Star comment: Commonwealth Games a unique opportunity on our doorstep

A chance for our entire region to sell itself to the world.

There are 50 days to go before the Commonwealth Games start.

We can look forward positively to an event that will bring people together, just as the jubilee brought joy and happiness to huge numbers.

The Games are being held in Birmingham but they are not merely a celebration for the Second City. The Commonwealths are for the region as a whole and events will stretch out to Staffordshire and the Black Country.

Youngsters from Lichfield and Much Wenlock, Bloxwich and Ludlow will be inspired as stars of track and field descend on the West Midlands while a cultural celebration also takes place.

Tens of thousands of visitors will be heading into the West Midlands from surrounding counties like Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Cheshire, in addition to huge numbers who will come from further afield.

Those visitors will bring spending power that will boost the local economy at a time when it needs all the help it can get.

The Games were hastily agreed and have been hit by Covid, so credit needs to go to organisers who have kept it on track. It is a chance for our entire region to sell itself to the world. It is also a unique opportunity to see a global tournament happen on our doorstep. It is a huge logistical exercise. Now is the time to look forward to the Games and get behind it.

We have seen the positive benefits that arose when the jubilee brought us altogether. Now we should look ahead with optimism, enthusiasm and glee to a spectacular Commonwealth Games.

Anyone going to university, or sending their child to university, should carefully consider their options before making that commitment. A report today talks of a very high proportion of loneliness among students, many of whom will be away from home for the first time.

It can be a bewildering experience, especially in the first few weeks of a new challenge at university. But many halls of residence are simply not set up to be communal or to encourage the mixing of students.

Students in poorly designed halls of residence can be shut away in a room with no access to other students and struggling to form new friendships. And yet, effective pastoral support is often missing too for students at risk of poor mental health.

Any parent of a new student will be aware of this issue.

Yet too many universities seem oblivious and do little or nothing to help.

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