Promoting responsible credit and savings – a workshop for dioceses with Sir Hector Sants



There has been a considerable expansion of small sum, high cost, consumer credit products in the UK in recent years.

The expansion of these products, which are typically sold to households with below average incomes, has led to concerns about the wider impacts of borrowing on the ability of some households to pay for essential services and on living standards more generally.

The Church of England has taken a central role in responding to the rise of credit companies. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has famously declared his intention to “compete Wonga out of business” and has set up a Task Group on Responsible Credit and Saving, chaired by the former head of the Financial Services Authority, Sir Hector Sants.

Sir Hector will be speaking at a Church of England roadshow event, Promoting Responsible Credit and Savings, at Carrs Lane Centre in Birmingham from 1.15 pm to 4.30 pm on Tuesday 3rd June 2014.

The event will also include a presentation from the Church Credit Champions Network and examples of local and national fair credit initiatives.

Places at this event are free, but should be booked in advance via Eventbrite. For more information, contact Polly Taylor, project coordinator of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Saving by email to or phone 020 7 898 1469.


Food and our Future


Two males working in foodbank


The Lunar Society, in association with Localise West Midlands, Birmingham Leadership Foundation, Midland Heart and the Nishkam Centre, is holding a panel discussion to stimulate debate on the importance of issues related to food to the future of the West Midlands region, its people and its businesses on Wednesday 14th May 2014 at 6.30 pm for 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm at the Nishkam Centre, 6 Soho Road.

The questions that will be addressed at the first event of this joint initiative are:

  • Why are we seeing a growth in the number of food banks and the numbers who depend on them across the West Midlands Region at at the same time as we face a growing obesity epidemic, much of it within our younger population?
  • What do we actually know about the extent of these issues and their causes?
  • What can we do locally to mitigate negative consequences and what local, national and international trends do we have to consider in the short, medium and long term?

The joint organisers said:

“Developments in the production, distribution and consumption of food will have profound consequences for our future lives. As well as the food poverty, access and health issues, which will be covered by this first event, they also impact on our environment, on climate change (and vice versa) and on our confidence that we know what we are eating.

“As citizens and in our work lives we need to develop our understanding of the international, national and local dynamics of food supply and demand, of the infrastructure of food production and distribution, and of our ability to acces food to enable healthy lifestyles. We need to debate the impact of these on our current and future lives, and agree what action is needed by whom to offset negative impacts and encourage positive ones. ”

Starting the discussion will be speakers Chris Mould, executive chairman of the foodbank charity, Trussell Trust, Adrian Phillips, Birmingham’s director of public health and Liz Dowler, professor of food and social policy at Warwick University and a trustee of the Food Ethics Council.

Kate Cooper, incoming chair of the Birmingham Food Council, will be chairing the event.

This event is free to attend, but places are limited and must be booked in advance via Eventbrite. A contribution on the evening to refreshments provided will be welcome.

You can follow the event on Twitter #foodfuture.


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.”

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.

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 if you would like to attend.

Join in the #SU4Brum Conversations

Standing Up for Birmingham blog header

#SU4Brum Conversations is a series of meetings facilitated by the city’s non-profit neighbourhood think/do tank, the Chamberlain Forum. It aims to feed good ideas, social innovation and the real-life experience of citizens and communities into the city’s Standing Up For Birmingham Campaign.

On 13 February, 13 March and 10 April they will be meeting from 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm at The Fireside in Birmingham city centre. The aim is to set up further conversations in other parts of the city – so please get in touch with them if you’d like to host.

You can find out more about the Chamberlain Forum and sign up for any of these first three conversations at

You can also book a place at a conversation by emailing or by leaving a voicemail message on 07795 448 462

Come along on the second Thursday of each month for a chat at The Fireside in town.

Conversation can be about anything related to the theme of ‘working together for the good of our city’ but at February’s meeting the focus will be particularly on Timebanking.

Warm and wholesome refreshments will be provided by Change Kitchen CIC – who manage The Fireside.

Please book a place in advance (so Change Kitchen know how much food to make).

SPECIAL FOCUS: Feb 13 5.30pm at The Fireside – TIMEBANKING

Help to make Birmingham a City of Sanctuary

City of Sanctuary mug picCity of Sanctuary is a movement to build a culture of hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. Its goal is to create a network of towns and cities which are proud to be places of safety and welcome for people whose lives are in danger in their own countries.

A “City of Sanctuary” is a place where a broad range of local organisations, community groups, faith communities and individuals are publicly committed to welcoming people seeking sanctuary.

Birmingham City of Sanctuary is a group of people who are working towards the city becoming a City of Sanctuary. They want to hear from organisations who would like to find out how their work with diverse communities could be recognised as part of the City of Sanctuary movement.

Individuals and organisations can join the movement by signing a pledge of support on the Birmingham City of Sanctuary Group website.

If you would like to meet with a member of the group to find out more or if you would like to arrange for a speaker to come and talk to your organisation about the City of Sanctuary movement, please contact the group by email at