NEWS: Citywide project 10 to 11 launches in Erdington on 26 June – connecting the city by music, arts, culture… and the No 11 bus route

Words by Ed King

10 to 11 is an exciting new arts project from Number 11 Arts, helping people celebrate arts and culture all over the city through the No 11 bus route – presented as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival

Spread over five Sundays, from 26 June to 24 July, Birmingham’s neighbourhood arts forums will be hosting a programme of free arts activities in areas along the popular bus route, operated by National Express West Midlands.

From music to gardening activities, performances to processions, mask making and blossom tree decorating, 10 to 11 presents something for the whole family to get involved in. All ages are welcome, and all events will be free of charge.

Launching in Erdington on Sunday 26 June, the first 10 to 11 event will be an ‘Afternoon of Creativity’ – as organised by Erdington Arts Forum.

Taking place from 12noon to 3pm at the Secret Arts Studio Space in Central Square, on Erdington High Street, the ‘Afternoon of Creativity’ will feature with arts, crafts, and children friendly storytelling

Live music will come from world touring artists, including Roksana Grobelna, Paul Riley, and Stefan Stefanov.

There will also be a special performance from the Village Green Band, who have built a strong local reputation performing live Irish music at the New Inn Traditional Music Sessions – and who recently played in support of Refugee Week at Minerva Works on Fazeley Street.

A second event will continue the 10 to 11 festivities in Sutton Coldfield, taking place at the Holy Parish Church on Mill Street on Sunday, 3 July – as organised by Sutton Arts Forum

Jobe Baker Sullivan, head of Erdington Arts Forum, told Erdington Local: “This is an exciting chance to show off our lovely Secret Art Space Studios in Erdington to other parts of Birmingham.

“The 10 to 11 project is a really cool idea, and I believe after the Commonwealth Games have left the city we should do it again. It’s so important to fund artistic innovations like this, and to find a sustainable model in the future.

“I’m also looking forward to hosting the Sutton Coldfield event on 3 July, at the church where I am music director – though I promise to everyone reading we will have a wide array of arts, music and poetry.”

Travelling the length and breadth of Birmingham, the 10 to 11 project will also be running a special No 11 ‘arts bus’ to take people to each event – in partnership with National Express West Midlands.

While onboard the arts bus, entertainment will come from Birmingham’s comedy ‘cleaner to the stars’ and Britian’s Got Talent finalist Mrs Barbara Nice, Stan’s Café’s out of work sporting critics The Commentators, and singer Mabowunje Harrison.

The National Trust will also be at the 10 to 11 events, encouraging local people to plant their own blossom trees along the No11 bus route this winter – as part of their Blossom Together project.

For more information on Blossom Together visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/helping-communities-blossom

The 10 to 11 project is led by Number 11 Arts, an umbrella organisation that supports and champions a city-wide network of neighbourhood arts forums in Birmingham.

Tom Jones and Gurminder Sehint from Number 11 Arts said: “We’re really excited to be connecting up all the local arts forums in one project together, to celebrate all the wonderful arts work they do in their local communities.

“The number 11 arts bus is also a great opportunity to reach more audiences and transform one of Birmingham’s much loved bus routes.”

The 10 to 11 project has been funded by Arts Council England and is in partnership with National Express West Midlands and the National Trust.

The events will be running on five consecutive Sundays: Sunday 26 June, Sunday 3 July, Sunday 10 July, Sunday 17 July and Sunday 24 July.

Roksanna Grobelna – who will be performing at the ’Afternoon of Creativity’ on Sunday 26 June

The Commentators – who will be entertaining people aboard the 10 to 11 arts bus

For more information on 10 to 11, including details on individual events and the arts bus timetable, visit: www.number11arts.co.uk/10-11

NEWS: Castle Vale residents “devastated” and face “being homeless” after 60% rise in service charge

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by residents

Castle Vale residents in the Redrow development are facing a rise of around 60% in their yearly service charge, adding potentially hundreds of pounds onto their monthly bill.

Managed by HLM Property Management, the drastic increase has been attributed to utilities costs, but some residents are now facing monthly fees even bigger than their mortgages – to be paid directly to HLM.

In a letter issued to residents around Yatesbury Avenue and Merlin Way/Walk, HLM told: ‘We understand this is going to be a difficult time for leaseholders, however in order to ensure that services at the property continue we would ask that prompt payment is made.’

The letter also included a note explaining the national property management company had budgeted ‘a contribution from the reserves to reduce the impact of the utilities cost increase’ totalling £75000.’

Over 100 residents received the letter, issued at the end of last month, leaving many feeling “devastated” and worried about “being homeless” if they can’t make ends meet.

