• Fraser Urquhart Media

Book Clubs, Business Grants, VE Day & Joan Collins' Shoes - FU Loves The Midlands #7

Updated: May 20, 2020

I don’t know about you, but we’re really buying into this idea of the ‘new normal’. This is the 50th day – yes we’ve been striking them off on the calendar like we’re inmates – since enforced lockdown and we’re starting to hate it less. Sure, we miss the human physical connections, but we’ve hit a routine with work Zoom calls; and we’re even doing group chats every Saturday night over cam with cocktails; the Sunday morning hangovers are still here just like in the olden days. The rest of the time is spent pottering and wasting time, just like before. So, it all adds up to the thought of unlocking lockdown being both tantalising and terrifying.

We realise it’s not been so easy for everyone, but we did a poll over the weekend to ask friends and family what thing they’d learned about themselves over lockdown that they were unwilling to forego when we were released. The vast majority spoke of finding time for themselves, of operating at a slower pace and finding peace which is no bad thing.

We’re also loving keeping conversations going, whether that’s on here with our newsletter, for our clients and for companies that are new to us and who are wanting to make sure that they can play a part in the conversation and need a helping hand to make them shout a little louder.

As we keep saying, Silence is not golden, we’ve all got to keep talking! Once again, if you’ve got a story that you’d like to share, or if you just want a chat, get in touch by email: jon@fu-media.co.uk or kevin@fu-media.co.uk or call us on 07713 740 272

Take care

Jon, Kevin and the #FUFighters


Why has Sean Connery spaced all his books out?

He's been shelf isolating


With the Bank Holiday moved to Friday to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day, we’ve worked with PlanBee, creators of professional curriculum resources for teachers and schools, to help your children understand what VE Day is all about. They’ve produced a range a of VE day inspired activities with which to have fun, including bunting templates, word searches , recipes and fact sheets that you can download by simply clicking on them.

For more activities including essential World War 2 information (things you may have forgotten from your own school days) including 10 fascinating WW2 facts click here.


Absolute Radio is launching a special pop-up station dedicated entirely to the 1940s, in honour of the 75th anniversary of VE Day. The station will be available across the UK for 24 hours only, 'offering listeners a comforting trip down memory lane'.  Expect music from the likes of Billie Holliday, Doris Day, and Bing Crosby, plus they’ll be playing re-imagined news bulletins every hour on the day itself too.

WIN!  A £5000 PUBLICITY PACKAGE WITH FU MEDIA & DLUXE MAGAZINE Publicity specialists, FU Media, and luxury magazine, DLUXE, have joined forces to offer an exclusive competition to win a year-long publicity package – worth over £5000. To be in with a chance of winning, simply CLICK HERE. T&Cs apply.  Competition closes 31st May 2020.

WARNING!  DATE SENSITIVE OPTIONS FOR EVERY EMPLOYER RE ANNUAL LEAVE AND REDUNDANCIES DURING FURLOUGH Last week, the government provided much wanted clarity with regards to annual leave and redundancies with regards to furloughed employees. But why is this update more important than all other times that clarity has been provided by the government?  Why should this grab your attention? Well, this time, commercially sensitive employers, those with cash flow issues, those that might be facing workforce planning issues when they return post lockdown have a real opportunity to head off some prominent issues, whilst subsidised by the government scheme – but you will have to act fast to make this work for your business, given that the scheme is due to expire on 30th June 2020”, warns Toni Robinson, Managing Director of NucleusHR. Click HERE for answers to all the burning questions of the week.

BRINDLEYPLACE LIGHTS UP FOR KEYWORKERS On behalf of the 10,000 people who normally work at Brindleyplace every day, for the next three weeks Birmingham’s landmark building, Number 3 Brindleyplace, will light up the night sky blue in support of the NHS and the heroic frontline staff supporting our community. Stacey Muir, Marketing and Events Executive at Brindleyplace, said:  “No community has been unaffected by Coronavirus, so on behalf of the entire Brindleyplace community, we wanted to show our respect for the NHS workers who are putting their lives on the line to keep us safe. As our community take to balconies, gardens and windows around Birmingham to clap for our carers and say thank you, for the next three weeks, Number 3 Brindleyplace will shine blue too”

HARTBEEPS WEST MIDLANDS – SOLIHULL & HENLEY IN ARDEN TO SING A RAINBOW FOR THE NHS Hartbeeps West Midlands – Solihull & Henley in Arden is one of over 100 Hartbeeps groups that will be aiming to raise money for the NHS this week via a free online class.  Inspired by the beautiful pictures of rainbows seen in windows and pavements across the UK, they will be running a free rainbow themed class suitable for all children under 5years. The 20-minute pre-recorded session includes classic children’s songs including ‘Sing a Rainbow’ and ‘Zoom to the Moon,’ as well as some of the most popular songs from Hartbeeps classes.  The session will be able to view on Thursday 7th May at 11.00am on Hartbeeps West Midlands – Solihull & Henley In Arden Facebook page, and a fundraising page here.


