Transforming Place: Birmingham’s new approach to neighbourhood working

Sparkbrook Neighbourhood Forum

Sparkbrook Neighbourhood Forum

Transforming Place is Birmingham’s new neighbourhood strategy. It sets out eight key building blocks to help support and develop neighbourhood working across the city:

  • Neighbourhood working to be locally designed and delivered
  • Joined-up  and better coordinated services
  • Building social capital and supporting resident-led activity
  • Bringing communities together
  • Identifying and harnessing neighbourhood assets to benefit local communities
  • Embedding neighbourhood working through city council districts
  • Integrating a neighbourhood focus in city-wide plans and strategies
  • Sharing learning and information across neighbourhoods

This framework has been shaped by the views of residents, community groups and professionals put forward during last year’s summer of dialogue about a new approach to neighbourhoods.

The document sets out how we aim to design and deliver services and engage with citizens to collectively work together to build strong cohesive neighbourhoods against the backdrop of unprecedented funding cuts.

In his foreword to the framework, Cllr John Cotton, cabinet member for social cohesion and equalities, says:

“Facing up to these challenges requires a new approach, one in which the city council works alongside residents, local organisations and service providers – marshalling scarce resources, breaking down silos and making more creative use of the assets and skills we have in our neighbourhoods. That’s how we will ensure that our neighbourhoods become stronger, more resilient places, where people can come together to improve things and have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.”

Make a pledge

The city council wants to work in collaboration with residents, local groups, voluntary, community and faith organisations, the public and private sector to improve opportunities at a local level. This is a new approach in which new kinds of relationships will be forged and new approaches co-designed with others.

If you want to help to transform a neighbourhood, please get in touch. Maybe your group wants to become a Place of Welcome or you would like to volunteer your expertise and time to a local project? Maybe you are already running a local project and want to join our neighbourhood network? Or perhaps you work for an organisation which can provide neighbourhood management support locally?

You can make pledges of support by completing and returning a Make a Pledge form, downloadable here:

Transforming Place pledge form – individuals

Transforming Place pledge form – organisations

Get on board for a brighter future in Shard End

bus cartoonIf you’re unemployed, looking to improve your skills or thinking of starting your own business, then advice and support is on hand. The jobs and skills bus will be parking up in various locations in Shard End Ward during March and April with trained advisers on board to help local people get into work, training or even start their own business.

A range of organisations will be represented on the bus, including Birmingham Adult Education Service, Phoenix Training, Kingsbury Training, Department for Work and Pensions, Birmingham City Council traineeship scheme, Prospects Services and the National Careers Service, The Pump and Business in the Community.

The jobs and skills bus will be popping up in the Shard End area as follows:

Wednesday 26th March 2014

10.00 am to 2.00 pm

Heathway Shopping Centre (opposite the Heathway Pub)

Wednesday 2nd April 2014

10.00 to 2.00 pm

LIDL car park, Mackadown  Lane B33 0NG

Wednesday 9th April 2014

10.00 to 2.00 pm

Frontage of Madoc & Rhodes, 151 Lea Village B33 9SJ

The jobs and skills bus is part of a bigger initiative called Our Place! to improve the lives of residents living in Glebe Farm, Kitts Green, Lea Village, Shard End and Tile Cross.

The Our Place! approach puts the local community at the heart of decision-making and brings everyone together – residents, voluntary and community organisations, businesses, public sector workers and city councillors – to tackle local issues and make the area a better place to live. An important strand of this work is addressing unemployment and lack of skills in the area.

Cllr John Cotton, Shard End Ward Councillor and Cabinet Member for Social Cohesion and Equalities, said:

“Too many people are being held back by inequalities in education and employment, preventing them from reaching their full potential and making the most of their talents.

“The jobs and skills bus is designed to bring opportunities out into the neighbourhoods of Shard End, Kitts Green, Tile Cross, Lea Village and the Glebe.  So, if you live locally, are unemployed or want to improve your skills, coming along to the bus could be an important first step in getting access to employment, training or other advice.”

Birmingham Declaration – Uniting across England to tackle Social Exclusion!

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As new reports highlight the increasing inequality in the UK economy; cities, towns and boroughs across the country have united to tackle issues of social exclusion in a new national network set up by the Leader of Birmingham City Council and the Bishop of Birmingham, in the process signing the Birmingham declaration on social inclusion.

Declaration sign page

While in recent months economic stati stics seem to be indicating a more positive outlook for the UK economy, it is clear that a significant proportion of our population are still not feeling the benefit of this improvement.  Only yesterday the Equality Trust released a report highlighting that the gap between rich and poor was rising and that inequality was costing the country £39bn a year.  Figures from Oxfam also released yesterday highlighted that the five richest families in the UK are wealthier than the bottom 20% of the entire population and the gap between the rich and the rest has grown significantly over the last two decades.

