Colors: Blue Color

A step-change for culture is taking place across Birmingham and the region through new leadership at Cultural Central and leadership opportunities via the Birmingham Cultural Compact as well as investment opportunities from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP).


The end of 2019 brought the appointment of Erica Love as Director at Culture Central with a remit to drive forward the vision and ambition of Culture Central as advocate for culture across the city, supporting the development and sustainability of the sector.


As part of that remit Cultural Central is working with Birmingham City Council to establish a ‘Cultural Compact’ for the city. The Birmingham Cultural Compact seeks to co-create and co-deliver a holistic vision for culture in Birmingham. It will link the cultural sector to broader aspirations and priorities for Birmingham and secure partnerships between the cultural sector and other sectors.


Councillor Jayne Francis, cabinet member for Education, Skills and Culture said: “As one of the UK’s core cities, Birmingham was a key contributor to the national Cultural Investment Inquiry and one of the first cities to sign up to establishing a Cultural Compact.


We value really highly the contribution that culture makes to the economy and reputation of our city and look forward to working with a new Chair to take this agenda forward.”


Board Director for Creative & Culture, GBSLEP, Anita Bhalla, said: “With the publication of this Framework we can set out our approach to cultural investments and how it dovetails with broader objectives around placemaking, business growth, stimulating innovation and supporting the talent and skills pipeline.


"By working with partners - such as Culture Central, we can make significant step-change to ensure long-term partnerships with the cultural sector and other stakeholders and enable change for the long-term good of the economy and wider geography.”


Erica Love, Director Culture Central said: “Culture Central is driving a step change in the sustainability and contribution of culture to the life of the city, we are already working with partners to continue to build a resilient arts and cultural ecology. Through the Cultural Compact and through supporting partners such as Birmingham City Council and GBSLEP we hope to extend and expand our networks beyond the sector demonstrating the impact culture can have city-wide.”

The story of the Jamaican nurses who helped to build the NHS


The past decade will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most transformative periods for women.


Female-led activism has defined the past ten years - from women’s rights, to environmentalism, to the fight against terror - women of all backgrounds have been leaders in many of the most powerful movements. 


Women-led protest movements have created platforms for everyday women and public figures alike to stand together and voice their thoughts, concerns and stories.


Now, personal biography-writing service StoryTerrace, has unveiled some of the most influential female activists of the decade according to professional storytellers. One of whom is Alina Wallace.


As Florence Nightingale is historically respected as a trailblazing figure who affected nursing policy in the 19th and 20th centuries, it was Mary Seacole, the Jamaican-British nurse who set up the ‘British Hotel’ behind the lines during the Crimean War who was at the forefront of how we see how nursing is practiced today.


Her (Mary Seacole) legacy lived on as, from 1948, the British Government funded recruitment drives to attract qualified nurses and trainees from the Caribbean to come to Britain – this played a huge part in creating the NHS which we cherish so dearly today. 


One particular group of nurses from Jamaica, who previously had no knowledge or experience of British culture, made the journey to the UK to work in the NHS. They later set up a charity known as the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) to help those facing discrimination and share harrowing personal experiences, which still stands today.Alina, one of the key members of the NAJ, has worked with StoryTerrace to document the lives of the Jamaican nurses, their travel and work in the UK to build the NHS, and the creation and work of the NAJ. It is an incredible tale of overcoming adversity, culture shock and adaptation, the beginnings of a treasured British institution, and the philosophy of the NAJ on sharing ideas and educating people on important health and social issues.


One of the NAJs members commented on the importance of documenting the individual efforts of Wallace and the NAJ: “As we celebrated our 49th year, we felt that we had achieved so much, but also that we were getting on, and there weren’t many young people replacing us.


“A lot of incredible efforts and stories of Alina and these nurses have been lost and we are keen to document these stories in the right way.


Until now, there was nothing to document how we had achieved everything, and we felt the need to leave a legacy for the next generation”.


