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



Birmingham Fair Money 12 week update


Birmingham Fair Money has now been established for 12 weeks since the run up to Christmas, for the sole aim to disrupt the growth of high cost lending in Birmingham by promoting the services of not for profit lenders. Below is a quick summary tells part of the story of what has been achieved over the last three months:

  • 1309 meaningful visits to the temporary cabin – many with existing debt difficulties featuring high cost loans
  • 1580 visits to the website www.birminghamfairmoney.org.uk
  • 3 credit unions – Citysave, Advance and Circul8 and  3 CDFI’s – Moneyline, Street UK and My Home Finance joined together under a single brand

The main success of this project is the way that Birmingham has responded and united behind the need to support local residents who are currently struggling with unaffordable debt, which is taking millions from our city economy each month, withdrawn through our most vulnerable households.

The core staffing for the shop and project was provided by Citysave, but this has been a truly wide effort.

  • Illegal Money Lending team provided the cabin, the signage, the literature and the street passes which allowed us to distribute over 10,000 leaflets during the project, and without their generous support, this project could not have occurred.
  • Cavell Nurses Trust provided welfare advice and support every week, not only to the nurses and midwives currently suffering financial hardship, but to many visitors to the cabin; as well as training to our staff and the other volunteers involved in the project.
  • Aston University provided a whole team of students and staff for this project, and recruited other students from other universities to volunteer and keep the cabin staffed and literature dispensed throughout the 12 weeks.
  • We also welcomed volunteers to the cabin from Shelter, Unison, Age Concern, Severn Trent, Unity Trust, Nat West and Pay Ahead Stay Ahead

Birmingham Fair Money has had unanimous backing of Birmingham City Council, which has been fundamental, and provides a platform for a true legacy to this work. The council Fair Money Manifesto is attached, and sets out a commitment to ensure residents have access to ethical and affordable financial services. Birmingham is the first council to issue such a pledge and lead the fight to better protect residents from predatory and unaffordable lending.

The outcomes from this project have been many and varied and I would ask that you take 10 minutes to read the Birmingham Fair Money Final Report. In one Saturday afternoon at the cabin I met six visitors, all young adults, all working and each of whom felt they were working to pay the interest on their unaffordable debt and facing hardship that was seeing them go without basic necessities. It was a shocking and humbling experience. Rebekah, one of our young graduate volunteers commented on her experience which I think summarises what the project was really able to do:

‘As a volunteer, I was aware that my contribution would be limited and assumed that cabin staff would only raise awareness of alternatives to high cost lenders. Following my first day I realised that I had underestimated both the scope of the project and the role of staff working at the cabin. Early on the first day, one lady enquired about applying for a loan to afford food for Christmas. She had thought that she would have enough money, but her account had been emptied by Wonga and had no extra money until her wages were paid in January. The opportunity to ease such financial hardship was made real with the existence of the cabin and this case, along with others, left me feeling as though everyone was working towards a worthwhile cause.’

The project, combined with recently issued bank data,  http://birminghamfairmoney.org.uk/birmingham-stand-up/  shows that Birmingham residents in many areas do not have access to affordable personal finance through a high street bank. The gap currently, has been met by a range of lenders including pawn brokers, log book loan stores, payday lenders, rent to own lenders, doorstep and other high cost lenders.

We found that operating under a common brand significantly raised the profile of the not for profit lenders to better challenge these lenders. We have the capacity and the capability to do much more, and in doing so reduce the poverty premium, strengthen individual financial households as well as our wider community. It is estimated that for every £1 loaned by a credit union it adds £10 to the local economy, because the money stays here, which is why the board and team at Citysave are committed to reach further.

Thank you for your support and interest in Birmingham Fair Money.

