Archives for category: Community action

‘Visitor Information Centre’ is a name that kept the writer away for many months anticipating only leaflets and the usual memorabilia made in China.

What a delight to find that most of the offerings are skilfully handcrafted treasures made by Friends of the Carillon, local artists recording Bournville village scenes and working in wood, glass metal and wool. Some items are ‘bought in’ but selected with great care. There are also books and recordings of the carillon; DVDs for sale include a Christmas selection and the Summer Concert featuring Frank Steijns and the carillon, transmitted live from Maastricht.

To exhibit and sell their work the Friends of the Carillon agree to serve for two hours each week in the centre and donate a percentage of the sale price to the Carillon. A minimum of 20% of all proceeds goes to supporting carillon activities and promotion.

The Carillon Visitor Centre is open Monday to Saturday 10am to 4.30pm (except for the month of January). It makes a vital contribution to the maintenance of the nearby carillon.

Formerly known as the Rest House, the building was designed by the architect who also drew plans for workers’ housing and two Bournville schools, William Alexander Harvey. He aimed to design a building that “would be in entire harmony with its surroundings”, basing it on a seventeenth-century Yarn Market hall at Dunster in Somerset.

George and Elizabeth Cadbury celebrated their silver wedding anniversary in April 1913 and the Rest House was built to commemorate the occasion.

It was commissioned by the employees of Cadbury Brothers Ltd at Bournville and in all parts of the world as “A lasting memorial of esteem and affection as an expression of gratitude for the unceasing interest in their welfare and in admiration of manifold services to the world at large”.

Above, crowds gathered for the opening of the building designed to be used as a place of rest “providing kind shelter and seating”. More photographs and information here.

The Rest House was closed for many years but protected from vandalism and abuse. It was brought back into use by Bournville Village Trust and the vision and sheer hard work of its manager, Joy Workman, who is married to Trevor, the Bournville Carilloneur  (left).

In November 1997 the building was re-opened by Robin Cadbury as the Carillon Visitor Centre and used as a focal point for the carillon – another valued legacy from the founder of Bournville.

The Carillon Visitor Centre is also the place where tours start to Bournville carillon (left). The carillon, a rare and unusual musical instrument, has been in use since the 15th century and looks like an organ. Carillons have a minimum of 23 bells and played from a ‘baton’ keyboard.

The instrument and the carillon art are most commonly found in Belgium, Holland, France but are a rarity in the UK. Read more on the website and see the photos taken by Amanda Slater.

The tours take place on Saturdays at 12 noon and 3pm. Visits are free of charge but donations are invited in support of the “Friends of Bournville Carillon”, a self-financing Charitable Trust. Booking is advised as numbers on each tour are strictly limited: 07986 552770, email bournvillecarillon@hotmail.co.uk, or book at The Visitor Centre.

 

 

 

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One of the charms of Stirchley is the active community bonding between many of its residents, regardless of age, income or education.

This may be seen by attending its neighbourhood forum, its market, its local history group, its renovated park, its library support group and many more activities housed in the re-opened Stirchley baths community centre (below) and the former Stirchley Institute.

Samuel Clark, development director at Seven Capital, looks forward to the ‘gentrification of this important Birmingham suburb’.

Gentrification (aka more expensive ‘aspirational’ housing) – the influx of more affluent people concentrated in a block on the nine-acre site on the corner of Hazelwell Lane and Pershore Road – would be a retrograde step.

Many who admire this active and creative neighbourhood, hope that developer Seven Capital, with bases in the city, London and Dubai, will really listen to ‘local stakeholders’ and, together with the council, design plans which include affordable, social and more profitable ‘gentrified’ housing for the new ‘mixed-use scheme’.

As one resident said on Stirchley online:

Mr Clark, please note. An appropriate scheme would counteract ‘Which’s designation of Seven Capital’s ‘worst case’ offer of housing as an investment opportunity.

No more empty ‘investment’ flats should be seen in the city; let house-building mean home-building.

 

 

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The late Hilary Powell, who lived in Shirley, would – like many others volunteering to help food banks – have reacted with great concern to the forecast in the Financial Times by Chris Tighe writing from Newcastle:

“Winter is coming, Britain’s welfare system is in upheaval, universal credit rollout puts extra pressure on Britain’s food banks and rising costs are hurting the poor”. 