‘Unity is Strength: The story of the Jamaican nurses who helped to build the NHS’ highlights the women of excellence who were at the forefront of what was a new National Health Service.





A dozen Birmingham girls who ‘dared to dream’ have been awarded the first grants from a special fund launched by Birmingham City Council and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity. 


Eight of these girls, aged nine to fifteen, were presented with their grants and certificates during a special event held at the Council House on World Book Day.


Set up using the council’s royalties from ‘Once Upon A Time In Birmingham: Women Who Dared To Dream’ – a book commissioned to mark the centenary of women getting the vote – the fund awarded grants totalling more than £2,000 in its inaugural year.


Launched by Birmingham City Council and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity in October 2019, the book’s legacy fund aims to help the next generation of fearless females pursue their ambitions and dreams.


This year, girls whose dreams include careers in sport, medicine, public health, politics, filmmaking and the performing arts, became the first in the city to benefit from this fund.


Applications could be made for individual grants of up to £250 to support academic or career dreams – be it an activity, course, books, equipment or accessing work experience.

A panel of four book champions representing the council and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity reviewed the applications and were impressed with the wide range of strong applications from girls across the city – which meant making some tough decisions.


Councillor Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council – and one of the book champions who reviewed the applications - said: “The aim of ‘Once Upon A Time In Birmingham…’ was to inspire and encourage young women to be brave in pursuing their own dreams and ambitions. The council’s royalties from the book go directly into this fund, so I am thrilled to see the book realise its own dream by helping young women take their first steps toward achieving their goals."


Stephen Goldstein CBE DL, Chair of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity, added: “It’s great to see the first grants from this fund being awarded to young women who are passionate about pursuing their own dreams and ambitions, and we’re pleased to be able to support the city council in this innovative initiative to help open doors for the next generation.

It’s good to dream.”


Birmingham City Council joined forces with local publisher The Emma Press to produce ‘, which features 30 inspirational Birmingham women past and present, drawn from public nominations by young female writers from the Sparks Young Writers group.


Written, illustrated and published by local women, the book profiles a range of female achievement from women’s rights campaigner Jessie Eden to the first female computer programmer Mary Lee Berners-Lee, to education campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.


Across the UK, 39% of children who are placed in care without a court order by local authorities are still living in this state of uncertainty with no long-term solution within 12 months, a figure which has resulted in a leading family lawyer sounding the alarm.


Law firm Ridley & Hall recently called on all UK councils to reveal the number of children currently accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act (14,284), and asked how many of these had in fact been in this situation for more than 12 months (5,592)*.


Local authorities can place children into care without a court order when they are deemed not to have somewhere suitable to live. This action can only be taken with a parent’s consent, and is intended to be a short-term measure while efforts are made to find a permanent solution. Unfortunately, the research shows that almost half of these children still do not have a permanent place to live a year later.


Now, an expert is calling for more resources for putting in place permanent care plans for Section 20 children who are already at risk of significant emotional harm.


The law


Originally introduced in an attempt to move child law away from the courts, the Section 20 provision of the Children Act 1989 was intended as a short-term measure. It enabled local authorities to quickly take over the responsibility of caring for children in a foster home or with another family member. However, there has been growing judicial concern that these particular looked-after children are being accommodated for unacceptably long periods of time before official care proceedings are initiated.


The research


Figures obtained from local authorities by Ridley and Hall Solicitors under Freedom of Information show that in the West Midlands, there were 1,398 children accommodated under Section 20 during summer 2019 of which 578 (41%) had been accommodated for over 12 months.


“This legislation, which is designed to give local authorities the power to provide accommodation for children without a court order when they do not have somewhere suitable to live, can be productive and helpful in some circumstances,” explains James Cook, director and head of childcare law at Ridley and Hall. “It is, for example, helpful in situations where their parents might need temporary respite. However, in our experience, the law is now being misused and abused with large numbers of children being kept in temporary care for lengthy periods of time.

