NEWS: Witton Lodge Community Association delivers key support services online

Words by Steve Sharma / Pics by Ed King

To counter the impact of the lockdown imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) is now delivering its key support services online.

People who need help, advice, and guidance around employment and health & wellbeing can now access a range of WLCA’s services, tools, and resources via platforms like Facebook, Zoom, and WhatsApp.

Employment and Engagement Officer, Dellano Lewis, launched the new era with a Facebook Live session.

This has now been complemented by regular WhatsApp group employment support sessions, Employment Support workshops on Zoom, and Health & Wellbeing Zoom Support Group meetings.

Full details about the online resources and services Witton Lodge Community Association are delivering can be found via a dedicated COVID-19 page on the WLCA website, alongside details of the Erdington Emergency Assets Register – a wider list of businesses and volunteer groups offering support during the coronavirus crisis.

Iram Fardus, Business Development and Performance Manager for Witton Lodge Community Association, said it is vital people still have access to services and provisions.

“The circumstances we find ourselves in make it even more important that we reach and connect with people to give them the support and information they need,” explains Fardus.

“While these are unprecedented times people’s needs remain a priority for us and we know from the conversations we’re having with clients that having access to support services is absolutely critical right now.

“Knowing there is someone out there you can talk to, who can help you, is a massive boost for people who would otherwise be cut off from the support they are dependent on.

“And while the focus is on service delivery around employment and wellbeing, it’s just as important – in the current climate – to offer people the chance to connect and engage with others.”

For details of all online workshops, sessions and group meetings being delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association – and how to access them – please visit the organisation’s COVID-19 web page at www.wittonlodge.org.uk/covid19-news-information-and-resources

NEWS: Erdington Arts Forum presents an online Evening of Creativity

Words by Ed King / Pics courtesy of Erdington Arts Forum

On Friday 17th April, Erdington Arts Forum will be hosting their monthly Evening of Creativity online – edited for a special broadcast through the Erdington Arts Forum/Café Arts Facebook Page, from 7:30pm.

This month sees a rich and diverse line up including live music, performance poetry, and visual art – presenting a series of special sets that have been recorded and sent from the artist’s own houses and studios.

Appearing at this month’s Evening of Creativity will be the ever popular Barbara Nice, who will be using her own twinkle in the eye storytelling for a riotous set of comedy and tall tales – delivered directly from her home to yours.

Also performing will be saxophonist George Northall, who has previously toured with rock legends Black Sabbath and will be presenting his own special solo set.

Families make up the rest of the musical line up, with father and son duo The Shearers playing their own brand of indie folk – alongside some tried and tested feel good classics. Whilst The Hendersons, father and daughter, complete the live music line up with their own brand of ‘floral jazz’.

Perfomance poet Empress P will also be recording a special set of spoken word and verse, adding exra flavour to the night’s artistic melting pot.

Alongside the live music and poetry, the event will feature presentations throughout the evening from local visual artists, including pieces from Jennette Hill, Ramona Petrescu, Andy Spencer, and Simon Walker.

Having run since 2017, Erdington Arts Forum’s Evening of Creativity has become a regular fixture in Erdington – hosted every month by its founder, Jobe Baker-Sullivan.

Committed to supporting artists across the constituency, as well as introducing new performers and acts to the area, each Evening of Creativity is a unique showcase event – curated with care for the people of North East Birmingham and beyond.

Usually hosted by the OIKOS Café on Erdington High Street, the regular musical and performance evenings have been held every month since their inception – even during the coronavirus crisis.

But due to the social distancing restrictions put in place by Public Health England, last month’s event was streamed from a special Secret Arts Space on Erdington High Street – as featured in the video below.

This month’s Evening of Creativity has expanded the line up with pre-recorded sets from artists across the city – to be broadcast via the Erdington Arts Forum/Café Arts Facebook page from 7:30pm on Friday 17th April.

Erdington Arts Forum’s Evening of Creativity – Friday 20th March

To find out more about and Erdington Arts Forum and their regular Evening of Creativity events, and to watch this month’s event at 7:30pm on Friday 17th April, visit www.facebook.com/CAFEartsforum

NEWS: Erdington Local launches online newspaper – reporting ‘real life news’ from the heart of North East Birmingham

On Monday 5th April, Erdington Local launches its new online newspaper – covering the ‘real life news’ that affects residents and businesses across North East Birmingham.

Originally planned for June this year, both online and as a printed newspaper, Erdington Local has brought forward its web based news to report on the coronavirus crisis – with a special Erdington Local film crew covering the community’s response to the global pandemic.

Erdington Local’s first stories will be following the Erdington COVID-19 Taskforce, with a special report published on Tuesday 7th April about the work delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association to support the most vulnerable residents in their community. More features will continue to look at the impact coronavirus has had on Erdington – highlighting the support services being provided by organisations and community groups across the area, as part of the Erdington Assets Register and the huge surge in volunteer led initiatives.

Based in the heart of the constituency, Erdington Local will be sending their news team out across all the Erdington wards – reporting on stories from Erdington, Castle Vale, Stockland Green, Gravelly Hill, Pype Hayes, Perry Common, and Kingstanding.

Fully independent, Erdington Local will be shining a light on what truly matters to the people of Erdington – featuring unbiased and reliable local news on schools, shops, sport, arts, music, community groups, crime and social disorder.

Erdington Local will also have a special news team dedicated to celebrating all the unsung achievements from everyday people across Erdington – as well as following the proud regeneration and developments that will build a bigger, brighter, and better future for the people of North East Birmingham.

A partnership between Active Arts and Review Publishing, organisations with over 20 years of experience celebrating communities and delivering trusted regional news, Erdington Local is 100% independent. But having already worked at the heart of North East Birmingham for over two decades, the new team have strong links to the organisations on the ground and leading the way – allowing Erdington Local to report from the frontline of major developments affecting the constituency.

Claire Marshall, Active Arts Project Director, says: “Erdington Local is a full independent newspaper, allowing us to report the real life news that matters to the people of Erdington – without any political spin or business bluff. There have been too many biased or negative news reports about the area, especially in the mainstream media, and Erdington Local is committed to putting the truth back at the centre of this community.

We want it to be a platform for everyone across Erdington, across all the wards; a place local people can find their voice and be heard across the city.”

Erdington Local has also be endorsed by the major political figures in the constituency, despite the newspaper having no political allegiance and remaining firmly independent.

On the launch of Erdington Local, Jack Dromey MP says: “I warmly welcome Erdington Local because it will provide a platform for the people of Erdington – to learn from one another, to celebrate all that is best in our community, and to stand together through these heart breaking times.”

And from the other side of the house, Councillor Robert Alden says: Erdington is a great place with a proud history. Having featured in the Doomsday book, Erdington has grown from an ancient Hamlet to a thriving urban suburb over the years.

There is so much positive that happens in our local area, residents going the extra mile, that sadly many people never hear about. So, it is wonderful to support this launch of Erdington Local. In the coming weeks and months, it will be great for some of the great work happening across Erdington to be given a platform so that more people can hear and engage with our home.”

Erdington Local is looking for stories from the heart of the community – if you know something you want to tell us about, or think we should send our reporters to investigate, then email mystory@erdingtonlocal.com