Creating a business at 21: Global Sounds PR

Creating a business was something I had always hoped of doing, but never did I think I would be doing it at only 21. 

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This year, I have been working on something new and very exciting which I am so happy to finally reveal.

Myself and a colleague of mine have joined together to set up our very own public relations company called ‘Global Sounds PR’. Why?, you may ask. Well, we both have a passion for public relations and have worked together on various projects before so we have strong teamwork. We both have a vast amount of experience working within PR and felt we could combine our skills to create something very new and unique.

Furthermore, owning and running my own business has long been an aspiration for me and having this opportunity and experience has been a massive learning curve. Whilst I am a journalism specialist I have also gained a thorough interest in PR and have wanted to combine both within my future career.

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#Brumvote: Should 16-18 year old’s get the vote?

With the general election fast approaching, I spoke to two students to get their opinion on whether 16-18 year old’s should get the vote.

This topic has been one of much debate within the last year, especially following the Scottish referendum where 16 year old’s were given the vote.

Over two million people in the UK aged between 16 and 18 are unable to cast their vote: a vote which will affect them for the next four years of their life. At 16, they go through several important life changes which are impacted by the decisions of the political party in charge.

With this in mind, shouldn’t it be right that these adolescents get to vote?

Take a look at what these two students had to say on the matter:

Birmingham City Council to make funding cuts: who is being hit hardest?

Following a 2015 Business Plan created by Birmingham City Council, severe decreases to funding means public services will be taking a hit.

Whilst leaders of Birmingham City Council are attempting to aim funding to help the most vulnerable within the city, there are some members of the public who believe services are taking an unnecessary hit.

The city council has been tasked with cutting £133m from its budget, £3.8m less than the original plan of cutting £116.7m as was discussed at the end of 2014. More reductions are yet to be made in the following years.

The graph below is ‘jaws of doom’ provided by Birmingham City Council which shows the decline in funding provided to Birmingham in comparison with the rise of pressures by organisation’s for funding.

'Jaws of Doom' which demonstrates the rise in pressures for funding in comparison to the funding given to Birmingham City Council

‘Jaws of Doom’ which demonstrates the rise in pressures for funding in comparison to the funding given to Birmingham City Council

Three of the budget meetings were interrupted by anti-cut protestors who, on one occasion, had to be escorted from the meeting by security.

The children’s and healthcare sector

Amidst the city council claiming to be aiming funding at the most vulnerable, there are to be cuts made within the children’s department.

Cuts to social care mean 200 people won’t receive service from 2015/16. Further to this, in 2016/17, 1,600 people with mental health needs or disabilities will not receive service.

A £1m investment is used to back up a new Youth Offer, with the aims to ensure everyone has access to education, employment or training within four months.

However, there are to be cuts made which mean fewer people will have access to career advice; potentially impacting on Birmingham’s economy.

Birmingham library

Birmingham’s library opened two years ago in 2013, costing Birmingham City Council an estimated £188.8 million.

Its completion was long awaited by the population of Birmingham being the largest public library in the UK. Along with this, it has introduced more arts and crafts opportunities within the city.

The library was identified as the 10th most popular visitor attraction in the UK in 2014 with over 2 million visitors and has collected several awards within its first two years of services.

Despite the success of the library, the city council has decided in their business plan to make cuts to the library.

This decision received negative reactions from members of the public following the announcement, and has been at the forefront of the media eye on Birmingham City Council cuts.

Following decisions, over half the staff will be made redundant, reducing numbers from 188 to 100. This decision comes despite the library’s director Brian Gambles being made MBE in June 2014 for “services to libraries”.

Along with these cuts, the library will experience changes to their opening times. Rather than being open for 73 hours a week, the library will open 40 hours and be closed on Sunday. The council hope this will save £1.3 million per year.

Emma Barnett, student teacher from Birmingham, said: “I feel these losses will have a huge impact on Birmingham. Birmingham library is a free place where communities can come together and everyone can feel welcome. But now lower opening times and less staff will mean this will be restricted.”

Further to these losses, a charge will be incurred for the music service within the library so to enable specialist music staff to be kept.

