president Phil Arkinstall at last Friday’s Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield & Tamworth and Cannock Chase Chambers of Commerce annual dinner and awards.

Mr Arkinstall (pictured), who is managing director of Ark Media and chair of Governors at Plantsbrook School, built his business by giving graduates and school leavers opportunities to enjoy a career in video production.

He is keen to help future generations and is calling on fellow Chamber members to offer time and support to the scheme.

He said: “The success of Ark Media is down in a major way to the input, hard work and skill of young people learning their trade and we know historically many other companies in the area have enjoyed similar success with the quality of young people in Sutton Coldfield.

“Our campaign, the Sutton Coldfield Chamber Business and Education Scheme plans to canvass the availability and offers local businesses can supply to schools throughout the area and once that data has been collected share with the relevant organisations.”

Sutton Coldfield Chamber members will receive a questionnaire to provide information on their potential support for the scheme, in the hope it increases opportunities for young people to learn about the world of work.

The Sutton Coldfield Chamber’s Next Generation sub-committee – which includes Anna Jackson and Kay Burton-Williams of Sutton Coldfield College, Gary Phelps of Gary Phelps Communications and Steven Hannaford of Burley Browne, will be helping to promote the scheme through their connections.

The results of the questionnaire will be published in the coming weeks.

Members can complete the questionnaire now.

Cancer Support Centre to stay at hospice Sutton site

Both bodies pledge to continue supporting local people together

St Giles Hospice and the Cancer Support Centre are pleased to announce that both organisations will continue to support local people together at the St Giles Hospice site on Lindridge Road in Sutton Coldfield.
Andrew Harkness, Chief Executive at St Giles Hospice, said: “St Giles Hospice has had an ongoing relationship with the Cancer Support Centre for 11 years, and we are pleased to share that both organisations have signed a new lease agreement for up to another 12 months”.
“The new lease allows both charities to continue to provide important services which are beneficial for our communities in Sutton Coldfield, whilst balancing the significant cost of living challenges faced by both organisations.
The new lease forms a key part of both organisations plans to support as many people and communities as they can through their services.
Trevor Saadi, Chair of Trustees at the Cancer Support Centre, said: “Charities like ours and St Giles Hospice play a crucial role in supporting patients, and their families, living with illnesses such as cancer. We are delighted to have agreed a new forward to continuing to serve our local

To find out more about both organisations, visit: or

Sutton Coldfield choir find its voice again

Voices raised for festive season: Sutton Coldfield Community Choir performing

Charitable trust award hits the right note for singers

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, which exists to enhance the quality of life for all in Sutton Coldfield, has granted funds to Sutton Coldfield Community Choir (SCCC), allowing them to ‘survive’ post-pandemic and amidst the current cost-of-living crisis.

The Trust has a heritage going back almost 500 years and offers a broad range of grant categories to benefit Sutton Coldfield and its residents. The emergency grant was awarded to SCCC under the relief of need category which the Trust offers to support the relief of hardship across a range of factors such as youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or another disadvantage.

SCCC received a grant worth £3,000 to help with purchasing essential new equipment, as well as a full term of room rental for the choir to rehearse in.

Ann Regan, Communications and Concert Manager of SCCC, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we were unable to rehearse for twelve to eighteen months and couldn’t recruit new members during this time – we were worried we were going to have to fold the choir.

“Like many organisations during the pandemic, we lost membership, but we have been working hard to ensure that we keep going – especially during the current climate.

“People need activities like this, to support both themselves and others. It’s important to gather people together as a friendship group, and our choir thrives off being a sociable choir that is inclusive, and people can come and just enjoy themselves.

“Our choir is open to singers of all abilities, but it’s not just a choir – it’s something for the community to participate in and benefit from. We’re so thankful to Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust for allowing us to continue our group and giving something back to the local community, and we’re also looking for new members if anyone would like to get involved.”

Each year, SCCC picks to support a local charity of its choice and raise money throughout the year to donate the total to their chosen charity.

The choir fundraises through a variety of different activities and events such as concerts, raffles, cake sales and regular quiz nights.

The most significant events of the year are summer and Christmas concerts, where the 50 strong choir, pianist and choirmaster perform to raise money for their selected charity.

Last year, SCCC chose to support a small charity called Acacia, the services of which are available to parents and guardians in Birmingham who are experiencing pre and postnatal depression and anxiety.

In 2021 the charity of choice was Midland’s Freewheelers, a group of retired motorbike enthusiasts who deliver blood and vital medication – the choir raised £3500 through fundraising.

For further information about Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust and how to apply for grants, please visit:, or to find out more information on the Sutton Coldfield Community Choir, please visit: community-choir/.

For further information about Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust and how to apply for grants, please visit:, or to find out more information on the Sutton Coldfield Community Choir, please visit: community-choir/.

Sutton care services firm says Government £200m funding a ‘sticking plaster’ for problems

Boss calls for joined-up thinking to link health and social care sectors

A Sutton Coldfield-based care services firm has described a Government £200 million scheme to support short-term care placements as a ‘sticking plaster.’

Tinga Umera, director of Nexus Care Services, based at Mitre Court, Lichfield Road, also criticised the Government for announcing it as ‘new’ money, when in fact it has been diverted from existing healthcare budgets.

The funding, which was announced on January 30 by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, will pay for short-term care placements and will fund maximum stays of up to four weeks per patient until the end of March.

The move is designed to free up hospital beds so that people can be admitted more quickly from A&E to wards.

Mr Umera said: “Once again, the Government has announced ‘new’ money which has come from existing healthcare budgets

“Instead of looking to construct a joined-up approach linking the health and social care sectors, as well as working with private-sector providers such as Nexus to ensure a joined-up approach, they have merely put a sticking plaster on the issue.”

Nexus Care Services advocates a person-centred approach in doing as much as possible to maintain the individual receiving care, remaining in their home, and receiving support and care there for as long as possible.

“All too often the overarching trend is to move people from their long-term home into a care or nursing home after they had a spell in hospital. In placing these people in short-term care for four weeks or so, the government are simply trying to find a quick fix to negative headlines, rather than doing what is best for older people needing care,” Mr Umera added.

Nexus Care Services provide visited and live-in care across Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth, Lichfield & Cannock and Burntwood and further into Staffordshire.

For more information on Nexus Care please visit; or call us on 0121 308 2906.