Angela Clements
Chief Executive Officer

Citysave Credit Union Ltd
Owned and managed by the members for the members
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Service Authority FRN: 213258

16 Waterloo Street
B2 5UG
Tel: 0121 616 6200
Email: ceo@citysave.org.uk
Website: www.citysave.org.uk

What’s All This Biz? – The context and the content

Thursday 14th November 10am: –  Margaret Way, from Young Talent for Business, is outlining the background and the context for this event and its link to the previous breakfast Youth Employment event held on 24th September, to  the mix of business and young people who have braved the cold wet morning, to attend the “What’s all this biz about?” meeting being held at The Pump in Kitts Green.


Margaret Way addressing the mix of business and young people at The Pump

The purpose of the event is to enable young people and business people the opportunity to have a conversation about how they experience their interaction with each other and how they can work together to help improve life chances and job opportunities for people who live in the Shard End Ward of the City.

Andy Munro and Ian White from Business Development Midlands Ltd have kindly given up their morning to help facilitate the event and Andy has briefed delegates on what is expected from them.  He has emphasised that we want the event to be informal and conversational in format.

Two apprentices Andy and Daniel from BSA Machine Tools  have also turned up to outline their experience of being apprentices.  How they apprentice 2found out about the opportunity to become an apprentice, and what their experience of apprenticeship life has been like so far. Both young men are very enthusiastic and seem to be enjoying their work very much indeed. They attend college a certain number of days each week and the rest of the time engage in a range of work, enabling them to gain a variety of new skills. They work on three of the highly complex machines that BSA are currently manufacturing, machines that are so complex they are not scheduled to be completed until next year!

After Andy and Daniel have spoken the room is buzzing with excited voices eager to discuss the topics of day. To help aid the discussion and to try and obtain some effective feedback on key issues, some questions have been provided, more as prompts than as ‘must-ask’ questions.

For young people questions they might want to ask business people have been suggested, these are:-

  1. As an employer, what are the main qualities that you look for?
  2. If I start on a minimum wage what are the prospects for advancement after the first year?
  3. Would you be prepared to offer work experience?
  4. What sort of training and support would I get when I start work?
  5. Would you take on a 16 year old/do you have any preferences on what age people are, when taking them on?
  6. How do you recruit and how can I get to hear about jobs becoming available?

and for business people these could be:-

  1.  What is your ambition?
  2. What training and education courses have you been on to date?
  3. How do you look for jobs at the moment?
  4. What has stopped you getting into work to date? eg. barriers such as travel
  5. What could we do to help you into work?

Soon young people are talking about how current apprenticeship schemes are not very helpful as they only provide £100 per week which is not enough to live on if they don’t want to remain living at home. They also want to be treated with respect, and be appreciated. There is also a sense that the young people are looking for meaningful work. Other issues that arise are the lack of adequate career advice early in their school careers, and knowing where to look for jobs, the internet is mentioned but there is so much out there…

One positive and possible outcome is the idea of setting up a facebook or twitter account for young people in Shard End Ward to highlight local opportunities to them.

Those attending from business are keen to engage too, and are eager to seek solutions to issues and problems that have been raised. Some are working in the same sector that the young people are interested in, and business cards are offered and further discussions take place….

A ‘washup session’ takes place where the five table facilitators feedback the key issues that have been raised. The general consensus is that this has been a very successful event and both parties, the young people and the business representatives, have enjoyed the discussion and learned a lot. People are now going off with the intention of following up on some of the suggestions that have been made. The idea of holding another event, to explore these issues further was well received. Watch this space….

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.

Summit: Working together and ‘Standing up for Birmingham’ campaign

“Working together” is the key theme of today’s summit being held at Austin Court and the programme will include contributions from successful local collaborative initiatives, including the Birmingham Fair Money Campaign, Alcoa Kitts Green’s community team, the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Research into Superdiversity and locally-based community organisations addressing loneliness and isolation.

Another aim of this Summit is to encourage delegates to get behind the ‘Standing up for Birmingham’ campaign.  