Paul White, Merlin Walk, told Erdington Local: “I have just bought my first property and within a month it (service charge) has gone from £300 to £460 a month, way above mortgage and inflation level with wages not being increased.

“I am worried that even though I own my property I could be faced with being homeless.”

Another resident, Amber Batt, said: “I’m a 23-year-old, first time buyer. Initially I was advised the service charge would be around £300 and of recent I have been told it is going to be upwards of £450.

“I am not able to go out and live the normal life of a 23 year old as I have the impending responsibility of paying over £400 a month to be able have a functioning house in addition to my mortgage and council tax.

“It feels there is no choice in the matter and no consideration is being given to people’s individual circumstances.”

Christine Pascoe said: “I moved in to my flat in February of this year and got my first service charge bill, whilst buying the property.

“I was told the service charge would be £250 approximately per month, but it’s come out at £412 per month. I live alone and a pensioner.”

Sarah Garfield, who has lived on Castle Vale since the houses were built in 2006, added: “My service charge has risen by £160 a month which I find absolutely criminal. I live alone so therefore only have my wage to live on and this rise will have a massive impact on my day-to-day living.

“It’s time HLM were confronted and provide us with a decent management service instead of the abysmal one we’ve had to put up with for the past 16 years.”

One resident, Matthew Bowler, saw his monthly service charge jump from £195 to £318.5 due to increased energy costs, despite living alone in a studio apartment.

He explained: “I’m paying more for my energy than many families in three bedroom houses. It’s just shocking.

“These flats are well insulated; I don’t have the heating on that much – even in winter. There’s no way that the energy I’m using correlates with the price I’m paying for it.”

After individually trying to challenge the home wrecking increase with HLM, a group of residents have now banded together to fight the hiked-up service charge – which is scheduled to begin being paid to the company on 1 July.

At the time of writing, over 40 people had joined a special WhatsApp group to challenge the utility costs and get a “fair deal” from the property management company.

Matthew Bowler continued: “(We want) a fair deal in proportion to inflation because this is way above inflation.

“It’s reached a tension point now where things have got to be addressed and we’ve got to sit down with them (HLM) and say ‘look we’re really unhappy and this price that you’re trying to put on us is going to be devastating. You need to work with us to get a solution.’

“If they don’t act, people could lose livelihoods; there’s families that live here, there’s pensioners, and we won’t be able to cope. There’s going to be people made homeless by it – they’re not going to be able to pay the mortgage and the service charge.

“If HLM aren’t prepared to do anything then we’ve got to bring into question their reputation as a company – it’s completely not acceptable.”

After being contacted by residents looking for help, newly elected Castle Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin (Lab) began organising a public meeting to hear concerns directly and seeking legal advice from colleagues at Birmingham City Council.

Cllr Goodwin told Erdington Local: “Having been approached by residents living in the Redrow development on Merlin Way/Walk and the surrounding roads, I’m deeply concerned by the disproportionate increase in relation to utility costs. In some incidents this appears as high as a 300% increase.

“I will be supporting the concerned residents – who are angry, worried, and very stressed by this – to find a way forward which ensures they pay fair utilities costs.

“It simply unacceptable to estimate such figures, especially during the ongoing cost of living crisis.”

HLM Property Management were approached for comment which they replied would be issued “in due course.”

If you have been affected by a rise in service charges, imposed utility bills, or landlord/lettings agent fees, we want to hear from you – email in confidence: edking@erdingtonlocal.com

NEWS: Erdington UFC star Leon Edwards gets shot at world title in August fight

By Erdington Local

Erdington’s own UFC fighter Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards has finally been given a shot at world title glory.

The UFC announced Edwards will be the latest challenger for the welterweight crown, currently held by Kamaru Usman.

The world title fight will headline UFC 278 on Saturday, 20 August, in Salt Lake City, Utah, America.

Edwards has previously lost to Usman in 2015 and is the heavy outsider for the bout with bookmakers – but the mixed marshal artist is confident, having been unbeaten in ten consecutive fights.

Edwards, aged 30, believes he is ready for the biggest fight of his life. He said: “I’ve been preparing for this fight for seven years.

“I’ve been preparing for this fight since I last lost to him – I’ve been watching him, studying him and figuring out ways to beat him.”

He added: “So to have a title opportunity and go back and get revenge for your last loss six or seven years ago – to take the title off him as well is such a bonus. It’s perfect.”

During the last fight Usman out wrestled Edwards, but the Jamaican born Erdington trained fighter believes he is older and wiser now.

He said: “That’s how I lost last time so I’m not going to lose like that again. I’m a totally different fighter now, just with my understanding of MMA.”

