If you know Gornal, you might have walked past Ruiton Windmill and thought it was someone’s home. Perhaps you’ve passed it many times and never got a closer look. Maybe you’ve always been curious about it. Well, now’s your chance to learn more about this fabulous building at an open day on Saturday 9 October, 10am-4pm.
Ruiton Windmill is actually a former windmill and now open as a public building where lots of activities take place such as caving, amateur radio transmission and paranormal investigations! The people who look after the windmill will be throwing open its doors to anyone curious to learn more about what happens there, see the view from the top or share ideas about what other things could go on in this brilliant building.
My own story is that I’ve often seen Ruiton Mill on the horizon from a nature reserve where I often walk. From there it looked like a castle keep and I often wondered what it was! I got the chance to put two and two together when I was invited by Dudley Council and West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust colleagues to support the Ruiton Mill Preservation Trust (the charity that looks after the mill) with trustee recruitment and the general development of the charity. The building is owned by Dudley Council and managed by the charity as a place where the local community can come together, learn and take part in educational and recreational activities.
At the end of July, I got my chance to visit the mill and to take a peek inside (and from the top!). It was amazing – full of potential for all sorts of things! It’s divided into three floors, plus a cellar and the roof (where the views are stunning) and it was once the HQ of Dudley Cave Rescue, now Dudley Caving Club. It’s also home to Dudley Amateur Radio Society and Paranormal Hauntings Investigations and it has been used for overnight stays (it has a bunk room!) for uniformed groups and others, and it could be used for so much more too!
I met David, trustee of the charity that looks after the mill and a member of Dudley Caving Club (and the former Cave Rescue) to learn more. As well as charity trustees, the charity would love to make links with the community and other community groups who could use the mill as well as people who could give practical help so that it’s an attractive place that people want to visit. All of this will help to sustain this historic building for generations to come.
So we thought an open day might be a lovely way to show people what the mill has to offer and I’ve been helping to plan it with brilliant help from Melissa from Healthwatch Dudley, who will also be there on the day to talk to local people. I’m really impressed with David’s enthusiasm for the open day (which you can see in some of the fun photos I managed to take for the press release advertising it!). As well as being principal tour guide and sharing his incredible knowledge of caving and local geology on the day, David has brought together a team from the various groups to make sure there’ll be lots to see and learn on the day. There’ll be demonstrations and talks from John Smith, an original member of Dudley Cave Rescue, Dudley and District Amateur Radio Society, Dudley Caving Club, Paranormal Hauntings Investigations. Refreshments will be available to purchase and there’ll be activities to entertain all ages. Melissa has even enlisted 1st Sedgley Morris who’ll be performing in the courtyard.
I can’t promise the weather will behave like it did when I visited in July and September, but we can promise a warm welcome, some fabulous views and fascinating stories. We’d love to see you there anytime between 10am and 4pm on Saturday 9 October.
Please note that parking is limited, so please consider that if you’re planning a trip. In addition, to keep the event Covid-safe, numbers in and out of the building will be managed, so you may have a little wait in the courtyard when you arrive.
It’s that time of year again and we are looking to celebrate, and recognise amazing individuals, groups and businesses. We want you to nominate those who have made a difference to people and communities across Dudley borough for our Dudley CVS Kindness Awards 2021. We’ve pulled together some inspirational stories to help you with your nomination and fit some of the potential categories we’ve come up with this year.
Do you know someone who always has a smile on their face or makes other’s smile? This is what we would love to celebrate with this category and have found the perfect story to demonstrate perfectly, the power of bringing a little joy into our lives. Hopefully it will inspire you to nominate.
“These awardees were recognised for their real sense of fun and providing light relief, bringing laughter into people’s lives.
Andrea and Carly are two amazing ladies, who made so many people laugh during COVID-19 lockdown. Every day they recreated famous art, films or album covers from everyday stuff they had in their houses and posted the photos on Facebook alongside the originals with hilarious results! They gained 500+ followers from all over the world, people who just needed cheering up and would tune in every day to see their recreations, and they made us all smile, and laugh out loud even on the gloomiest days.