Birmingham City Council leader, Cllr Sir Albert Bore has announced details of a new campaign for Birmingham called ‘Standing up for Birmingham’. The campaign calls for community groups and individuals to play a bigger role in the delivery of services in the light of the Government cuts. Launching the campaign Sir Albert said:

“We must all ‘stand up’ and make our contribution to getting us through this crisis, and the strongest need to do their bit to protect the weakest from the impact of these cuts.

Over the next few years we will need to restate the role of the city council in a new landscape, with far less resources. But that doesn’t mean we give up on our aims, values and priorities for the city.”

I would think that this is something delegates attending the social inclusion process summit, which aims to encourage everyone across the city to work shape the future wellbeing of the people of Birmingham, would fully endorse.

Youth Employment Breakfast event (24th Sept 2013)

This week several key businesses in the Shard End Ward, including representatives from the banking, retail transport and manufacturing sector, met along with colleagues from Birmingham City Council and local community organisations to explore how they could all collaborate  to support the local economy, help deal with high levels of  youth unemployment and address skill shortages in the local area.


Brian Summers chairing the meeting

The event was hosted by Alcoa Manufacturing (GB) Ltd  at their plant in Kitts Green, long time supporters of the local community, and chaired by Brian Summers Chair of The Pump, which provides help and support for youth in Kitts Green. Delegates were given an outline of the City’s aspirations around Social Inclusion, the Young Talent for Business initiative and the Our Place! project being developed in Shard End, which aims to design and deliver local services that focus on local priorities and reduce costs.

Steve Brittan from BSA Machine Tools Ltd, and President of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, gave an inspiring speech on the role businesses could play by providing opportunities for young people. He also stressed the need to change the image of manufacturing which is still seen as being dirty greasy work carried out on a cold factory floor. He proposed entering into a dialogue with schools and colleges to ensure they are providing the correct training for young people to enable them to engage with the manufacturing industry. He also reminded delegates that business can provide the opportunity for self development; as in his own case where he started off as an apprentice on the factory floor but eventually rose to be the managing director conducting business on a world wide stage.


The Alcoa community team outline the work they do locally

The Community Team from Alcoa outlined the work they do in the neighbourhood through the implementation of their Corporate Social Responsibility programme. As part of this they have entered into partnerships with over 30 local organisations (schools, sports clubs, day care centres etc) to help develop programmes which improve the local area. Alcoa staff also engage with children at the local International School where they help them with their reading and have seen impressive results.

The meeting then heard from businesses present about the challenges  they face  when it comes to employing young people;  such as young people not having the necessary skills, lacking in self confidence and having no understanding of the work ethic required to engage in a daily work regime etc..


A delegate from Jaguar Land Rover outlines some of the apprenticeship approaches his company have taken

One delegate considered the problem to be a moral issue in that the young people he dealt with had an unrealistic expectation from life;  they wanted to be pop stars or millionaires without the need to do any work for it, like the Queen song says ‘I want it all and I want it now!’  He blamed the ‘instant gratification’ culture, where young people expected everything to be instant. The idea of thinking and planning for the longer term seemed to be missing from their thinking. Young people need to be taught the value of making long term plans which are supported by their parents and friends.

Monarch Airlines outlined their impressive approach to apprenticeships where they have a policy of interviewing everyone who applies for a job; recently that involved interviewing 650 people! They are keen to meet the individual rather than rely on paper qualifications. This process tends to ensure that the individuals chosen do extremely well during their apprenticeships and become highly valued members of the company.

In a lively discussion delegates contributed further examples of good practice or areas where the current systems need to change in order to make the employment of young people much more straight forward.

Next Steps

All present agreed this was a valuable event and expressed a commitment to work together and try and make a difference for the young people of the Shard End Ward. One of the key next steps will be to meet and hear directly from local young people and what they see as the barriers to work from their point of view.


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.

Thanks and concluding remarks

Finally it was the opportunity for the Bishop to bring the proceedings to a conclusion, firstly by thanking all the speakers, those who had facilitated Action Groups and all those working in the background to make the event a success.

