MBCC Awards takes the Midlands by storm

[Written 9 October]

People across Birmingham will be dusting off theirs tuxes and and slipping into their ball gowns in preparation to strut down the red carpet as the MBCC Awards founder has announced the event will return to Birmingham on Saturday 14 October.

This year the Midlands Business and Community Charity Awards 2017  takes place at Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport and is already sold out.

The Birmingham event is highly anticipated following the success of last year’s event where over £4000 was raised for charity.

The awards are the brain-child of Zoe Bennett, a midland based business owner and author.

On the night, multi-award winning TV and Radio Broadcaster, Leah Charles-King will be hosting the event. Readers may recognise her from ITV’s Jackpot247 or may have listened to her drivetime radio show on The Beat London, 103.6FM.

One of Charles-King’s many accolades is that she has been described as the, ‘first and only black female CITV continuity presenter in its 35 year history’.

Ms Charles-King took to social media to say: “ I am so excited that I have been asked to co-host the MBCC awards in Birmingham.

“What is so great about this charity is that all proceeds go towards it and it’s there to recognise the accomplishments of unsung heroes within the business and community world, those who go the extra mile for others and I love things like that.

“It’s going to be a prestigious event”
Joining Leah on stage as a host is Brad Burton a motivational speaker and business owner.

Justice Williams MBE will be interviewing finalists from the Red carpet.

In 2010, Ms Williams was described as the youngest black woman to receive an MBE from the Queen. After a brief stint in prison at a young age, Justice turned her life around and dedicated it to helping young people. She launched Tru Life a magazine with the aim to empower youngsters in the community.
Mr and Miss Birmingham will also be mingling with guests on the red carpet.

A range of singers, magicians and a  ‘Subconscious Surgeon’ will be on hand providing entertainment throughout the night.

Ms Bennett has said all the money raised will be divided between four charities. These are, the NSPCC, Breast Cancer Now, The Haven and UK-Cab.

Tickets are £45 each which include entertainment and a three-course meal. Kicking off at 6pm the festivities go on until 1am on Sunday morning. The Dress code is black tie


When asked how Zoe Bennett manages to juggle being a mother, business owner , author and fundraiser she answered: “It’s about having an ‘I can and I will’ belief. I love helping people”.

Ms Bennett was first inspired to create the MBCC Awards following her traumatic experiences when she was ruthlessly campaigning for justice after her father was murdered in Jamaica.

Mr Errol Bennett, who was a British Citizen, was on holiday in his homeland when he was mercilessly stabbed by a member of his own family.

Upon hearing of what took place Zoe launched a campaign against the Jamaican Government to have the killers put behind bars.

In the midst of the tragedy, Zoe suffered problems with her employers and subsequently was sacked by the Jamaican Tourist Board. Alongside a battle for her father, Zoe also had to face a court battle against her former employers. Thankfully she won her tribunal case for unfair dismissal.  

In the meantime she was receiving  death threats aiming to put her off her fight against justice. In the end she reached out to her local MP, Gavin Williamson for support.

The MBCC founder said: “I knew I was going to die, I said goodbye to my kids, my partner, everyone that was around me, everyone was trying to talk me out of it, I know that when I flew to Jamaica I would die.

“I was having death threats but there was a loophole in the case that if I didn’t come to Jamaica to give evidence the case would be quashed.”

But with her tenacious spirit would not let Zoe give up. She spent hours trawling the internet for anything that could help the case and win justice for her beloved father.

After a four-year fight, Bennett’s battle for justice was finally won as one of the perpetrators got 40 years to life in prison without parole thanks to MP Gavin Williamson’s intervention.

“I wanted to say thank you all these that supported and helped me through that time but didn’t want to do it with flowers or chocolates and so the MBCC awards was born”, Zoe Bennett said.

She added: “To keep costs low I’ve had to beg borrow and steal because I want this event to be accessible for the purpose of recognising the unsung hero for members of the community not just businesses.

“We are doing it for the people, by the people by getting as many people involved.

I wanted to prove that you can do things without an ulterior motive, if you say you are doing it for charity then do it for charity.”

When asked if she has any advice for black business owners in the Midlands she said: “We need to support each other, strength in numbers is the only way to get ahead. Segregation is a thing of the past as a collection we will be a lot stronger.

If we share our contacts and help one another with the contacts that we have we will grow.


As well and founding the MBCC awards Zoe has written a book called Networking Personified which was sold out within 14 hours of its release. She is holding a book launch on Monday 13 November, starting at 7pm at the Park Regis Hotel in Birmingham.