The amount of comments they had from people saying that they were helping them to keep smiling through this difficult time was unbelievable. Each day was sillier than the last, with some of the photos causing hilarity when people were struggling to lift their spirits.
If that was not enough, they ran a Facebook poll to find the most popular recreations and have had a calendar made. They covered the printing costs by getting local company sponsors and have raised over £1000 for Dudley Mind, and A Gift To Lift charities. These ladies need some recognition their dedication to daftness and making people smile.”
Having a good neighbour is important in times of need and never was their more need than during the pandemic in 2020. We want to celebrate those amazing people who stepped up and helped out their neighbours when they needed it. Here’s a story for one of last year’s Covid Hero main awardees, Rose Cook Monk, who truly was a good neighbour and made a huge difference.
“I had a telephone call this afternoon from the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham saying that someone was in there that had a message for me. I was naturally concerned because I wasn’t aware of anyone I knew being there.
It turned out to be an elderly gentleman that I’ve been doing shopping for since the lockdown after being matched with him by Dudley CVS Volunteer Centre (who are doing a fabulous job in our community during this most difficult of times).
I had been given his name and number but no other information. I’ve been taking his shopping which I pay for, I ring him to tell him I’m on my way and he puts the money in an envelope – I ask if he’s ok – he always says the same thing ‘I am now I’ve seen you bless you for looking after me’.
Yesterday he fell downstairs in his maisonette and was found by his neighbours. When the nurse asked if there was anyone they could call I was the only person he could think of. I have only known him five weeks, barely had any conversation, his weekly phone call with his shopping list is always quite short, he always asks how I am and worries that I’m keeping safe.
So why after such a short time with such little contact was I his only ‘friend’ – what on earth did this poor man do before the lockdown? Who helped him? Who did he talk to? I offered to visit but they aren’t accepting visitors -they couldn’t even tell me his surname because I’m not a relative.
I felt so bad for him and so very sorry. After all this is over how am I suppose to walk away from him? There must be hundreds of people like him out there.
Please if you live by an elderly person or even someone living on there own – keep yourself safe – socially distance yourself – but knock on their door – drop a note through their letterbox and check that they are okay.
“One face, one voice could make all the difference to their day. My thoughts tonight are with a lonely old man who needs a friend… I’m going to be that friend!”
People really step up in a crisis and this was never more true than during last year’s Coronavirus Pandemic. Suddenly people had to isolate and were unable to leave their house. To inspire you to nominate for this category, we thought we would share two stories from last year’s main Covid Heroes awardees. One is a group and one is business, but they both have something in common – they stepped up!
Sedgley Coronavirus Support
“This community volunteer group was specifically formed quickly under the guidance of Jack Withers to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. Jack recruited 20 volunteers local to the Sedgley area and immediately answered the call from Dudley CVS to register the group. They also arranged leaflet drops around the local community, so that vulnerable people could feel safe in the knowledge that there was someone there at the end of the phone, to help provide essential supplies of food and medicines and befriending telephone calls.”
“Disaster struck on Friday March 21st 2020 when all pubs were forced to close. They closed the doors not knowing what would happen to the business, the staff or their own future. During this time their team set about doing all they could to make sure that local residents were catered for and that any opportunities to be active throughout the pandemic were achieved. They heard of the plight of a local older peoples sheltered accommodation and their need to receive meals during the pandemic.
Despite knowing there was no income from their regulars, the brewery pressuring them for rent and facing an immediate future of no income, they still continued to provide food for the centre to prepare meals. In fact they prepared more than 2000 during the lockdown period. They supported the team through regular communication and when they heard that their local football team coached by Adam from Black Country Wellbeing Centre were struggling for sponsorship this year, they once again stepped in and saved the day.”
Young people don’t always get the best press and we think this is really unfair. We love to celebrate amazing young people under 25 at our annual awards and last year’s ‘Young Believers’ showed that young people can make a huge difference in their local community. They often overcome barriers and tackle challenges with passion and enthusiasm.
The awards panel were impressed with two truly outstanding nominations last year and made a joint Young Person’s Award 2020. This was given to Alex Griffiths and Katie Davies.