He then went on to thank the Steering group, the KLOE Groups, University of Birmingham and Aston University along with all the many organisations big and small that had engaged in the process as well as the many individuals who had contributed so much.

In summing up he urged those present to:

  • Stick with us.
  • Work with us to make it happen for Birmingham.
  • Work together to uncover the wellsprings of trust.


let the radical change begin!

Next Steps

Thanking Cllr Cotton for his response the Bishop then asked Jackie Mould to outline the next steps in the process.

Jackie reflected that the main work now was how to turn all the ideas that had emerged both from the Green Paper and the discussions today into action. Many many people have been involved and she echoed the Bishops call to keep this vital partnership of collaboration alive.

The next step is to turn the Green Paper into a White Paper and develop from it an Action Plan to enable us to implement its recommendations and take this work forward. After it is produced the Bishop will engage in a formal process with all our Partners to get their sign-up and commitment to engagement with it in order to bring about its recommendations.

Jackie said she was keen to keep this  network going, and we will be contacting you soon to enlist your help, support and ideas on ways to take this further.

We will be holding a further Summit in the new year to feedback where we are and get more input from you.

As Cllr Cotton mentioned we will be creating a new Challenge unit. If anyone wants to help or support us, with ideas, people, resources, even challenge, please get in touch.

Many of the processes will continue the Blog fairbrum will still be going, as will our presence on twitter. So please remember: your views count! Continue to engage with us on the journey by contributing to the conversation on twitter by using the #fairbrum tag and following us @fairbrum.

Please stick with us and make sure you continue to work with us, as we journey on to make this Social Inclusion Process happen for Birmingham.

Responding to the social inclusion challenge

Councillor Cotton said that after every summit he’d been at he always felt very enthusiastic and stimulated. He wanted to express his thanks to Jackie and her team for making it happen.

He then went on to explain that we know the scale and challenge across Birmingham. We know that a third of our children grow up in poverty. The level of deprivation has remained  the same for decades. We never seem to be able to address it adequately and the current public spending cuts are certainly not helping. Up to forty eight percent of the Birmingham City Council current budget is set to go. As the Leader of the Council, Cllr Bore said recently, this is the end of local Government as we know it.

Cllr Cotton then alluded to the leviathan of Welfare reform that is trundling towards us. It will impact most on those who are already deprived. The poor will continue to suffer. The cuts will not just affect services they will also threaten existing social capital too.

However, we should not be overawed by these challenges. We are more than capable of facing up to them. The Green paper shows no shortage of vision and ideas it indicates a real passion for change. We are not going to sit back and do nothing.  The Green Paper is a call to arms for the city.

Through the creation of the Green Paper the Bishop has managed to pull together a coalition for change: composed of businesses, third sector organisations, universities, religious, community and faith groups and individuals. The challenge now is how we keep the partnerships made here, through this endeavor, together? Hope can we can take the change forward under Bishops Leadership?

There are lots of ideas and solutions across city. A new approach to Neighbourhoods is already being rolled out, here we are endeavoring to provide the right area approach with Local services responding to local needs.  The Youth Unemployment Commission is already working on developing a Birmingham Jobs Fund approach. The Welfare Reform action committee is now in place and should be able to help create a shield to protect some of the people at risk. But he did fear that that the shield may well be dented in the effort.

So we can see that several of the proposals in the Green Paper are already beginning to emerge.

The new administration is keen to develop not just a Birmingham City Council strategy to deal with the needs of city but one that includes and embraces all our partners all working together towards a common goal.

To do this they are creating a Social Cohesion Challenge Unit to take this agenda forward. This unit will be able to challenge social cohesion not just across the Council but hopefully across partnerships too. It will champion good practice and build  and sustain strong  partnerships.  The Council needs its partners to work with us, we can’t do it alone.

So, we are beginning to put things in place to enable us to set off on this journey. The Green Paper is our route map. We know the journey will not be easy, but we also know that we have the ability to make Birmingham a better place for every citizen. So lets get on with it!