Job cuts

According to their council’s business plan and summary budget for 2015, employment growing by 2 per cent for the year 2014/15 and 18,000 new businesses appearing in Birmingham.

Despite this, Birmingham City Council has decided that to save money, enormous job cuts must be made.

Whilst 100 out of 188 staff from Birmingham’s new library will be being made redundant, job losses do not stop there.

According to the plan, these cuts are part of a plan to cut 1,100 jobs within the next year and 6,000 to go by 2018.

Kate Saxton, a currently unemployed student from Birmingham, said: “these job cuts will mean a rise in the amount of people relying on benefits.”

“At the moment, there are less jobs for recently graduated students, so these job cuts will affect us even more and I think the council is targeting the cuts at the wrong sector. We should be looking at other areas to reduce costs, rather than cutting jobs. ”

Other public services

Further to these reductions, their have been many other cuts to public services which will impact greatly on people’s lives.

Major public events in Birmingham, like the gay pride parade, are to lose their funding support from the government. Whilst the funding has been secured for some events like the Rugby World Cup, other major events are to be cut by 28%.

Revenue Support Grant (RSG) is due to decrease from £388.1m in 2014/15 to £280.1m in 2015/16.

To save money, the council has also proposed and agreed on an increased council tax of 1.99% for 2015.

However, 2015/16 yearly period is to see the completion of Birmingham New Street Station, Grand Central Birmingham and the new tramline as well as the alteration to the Mailbox.

How many takeaways are near primary schools in your ward?

Figures from the Birmingham City Council show that 1 in 4 children are considered obese by the time they finish primary school.

Statistics show that Ladywood in Birmingham has the highest number of takeaways within 400m of primary schools, with 25.4 takeaways per 10,000 people. Edgbaston is at the other end of the scale with only 1.4 per 10,000 people.

The interactive map below shows the number of takeaways per ward within 400m of primary schools. The orange indicators show the wards with high amounts of takeaways near primary schools per ward, whilst red indicates those with only small numbers of takeaways within each ward.

Ladywood, amongst other areas, has the highest amount of takeaways per 10,000 people.

Ladywood, amongst other areas, has the highest amount of takeaways per 10,000 people.

To see an interactive version of this map, click here: https://en.batchgeo.com/map/680fd6262e65261a5c99c7365fa01378

City rapper aims to “make waves” in criticised music culture 

11180366_1740127486214184_1042657926_o Shaun Boden, a young city rapper, aims for a big future in one of the most criticised music cultures in our society.

Stoke on Trent rapper Shaun Boden, known by his rapper nickname ‘SB’, has had a great career so far but high hopes for a grime music future may be stunted by society’s perceptions of his style of music.

A regular on the grime scene, Boden is keen for people to accept this culture for the greatness that he believes it can be. ‘SB’ himself has had his fair share of disagreements regarding the culture, and wishes for a change in people’s understanding of grime music.

Where the journey began 

The Birmingham City University student became interested in music at the age of 16 when a friend asked him to create a music video.

Boden said: “I agreed to do it on the terms that nobody ever hears it.”

However, Boden’s friend was not to keep to this promise as he sent it to other people and it soon became word of the school.

“I was embarrassed at first but I got nothing but good feedback. It was strange at first and people started to call me SB.”

However, the same could not be said for his friend who never ended up releasing any music. Instead, the newly-named SB, as he prefers to be known, began getting requests from friends for more.

Following the success of his first recording and with no knowledge of what exactly he was creating, he went on to record in his bedroom with just a studio mic and laptop.

One of these recordings was a cover of ‘Hustle Hard’; an American rap tune by artist Ace Hood. Receiving a mass of attention, the amateur cover was successfully played on a radio station in Africa.

“SB the mixtape”

Following this success, he began attaining a steady flow of online followers and support which encouraged him to release his fir11195250_1740127072880892_1768849943_nst mixtape titled “SB the mixtape”.

Available on various different sites, it achieved over 1500 downloads; an amount which SB was not expecting.

This online attention led to not only more youtube videos which were receiving over a thousand views a video, but also requests for performances at parties in his home city.

As well as this he began to market a new mixtape which he titled ‘Scrapbook’.

“During my final mix down session in the recording studio, a man named Dwayne came in and offered to pay for the session,” Boden said.

