Martin James Network founder marks National Poetry Day with city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his experiences of Covid

Martin James Network founder marks National Poetry Day with city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his experiences of Covid

To mark National Poetry Day (Thursday 1st October), Birmingham poet – Basic Existential Boy – has installed a city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his own experiences of Covid.

Basic Existential Boy, or Jim Cockburn as he’s also known, launched his collection of Covid-19 poetry last month after falling ill with symptoms of the virus back in February.

Now, as we approach National Poetry Day, Jim hopes to inspire others and share his love of the written word with this thought provoking ‘clean graffiti’ art trail.

The trail aims to highlight the importance of art and poetry at times like these but also analyse how the pandemic has radically altered our society, rendering everyday life virtually unrecognisable overnight.

Showcasing excerpts of the poet’s work, the graffiti can be found in a number of locations throughout Birmingham such as Moseley, Harborne, Digbeth, Broad Street and New Street, as well as Moor Street and Snow Hill.

Speaking about his Covid poetry collection, Jim says: “Lockdown created time and space for me to reflect and writing this poetry has been a cathartic experience, helping me to deal with the mixed emotions the pandemic has brought about.

“The Coronavirus has disrupted every part of our lives in profound ways and no one has been immune from the effects. Within the pages of the collection, I have tried to capture some of these momentous times, good and bad.

Available to purchase on Amazon, Jim’s collection – called Covid Spring – features 17 poems reflecting on the world we’ve come to witness during the pandemic.

All proceeds from the collection go to EPIC Youth – a project set up by the Martin James Foundation to help disadvantaged young people with business and entrepreneurial success.

For more information visit www.basicexistentialboy.com or to purchase the Covid Spring anthology, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Covid-Spring-Basic-Existential-Boy/dp/1527268446.

Follow @BasicExistentialBoy on Instagram and use the hashtag #BEBTHEPOET if you spot his work across the city.

Birmingham business expands with VR acquisition

Birmingham business expands with VR acquisition

Birmingham-based business, the Martin James Network, has expanded its portfolio further with the acquisition of VR company, VR Simulation Systems.

Headquartered in Edgbaston, and employing over 1,200 people globally, the Martin James Network is formed from a variety of organisations ranging from start-ups to well-established brands that have been in business for over 15 years.

The network has gone from strength-to-strength over the last two years, having started as a team of ten in rented offices in October 2018.

This latest move sees the network expand its mental health group, TalkOut, as it looks to help businesses navigate new ways of working and support staff wellbeing following the coronavirus outbreak.

Headed up by CEO, Jill Mead, TalkOut will now be able to offer workplaces across the country access to the best employee mental health support using the latest technology, in addition to its existing training and consultancy services.

As well as the new VR offering enabling employees to better understand and manage mental health through simulated environments, TalkOut has launched an app to help businesses connect and engage with teams as the nation adjusts to home working.

Rigorously tested for 18 months, and developed to work across countries and continents, the app helps businesses encourage collaboration, boost engagement, break down silos and provide crucial mental health support and counselling through a specialist chat function.

Ayyab Cockburn, chief operating officer at the Martin James Network, says: “We’re an ambitious network of businesses and we’re always looking at ways to diversify and grow, whilst keeping an eye on emerging trends.

“This latest acquisition is our response to what is a global issue. We’ve all been forced to work remotely, and whilst flexibility is an attractive benefit, this way of working can lead to isolation or silos.

“Businesses now more than ever are faced with both emotional and physical barriers that can and will impact on their success. Accepting that we need to change how we communicate with our employees, will be key in driving businesses forward during this challenging time.”

For more information about the Martin James Network, visit www.martinjamesnetwork.com or www.talkout.com.

Holy Moly teams up with FoodCycle to donate meals each week

Holy Moly teams up with FoodCycle to donate meals each week

Birmingham-based restaurant, Holy Moly – home of the ‘Proper Mac’ – has teamed up with national charity FoodCycle to help the charity support vulnerable people in the local community each week with hot meals.

FoodCycle combines surplus food, spare kitchen spaces and volunteers to create three-course meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation, whilst helping those who may not be able to afford to feed themselves or their children.

Holy Moly donated its first selection of its vegetarian cheesy ‘Proper Mac’ to the UK charity in January and will be providing hot meals each week.

Justin Powell, Regional Manager Midlands at FoodCycle, said: “We are thrilled to have Holy Moly onboard supporting us in feeding people who may be struggling with hunger or loneliness. The backing of local food suppliers and restaurants is vital to us in order to provide free community meals; we can’t thank Holy Moly enough for their ongoing assistance each week and what is the start of a fantastic partnership.”

Paul Elliott, Head of Business at Holy Moly, added: “FoodCycle do some incredible work supporting the local community. The charity is made up of amazing volunteers who provide so much to those in need and being able to play a small part in helping means a lot to us all here.”

Holy Moly opened its doors back in 2018 as Birmingham’s first ever Mac ‘n’ Cheese restaurant. Located in Grand Central, the Harlem-inspired soul food heaven, is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a light bite, dinner with the family or a drink with your mates. Offering a delicious range of macs, burgers, chicken, cocktails and much more.

Established in 2009, FoodCycle runs 42 volunteer-powered community projects across England, with five in the Birmingham area, the latest of which launches at the Falcon Lodge Community Centre in Sutton Coldfield on 27th January.

If you would like to find out more and see how you can get involved, head to the FoodCycle website.

Bookings are not required at Holy Moly. For more information about the restaurant or menus available, visit here.