Archives for category: Social Enterprise

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet has approved a proposal to enable the development of new homes for self and custom build in the City; read more here.

‘Incentivising self-build in the city’, signed by Council leader John Clancy and Waheed Nazir Corporate Director (Economy), puts forward a series of proposals to enable the development of new homes for self and custom build in Birmingham, identifying and disposing of suitable council-owned sites and applying for grants and loan funding to support self and custom build. Self-build schemes currently deliver around 10,000 homes per year in the UK – see the government’s research briefing.

The Birmingham Newsroom release points out that the Government has taken steps to raise the profile of self-build, easing constraints in the planning systems, cutting taxes for self-build developments, providing a number of funds to assist individuals and communities to self-build and releasing public land for self-build projects. In 2016 councils became legally obliged to keep a register of potential self and custom builders and to facilitate access to suitable sites for interested parties. In 2014, a Guardian article refers to Eric Pickles as initiator and gives news of continental self-build.

The news release explains that ‘self-build’ is when the end user directly organises the design and construction of their home: “The most traditional is where the self-builder selects the design and undertakes much of the actual construction work themselves. However, self-build also includes projects where the self-builder arranges for an architect/ contractor to build their home for them; and those which are delivered by kit home companies. Some community-led projects are also defined as self-builds as the members may organise and undertake a proportion of the construction work themselves”.   There is a Self and Custom Build webpage on the Council’s website with five documents, one of which gives information about applications for self-build by individuals or associations.

As most online images were of individually designed houses in rural settings this Lancaster co-housing scene (small houses, with communal facilities and storage areas) was chosen – not ‘pure’ self-build, but the group designed it and did ‘site preparation on the periphery’.

As Brandon Lewis, when Housing and Planning Minister (2014-16) said, many other countries have a track record of delivering large numbers of local homes through self-build and there is now a determination to ensure significant growth in self housebuilding.

Long-forgotten references were revisited:

The Walter Segall Self-Build Trust has a website, not updated of late. In the late 1970s the ‘Segal method’ was adopted by Lewisham Council for a self-building housing project across four sites and in March 2016 the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture held an exhibition concentrating on two of the streets, Walter’s Way and Segal Close, built under Segal’s personal guidance.

A search updated news gf Mary Kelly, architect, self-builder and teacher who for ten years co-ordinating the activities of the Walter Segal Self Build Trust. She is now living and teaching in Northumberland, building her own house.

Habitat for Humanity, backing self- build in Peckham, has an online directory with a section for the Midlands.

The Self-build Book – Broome & Richardson – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Self-build-Book-Enjoy-Designing-Building/dp/1870098234

Selfbuild 123 – timber frame houses www.selfbuild123.co.uk

Green Building Store https://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/

Self build houses: http://www.selfbuildit.co.uk/

 

 

 

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BFOE’s community share offer closes on June 2nd

Birmingham Friends of the Earth own The Warehouse in Digbeth, operating it as a not-for-profit business whilst campaigning for the improvement of the local environment. They want to raise investment capital to refurbish their building, which will lead to an increase in the financial, social and environmental value of that space:

  • there will be more space to let that is of a higher quality; this will allow them to increase the amount of space they provide and to maintain or increase the amount they charge per square foot for that space;
  • they will be looking to exceed the legal requirements (Building Regulations Part L) for conserving energy in their building by installing more insulation and more efficient glazing;
  • and they will be more accessible to wheelchair users and people with limited mobility and offer more community meeting facilities. The work will also allow them to reduce administration costs and focus more on meeting their social goals.

See the video and read the well-produced share offer summary complete with plans. Then:

  1. Invest! If you are able to please invest whatever you can between £250 and £10,000. If you have some money in an ISA earning 0.5% interest it could be doing a lot of good. If you know you are going to invest, please do so as soon as possible as this helps them to demonstrate it’s a viable prospect with gathering momentum
  2. Tell everybody you can about it – when you’re campaigning and in your everyday life. Friends, relatives, colleagues, rich uncles – there are a lot of people that would like the chance to make an ethical investment, the challenge they have is getting the word out to enough people. It’s not a donation so they’re not asking people to give them their money, it’s an investment
  3. Support the social media campaignshare, like, retweet anything you see about the share offer – this will help them to reach as many people as possible.

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Received: news about an invitation to an open meeting on March 27th 5.30pm in Colmore Row. This updates information about the Attwood award on this site. The news included this dialogue box:

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Browsing the website as invited we learn that there will be ‘an opportunity to  collectively identify how to progress the Birmingham Pound after hearing about the inspiration for and potential of the project and the nuts and bolts of how the currency could be run’.

The meeting will then be opened to discussion, with questions, comments and hopefully agreement on whether the Birmingham Pound goes ahead.

This will involve agreeing on what model is used and who can commit to taking it forward. It will only go ahead if there is a robust way of making it self-sufficient and that it will be effective in its aims of making an inclusive, equitable and diverse Birmingham economy.

Book your place here.