“I’m a man of pride and was really confused, but we exchanged numbers and he offered to manage my bookings for free.”

From this conversation, he got himself the management of Box of Money record company. His management company provided him with more bookings around the UK; a massive difference from small recordings in his bedroom.

Being a grime artist

Having a manager provided the grime artist with a bright future, but this didn’t come without numerous battles against the misperceptions of his chosen style of music.

His recordings and mixtapes attracted the attention of many artists who began to contact him; artists like StayFresh, Clipson and Chucky whom had been Boden’s own idols.

This provided him with the opportunity for more work as he worked with some of the members of StayFresh. He also formed a friendship with Chucky with whom he released many tracks.

Amongst his successes, SB also hit some obstacles which affect the amount of work he receives in his own city.

“I don’t get a lot of work in my city because the police have a tendency to shut my events down for silly reasons,” he said.

Incidents at previous shows has given him a somewhat negative reputation and prevents him from being booked at certain clubs and shows.

Music at university

Whilst he had a successful past, his work began to slow down due to university commitments and it became a struggle to find the time and consistency of producing music in balance with university work.

This did not affect his fan base, with many of his committed supporters continuing to ask for new music.

However, now in his second year, SB has begun to turn this around with the recent releases of some of his music.

“I have a video coming out really soon which should be interesting as it’s a little different to the heavy grime music that people expect from me,” he said.

He also feels that his most success was during his time at university.

“It would definitely be the launch party for my new mix tape ‘I’m Back’ in March of 2014. There were 400 people there so the venue was booked out. The tape had features from artists Raider [StayFresh] and Chucky.”

Not a man of only one talent, Boden has begun to build a brand around his name. He continues to manage the majority of his music himself as well as his website on which his merchandise will become available.

A future for grime?

Boden is currently at Birmingham City University where he hopes to graduate with a degree in Media and Communications; specialising in music industries.

Despite people’s perceptions of grime music, he hopes there are big things lined up for his future.

He will continue to create mix tapes and work with his management to continue producing his merchandise and keep his followers updated on his music. As well as this he hopes to be performing live on Radio 1Xtra in May.

As well this, he continues to receive requests for performances and says he would love to go on to work with artists like Skepta.

Despite this, he remains thankful that he manages to maintain a loyal fan base and hopes that his future in grime music will alter soon.

Besides his work with Radio 1Xtra, he will be working with Blane Davey, an aspiring media student, to create videos for Blane’s new platform Cresco SMG.

Blane, along with many of Boden’s other critics, is also full of praise for the aspiring artist, saying: “Shaun Boden is a grime artist I expect to make waves in the scene and I feel he is carrying Stoke”.

SB said: “until my culture is accepted more in mainstream music, I don’t think any big events will be seeing me.”

Visit http://www.officialsb.com for videos, music, merchandise and more from Shaun Boden.

New alcohol breathalyser scheme deemed “pointless” by students

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A Saturday night in Birmingham brings with it crowds of students from universities and colleges alike joining the drinking scene to put the week behind them.

It is not unusual for customers to be removed from clubs for being “too drunk”, with some being involved in alcohol-related violence. Statistics have shown that out of 100,000 people, 1,000 will be victims of alcohol-related violence.

This weekend numerous pubs and clubs are trialling a new scheme involving customers being tested for their alcohol levels to determine whether they are over the drink-drive limit. The machines, called “Alco-Blow” tubes”, can check the level of alcohol in the system as well as test for alcohol in bottles which many people continue to drink whilst queuing for entry.

Clubs included will be many on the popular Broad Street which sees hundreds of intoxicated students through their doors throughout the week. Others are placed on Digbeth and Hurst Street.

Birmingham City University student Salman Charania, 19, said: “I understand that the scheme is introduced with hopes that it will decrease violence.”

“However, it will potentially be pointless. Many clubs will lose money and regular customers. If managers continue allowing drunk people in then the breathalyser will only have proved that the customer is drunk with no resulting action.”

The new scheme has successfully been trialled in other parts of the United Kingdom including Liverpool, Loughborough and Nottingham. However, it has received mixed reactions from students.