This was never the intention of Section 20, and the potential implications for the children can be truly damaging.


“The primary concern has to be for the welfare of the children. The breakdown of family relationships due to prolonged separation, as well as the stigma of being in care and the anxiety caused by the uncertainty of where they will ultimately live, can be extremely harmful. There is no doubt that this can have real, detrimental long-term implications for the children.”


Mr Cook says: “There seems to be a lack of urgency in dealing with the long-term needs of Section 20 children; once they have been removed from the home, the local authority considers them to be less of a priority as they are out of immediate danger. No doubt, a lack of resources is partly to blame, but this needs to change.


“I want to urge local authorities to prioritise making longer-term plans via the courts in order to give these children the opportunity for their needs and wishes to be properly considered and represented.


“Despite ongoing pressure on public spending, the need to ensure that local authorities are adequately resourced is vital. We must ensure that they are able to effectively plan long-term care and so prevent more children from being lost in the system under Section 20.”


A Coventry man who has helped break down racial and religious stereotypes has been presented with a Mayor of the West Midlands’ Community Champions award.

Imam Mohammed Hammad of the Iqra Learning Centre in Chapelfields received the Interfaith award at a ceremony held recently.

Mr Hammad’s tireless work has had a positive effect on the dynamics between Muslims and the broader community by breaking down barriers and stereotypes bringing together people from different backgrounds and beliefs.

Among the work he has done he has helped set up the Coventry winter night shelter which provides first line support for homeless people across Coventry, and five-a-side interfaith football.

Organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the region’s first Community Champions awards were launched by the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, back in January.

The honours highlight the unsung heroes of the West Midlands who are making a difference to other people’s lives.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Across the West Midlands we have some brilliant community champions who work tirelessly and selflessly to improve the lives of others without any recognition. So, I was delighted to be able to hold a special night to thank these unsung heroes.

“A region is only as strong as the people living and working in it, and I truly believe here in the West Midlands we have the best region in the world.

“A big congratulations to the winners and all those nominated.”

The awards give people in the WMCA area the chance to nominate someone who has made a significant contribution to their area.

Cllr Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for inclusive communities added: “These awards shine a light on the wide-ranging community work that is taking place in the West Midlands.

“We applaud the selfless work of all these individuals who strive to improve the lives and wellbeing of others without expecting any reward or recognition for themselves.”


Details of the other six winners are:


Life achievement - Sean Flynn  was chosen by the judges for his tireless work spanning more than four decades. Sean’s long history of volunteering started at the age of 18 and his philosophy throughout is to “treat others how you would like to be treated.” Through his volunteering with the charity Caritas, Sean was involved with the setting up of Tabor House, Birmingham’s only permanent night shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

In 2003, Sean along with members of Christ the King parish in Kingstanding started New Heights, Warren Farm Community Project. Under Sean’s direction and leadership New Heights offers a variety of activities and support to local people.


Cross Regional: West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) for its work as part of the national resilience arrangements, involving services across the country helping each other during big emergencies, aiding local communities affected by a major event. During 2019 crews from WMFS responded to three such deployments outside of their area in Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and most recently the floods in South Yorkshire.


Intergenerational: Candy Woods - West Midlands Fire Service, Ladywood, Birmingham
After losing her home and belongings following a volcano eruption on the Caribbean island of Montserrat in 1997, Candy has had a desire to give something back and to help others who are less fortunate than herself.

In 2003 Candy launched the Winter Coat Appeal, which has now helped thousands of people in need. Ladywood Community Fire Station has acted as a collection and distribution centre, working with Candy to identify and work with vulnerable residents helping to make the community safer, stronger and healthier.

Social Mobility: Shamsun Chowdhury - Legacy WM, Birmingham
Shamsun has been supporting the communities of Lozells, Aston and Handsworth for the last 20 years. She works with more than 100 migrant women and children supporting them with integration, connecting them with services on offer and friendship networks to avoid isolation. 