Midlands conservation charity, Twycross Zoo, is appealing to the community to join in its biggest fundraising initiative to date: a sponsored Trek to Africa that will take place in May, literally from the comfort of your own home. The Twycross Zoo team is encouraging people to walk the distance between Twycross Zoo and Cameroon – a collective 3,200 miles to be exact. Twycross Zoo’s CEO, Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, explained further: “We are not asking anybody to break the Government lockdown rules, but as more people are out walking, as part of their hourly daily exercise, we are hoping the community will commit to walking a number of miles, so we can collectively walk 3,200 miles and raise some much needed funds to support Twycross Zoo during this uncertain time. It costs, apparently, over £650,000 per month to keep and care for the 500 animals at Twycross - many of whom are endangered.To get involved, you just need to message the Twycross Zoo Facebook page to register your interest”. “We want everyone to get involved and we don’t mind how people clock up the miles: whether it’s with some laps outside your home or in your garden; on a treadmill, or a couple of miles a day exploring the area where you live during your hourly exercise.   To get involved visit message the Twycross Zoo Facebook page with your interest: here  There is also a Total Giving page, where everyone can help to collect sponsorship, here.

CELEBRITIES CLEAR OUT CLOSETS FOR REFUGE Celebrities are selling their wares on eBay in aid of Refuge. Joan Collins, Katie Price, Craig Revel Horwood, Alexandra Burke, Helen Mirren are all having a Closet Clear Out for Refuge; an initiative to raise awareness and funds to support women and children experiencing domestic abuse during the coronavirus pandemic. Designer clothes and pre-loved favourites from the closets of some of the biggest names in showbiz are available via auction in the OK! Closet Clear Out eBay shop with all proceeds going to Refuge.

We want Joan’s shoes! Bid on them here.


Britons has gone spring-cleaning crazy under lockdown and, as a result, the demand for home cleaning products has risen by over 200%, according to cleaning experts at Dr Beckmann. 

The cleaning and laundry company have issued a Top 10 list of the areas of the home that need extra TLC due to us being cooped up at home: 

Read the the tips here.

CAPTAIN TOM T-SHIRTS LAUNCHED WITH 100% PROFITS GOING TO TOM’S WALK FOR THE NHS Artist Rebecca Osborne has designed a t-shirt honouring Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old war veteran that raised over £33 million for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden. The t-shirts are 100% organic cotton and are available at www.capelessheroes.co.uk, priced at £13.50 for kids and £19 for adults.  All profits go to Captain Tom's JustGiving fund for the NHS.


Thousands of small firms and sole traders – including High Street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak, it’s been announced. Small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only seven questions. The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. And any business that has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less can apply to have these switched over to this generous new scheme. The Bounce Back Loan scheme is the latest step in a package of support measures launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak – with £7.5 billion already awarded in business grants, 4 million jobs supported through the job retention scheme and tax deferrals supporting hundreds of thousands of firms. Find out more and apply here


Inclusive Rugby was given a huge boost when Birmingham Bulls RFC confirmed that the Union Cup, Europe’s premier LGBTQ+ tournament, is to not only go ahead in Birmingham in May 2021, but has garnered support from the Welsh international rugby legend, Gareth Thomas. The Union Cup 2021 is Europe’s premier inclusive rugby event and will see upward of 60 LGBTQ+ rugby teams from more than 18 countries battle it out in Brum over the weekend of 30th April to 2nd May 2021.  Alistair Burford, Tournament Director for Union Cup 2021 commented: “Birmingham Bulls RFC is thrilled to be the host club for the upcoming Union Cup 2021 in Birmingham.  Bringing the Cup to Birmingham has been a dream of the Bulls for many years.  Birmingham is the UK’s Second City and we’re looking to giving our visiting teams and fans a first-class experience”. Leading the Ambassadors of Union Cup 2021, gay rugby icon, Gareth Thomas, commented; “As one of the most important LGBT+ sporting events in Europe, I was honoured to get involved in last year’s Union Cup which broke down social barriers and bridged together communities across Europe.  This is such an important, high-profile tournament that really does make a difference.  I am proud to be an Ambassador for the Union Cup 2021 and breaking down barriers in LGBT+ sport”. It is the intention, in 2021, to elevate the awareness of the tournament beyond the LGBT+ community and into the wider public realm.  David Cumpston, Chair of Birmingham Bulls commented: “This is an inclusive rugby tournament and it feels right to extend that inclusivity to all, irrespective of creed, colour, sexuality, gender or even if they’ve been to a rugby match before, or not! Sport is about fun and that’s our overarching principle; for everyone to have fun." The Bulls will host the tournament at Birmingham City University’s Pavilion, Moor Lane from April 30th to May 2nd, 2021.  Owners of Guinness and Bacardi, drinks giant, Diageo PLC, have already stepped forward to offer their support to the competition.  Selected sponsorship opportunities are still available. Interested parties are advised to refer to www.birminghambullsrfc.com for updates.