Other Birmingham students have also responded similarly. Connor Dunbar, a second-year student ambassador at Aston University, said, “I just see it as the council trying to crack down on alcohol related crime but at the end of the day, are clubs really going to use it if it causes them to lose business?”

Lord Mayor Elect aims to increase fitness in obese city

Lord Mayor Elect, Ray Hassall, has said that as Lord Mayor he aims to increase fitness so to decrease obesity levels in Birmingham.

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Branded the ‘jogging Lord Mayor’, Hassall has expressed his worry at the high levels of obesity in young people within the city.

A recent report by World Health Organisation found that 24.4% of children in Birmingham are classed as overweight or obese by the time they start school.

These levels rise to 40.0% when children leave primary school.

Despite the country hosting the 2012 olympics, the second biggest city in England has reduced levels of sporting activity.

Hassall himself is a regular member of sporting events, being the name behind the Great Birmingham Run which began in 2008 and to this day attracts over 20,000 runners.

He said: “children should get at least fifteen minutes of exercise before their day begins. If we get them up jumping about then it will help with fitness and with their brain”.

In the past month, reports have shown an increase in teenagers as young as 16 having weight loss surgery.

More disturbingly, two babies were admitted to hospital in Birmingham and received surgery for being obese.

Other figures show that almost four out of ten children in Birmingham are now classified as obese by the time they reach the age of 11.

Hassall believes that all children should be given a healthy upbringing and he aims to encourage more people and families to get involved with the various schemes and activities Birmingham is offering.

There have been some efforts to stop obesity levels rising.

Kiddichef, a healthy cafe and takeaway for children is opening in Kingstanding which will not offer any of the normal fatty foods children usually consume.

Instead, the cafe will offer meals packed with healthy alternatives including organic fruit and vegetables.

The council have also created the ‘Be Active’ scheme funded by Birmingham Public Health which encourages obese individuals to get involved with physical activities.

In 2013, nine leisure centres faced closure to be replaced by only six due to funding cuts by the council.

However, late 2014 saw the approval of five brand new leisure centres and further investment is being considered for leisure centres already running.

Lowering the voting age is a “simple solution to a complex issue”

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With the general elections looming, the debate over a lower voting age has split not only the political world, but also the academic world and the general public.

Numerous arguments have been proposed which look at various elements including the considered legal age of maturity and other legal opportunities for young people. Many believe that if young people are mature enough to fight for their own country then they should be able to have their say on political matters.

Following the Scottish Independence referendum, arguments have begun to focus on how a lower voting  age in other countries correlates with the level of turnout.

Dr Andrew Mycock, Reader of politics at the University of Huddersfield, said: “neandrew-mycock-320arly all democracies retain the voting age at 18 or above. There is a lack of evidence to suggest that lowering the voting age on its own has increased turnout in countries such as Austria or Norway or youth political engagement.”

The Scottish Independence referendum showed that when the voting age was lowered to 16, turnout soared to 84% from 50.4% in 2011. “The Scottish independence referendum did see large numbers of young people engaged and at times their passion and commitment was breathtaking.”

“It would have been surprising if they had not engaged considering the campaign went for two years. There is a need for a more considered approach where we look at the evidence from across the world as well as in the UK before we lower the voting age.”

Proposals have suggested more opportunities are necessary to engage the younger population in politics, instead of introducing a lower voting age. UK Uncut and the Youth Parliament are just two of many organisations which have been introduced to enable young people to gain an understanding of politics. “We need to go beyond political parties and encourage young people to set the political agenda on their own,” he added.

Miliband has promised that the voting age will be lowered to 16 if Labour wins the election in May. This is a decision which will affect over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds who are currently unable to vote; which many feel prevents them from having their say.

Mycock suggested that lowering the voting age is a “simple solution to a more complex issue”. The voting age has before been altered in 1969 when it was lowered to 18. However, he suggests this change was brought on due to a “transformation in how British society understood the citizenship rights and responsibilities of young citizens”.

“Lowering the voting age may have a positive influence in the short-term but if it is introduced without full consideration of its ramifications it will simply push youth political disengagement to an earlier age.”