Though increasingly disabled over the years by arthritis, with other serious health problems, Hilary did the lighter work on her allotment at Scribers Lane, with her husband John, and for some years – after making this point to organisers – ensured that some fresh food was added to the store of tinned and packaged goods by growing salads and vegetables and taking them to the food bank.

This year, the government’s rollout of its new benefits system has swelled the number of people seeking help because of the six-week delay before claimants receive payments. Some food banks may not be able to cope with the added strain on their resources, said Sam Stapley, operations manager at the Trussell Trust.

The Trussell Trust’s network, which covers two-thirds of distribution areas, saw a 6.64% average rise in referrals for emergency food in 2016/17, but a 16.85% increase in the universal credit rollout area.

  Newcastle West End food bank, the UK’s biggest, provides food for 1,000 people a week

Ten years ago, food banks were scarce. Many were started by volunteers concerned about people struggling financially. But they now form an essential part of Britain’s social safety net, with an estimated 2,000 distribution centres across the country. To use a food bank, a referral is needed, typically from the social service or housing support officers, but also from agencies such as local charities or Citizens Advice. Tens of thousands of volunteers nationally work more than 4m hours a year stocktaking, picking up and distributing food and fundraising, according to a recent study by the Trussell Trust, a national food bank network, and the Independent Food Aid Network.

The Trust is encouraging regional ‘plans of action’ so that food banks can better help each other plug gaps.

Streams of donations come from:

  • harvest festivals,
  • online appeals,
  • social events,
  • supermarket collection points,
  • a £3,000 crowdfunding appeal for a new Salford distribution centre,
  • Cardiff food bank’s recent auction of an ancient can of kidney beans raised £500.
  • Growing numbers of donations are coming from football matches.
  • Many businesses, in sectors from retail to financial services and energy, support food banks with goods or seconded staff.

Logistics, with many food banks based in ad hoc premises and receiving irregular stocks of food, is a major challenge. The Trussell Trust is meeting experts this month to discuss if its Coventry regional warehouse could become a national distribution base. Then the trust could accept big pallets of unwanted goods from corporate donors, split them into small consignments and distribute them.

 

 

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 Faiths working together for a low carbon future

As part of national interfaith week, join Footsteps’ annual event to meet other people faithfully caring for the environment, and share ideas about how we can work together for a low carbon future.

Footsteps is a project of the Birmingham Council of Faiths

Venue: the Progressive Synagogue, 1 Roseland Way, B15 1HD, Nov 19th 2-5pm

There is an optional tour of the synagogue at 1pm. If you would like to join please select the option when registering.

Doors will be open from 1pm for you to come and have a cup of tea, chat to others at the event and view exhibits about faith and other responses to climate change.  Many poor countries lack the funds to make the transition to a green economy because of debt. Main speakers & discussion session starts at 2pm.

To book please click on the link to the Peace Hub’s website: http://peacehub.org.uk/footsteps/events/tread-lightly-on-this-earth-2017/ or ring Chris Martin on 0121 475 2088

 

 

 

 

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Emmaus has the answer to rehabilitation, offering both accommodation and work of a socially useful nature. As its website says, “overcoming homelessness means more than a roof over your head”.   Without a purpose formerly homeless people placed in ‘permanent accommodation’ become lonely and still feel like ‘outsiders’,  eventually having to leave because of alcohol or debt problems.

Trinity Centre in nearby Camp Hill, was highlighted on this site in 2014, as numbers of ex-servicemen were living rough in the city. It housed many more homeless people than Tabor House – which of course we congratulate. There were three aisles, like the one below and the centre led up to the chantry altar in which a Sunday service was held each week.

All meals were cooked in a splendidly fitted kitchen, there was a recreation room, a visiting library (taken round by the writer) and a rehabilitation flat at the top of the church.

The mayor of WM Combined Authority may visit the Coventry Emmaus, probably the nearest, or go the centre in Cambridge, which is the ideal aimed for by Emmaus, where housing, workshops and a place where locals can come and buy restored goods at modest prices from restored people are all on the same site. A secular organisation, its strength is that it is ready to welcome back those who need another chance – no closed doors.

 

Trinity Centre is for sale: could it become the city’s first Emmaus?