Continuing and increasing inequality has the potential to have a  long term damaging effect on our population,  impacting on a wide spectrum of social outcome.   Duncan Exley from the Equality Trust highlighted it perfectly when he said yesterday “We know that inequality is a major cause of social problems from crime, to poor health to low educational performance, and that it is psychologically scarring, reducing trust in strangers and isolating individuals”.

Local authorities in towns and cities across the country are grappling with these issues every day, however the challenge of dealing with social exclusion has been made more difficult given the reduction in resources that organisations have at their disposal.

It is within this context that the launch of the National Social Inclusion Network and accompanying Birmingham Declaration is so timely.

Led by the Bishop of Birmingham,  Birmingham’s Social Inclusion Process has over the past two years been trying to develop ways of dealing with social exclusion in the city.  The process quickly identified that the task of creating more inclusive cities has moved beyond what local or national government can do on their own, and that there was a need to build a network of local authorities to work together, share knowledge and understanding, as well as establishing a collective voice to challenge the Government to bring about changes we want to see from them that will make dealing with these issues easier on the ground.

This resulted in the first National Social Inclusion Symposium being held hosted by Birmingham City Council’s Leader, Cllr Sir Albert Bore and The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham and funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, in September 2013.  At this event 15 local authorities from across the country agreed to establish the National Social Inclusion Network and to sign the declaration as indication of their commitment.

By signing the declaration, participating authorities have agreed to:

  • Be part of the National Social Inclusion Network
  • Share learning and develop joint campaigning on key issues around social inclusion
  • Build a strong collective voice to articulate the arguments for social inclusion for all our communities across the country
  • Identify action that can be taken around issues of shared concern

The authorities that have signed the declaration are Barrow-in-Furness, Birmingham, Bristol, Islington, Knowsley, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Tower Hamlets.

The work of the network starts now.  We are already sharing ideas of best practice from successful Birmingham programmes such as the fair money manifesto, places of welcome initiative  and the Birmingham Jobs fund; and we are learning about other projects from across the country. 

Over the next few months we will continue to work together in variety of ways across the network with the common determination of addressing deep-rooted issues of inequality and disadvantage and to deliver the changes needed.

If you would like to  follow the work of the network you can through the blog , via social media @fairbrum and #fairplaces or by getting in touch with our team fairbrum@birmingham.gov.uk

Places of Welcome come together

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Almost 20 representatives from a range of voluntary, faith and community organisations gathered to take part in a half day event for Birmingham’s Social Inclusion Process initiative, Places of Welcome network on Tuesday 4 March 2014 at the Faithful Neighbours offices in Sparkhill.

Participants were welcomed by two of the Places of Welcome steering group members, Jessica Foster, Near Neighbours and Sarah Turner, Thrive together Birmingham who  explained how the Places of Welcome network was developed from the city’s Social Inclusion Process, which has been led by  Rt David Urquhart , Bishop of Birmingham since March 2012.

As part of the Social Inclusion Process’ extensive engagement across the city it identified seven commitments outlined in the social inclusion white paper with one particular recommendation focused on doing more to support new arrivals in the city whether they are asylum seekers, refugees or they have moved from different parts of the city.

Also, participants heard that a small Places of Welcome steering group was formed to engage with Birmingham’s community, voluntary and faith groups who said that there was a need for Places of Welcome in the community and that five key elements or principles were formed for groups to sign up to operate as a member of the network.

To be a Place of Welcome (Places of Welcome summary nov 2013) there needs to be willingness to offer:

  • an unconditional welcome to local people for at least a few hours a week
  • and to commitment to the five P’s

Place: An accessible and hospitable building, open at the same time every week
People: Open to everyone regardless of their circumstances or situation, and staffed by volunteers
Presence: A place where people actively listen to one another
Provision: Offering free refreshments (at least a cup of tea and a biscuit) and basic information
Participation: Recognises that every person coming to a Place of Welcome will bring talents, experiences and skills that they might be willing to share locally

In a simple geographical mapping exercise (north, south, east and west) individuals represented their groups across the city, not only did it help them develop their own local networks, but it also gave them an opportunity to share their experiences of running as a Place of Welcome. One delegate shared how by offering simple friendship and a hot drink helped one young man boost his confidence to attend a training course, leading him to get a job in the local community.

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In smaller groups individuals shared their hopes and fears, both for their own Place of Welcome and the wider group:

  • Q: What happens if no one turns up? A: Make sure that you enjoy joint activities with those around you, so if no one arrives you have still a productive time
  • Q: Signposting, how do you provide the resource without setting up expectations? A: The offer should be simple with basic support without make your offer too complicated.