Mentor: Michael Forbes - Gro-Organic, Chelmsley Wood - Michael has committed more than 10 years to working with the regions hardest to reach and disadvantaged young people including offenders, those at the attention of the police and on the brink of criminality. During the last three years alone, Michael has touched the lives of over 1,100 young people and has supported over 340 young people back into education, employment or training.

Michael now successfully draws on his own experiences to guide and mentor people who have been through significant trauma and life challenges.


Mentee: Raheem Ali - Who was one warning away from being excluded from school when he joined a mentoring programme which has showed him a new way of life. However, this would not have been possible without his newfound determination and aspirations. He is now engaged at school and has even started delivering peer mentoring in his spare time. He is working towards a mentoring qualification and plans to start an apprenticeship once he finishes school.



The National Emergencies Trust has today launched an appeal to raise funds to help local charities support those individuals suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The appeal has been launched with the support of media, business and governmental organisations, and in partnership with the British Red Cross who will be managing donations. The Trust will then award grants to ensure the funds reach those who need it most across the UK. The Duke of Cambridge, who attended the launch of NET in November 2019, has recorded a message in support of the appeal.

Donations can be made at:

Or through the following on-line giving platforms: Just Giving, Go Fund Me, Virgin Money Gives, Good Launch, Muslim Giving.

The National Emergencies Trust will distribute money raised through a number of charitable organisations, for example, local Community Foundations, to ensure it reaches those who need it most.

Those partners will work within parameters agreed with NET to help identify the greatest need and distribute funds with both care and speed wherever possible.

This partnership network has been created by the NET since it was set up last year, in response to recommendations by the Charity Commission following a series of UK emergencies in 2017. The public can be confident that funds will only be granted to trusted organisations who know best the needs of their local communities.

Individuals and charities should not apply directly to the NET for funds. Local charities should contact their local Community Foundation to apply for funding.

The Chairman of the National Emergencies Trust, Lord Dannatt, said: “The outbreak of coronavirus is clearly both a global and national emergency. Many people are suffering, not just from ill health but also from the economic impact as well as the effects of social distancing and isolation.

“While there is much that Government can and is doing, there is also a strong desire of the public to help others and there are local grassroots organisations that can provide vital support to people who need it. We will channel the money raised to those organisations so people who need it can get support as quickly as possible but also who will need these vital funds to continue to be there for the long haul.

“These are tough and uncertain times and we’re only asking those who can really afford to give to our appeal to do so. We will do our very best to channel the money raised to organisations where people who need it can get support as quickly as possible.”

The Duke of Cambridge said: “Whenever and wherever adversity strikes, the people of the UK have a unique ability to pull together. The way that local communities support those affected shows the very best of our values and human nature.

“The public’s desire to help in the wake of tragedy needs to be managed and channelled in the best possible way - which is why the establishment of National Emergencies Trust was so important.

“I said at its launch last year that I dreaded the day when it would be needed. Sadly, with the outbreak of Covid-19, that day has come faster than any of us would have hoped.

“But now, more than ever, I am grateful that The National Emergencies Trust exists. It will ensure that support reaches those across the UK who need it most, as quickly and efficiently as possible. And it will help to ensure that all our efforts to overcome this challenge are channelled in the best possible way.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We are living in deeply uncertain times, and I know that people across the nation are keen to help in any way that they can.

“As a Government we are working closely with the charity sector, which is already playing a crucial role in the nation's response.

"The National Emergencies Trust will help to channel the amazing outpouring of generosity we are seeing from the British public and businesses, and ensure help reaches those most in need."

In time, the Trust will report back on how the money raised was spent, and work collaboratively with others in the sector to build on the insights and lessons learned and increase the UK’s capacity to prepare for, respond and recover from disasters in the UK.