 

 

 

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Moseley Road Baths is one of the nation’s most significant heritage swimming pools – it is the oldest Grade II* Listed baths still open for public swimming. Last year nearly 80,000 people swam in this community pool.

The Baths were earmarked for closure last July but a community campaign and the support of heritage organisations led to Birmingham City Council granting a reprieve.

Next April Moseley Road Baths action group, who have formed a Community Interest Company (CIC), will take over the running of the baths from Council. The company’s business plan shows that MRBCIC can break even within three years but in the first year it needs to raise £75,000 to help to pay for essentials like staffing, heat, light and water. The company is seeking grant funding for some of this, but the group is also calling on support from anyone reading this appeal to add to this, helping us to meet two critical costs (swim trainers and lifeguard volunteers).

MRBCIC has nine months to develop a workable model for swimming, with the aim of taking over operational responsibility for water activity from April 2018. Since then it has been working hard – liaising with heritage partners, bringing in advisers, understanding the community swimming need and producing a business plan which shows that MRBCIC can break even within three years.  Click here to read the business plan.

Our initial target is to raise £13,552 to train 8 volunteers in lifeguarding and teaching as well as in customer service skills, health and safety, etc. Each volunteer must be trained so that  safe swimming can be offered at all times.  Crowdfunding is the first stage in raising the funds needed to ensure they have a fully trained team ready to go. Read more on their website.

Please spread the word – and if willing and able – donate by following the link.

 

 

 

 

 

Water taxis are already plying in several British cities, including London, Glasgow, Spalding, Lancaster, Leeds and Manchester.

In London, MBNA Thames Clippers is building a service for daily commuters, using Transport for London’s system which allows Londoners to hop on and off boats by swiping their Oyster and contactless cards. It carried 4 million passengers in 2016.

In Birmingham? As David Bailey tweeted whilst working in Venice:

https://twitter.com/dgbailey/status/855495899115638784/photo/1

MBNA are trying to reduce the environmental impact of their boats currently using diesel fuel. Change is on its way:

  • In Hamburg, HADAG has added a hybrid-powered ferry to its fleet crossing the Elbe river, using both diesel and electric power sources.
  • In Southampton, a company called REAPsystems has developed a hybrid system for water taxi boats, one able to switch easily between a fuel engine and electric motor. The company will take their hybrid water taxi boat to Venice next year, where a hotel operator will run it on a passenger route through the canals and out to the airport throughout the summer.
  • A member of the Commercial Boat Operators Association, Antoon Van Coillie, intends to convert his large continental barges to hydrogen fuel.
  • A team at Birmingham University (Project Leader Professor Rex Harris) has constructed a hydrogen-powered canal boat, tried and tested, which is undergoing further modifications.

Will the council and/or a Birmingham entrepreneur see the potential of waterway transport from the Soho Loop development?

Artist’s impression

Will Soho Loop’s new canal-side community be able to travel from their ‘variety of energy efficient homes’ to work or visit the city centre a mile away, by a cleaner quieter form of transport? 

 

 

 

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A new venture in Stirchley calls families to enjoy ‘good, old-fashioned fun

 

Annaliese Griffin of America’s Quartz Media writes:

“I’m not saying that starting a board-game group in every town and village will put us all on the path to world peace. But in a society where the most common answer to the question “How many confidantes do you have?” is zero, it’s clear that a lot of people are hungry for connection and civilized conversation. Inviting the neighbors over for game night is a good place to start.”

A Childwise survey of 2000 children aged 5-16 in schools across the UK reported that children in all age groups are spending ever-longer periods online. The internet overtook television as the top media pastime for British children last year, according to the media regulator Ofcom. Children aged five to 15 are spending 15 hours a week online.

Following the Victoria Climbie Inquiry, government acted on Lord Laming’s advice and set up the office of children’s commissioner. It has four aims: one is headed ‘Digital’ (left)

In an interview with the Observer the commissioner, Anne Longfield, criticised the way social media giants draw children into spending more time and said that parents – though most are seen in public using their phones to chat of view – should stop their children from ‘bingeing’ on the internet.

