Although 2020 hasn’t been the year we imagined, we must not lose sight of future events that will be an antidote to this virus. In 2022, the biggest event ever to be staged in the West Midlands will take place, in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to put our region on the map. To celebrate all that is good about the West Midlands. It will bring new and upgraded sports facilities and create thousands of volunteer and job opportunities. What is not to like?

I have not hidden the fact that I am the number one super fan of Birmingham 2022. Not least because as a teenager I ran for a running club in Birmingham at the very stadium that will be the centre piece of the Games, the Alexander Stadium. But also because of the positive effects the Games will have for generations to come, the opportunities it will unleash and especially the opportunity to be involved at a world class event.

As the Mayor for West Midlands, Andy Street said, “imagine having Birmingham 2022 right at the top of your CV!?”. I could not agree more.

The application process for their first set of apprenticeships is now live and this is only the first wave ahead of further apprenticeship posts. I know that people from across the Black Country will be keen to get involved and I encourage everyone to look at the many opportunities listed on Birmingham 2022 website.

I wish to highlight the recent award of £200,000 of funding to a Black Country based project, Black Country Creative, following a collaboration between the Olympic legacy funder Spirit of 2012 and Birmingham 2022 bringing together D/deaf, disabled and non-disabled people to tell stories of people around the Commonwealth.

The Games are also an important part of West Midlands Mayor Andy Streets economic recovery plans post COVID-19 which are being designed in partnership with our fantastic local businesses. He’s once again proving to be a great champion and leader for our region.

To achieve this, we need to showcase all our assets, which include the Black Country, to the world. Birmingham 2022 offers a huge opportunity with an anticipated global audience of over one billion. I will be working with the Black Country Consortium and Dudley Borough Council to ensure that that the Dudley Borough is part of the route for the Time Trial cycling race which was recently announced as starting and finishing in Wolverhampton.

I will continue to engage with Birmingham 2022 to ensure that everyone in our region can benefit from the Games.

And finally, if we want to ensure the Games take place, we must all continue to play our part to control the virus and save lives. We must all work together to suppress the virus while also protecting the NHS, keeping children in schools and keeping the economy moving over what is going to be a challenging, and bumpy few months ahead of us.