With everything that’s going on many of us are escaping the everyday world in the pages of our favourite books – whether that’s working through the pile of must reads but never got round to it or revisiting the bookcase to discover old friends that can take you back to happier times. It’s in that spirit that a new Facebook group has been set up. Literary Loves- Share The Books that Shaped You asks members for their best book recommendations, discusses past and current reads and delves into people’s favourite authors, what makes them so appealing and what would be the first book of theirs to pick up as a new starter. A judgement free zone, this book loving community embraces all aspects of what makes books special from chic lit to travelogues, biographies to bodice rippers there is no genre that goes unloved. Our kindles have never been so full of amazing books recommended to us. Get involved and join the conversation here.


Industry paper, The Stage, has reported that some theatres and producers are preparing to stay shut until 2021 amidst fears that they will suffer huge financial losses if government support does not remain in place until they are allowed to fully reopen. Theatres, including Leicester’s Curve and the Birmingham Hippodrome, have shared their plans for different scenarios relating to when theatres are allowed to reopen. Curve’s CEO, Chris Stafford, said he was also looking at a number of scenarios ranging from a summer 2020 opening through to shows not opening until 2021. “We very much hope we will be back in business this autumn at the latest - the scenario of losing Christmas trading is incredibly bleak for an organisation like Curve,” he said, adding: “The challenge, of course, is no one knows when we will be back in business and what restrictions might need to be put in place for audiences to feel safe and secure in coming back to the theatre.” He said Curve was spending thousands of pounds every month on its building and added; “The job-retention scheme has been a lifeline, but if it ceases to exist beyond (end) June, there is only so long our reserves can keep us going while we are closed.” You can read the full article here. 


A new initiative in Coventry is hoping to help teenagers suffering with anxiety and isolation during the coronavirus outbreak by bringing teenagers together online and providing a space for them to explore and creatively share their own experiences of the lockdown.

Facilitated by the Belgrade Theatre in partnership with Grapevine, each week, the two organisations will be posting a new video offering a window into the worlds of 20 young participants, showing them at home, with their families and in their rooms. Topics explored will include things like home life, school, exercise and friendship. By the end of the lockdown, the group will have created a cumulative time capsule for anyone to watch – and for the participants to look back on and remember this extraordinary time.

The first video created by the Coventry group has now been published, and is available to view on the Belgrade’s website, via its Between Stages hub at wwww.belgrade.co.uk/between-stages.

The Coronavirus Time Capsule is available for free to youth theatres, educational institutions, student drama groups, amateur companies and community arts projects everywhere. For more information, visit www.companythree.co.uk.


SUPA Gallery is a new online-only art gallery, which lives on Instagram @supa_gallery and at www.supagallery.co.uk.It presents a hand-picked selection of original and affordable artwork by exciting contemporary artists from Birmingham and the Midlands.

It has been founded by arts writer and blogger Ruth Millington, who has a background in spotting emerging talent, representing artists and writing about contemporary art. With prices starting at £30, SUPA will allow anyone to become an art collector, and to support the very best talent from this region. Current artists include photographers Tom Hicks, Anne Guest and Stephen J. Morgan, printmaker Suzie Hunt and painter Jay Taylor.


Mondelēz International has donated over 3,500 delicious treats to charities across the West Midlands over the last 3 weeks. Connecting with Trussell Trust Foodbanks in Erdington, Longbridge, Smithswood and Aston & Nechells, the Bournville-based business delivered treats to locations across the region. With foodbanks relying on food donations more than ever to feed local people in crisis, the contributions will help the Trussell Trust to continue providing essential support during this challenging time.

