Have your moment on stage – Dosh Days ‘play in a week’

Pay ahead

From the 17-21st August 2014 Pay Ahead Stay Ahead will be holding a festival of events called ‘Dosh Days’ to explore various issues around money. As part of the festival they would like to recruit a number of young people living in Birmingham aged 16-24 who would like the opportunity to work with Pay Ahead Stay Ahead and the renowned Shontal Theatre for FREE!

Over the course of one week they will work to create, rehearse and perform an original play at the Blue Orange Theatre in Birmingham City Centre. Pay Ahead Stay Ahead want to create a theatre resource led by young people for young people and perform the play as a promotional resource at events and conferences.

Thye are looking for individuals or established groups who are willing to learn new skills, commit to the project for one week and learn in a fun environment. In return they offer the experience to work with theatre professionals and the chance to perform in a theatre to an invited audience of some of Birmingham’s biggest change makers – an excellent addition to any young persons’ CV!

Travel expenses and lunch will be provided, and the participants will be able to invite family and friends to the performance. If you are interested please RSVP by contacting Melissa at Melissa.hurlbutt@ashramha.org.uk or by calling free from landlines on 0800 160 1990 or direct on 0121 764 3809.





Want to run your own business? – Get help from the Enterprise Catalyst Business Support Initiative

Enterprise Catalyst Business Support Initiative

Enterprise Catalyst provides entrepreneurs in Northwest, Central and Southeast Birmingham with free expert advice and access to match-funding to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

Enterprise Catalyst initiative

Enterprise Catalyst initiative

Enterprise Catalyst provides that much needed support to help you start out, grow your idea or develop your existing business with the use of dedicated coaches and finance packages.

Enterprise Catalyst aims to help people to help themselves by driving forward credible ideas – whether it is a completely new venture or an existing business looking for growth.

Their combined approach is aimed at helping entrepreneurs eliminate the obstacles common to tripping up even the most business-minded individuals, whilst helping to build a positive economic culture in key communities. To make this as easy as possible, Enterprise Catalyst work with a range of specialist providers, including The Digbeth Trust, Business Insight and Winning Moves to provide intensive business support packages that are tailored to the specific needs of individuals and existing businesses.

To ensure that people can access the support on offer, the Enterprise Catalyst Executive Delivery Team is staging a series of Enterprise Catalyst Business Clubs for residents in North West, Central and South East Birmingham.

Come along for expert advice on business planning, employment law, intellectual property, marketing, finance – and more!

Enterprise Catalyst event 16 June: Helping #brum new entrepreneurs & existing #business



Erdington Works Employers’ Breakfast Event – 1st May 2014

Erdington District Committee, in conjunction with, Erdington Works, held an employer’s breakfast event on the morning of the 1st May 2014 to encourage Erdington based businesses to employ young people from locality.

Erdington Works was established as one of the six Young Talent for Business ‘Exemplar Projects’ to help unemployed NEETS (young people aged between 16 and 24 not in employment, education or training) in the Erdington District to gain workplace skills and find sustained work. Erdington Works, is funded by Birmingham City Council and delivered in partnership by Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA), Castle Vale Tenants and Residents Alliance, Castle Vale Regeneration Services, Merlin Ventures and John Taylor Hospice.

Since its launch ‘Erdington Works’ has helped create 18 new work placements and 6 ongoing apprenticeships in Erdington.


Hosted by Trinity Mirror Midlands (TM), the publishers behind the Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, the event was held at their Birmingham Headquarters on the sixth floor of Fort Dunlop.

Delegates tuck into breakfast

Delegates network together before the start of the event

Cllr Bore and Dave Brookes  catch up over a coffee before the start of the event

Cllr Bore (Leader Birmingham City Council) and Dave Brookes (Editor in Chief, Trinity Mirror Midlands)  catch up over a coffee before the event

Delegates awaiting the start of the event

Delegates gather to hear  the speeches and presentations

After a short welcome and introduction the Chair, Dave Brookes (Editor in Chief) Trinity Mirror Midlands, went on to introduce Councillor Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council.