Parents often don’t have a valued activity to offer in place of online activities

A paper published in Psychological Science, based on research into ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ found that moderate use of devices by teenagers may be beneficial. Co-author Andrew Przybylski (University of Oxford) said: “It’s not so much that it’s bad for a kid to play Minecraft for 12 hours on a Sunday, it’s that as parents we often don’t have a valued activity that we put in place of that”.

Ben Parkinson, co-founder of the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network, a charity, has just visited Gulu for its latest ‘boardgame extravaganza’ (Facebook picture). Gamechangers is a new project from Chrysalis born from its recent Village Boardgames Convention in Koro, Northern Uganda.

He writes: “Children from villages have been clamouring to play the games and, of course, there is no place for them to play or even buy boardgames, were they able to afford them.

However, we see a future time when boardgames will be more readily available in Uganda and believe that there is much change that can take place through giving access to a range of boardgames”.

Ben Parkinson comments: “Here the boardgames are less needed for social reasons, as Ugandans are very social people.  Where they score is on providing variety of entertainment and building confidence, though the kids also enjoy the social aspect.

Via Youtube visit Uganda to hear the young people talking about the games with brief shots of them playing – the prizes are school books.

In England a new profession is proliferating – community building; I met my first community builder last week and visited a community group in a Gloucestershire council estate which was clearly working well.  A search revealed five pages of items relating to England and thereafter many accounts of community building in other countries.

Will most of these efforts rebuild what has been lost in England?

 

 

 

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“DEBT AND ECONOMICS: EDUCATION FOR ACTION” WORKSHOP

The Jubilee Debt Campaign invites all to an interactive, informative, educational day-long workshop from 11 – 16.30 on Saturday 7th October at the Islamic Relief Academy, 22-24 Sampson Road North, Birmingham B11 1BL.

The registration page for this long awaited debt workshop now live. For further details click here  – (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/debt-economics-education-for-action-tickets-36539325105 – or call Clare Walden, JDC on 0207 324 4729.

Most of the buses going towards Solihull and Shirley from the city centre (particularly numbers 37, 6 and 2) stop at the beginning of Stratford Road which is a few minutes’ walk from the IR Academy (below).

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This day-long workshop is totally FREE and is part of a series taking place in cities across the UK, to be delivered by debt expert and facilitator Fanny Malinen.

Inequality and debt are on the rise – eight men now own as much wealth as half the world’s population. The debt payments of impoverished countries are increasing rapidly and are at the highest level for a decade. Closer to home, PFI debt is having a huge impact on NHS finances and students leaving UK universities now face higher average debts than American students, with the average student graduating with more than £44,000 debt.

Come and discuss whether debts should always be paid and understand more about the historical and current connections between debt and inequality. Learn about why Ghana’s debt is higher now than it was in 2005 – even after a large write-off – and how NHS debt is linked to global south debt through Public Private Partnerships. Importantly, come and hear about debt resistance, positive alternatives and how you can be a part of a global and national movement for debt justice!

There will be a one-hour lunchbreak, and smaller breaks during the day. We will provide refreshments throughout the day but please bring your own lunch or money to buy lunch.

If you have any accessibility needs you would like to discuss please get in touch with clare@jubileedebt.org.uk. This venue is wheelchair accessible.

 

 

 

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Thursday 14th September, 5.30 for 6pm start.

UNISON Regional Office, 24 Livery Street, B32PA (next to the Old Contemptibles and opposite Snow Hill Station)

Lucy Seymour-Smith writes:

In times of austerity, services, organisations and communities are being starved of the funds needed to survive and grow.

We cannot regenerate or communities by relying on large organisations who can, and do relocate according to their own financially driven agenda.

Instead we need a new approach to regeneration framed around co-operative values of self-help, participation, social responsibility and democratic accountability that is led by organisations that have a genuine long-term stake in our communities.

In celebration of the Co-op Party centenary this event is an absolute must for all those interested in transforming the West Midlands region by reorganising local economies and supporting communities to help themselves.

First outing at the 2017 Durham Miners’ Gala

Panel speakers include:

Liam Byrne MP

Claire Campbell, UNISON Head of Local Government

Anna Birley, Coop party policy officer and Labour/Coop Party Cabinet Member in Lambeth

 *Spaces limited so sign up quickly*

nibbles and networking

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-can-west-midlands-councils-build-community-wealth-tickets-37093770466

 

 

 

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