The snacking company also donated treats to care homes and elderly people across the West Midlands including Roxton and Asprey care homes in Sutton Coldfield, Bournville Village Trust and Stirchley Care home.


After celebrating its 25th birthday just two months ago, Heart of England Community Foundation, the region’s leading supporter of community projects and local charities, has hit yet another major milestone. Founded exactly a quarter of a century ago, the Foundation has now awarded an incredible £25million to projects and organisations across the West Midlands and Warwickshire.

The celebration comes alongside a fantastic year for the charity as, it commemorates granting over £5million over the last 12 months alone. This has seen more than 740 grants distributed to a whole host of grassroots community causes, local charities, and development schemes that tackle key issues across the region. The charity’s support is invaluable to local projects across the West Midlands and Warwickshire, with programmes like Community Matters, Building Better Lives, and – most recently – the Coronavirus Resilience fund ensuring that vital can be carried out by groups across the West Midlands.

For more information about Heart of England Community Foundation and projects that it supports, head to www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk.


Join thousands of other local people camping out overnight in their gardens and living rooms to support the #SIFASurvives campaign whether you’re pitching a tent in the garden, building a DIY den on your balcony, or creating a cushion castle in the living room, everyone can get involved! 

The campaign is being launched as part of an emergency #SIFASurvives appeal, launched in response to a reduction in support due to the Coronavirus epidemic. The charity is looking to raise £50,000 over the coming months, and the money raised will ensure that they can continue providing homeless and vulnerable adults access to key services such as showers and health clinics, whilst also helping them to work towards a brighter future. 

To sign up as a ‘camper’ you are asked to donate a minimum £5 to the appeal, in return for access to an exclusive Activity pack filled with fun activities including stargazing and leaf printing. The pack will have everything needed for an evening under the stars, including family-friendly recipes created by SIFA Fireside Patron, Alex Claridge (The Wilderness), as well as craft activities and homemade bunting to decorate your ‘campsite’. The evening will also help bring people together, with a hosted live stream, music performances, and the chance to share camping experiences on social media. Visit https://www.sifafireside.co.uk/pages/181-big-brummie-camp-out-2020 to find out more and support this amazing charity.

PAINT LIKE A PRO Come on, you’ve looked at that dodgy bit of wall for the last seven weeks, so it’s high time you stopped making excuses and got it tackled! Our homes have never played such an important role in our everyday lives, so creating spaces in which we can enjoy has taken on a much more significant role on our consciousness. If you are a first time DIYer or a keen enthusiast looking to freshen up your interiors, we’ve pulled together five decorating tips with painting and decorating pro, Benjamin Moore.  Click HERE.


Those familiar with the premise of BBC’s Desert Island Discs will know it’s all about the eight tracks celebrities would be cast away with.  But, what about the films people would like to be stranded with?  Flat sharing site, SpareRoom.com, has surveyed almost 4,000 flat sharers to discover the nation’s eight favourite ‘Desert Island Flix’.  The eight films that received the most votes were: The Shawshank Redemption, Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, Pulp Fiction, Titanic, About Time, Gladiator and the Matrix. 1984’s The Shawshank Redemption was the most popular movie to take to a desert island, with the much-loved prison-set classic about dreams of freedom especially relevant in the current climate. 


Yes Karen, we’re all desperate for a facial. Thankfully  the experts at Victorian Plumbing have put together a handy guide on the 10 easy tips for turning your bathroom into your own private lockdown spa.  If you could do with a bit of rest and relaxation right now, we’ve got your back. Read it here.


Many people have embraced new projects during lockdown, but the multi-talented Todrick Hall has taken it to the next level by  writing and recording  the fabulous ‘Quarantine Queen’: a boisterous explosion of anthems that provide a sassy soundtrack for staying in. Watch the video for the EP’s lead track ‘Mask, Gloves, Soaps, Scrubs’ here which references everything from Carol Baskin to Clothes folding and Febreezing the house down! The video features an all-star array of self-filmed cameos from the likes of, Nicole Scherzinger, Little Mix,  a host of RuPaul’s Drag Race Alumni, dancers AJ and Curtis Pritchard, Amber Gill of ‘Love Island’ fame, Amber Riley and even ex Royal butler Paul Burrell!


Sometimes, nothing hits the spot quite like a Wagamama’s – the chilli squid, yaki soba, teriyaki donburi and of course, our all-time favourite, chicken katsu curry gets us salivating as we type.  As part of Intu’s fakeaway series, Intu and Wagamama reveal their famous katsu recipe via their ‘Wok from home’ series. Read the recipe here!


The more things you do, the more you can do. Lucille Ball

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