Yardley Wood Road Baptist Church, John Glass shared how their group has been running for 10 years and that joining the Places of Welcome network has not only given those visiting an automatic understanding that the place is different to just a coffee morning. But also they are part of something bigger, reassuring and supportive. As a Place of Welcome it has also given them a Place of Welcome kite mark giving agencies the assurance in the standard of care that their clients will receive.

Refugee Action, Phil Davis spoke of how many asylum seekers have fled from their homes (country of origin) under terrible circumstances and moving from area to area through a complicated and difficult system. Very often a smile and simple offering of kindness can help them start to become part of the local community. Phil added that for Refugee Action having a network of Places of Welcome was important as they can direct vulnerable individuals to a trusted place.

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Participants also suggested ideas which would help develop and support their Place of Welcome:

  • A website pin pointing the location, opening times, dates, basic offer and blog to share stories
  • A banner to be displayed outside the Place of Welcome when open
  • Workshops and training to support and develop Places of Welcome
  • A soft launch to agencies and groups, including those of non-faith backgrounds across the city to participate and grow of the network

All the new Places of Welcome received a banner and printed materials which were funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust and presented to them by Debbie Pippard Head of Programmes.

If you or your organisation would like to join the growing network of Places of Welcome and are interested in becoming a Place of Welcome, please contact Sarah Turner or Jessica Foster at the Faithful Neighbourhoods Centre on 0121 675 1155 or email sarah@thrivetogetherbham.org or jess@nearneighbours.com.

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/PlacesOfWelcomeBirmingham

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Giving Hope, Transforming Lives!

alcoaPhoenixpump

The launch of the Alcoa Internship programme at the Pump, last Friday (28th February 2014) provided a wonderful example of partnership working between The Pump,  Alcoa, Birmingham City Council and Phoenix Training.

The Pump/Alcoa Internship programme is part of the World Wide Alcoa Foundation Internship programme  and in Shard End offers fully-paid 12 week Internship opportunities for up to 50 young people within manufacturing companies, in and around the Shard End area. The goal is to provide unemployed youth with the experience to start a successful career in manufacturing. The programme is open to both young men and young women and Alcoa are keen to see young women engage with this programme and to help them move into the manufacturing sector.

However, before they can engage with the Internship programme the young unemployed people need to become ‘work ready’ and the Birmingham Jobs Fund Exemplar Project, run in Shard End by Phoenix Training, provides that part of this process of engagement.

Young people from Phoenix Training with trainers

Young people from Phoenix Training with trainers

The stars of the launch were undoubtedly the seven young men who are currently on placement with Phoenix Training. (They are pictured above with the trainers and a female colleague who is championing the programme.) The confidence and enthusiasm of these young men moved all those present. Wearing smart suits, shirts and ties these young men almost appeared to shine when they stood up to tell their stories. Their enthusiasm to find work was a brilliant testament to the work done by the two Phoenix Training trainers who accompanied them. The young men spoke with great confidence about their journey so far (they have only been on 5 weeks of  a 12 week course) and how they had gone from being unemployed to vital, spirited, committed young people eager and willing to engage with the world of work!

One particular young man explained how the project had transformed his life. He used to lie in bed until 3pm each day, and took no notice of his mother’s constant exhortations to get up and find a job. It was hard to equate that former lifestyle with the confident young man who stood before us, anxious and eager to move on hopefully into the Internship programme. He now got up at 6am, made his mother a cup of tea before setting out for the training course in order to make sure he got there on time, and consequently always arrived early! Others spoke about the outward bound course they had been on; their visits to Wales; the friendships they had develop and their altruistic desire to get their mates to sign up to the programme by badgering them by text and word of mouth to get down to the Pump or onto the Skills Bus and sign up to the programme.

The event introduced by Charlotte Linforth from The Pump, included various other key speakers who outline their involvement in the project: Nigel Bratt from Alcoa presented a film of the work Alcoa undertake and the kind of career the young men and women who successfully get onto the Internship might expect:  Richard Pearce, from Phoenix Training, gave more details of their training programme and Councillor Ian Ward from Birmingham City Council outlined the Council’s commitment – despite the cuts – to keep working to help young people into work and praised the success of this particular Exemplar project.

Clearly the young men present had experienced a life changing event which would stand them in good stead whatever their future turned out to be, a future which they were now in a much better position to determine. The value of such a programme cannot be overestimated and let’s hope that before too long this ‘exemplar’ project becomes ‘mainstreamed’ and the lives of many more of our unemployed young people can be transformed in such a radical and inspiring way!

Bishop opens “Hunger Hut” to launch End Hunger Fast Birmingham

Hunger Hut in Cathedral Square

The Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, opened a “Hunger Hut” outside Birmingham Cathedral in Colmore Row on Wednesday 5th March 2014 to launch the End Hunger Fast campaign in the city.