 

 

 

john-clancy-3A search on this website will bring news that – as well as looking further afield – our relatively new council leader is caring for those in most need – not only in the housing sector but in education and social welfare.

For more information see the Newsroom site: https://leaderofbirmingham.com/

The council is joining forces with the Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART) and the ThinCats Community Chest peer lending platform to assist start-up firms and social enterprises from the poorest parts of Birmingham that find it difficult to obtain loans from high street banks. ART and the city council will jointly underwrite loans of between £10,000 and £150,000.

Based at Innovation Campus, Birmingham, ART has lent over £20 million since its launch, helping small firms to grow and creating thousands of jobs. Loans are available for any purpose including supporting cash-flow. One of ART’s best known beneficiaries is Birmingham Michelin-star chef Glynn Purnell who took out a loan to open his first restaurant.

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The writer declares an interest as a founder share-holder. She watched Pat Conaty (receiving award, first left) then working at the B’ham Settlement), gradually convince people, notably Sir Adrian Cadbury, that a reinvestment trust, such as those Pat had seen working in America, could be set up. After years of painstaking effort it was launched, headed by Steve Walker who has worked ever since to promote its success.

Two sister sites carry references to ART’s work and one focussed on it in 2011, ‘The Aston Reinvestment Trust: helping small and medium businesses’. It is also featured in the services section of a website set up to focus on SME manufacturing in and near Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy is appealing to Brummies to support a fund-raising scheme that could generate £3 million to help small businesses get off the ground:

“This is a pioneering local investment opportunity and a chance for people to not only get a financial incentive in the form of a tax relief, but also a social return.  Small and medium sized enterprises are the life blood of the local economy and their ability to grow, create inclusive economic growth and preserve jobs impacts on everyone who lives and works in Birmingham.”

For details of the investment process go to https://leaderofbirmingham.com/2017/01/26/new-funding-boost-for-birmingham-businesses/

Or directly to http://artbusinessloans.co.uk/invest-in-art/

 

 

 

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The Attwood Awards were inaugurated by Sir Adrian Cadbury and economist James Robertson in 2002. They celebrate work done in this country to further any of the three aims of the city’s first MP, Thomas Attwood. Seven of the fourteen recipients came from the West Midlands: brief summaries of all 14 may be seen here.  

Ridhi Kalaria (Ort Gallery) received the 15th award last week at a meeting of the West Midlands New Economics Group in The Warehouse, Digbeth. She has been working in her spare time to set up a local currency. One of several advantages is its potential to enable and encourage local businesses to source locally wherever possible, shortening the supply chain, strengthening local economies and furthering the common good.

ridhi-videoTo see the video, click here

As Bev Hurley, CBE, CEO of YTKO says: ‘Smaller businesses remain engines for growth, creating 60% of all private sector jobs and £1.6 trillion of revenue . . . The success of a small business doesn’t only impact its owners; it has a ripple effect throughout the local economy. The whole point is if we can make [small business owners] more resilient and grow, and improve their profits and turnover, they will take on new people and create new jobs”.

Many awardees have lived further afield, but recent local recipients include:

2010: Birmingham Energy Savers: https://thomasattwood.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/2010-attwood-awards/the innovative Birmingham Energy Savers scheme

2013: Architect and urban designer Joe Holyoak: https://thomasattwood.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/2013-attwood-award-city-architect-and-urban-designer-joe-holyoak/

2014: Karen Leach, Localise West Midlands: https://ourbirmingham.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/karen-leach-2014-attwood-award-for-working-to-strengthen-the-regions-economy/

2017?  Possibly a celebration of WM hydrogen transport pioneers

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Co-operatives West Midlands are pleased to announce are pleased to announce that bookings are now open for their Spring networking event, 5pm-7pm on 18 May 2016, at Anthony Collins Solicitors in Central Birmingham: 134 Edmund Street, Birmingham, B3 2ES.

Ridhi Kalaria of Birmingham Pound campaign confirmed as speaker at the Cooperatives Spring networking event – 18 May

co-op event ridhi

Ridhi Kalaria, from the Birmingham Pound campaign, will be joining us as guest speaker at our Spring networking event. Ridhi is a community researcher whose mission is to build positive social movements and create a sustainable impact.

As a member of the Birmingham Pound steering group, she is central to efforts to establish a local currency that will strengthen the local economy. Karen Leach of Localise West Midlands said that Ridhi is “a huge asset to the group. She thinks strategically and with clarity and insight, is creative and fun to work with, communicates well with very different audiences, and has got a lot done in a short space of time.”

This is your chance to find out more about local currencies and to discuss how they might work to strengthen the cooperative economy.

There will be facilitated and informal networking, a light buffet, a short talk by Peter Couchman of the Plunkett Foundation on why some co-operatives fail, a workshop on Co-operatives and Local Currencies, stalls, and more networking.

There is a small charge of £5 to cover catering and to deter no-shows. Bursary places are available for members of start-up cooperatives, or those on low incomes who are looking at setting up a co-operative.