Ms Bennett has has another event in the pipeline aimed specifically at men within the community. Removing The Shame and Guilt is a men’s only conference for men who have suffered from physical or domestic abuse or who may be recovering from prostate cancer and need an arena where they feel safe to talk about their issues.


For more information about the awards click on the link below:




Wolverhampton salsa group raises money for hurricane survivors

Last month, a local salsa group got together and danced their feet off  in the name of charity to raise money for survivors of Hurricane Irma.

Salsa-Versity, a salsa dance club based in Wolverhampton, dedicated one of its monthly party nights to residents in Cuba.

Cuba is one of many countries in the Caribbean that were ravaged by the ferocious Hurricane Irma.

The category 5 storm was described as the worst to hit the region in a over a decade. Ripping up homes and buildings in its path, Irma claimed 55 lives and caused destruction to thousands more.

The storm first hit just over two months ago on Saturday 2 September as a category 2 but quickly grew in strength to category with maximum wind speeds of 295km/h.

Antigua and Barbuda, St Martin, St Barts (Saint Barthélemy), Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, Cuba, Bahamas, Florida are the places they were affected by the Hurricane.

The Red Cross launched the Hurricane Irma Appeal in response to the disaster which is the charity the Salsa Versity founders Carol Nedrick and her partner Roby Pennington chose to support with this event.

At the event Carol Nedrick said: “ When I heard about the disaster I wanted to help but couldn’t do so physically it physically so i dedicated this event to the cause.

“All of the profits from tonight will be donated to help rebuild Cuba after the hurricane.

“The teachers have given their time free of charge and we’ve had many gifts donated from members of the community and Salsa Versity.”

The event was kicked off with Crossbody salsa class for both beginners and experienced dancers then closely followed by a Kizomba class.

The rest of the night was filled with a mix of dancing and socialising into the early hours of Saturday morning.

A raffle with over 23 prizes was the pinnacle of the event as over £800 was raised for the cause.

In reflection of the event Peter Savoy, the resident DJ of Salsa-Versity, said: “That is fantastic, I am happy to be part it, we all did an excellent job and should be proud of what we have achieved.”

The event took place in Wolverhampton at the Jones Road Working Men’s Club. Over 50 people were in attendance.
Another Salsa Charity event took place in the West Midlands to raise funds for survivors of Irma.

On Saturday 30th September, at the Bournebrook Social Club in Selly Oak, Birmingham the LatinMotion dance group hosted a fundraiser and donated all proceeds to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Irma Appeal.

If you’re reading this story and would also like to donate you can do so by clicking on the link below https://beta.redcross.org.uk/appeal/hurricane-irma-appeal

For more information about salsa dancing visit the Salsa-Versity website: http://www.salsa-versity.co.uk/


Peta calls for wool to be taken off the UK shelves

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder it’s clear that winter is in full throttle so it has never been harder to prise us away from our woolly jumpers and scarves. Despite this a Peta activist has appealed to UK consumers to rethink buying woolly products.

The Guardian spoke to Ingrid E Newkirk the co-founder and president of Peta who is pushing for wool to be taken off of shelves in the UK.

Consumers may be used to hearing about the perils of fur and leather in the fashion industry but the attention is now turning to the banning of wool.

Following the success of London Fashion Week and as Brits start stocking up on their Autumn Winter clothing,  the activist wants to shoppers to choose retailers that stock vegan friendly fashion.

Ingrid E Newkirk the director of Peta said: “You can pick out a wool coat from a “responsible” supplier like H&M, whose standards mean that while the lambs’ teats and ears may have been cut off during shearing and they weren’t spared the three-day journey through the Australian outback to the slaughterhouse”.

In a move towards being more responsible well known retailers such as Asos, Etsy and H&M have started stocking vegan friendly clothes.

Online retailer Asos has now incorporated an ‘Eco Edit’ section on its website allowing customers to shop without worrying about fur, leather and wool in their clothing.

The war on Angora wool – taken from the Angora rabbit- has taken huge strides ahead as the material has been banned from over 300 stores across the UK. The ban came as a result of the release of a video showing workers ripping wool from the bodies of rabbits. The video was released by Peta Asia.

The following brands now refuse to sell Angora wool. Burton Menswear, Debenhams, T.K Max and John Lewis.

Peta also campaigns against the use of duck feathers in bedding.

As winter draws in and Brits reach for their woolly jumpers, Peta asks shoppers to buy wool alternatives such as cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, synthetic shearling, and other cruelty-free fibers,

American actress Alicia Silverstone, from the movie clueless,  stripped nude to demonstrate her support for the cause. Donning just the I’d rather go naked than wear wool”  slogan.