           Councillor Bore offers up his challenge to businesses

Councillor Bore offers up his challenge to businesses

Cllr Bore cited Trinity Mirror as a shining example of a local business stepping up to the plate to deliver real change and investing in the people of Erdington and Birmingham as a whole. He spoke of them as being a fantastic example of a private sector business contributing to and investing in an issue that affects us all  – that of youth unemployment. He then issued a challenge to the businesses present and more widely to all business located in the Erdington District to join Trinity Mirror in acting pro-actively and to ‘do something’ to get people into work, boost the local economy, and to help make our young people feel valued. He suggested business could do this by offering paid employment, training and skills opportunities or work experience to young people to help them into sustained work.  

 Shilpi Akbar, Assistant Director for Employment, Birmingham City Council outlines the many programmes on offer to businesses

Shilpi Akbar, Assistant Director for Employment, Birmingham City Council outlines the many programmes on offer to businesses

Delegates were then provided with information on opportunities available to them by Shilpi Akbar,  who outlined the benefits of the Birmingham Jobs Fund, Young Talent for Business, the National Apprenticeship scheme, and a host of other initiatives and available funding designed to help businesses employ young people.

Some of the enthusiastic young people challenging delegates possible negative views of young people.

Some of the enthusiastic young people challenging delegates possible negative views of young people.

Young people who had had first hand experience of the Erdington Works Exemplar project spoke  movingly about their experience and how the programme had changed their lives. They too challenged the delegates to review and revise their possibly stereotyped views of young people. Urging the businesses present to help give them a start in the work market-place.

Andy Winmill, Urban Devotion

Andy Winmill, from the Charity, Urban Devotion

This was followed by a very impassioned talk by Andy Winmill from Urban Devotion about how the Birmingham Jobs Fund had helped his charity organisation take on a young person and how that had not only helped the young person gain employment, but had also helped improved the effectiveness of his organisation by bringing a new perspective to the way they engage with young people.

Andy George outlines the new B1 job app

Andy George outlines the new B1 job app

Andy George from Trinity Mirror Midlands then spoke about B1, the name for the new app that Trinity Mirror are producing in conjunction with Birmingham City Council. He described  B1 as being basically a dating app which matches up those seeking a job, with companies offering jobs. Initially you need to enter your profile of skills and work experience (a bit like a CV) then the app will link your skills with those being sought by companies offering job opportunities. You will then receive a text giving details of the job and who to contact. The app is still in the testing stage but it is hoped that it will be available in the autumn.

Stacey Barnfield, Editor, Birmingham Post, chairing the question and answer session

Stacey Barnfield, Editor, Birmingham Post, chairing the question and answer session

To close the morning, Stacey Barnfield, Editor, Birmingham Post, chaired a lively question and answer session which provided examined in more depth some of the issues raised earlier in the morning. All in all a very successful morning and during the networking opportunity that followed businesses were able to meet the young people and learn ore about the various funding initiatives available to them. This is the first event to be held in the Erdington District and hopefully future meetings will help find work for the many able and willing young people living in that district.



This event was part of the Action Plan put in place to deliver the recommendations of the SIP White Paper. Commitment 1.2 Develop an approach to ‘locales’.  – Locales aim to bring community development and economic development together. It also helps address the proposal to pilot local economic summits in Districts across the city as outlined in the City Council Leader’s Policy Statement 2013.

Social inclusion summit: Working Together for a Fairer Birmingham – 11th Nov 2013


Today’s Social inclusion summit: Working Together for a Fairer Birmingham is being held at Austin Court, next to the old Birmingham and Fazeley Canal which still provides an exciting mode of transport for visitors to the City.