End Hunger Fast is a national campaign, focused around the traditional Christian fasting season of Lent, which seeks to petition the Government to put an end to widespread food poverty in the UK.

Bishop David was one of 27 Anglican Bishops who signed a letter calling on Government to address the growing amount of hunger in the country as part of the campaign in February.

The Bishop, who chairs the Birmingham Social Inclusion Process, Giving Hope Changing Lives, has criticized the effect that increasing levels of poverty are having on individuals and families throughout Britain, saying that it is “a scandal” that in the seventh richest nation in the world, more than half a million people have needed to use a food bank in the last year and thousands have been admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition.

As part of the campaign there will be a National Day of Fasting on Friday 4th April and a vigil in Parliament Square on Wednesday 16th April.

To pledge to join the National Day of Fasting, go to the End Hunger Fast website.

For more information about how to get involved in the campaign in Birmingham, visit the Birmingham Churches Together website.

A Living Wage – why it’s good for business

Evidence shows that 35 per cent of children in Birmingham live in poverty.  Many of these children are living in families with at least one parent in work, so any improvement in wages will have a positive impact on child poverty in the city.

Birmingham City Council took action to help its lowest paid workers by introducing a Living Wage in July 2012. In April 2013, the council launched the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility, which aims to boost the local economy by maximising the social value that the council gets from its purchasing power.

One of the six key principles of the charter to be followed by organisations adopting it is to be a good employer by supporting staff development and welfare and adopting the Living Wage.

The Social Inclusion Process White Paper, Making Birmingham an Inclusive City, welcomed the city council’s Living Wage policy and supports the principles in the charter, urging other bodies to “use their influence and expertise to promote this more widely within the business community”.

Social responsibility expert, Carole Parkes, from Aston University – itself a supporter of the Living Wage – provides a business case as well as a moral argument for introducing poverty-relieving pay packets in her article for the Chartered Management Institute magazine, Professional Manager, in February 2014.

Carole says that looking at the issue of low wages from a purely economic perspective is to ignore an important tenet of any civilized society – that it is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.  But, she argues, if “doing the right thing” is not enough, evidence suggests that paying the living wage reduces absenteeism, turnover and subsequent recruitment and training costs and increases productivity. It is, indeed, good for business.

To read Carole’s article, click here.

Progress against the Social Inclusion White Paper – Update to Cabinet

It has now been over 12 months since the Birmingham City Council Cabinet approved the Social Inclusion White Paper .  The White paper was the result of an intense period of engagement, analysis and evidence gathering throughout 2012 led by the Bishop of Birmingham and the Social Inclusion Steering group.

On Monday the Cllr John Cotton – the Cabinet member for Social Cohesion and Equalities  - delivered an update paper to Cabinet to update members on progress in delivering the commitments and recommendations of the  White Paper.

You can view the Cabinet meeting item on Social Inclusion by clicking here.

If you would like to read the papers you can do so below:

Delivering the Social Inclusion White Paper

Delivering the Social Inclusion White Paper – App 1

Delivering the Social Inclusion White Paper – App 2

Delivering the Social Inclusion White Paper – App3 EA

Consultation event for children and young people’s mental health services

CCG consultation imageBirmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has joined forces with Birmingham CrossCity CCG, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and Birmingham City Council to encourage local people to have their say in future plans for improving mental health services for children and young adults.

As part of the consultation process an event for people from organisations that have an interest in children and young people’s community mental health services is being held on Monday 24th February 2014 from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm in the Legends Lounge at Birmingham City Football Club, St Andrew’s Stadium, Birmingham B9 4RL.

The purpose of the event is to:

  •  Share details of the children and young adults community mental health services consultation
  •  Gain feedback on the proposed service – what should be included, what shouldn’t be included
  •  Share experiences on what does and does not work with the existing services
  •  Co-design the structure of a further event in March 2014 for service users and identify potential attendees

To book a place at the event click here.

If you support young people and families experiencing mental health or emotional distress and would like a stall at the March event or if you would like to sign up for a promotion pack and pledge your support to encourage young people to get involved in the March event, please call 0121 612 3806.

Community Asset Transfer – find out what it is and how it works

Community Asset Transfer is the leasehold transfer of city council assets – buildings and/or land – to the community and voluntary sector.

Community Asset Transfer imageIf you would like to find out more about Community Asset Transfer (CAT) and how it works in Birmingham, sign up for the CAT introductory workshop to be held on Tuesday 11th March 2014 from 9.30 am to 12 noon at the Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B1 1BB.

The session will be facilitated by:

The session is open to everyone including community and voluntary organisations, city council staff and elected members, but pre-booking is essential as there are limited places. Please email karen.cheney@birmingham.gov.uk if you would like to attend.

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