Monthly Archives: February 2012

Ward Committee heads to Shirestone

The next meeting of the Shard End Ward Committee will be held at Shirestone Community Primary School on Monday 5 March.

These meetings are open to all local residents and are a chance to find out more about what’s happening in the area and to raise any issues or concerns in your neighbourhood.  You can view the full agenda by clicking here.

Community First funding: could you qualify?

Community First is a £30 million national programme to fund community projects.  Administered by the Community Development Foundation, the fund is open to both new and existing community groups.  Shard End Ward is entitled to a £152,000 share of Community First funding over the next four years.

It is a matched fund programme, which means that every £1 provided in funding must be matched by a similar amount of in-kind donations (this means donations of cash, services, free products or volunteer time).

To access the fund, the ward has to set up a Community First Panel made up of local residents, businesses and elected representatives.  This Panel has the job of inviting local groups to make bids for the funding and then making recommending which projects should be supported to the Community Development Foundation, who have the final say.

I’m one of the Panel members and we are really keen to get a good range of applications from across the whole of the ward.  The Panel has now set up a website: www.communityfirst-shardend.com, where you can find out more about the scheme and make an application.  So, if you’ve got an idea for a local project, or need to find some funding for a group or initiative, please take a look!

WiSHing for a fresh start?

The WiSH Project is an initiative to help local people overcome obstacles and get back into work.  They currently have a team of Outreach Coaches working in Shard End Ward who provide advice and support, helping residents to access employment, training and educational opportunities.

The team will be hosting an “Employment Extra” event at St Richard’s Church in Hallmoor Road, Kitts Green, on Thursday 23 February.  It’s a chance for local people to find out more about the WiSH Project and get advice from the WiSH coaches on a whole range of issues, including:

  • Money matters
  • Help with your CV
  • Childcare
  • Training
  • Support with job searches
  • Advice on volunteering
  • Benefits
  • Self employment

The event is open to all people living in the B33 and B34 postcode areas and takes place between 10am and 3pm.  For more information, please call the WiSH team on 0121 255 8304.

Putting communities in control

One of the major problems facing Birmingham City Council is its sheer size.  With a total annual budget of some £3.5billion, the Council is responsible for delivering services across a wide variety of neighbourhoods, each with their own priorities, needs and challenges.  All too often, the City Council has tried to address this through a “one size fits all” approach, with services designed and managed centrally.  It’s an approach that simply hasn’t worked.

Back in 2004, the then Labour-run Council started a process of devolving more power out to communities through a network of Constituency and Ward Committees.  The intention was to give these Committees control over a range of local services  like libraries, leisure facilities, environmental maintenance and housing management.  Residents and their elected representatives would be able to shape decisions about services and budgets, rather than Cabinet Members and senior officials in the Council House imposing their will from on high.

Sadly, progress over the last few years has stalled.  Despite there being voices in favour of more devolution within the ranks of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, they have been stymied by a strong “anti-devolution” lobby within the administration.  As a result, there is a real need to kick start the process and get back into the business of empowering local communities.

On Tuesday, the City Council debated a report entitled “Resourcing Devolution”.  Drawn up by a cross party committee of Councillors, including myself, the report sets out a series of actions for putting some life back into the devolution process.  You can read the report by clicking here.

The debate in the Council Chamber can be viewed by clicking on the links below.  The recording is in two parts and my own contribution can be found in Part One, at 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

I’m passionate about giving control back to local communities and I think we need a radical renewal of our efforts to achieve this.  The proposals in “Resourcing Devolution” , provide a good starting point, but we need to go much further.   Devolution isn’t just a nice “add-on” extra.  It is essential to delivering services that meet people’s needs and provide value for money.  That’s why decentralising power and empowering local people has to sit at the very heart of our plans for Birmingham’s future.

Resourcing Devolution debate part 1

Resourcing Devolution debate part 2

Nothing like a bit of drama…

Birmingham Repertory Theatre will be hosting a series of free drama workshops at Shard End Community Centre, starting on 23 February.

The workshops are open to all residents of the Hodge Hill Constituency and are the latest in a series of exciting events organised by the Rep, which is the official “arts champion” organisation for our area.

You can find out more about the workshops and some of the other events the Rep is organising for local residents, by clicking here.

Local youth work update

The latest issue of the Youth Service newsletter for East Birmingham can be found here.

Highlights of this edition include the Bikewise project at Shard End Youth Centre; how young people from The Pump went to lobby members of the House of Lords; and the excellent work that is taking place at Kitts Green Children’s Centre.

Our youth services play an absolutely vital role in widening horizons and raising aspirations for young people, here in Shard End Ward and across the city as a whole.  We should be doing all we can to protect and support them in these tough times.

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