Car Insurance Prices Reach Record High As They Rise By 11%

The Association of British Insurance announced an 11% year on year increase in car insurance premiums.

Motorists who are renewing their car insurance cover will notice their premiums have risen by an average of £48.00 compared to last year. This brings the average total to a whopping £484.00. According to the ABI Premium Tracker the increase is approximately four times the rate of Inflation and the largest year on year rise in 5 years.

The ABI have equated this new record high to the Government’s mandate to cut the Personal Injury Discount Rate from 2.5% to -0.75% and increase Insurance Premiums Tax by 2%. The last time the Discount Rate was reviewed was in 2001 and the government claim the new rate represents or current market.

The Discount Rate figure is used by insurance companies to set compensation pay outs when a customer suffers a serious injury from a car accident or medical negligence. To calculate pay-outs after an incident, insurers apply a multiplier which takes into account age, gender and mortality risks in order to determine a claimant’s financial needs over their likely lifetime. The new rate, reduced in March this year, has been described by the ABI as, “the lowest in any advanced economy”.

Industry experts have warned that the decision could land the already burdened NHS with an additional annual £1 billion bill.

Huw Evans the Director General of the ABI has said: “This dramatic increase drives home how important it is the Government press ahead with a new framework for the Discount Rate and call a stop to further hikes in Insurance Premium Tax. The UK is one of the most competitive motor insurance markets in the world, but the unprecedented increase in claims costs is driving up prices to record levels.”

Mr Evans pointed out that older drivers and those aged 18-25 are likely to be hurt by the increases the most.

lowest in any advanced economy

Brett Dixon, President of the Association of Personal Injury said: “During this time insurers quietly reaped the financial benefits of not having to pay what they owe to people with life-long, life-changing injuries.”

Despite Personal Injury lawyers claiming that insurers are benefitting from the reduced rate, local companies are feeling the pressure to keep up with the competition.

Shan Budesha, Company Director of Top Marques Insurance has spoken about the adverse effects the changes have had on high street insurance companies.

Swinton Insurance are to shut 84 branches and make 900 employees redundant in a bid to reduce the rising costs. The closure was announced one month after the Discount Rate was reduced to –0.75%.

Mr Budesha said: “The Governments decision on how personal injury compensation claims are to be calculated caused an absolute uproar with UK insurers. This move will cost the insurance industry millions, and up to 36 million individual and business car/van insurance policies will see an increase in renewal premiums as well as an increase in liability premiums for businesses.”

According to the Mr Budesha : “Insurers starting to grasp the insights into an individual’s risk through data analytics, telematics and technology, this could help with predicting future claims losses based on current driving behaviour thus help with premium calculations.”

When choosing a new insurer at the time of renewal to get the best value for money and keep costs down he advised that motorist should check the Defaqto rating as well as customer reviews.

He added, “do not cut corners with your policy cover or manipulate your information incorrectly in order to drive your premium down.”


Related Links



For more information regarding insurance premiums or for a friendly chat about your renewal click below:


Over 10 million Homes Will Have Full Fibre by 2025

Openreach, the company responsible for the nation’s fibre network, today began discussing plans to roll out super-fast broadband to 10 million homes across Britain by 2025.

In order to successfully assess which areas are most in demand of the high-speed connectivity service, Openreach have asked for research support from Ofcom, the government and other telecommunication suppliers.

This new prediction sees 8 million more homes benefitting from faster downloading capabilities as the network giant had previously pledged to bring full fibre to 2 million homes by 2020.

Earlier this year Openreach controversially split from well-known Telecommunications provider BT. Both companies are currently in the process of a legal separation of signing a deal with Ofcom following two years of fraught negotiations.

Whilst still in partnership with BT, Openreach had spoken out about the economic constraints of providing widespread full fibre to premises (FFTP), describing it as expensive.

However, Clive Selley the chief executive of Openreach has revealed new techniques have been developed by the company which will now allow them to supply the service at half the cost.

“Prepared to take a commercial risk

Mr Selley said: “With the right conditions, we believe we could make FTTP available to as many as 10 million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s, but we need to understand if there’s sufficient demand to justify the roll out, and support for the enablers needed to build a viable business case.

“That includes removing barriers to investment and incentivising those, like Openreach, who are prepared to take a commercial risk.”

Earlier this month, the government unveiled a £400m fund aimed at boosting the UK’s fibre-to-the-home infrastructure.

Malcolm Corbett, who runs the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (Inca), believes the industry can reach about 80% full fibre coverage by 2026 without the need for large government cash hand-outs.