You can now book a stall at the Networking event. Please click here for the exhibitors’ brochure and click here to book: http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d00e0b274ce0db57111c69058&id=517e9dc6d7

 

 

So said one of Birmingham’s most active, well-informed and caring citizens last night.  For the environment and so much more . . .

barrow cadbury blog2 logoHe is referred to the Barrow Cadbury Trust’s Economic Justice Programme which is “keen to build learning to strengthen local economies and to share best practice between a range of sectors, but particularly across local authorities”.

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The economic and social references above do not even refer to the undeniable environmental benefits of vastly reduced transport of goods and to people in this area beset by premature deaths attributed to illegal levels of air pollution. To read the whole article go to the Barrow Cadbury Trust blog.

Localisation is a ‘solutions multiplier’ with political implications, reducing CO2 emissions, energy use and all kinds of waste, creating meaningful and secure employment and rebuilding the connections between people – and between people and their local environment by:

  • local trading, using local businesses, materials and supply chains,
  • linking local needs to local resources,
  • developing community and local capacity,
  • providing services tailored to meet local needs
  • and decentralising appropriate democratic and economic power

A few of the localising initiatives outlined:

Finance – where 7600 credit unions are outperforming the big banks. Business – where 30,000 small businesses in 130 American cities have formed alliances, some becoming part of larger networks, such as the Business Alliance for Local Living Alliances (BALLE). And food – where, in the ‘supermarket economy’, the farmer gets 10% of what we pay, or less, but gets 50% in the local food co-op and 100% in the farmers’ market.

In the vitally important but vastly neglected agriculture sector, studies have shown that ten times more food per acre is produced on small diversified farms and, by shortening the distance to the buyer, waste of food, refrigeration, preservatives, packaging, energy, irradiation and advertising is reduced or eliminated, the farmer earns more and the customer pays less.

the resilience imperative coverA co-founder of Localise West Midlands, Pat Conaty, makes the case for replacing the paradigm of limitless economic growth with a more decentralized, cooperative, steady-state economy in The Resilience Economy, which promotes:

  • Energy sufficiency
  • Local food systems
  • Low-cost financing
  • Affordable housing and land reform
  • Democratic ownership and sustainability

Karen Leach, co-ordinator of Localise West Midlands writes:

“This extreme vulnerability of the global economy to trade developments illustrates clearly the perils of an entirely globalised system that removes local economies’ resilience in meeting their own needs.”

As governments cut funding for basic needs while spending billions on global infrastructure for transport trade and weapons, caring and intelligent people worldwide are finding alternatives which promote economic prosperity, social harmony and environmental sustainability.

 

stirchley baths

Local people from this lively neighbourhood are taking a great interest in the Edwardian Stirchley Baths, lovingly restored and re-opened – hundreds coming to an open evening in December. If the fine front door is closed, visitors are asked to go to the side entrance at the left.

change kitchen logoThough there has been no advertising or promotion people are visiting ChangeKitchen (Tues. to Thurs., 10-3), which opened in January, to enjoy food made with local, organic and seasonal ingredients – see a LWM post.

Dishes on the menu that week included mushroom & spinach lasagna, Homity pie, baked potato with two fillings, croissants, mini pastries and ‘bacon’ and egg roll.

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ChangeKitchen is an award winning event caterer – a thriving social enterprise

Every platter of food is prepared ‘from scratch’ – shared and enjoyed by all, including the 80% of customers who are not vegetarian but nevertheless value ChangeKitchen’s delicious and nutritious vegetarian and vegan dishes at very reasonable prices. There is a growing awareness that producing the meat in our diet causes more carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide than transportation or industry.

change kitchen birgitDuring a recent visit, the writer met ChangeKitchen’s founder, Birgit Kehrer, and on its website we read that the story of ChangeKitchen goes back to her youth, growing organic vegetables from an early age with her father, and developing a passion for eating vegetarian food made from fresh home-grown produce. In her twenties Birgit learned to cook vegetarian food at the Goldene Gans Braeustueble restaurant in her home town of Augsburg and afterwards travelled to India where she picked up more ideas for world-class cuisine.

As the writer enjoyed her coffee, she heard about the community cinema which the film club is setting up, watched children coming in happily to enjoy a party, met Phil Banting of the newly formed Stirchley History Group, and – later – Justin Wiggan, from the Centre for Curious Sonic Investigation, who will be presenting a ‘sound piece’ at the Baths, with input from local children and also from a tape buried in a 1989 time capsule which, together with a 2015 time capsule, has been placed in a deep illuminated well under the pool and can be seen through a perspex window in the café.

Location and contact details:

Stirchley Baths, 2-4 Bournville Lane, Birmingham, B30 2JT

t: 0121 464 9072
e: hello@stirchleybaths.org

Peter Walker, Chairman of the thriving Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum, has forwarded a notice from Tom French of Community On Board:

time banking 2 poster

Those who want to know more about the background of the Time Bank movement may see a summary on Localise West Midlands’ website.

Direct link: http://www.localisewestmidlands.org.uk/2015/time-banks-summary/