IMG_0073A fine rain has been falling all morning making David Hockney pool-scapes of the dark canal surface. Clearly, our hope that this would not deter the delegates from attending, has proven true,  for the Rt Revd David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham – who has been leading the Social Inclusion Process since its launch in March 2012 – is currently welcoming some of the 150 or so people who have braved the drizzle in order to attend.

These summits have proved to be a very successful method of community engagement, encouraging people from the whole social spectrum of Birmingham, representatives and practitioners from the Third Sector, Business leaders and workers, member of faith communities, Birmingham City Council staff, colleagues from the Police, and Fire services, indeed everyone who contributes to make Birmingham a truly great city.

The Bishop is remarking on the fact that we all come together, to be together and to spend 2 or 3 hours together to listen to each other and to learn from each other. he goes on to explain how he was attempting to explain to a group of sixth-formers what Social Inclusion is. Addressing the question: How do we make Birmingham an inclusive city? He suggests that there are three levels – first level is the policy level (both local and central Government) and as a Bishop he is invited to address committees in Parliament, then there is practical level which is the level that many people attending this summit engage at, and thirdly there is a pastoral level, which the Bishop explains is more personal and direct for example, helping in your local area and looking after your neighbour.

Preparation is everything – ready for the Social Inclusion Summit – Working together for a fairer Birmingham


Preparation is everything! Ahead of the Summit the delegate badges are laid out waiting for delegates to arrive with about 30 minutes to go…


The staff too are eager and well rehearsed and ready to spring into action at the first sign of a delegate!

Is the economic activity and community life in Balsall Heath, Castle Vale, Sparkbrook, and Sutton Coldfield really different in any meaningful way?

As part of the Social Inclusion Process the Inclusive Economic Growth Key Line of Enquiry (KLOE) reference group came up with several recommendations which have been incorporated into the Green Paper under Commitment one: Support families and children out of poverty.

It was argued that different parts of the city had different approaches to community and economic development (were in fact different ‘locales’) and that this fact not only needed to be recognised, but should be built upon. This ‘locale’ approach would ensure that investment, infrastructure development and the way the community operated in that locality would be incorporated into any development plans and policies to ensure they were the best possible match for that area. (Green Paper – 1.2 Develop an approach to “locales”.)


This is a very important new approach to community and economic development but is it true? Do you think the economic activity in Castle Vale is different from that undertaken in Balsall Heath? Do the residents of Sparkbrook engage in economic activity so different from those in Sutton Coldfield?

Sutton Coldfield

Let us know?

Do we effectively encourage connectivity across the city?

Visiting different neighbourhoods across the city, we have noticed that in some neighbourhoods residents comment on their sense of isolation from the rest of the city, whilst in other areas residents are more territorial resulting from the security and comfort that their local area provides.  Across the wide range of neighbourhoods we visited, these two different viewpoints were commonplace.

It seems that many residents are unable to make the most of what the city has to offer, whilst others simply don’t want or need to travel outside their local neighbourhood boundary.  Does the city effectively encourage all residents to connect with other parts of the city?

Speaking about connecting with the city centre, one resident in Welsh House Farm commented, “The city has set itself up in a way that excludes the people from the outlying estates; they don’t want people like us to be there”.

For those neighbourhoods who felt isolated, transport appears to be a critical factor.  We heard that many residents in the outer neighbourhoods identified the high cost of public transport created a barrier to accessing other areas.  It appears that more affordable transport could provide part of the solution; however residents also spoke of other underlying factors, such as the journey time into the city centre in areas like Druids Heath and Welsh House Farm.    In the more central area of Attwood Green residents commented on the location of bus routes, which prohibited some elderly and vulnerable people from accessing the city centre.  Residents in Firs and Bromford presented an alternative argument; they are isolated within their own neighbourhood because no one wants to visit.

Perhaps, this leads us in part back to my previous blog about finding better ways to promote our neighbourhoods and creating their own unique selling points to improve the outside perception and restore the self belief of residents.