He added: “Regarding the Openreach consultation, one aspect that we think particularly important is that Openreach doesn’t use their new-found enthusiasm for full fibre to try to re-monopolise local access networks.”

Meanwhile the announcement would suggest that Openreach are going from strength to strength, previous partner BT have encountered a few setbacks this year. They have seen a number of senior departures over the past 18 months, including its chairman, finance director, head of corporate affairs and head of investor relations. The share price has also plummeted by almost a quarter over the last year.

Harinder Bains, Business Development Manager for Vibrant Networks welcomes the roll out of FTTP and predicts it will change the way we use broadband.

With online streaming services such as Netflix now serving 52.03 million customers the new faster speeds will be a welcome change to our new trend on consuming entertainment. Full fibre can support broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps, which is enough to download an entire HD TV programme in five seconds.

How To Plan The Perfect Summer Event

This year we have been blessed with some beautiful weather! We’ve had a 5 day heat wave and temperatures that would make the holiday makers in Spain and Tenerife jealous.

What better way to enjoy the sun than spending it outside in the great outdoors! With that in mind I have used my experience in the events industry to help you out with these 5 handy tips on how to plan your summer event.

  1. Planning
  2. Budget
  3. Weather
  4. Sound system
  5. Have fun!!


outdoor party
Garden Party. Picture Courtesy of Daniella Sangha, Facebook

1 – Planning is essential for a seamless stress-free event. Make a list of the parking/access to venue, event timings, number of attendees and list of acts/entertainment and their requirements. This is the sort of information that the venue, caterers and AV company will want to know. Now is also the time to send out your invites. The earlier the better but I’d advise get started at least 3 months before the event date.

2 – It’s easy to get carried away with your spending when planning an event but please be aware that cheapest is not always the greatest. A good company will discuss options with you that are best suited to your event. Keep a spreadsheet of all your expenditure for the event to make sure you don’t go over your proposed budget. If you are coming close make the most of DIY and internet tutorials, you’ll be surprised how creative you can be with room decorating once you get started.

3 – As us Brits know only too well the weather can never be predicted! Always have a backup option such as a stylish marquee or an indoor venue. No one likes a side dish of torrential rain to go with their bbq burger. If you are having performers on a stage maybe consider putting a gazebo over the performance area. If chosen well it will look great and can be brought relatively cheaply from Argos or the Range.


Outdoor Event. Picture by Gettyimages

4 – If a venue claim they have an in-house PA system it’s a good idea to check it out before your event to avoid any embarrassing mishaps. They may charge extra for use of the system or you may need to hire additional equipment. Sometimes DJ’s and performers come fully equipped with a sound system so remember to ask when you are making the booking.

5 Don’t let the stress of planning an event get to you after all its summer and the best time to let your hair down and relax!

I hope these tips help and have a great summer 🙂


Fun outdoors. Picture courtesy of Sarah Jones, Facebook

Business Exhibition Wows Women of Birmingham

Town Hall
Birmingham City Council House. Picture Courtesy of Social Frames.

In June over 300 business professionals from across the West Midlands arrived at Birmingham City Council House to enjoy the Women in Business Expo. The Banqueting Suite on the first floor of the iconic building was packed with people all eager to see the Fashion Show and Business Exhibition.

Business Exhibition
Headz Up Business, Council House

The annual event hosted by Headz Up Business added a creative flair to networking and included a Catwalk where local designers could showcase their latest designs as well as a Business Exhibition with 24 companies promoting their services. Delegates first had the opportunity to network with other like-minded professionals then were entertained by dance group RNR productions who performed contemporary moves to open the Fashion Show.


dancers (1)
RNR Productionz Dancers. Picture Courtesy of Social Frames

Following this Joshua Williams of the modelling agency Elite Fashion Show Birmingham and his team of models took to the stage to show outfits designed by Dolls of Decadence, Vaughan, Elvira Lee Couture, El_Monet and KissmeKate.

Ruth May Jewellery. Picture Courtesy of Social Frames

A local independent Jeweller, Ruth May also came on stage to talk to the audience about her unique designs and her story behind creating her company. Sally Kleyn of Company Coach and Sean Long from West Midlands Police also gave brief accounts of their companies and current campaigns.

Sean Long with Puspha Alexander Picture courtesy of Social Frames

Pushpa Alexander, mum of three and mastermind behind Headz Up Business commended the diversity of the attendees as women from all walks of life showed up to support each other’s businesses and creativity.

Throughout the event attendees posted their enjoyment of the event twitter using #Headzup .

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