Ray Hassall, councillor for Perry Barr, to be Birmingham’s 2015/16 Lord Mayor

Ray Hassall is the man who has been named as Birmingham’s Lord Mayor for 2015/16, but who is Ray Hassall?

Lord Mayor Elect Ray Hassall

Lord Mayor Elect Ray Hassall

Life as a Liberal Democrat Councillor

Hassall has been a Liberal Democrat Councillor since 1990 and works in the Perry Barr constituency alongside his colleagues Karen Trench and John Hunt.

This new role will see him take over from current Lord Mayor Shafique Shah at the end of May.

His time in office is due to expire in 2016, but during the 26 years he has been in office, he has played a very active role within his community.

Hassall has gained a great reputation within Perry Barr thanks to the work he does; including walking the streets of Perry Barr, meeting with the residents. and gaining their trust. These actions enable him to learn of issues that have arisen as well as hearing their opinions on present and future services provided within their area.

His work does not stop there though. He continuously meets with individuals and community groups to work with them on their campaigns for improvements within the ward.

All three liberal democrat councillors have identified the key issues which they will be addressing in preparation for the next election.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Hunt, councillor for Perry Barr, said: “The main issues we hear about are the state of the streets, litter dumping and potholes. I’ve also had a large number of inquiries recently about the introduction of wheelie bins which has not been handed well.”

The end as Cabinet Member for leisure,sport and culture

Despite this somewhat positive reputation that he has gained, Hassall’s time in office has not always been a happy one.

In May 2009, Birmingham Mail reported on his sacking from his three-year role as Cabinet Member for leisure, sport and culture.

According to the paper, he found himself under fire for raising golf fees by 25% in order to cover an £800,000 budget shortfall and failed to convince his colleagues that he could provide a 50 metre swimming pool ready for the 2012 olympics.

The sacking occurred following false support from a key member of the council who instead was Hassall’s opponent in running for Cabinet Member.

Following his previous role as Cabinet Member for leisure, sport and culture, Hassall has decided to use his new role to promote fitness calling himself the ‘jogging Lord Mayor’.

Perry Barr councillor reveals key issues to be addressed in general election

A Birmingham councillor has revealed littering is one of the key issues that will be discussed in the next general election.

Liberal Democrat councillors deemed littering to be one of key issues to be addressed by

Liberal Democrat councillors deemed littering to be one of key issues that needs to be addressed.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Hunt, councillor for Perry Barr, said: “The main issues we hear about are the state of the streets, litter dumping and potholes. I’ve also had a large number of inquiries recently about the introduction of wheelie bins which has not been handed well.”

Alongside his colleagues Ray Hassall and Karen Trench, he continuously makes himself known within the area and with residents by leafleting and listening to any issues constituents have.

Commenting on the work he and his colleagues have been doing to help the public, Hunt said: “I’ve been running vigorous campaigns to get justice for people who can’t handle wheelie bins.”

However, making a change for residents is becoming somewhat impossible. “The street scene is on-going. Some of our local resources are being taken from us. I voted and spoke in the city budget debate for more investment.”

A campaign has been launched to create the first-ever manifesto for Birmingham in preparation for the 2015 election.

The survey has been launched on the Birmingham Mail’s website and requires the interviewee to answer 30 multiple-choice questions. These focus on national and local subjects including NHS, education, immigration, crime, local policing and transport in the city.

This enables Birmingham Mail to formulate a manifesto, which they will present to the politicians.

The campaign attempts to gather information on what specifically campaigners want from their politicians.

Hunt said: “I am sure for the general election people will think about economic issues as well and whether they will be better off or worse off”.

Salman Charania, 19, a Birmingham resident identified the issues that he wants politicians to address.

He said: “I think the general election manifesto is a good campaign but I feel it won’t be very effective as the current government is too self-minded and selfish.”

“I want more government spending on the public and a decrease in tax rates for the lower income brackets to make a fairer system.”

“I don’t feel the government cares about the lower-earning sector of the country as much as they should. A lot of their decisions focus on helping higher-income earners rather than the general public. ”

Currently the Labour Party has the majority of councillors within Birmingham City Council as well as running the council, with 77 councillors out of 120.

31 of these 120 belong to the Conservative Party and 12 belong to the Liberal Democrat Party.