I must admin I am as guilty as the next person of making assumptions about an area I’ve never visited based on what I’ve read. Balsall Heath was one of those areas. Although I am aware of the excellent work done by Balsall Heath Forum and others in the area, it still wasn’t somewhere I would immediately consider when looking for somewhere to live.
However, on behalf of the wellbeing KLOE, I recently visited a project run by ‘Saheli Women’, and spoke to residents of Balsall Heath. My previous misgivings have now changed completely.
‘A hidden gem’ and ‘The Notting Hill of Birmingham’ were two of the really positive descriptions that came from the residents. Another who moved there from another area of the city said “Balsall Heath is a wonderful place to live, much better than where I lived before. Not many people move away from this area, why would they?”
The overall view from the group was that it is a welcoming place having a real sense of community. People enjoy living there, its peaceful, residents help each other out, some neighbours will take round food to welcome newcomers. “You’ll never go hungry here at Ramadan”.
The sense of wellbeing within the group was high, based on the strength of community enjoyed there by people from it’s range of diverse backgrounds. They were keen to end the previous stigma attached Balsall Heath which is based on events of the past, and not on the vibrant urban area that it is now.
By the end of the session I was thinking ‘should I sell up and move to Balsall Heath?’. If anyone is in doubt, I would recommend they go and actually see the place and speak to the people who live there before forming an opinion based merely on perception.