Katie volunteered with Halesowen Business Improvement District, working hard to support people in Halesowen Town Centre and encouraging shoppers to use local retailers again during lockdown.
Alex was a volunteer producer and presenter with Black Country Radio, and also worked at Russell’s Hall Hospital on Covid Wards, providing vital support to seriously ill people, during the height of the pandemic.
Do you know someone who’s used technology creatively to support people to make them feel less isolated, or just someone to talk to when they needed it? This could be setting up a helpline, a What’s App group to connect people, using Facebook, Zoom or other online platforms, in fact absolutely anything where technology has been used to help others. Let’s hear about all those creative ways they have connected people.
We have chosen an example of where technology can be great from Just Straight Talk and their Community Connectors, who ran virtual coffee mornings.
Virtual Coffee Mornings
The role of Just Start Talking’s (JST) Community Connectors is to bring together people at risk of or experiencing isolation or loneliness. Before lockdown, JST’s Community Connectors had built up relationships with people of all ages and hosted regular coffee mornings and craft sessions at the Rainbow Community Centre in Coseley.
When lockdown restrictions were imposed, coffee morning regulars (and new people introduced through the COVID-19 Support Network) were invited to join a virtual coffee morning using video communication platform, Zoom. This gave people the opportunity to continue to meet in a safe environment and chat over a ‘virtual cuppa’ without having to leave their home. Many people in Coseley have since been supported by Big Local to get online and use new technology through one-to-one coaching (socially distanced or over the phone). The group were asked to come up with their own ideas for activities, including virtual games and quizzes. Participants are also encouraged to lead and host Zoom coffee morning sessions to build their confidence, for example, the quiz winner is asked to host the next quiz.
“Shona and myself make regular contact with many of the participants who were attending coffee mornings prior to lockdown. We have done some shopping for them and have regular chats. We started a virtual coffee morning using Zoom and those who dropped in really enjoyed it and want it to be a regular feature. For those that weren’t sure, we spent some time on a 1-2-1 basis coaching them through the process.” JST Community Connector
Why not nominate someone you know who has also used technology to connect with people?
ARE YOU OK?
There are times that we all feel we need someone to talk to, so we don’t feel alone in dealing with whatever life has thrown at us today. All over the country there are amazing people who step up to check in with people and to ask the question “are you ok?”
Locally in Dudley borough we are fortunate to have special individuals who do exactly that on a regular basis and we felt that the three people who took last year’s ‘Kindness in a Crisis’ Highly Commended Awards, were brilliant examples of the difference a friendly voice or face can make in times of need.
Highly Commended: Esther Olivier, Mary Stevens Hospice
“Esther is from Mary Stevens Hospice and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, she has supported people with long-term conditions and their carers in the local community, in addition to patients receiving palliative and end of life care within Mary Stevens Hospice. Esther has worked above and beyond her role in several ways, with a dedication to help those most vulnerable in our Dudley community and always with kindness and compassion.”
Highly Commended: Zyllah Moranne-Brown, Black Country Radio
“Zyllah is a volunteer at Black Country Radio and has worked tirelessly, both within her remit as volunteer Head of Marketing and in other capacities, to ensure the station stayed on air and its volunteer base remained consistent during the pandemic. Her work can often go unnoticed but was essential for ensuring the station remained on air throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Zyllah was responsible alongside another volunteer for picking up some of the 500+ calls from frequently anxious and vulnerable individuals, to the Black Country Radio Covid Support Helpline and signposting them to partners such as DCVS for support.”
Highly Commended: Lottie Woodward
“Lottie had a stroke at the start of January so was unable to do any ‘hands on’ work, so she created a coronavirus mental health page on Facebook. Using her skills as a counsellor and 30 years’ experience in domestic abuse, people have used this group to seek help and support. During lockdown, cases of domestic abuse cases have soared, and Lottie has selflessly given her time for free to help women who have got in touch with her to help them escape or manage dangerous situation.”
Why not read about these inspirational people and nominate someone who has made sure that others are ok today?