However for some neighbourhoods connecting with the rest of the city is not a priority.  In less affluent areas such as Kings Norton 3 Estates, the local police commented that residents suffer from such extreme deprivation that they become territorial over the things they do have, likening the estate to “a bubble”.

Can isolation ever be viewed as a positive thing? Neighbourhoods with strong community groups and a history of empowerment viewed isolation with a degree of positivity.  In Castle Vale residents felt that they had isolated themselves from other areas since the HAT days.  The HAT contributed towards residents feeling more determined and independent which in turn allowed their community to progress.  However residents did also recognise that young people in the area need to go outside their local area to meet their needs.

Other areas in which residents were satisfied with their local facilities were also more positive about isolation.  Is it important for female residents in Washwood Heath to travel into the city, if the services already available to them in their local area meet their needs?

Does Birmingham have a responsibility to ensure that all residents in the city are able to connect with other areas to fully make the most of living in theUK’sSecondCity?

Do some neighbourhoods in Birmingham suffer unfairly from bad reputations?

Many residents in Birmingham feel that the negative views held by people from outside their neighbourhood are damaging the reputation of their local area. Some residents feel that these negative views are responsible for creating barriers to employment and as a result lower people’s self esteem.

The Place KLOE heard that many young people in Alum Rock wouldn’t include the area in their address when completing application forms. Residents felt that a stigma is often attached to their local area by outsiders.

It seems that there is a need to sell our neighbourhoods better, promoting some of the positive things are happening in areas rather than just reflecting on negative statistics. How many people in Birmingham know that people from all over the country travel to Alum Rock Road to do their shopping?

There is strong sense of pride across Birmingham’s neighbourhoods, with residents across the city encouraging change, but also reluctant to hide the past and heritage of their local areas. Residents in Newtown have previously rejected proposals to change the name of their neighbourhood, as one resident commented “it is what it is – Castle Vale didn’t change its name but the area has changed.”

In Lozells residents described their neighbourhood as “notorious” this does not affect the sense of pride they have for the area. We also met with a group of 11 -15 year old boys from Lozells who were proud of their cohesive local community.

So in order to reflect this sense of pride, how can we better promote the positive characteristics of our neighbourhoods?

Redevelopment approaches: Castle Vale, Attwood Green and Balsall Heath

I’m in a discussion looking at the Diversity of Place line of enquiry in room 4.

The framing question to attendees:

What are the underlying reasons why some neighbourhoods are more successful, connected and socially included than others, and what do we need to do to achieve positive change for the areas that need it?

Take three different neighbourhoods in Birmingham that have taken three different approaches to improving the area: Castle Vale, Attwood Green, Balsall Heath.

Castle Vale

Castle Vale had a stigma attached to it; a white, working class social housing estate. £100m invested. Look at the way the redevelopment has been managed. They completely transformed the social housing stock and codesigned the area with employers, residents and businesses. It’s now an attractive place to live.

One view on what made Castle Vale work – Castle Vale made their own housing action trust (HAT) [added 17/03/2012: succeeded by the community housing association] and Sainsbury’s were involved too.

Attwood Green

Very different approach, which was effectively gentrification. Moving the poor people out, reinventing it and selling the area to new people arriving.

Balsall Heath

Balsall Heath has continually reinvented itself. The area has not had the money invested that Castle Vale has but is thriving, successful and an interesting, vibrant neighbourhood.

Other notes…

When we do come into an area to redevelop it, we make promises about changing the residents’ life and values. We don’t always do the right thing to encourage those people back into the area after the area is redeveloped.

Problems mentioned specific to areas with poverty: how do you get people to use the services offered when there is investment in poorer areas? Discussion about an example in Kingstanding – the geography of the place affected whether young people would cross one side of Kingstanding where they live to the other side where the service is offered.

Prized modern developments in the city can be irrelevant to people living in neighbourhoods with high poverty, such as the architectural wonder of the new central library or High Speed 2.