“When I first fought, I was more of a striker than anything – my striking got me to the UFC, so I just relied on that to be champion. But I found that I couldn’t.”

He added: “I’m 30 now and have learned so much, improved so much, and understand so much more now.”

Edwards has not fought since June 2021 when he defeated Nate Diaz on points after weathering a late charge by the Californian brawler.

His fight with Belal Muhammad in March the same year, was halted after Edwards accidentally poked his opponent in the eye in the second round – with the injury causing the fight to be stopped and declared ‘no contest’.

The previous two years proved frustrating for Edwards with several bouts cancelled due to Covid-19.

If victorious, Edwards will automatically become one of the biggest stars in world combat sports as the UFC welterweight division is one of the most contested in world sports.

Edwards brother Fabian has also been making a name for himself in MMA by winning several high profile fights in Bellator, his latest fight being screened on the BBC.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Leon Edwards moved to Birmingham in his early teens and entered the world of professional MMA after training at the UTC gym on Erdington High Street.

Edwards has been a public challenger of gang and street violence, often using his profile you encourage young people to stay away from criminality.

For more on Leon Edwards visit www.ufc.com/athlete/leon-edwards

LOCAL PROFILE: Jess Brown – Illustrator, Damsels Don’t Wear Glasses

Words and photos by Bianca Pirvuneanu

Born, bred, schooled, and fed in Erdington, Jess Brown is the fantastic mind behind the Damsels Don’t Wear Glasses website, as series of online graphic novels and digital comics with dark humour and kick ass protagonists.

Recently exhibiting her work at the Love Erdington Festival, as curated by Arts All Over the Place, Jess’s dark imaginings and strong characters were a bit hit throughout the weeklong showcase. Erdington Local caught up with Jess to learn more about her inspirations and ambitions.

You grew up in Erdington, going to school here – were you creative in the classroom too?

“I went to Yenton Primary School. From what I remember I didn’t do too well at a lot of classes, but I did manage to excel at things like art and poetry (even if my spelling was extremely bad).” 

What inspired you to get into illustration, and what were your first creations like?

“Honestly, I wanted to become a writer. I’ve always wanted to tell stories, but in a more visual way than just the written word. I love comics, animation, and games a lot. So drawing was always a way to convey the stories I wanted to tell.

“My first creations live in a long forgotten sketch book somewhere. I’d like to say they were baby’s first masterpieces, but honesty…? Probably a lot of Sailor Moon tracing.” 

Your stories are very evolved, with a ‘cast’ of characters living in their own new worlds; where did the inspiration for these come from?

“From my childhood, which consisted of a lot of VHS tapes (Disney, straight to home video animated movies), video games (J RPGs, Action Adventure games) and other comics (a lot of manga).

“I’d like to say I did a lot of reading as a kid to, but I didn’t. Though there are a number of authors that did inspire me in my teen and adult life – Terry Pratchett.

“I’ve always liked mix genres like urban fantasy, or horror sci-fi, stuff that’s hard to pin down but gives you a lot of creative room to explore stuff outside of general story conventions.

“I think a lot of creative people who ‘world build’ do it to explore things that don’t get explored in the stories they liked (or maybe stories they didn’t like). Especially when it comes to characters, at least that’s what got me started. Wanting to tell the story you’d want to read is cliché, but true.”

On your social media you talk about your ADHD, calling ‘your brain like soap that refuses to be gripped’. Is your artwork important to your health and wellbeing?

“Yes, I would say, art is important for me to stay in focused because ADHD makes me hard to keep focus at one thing in a time and it helps set a routine for me.

“It can be hard to start into something, like normal people can just stand up and say, ‘OK I’m going to do this right now,’ and for some reasons my brain is like ‘no you can’t do that.’ I do something for like 10 minutes and then I stop and then I do it again for 20 minutes or an hour and is important to taking many breaks for recharge.”

You mentioned you are working on a children’s story; can you tell us any more about that?

Ah yeah, it’s my next project. Working title is Knight’s Folly. It’s about a little girl who enters an enchanted forest to become a witch, with the help of a monstrous looking knight. It’s going to be aimed at kids and young adults.

“I’m a little hesitant to describe the story as traditional fantasy, but movies like The Dark Crystal and The Never Ending Story are big inspirations. It’s still bare bones at present but I’m developing the script and am hoping to maybe get it professionally published.”

You also mentioned you write narratives for phone games; can you tell us any more about that? 

“Not much to tell really, my job title is usually ‘Narrative Writer’ or ‘Narrative Director’. My role tends to be writing the stories and creating character scenarios for the games I’m brought in on.

“My last job involved writing a choose-your-own-adventure style narrative using a new app. There’s also the general writing that goes into some of these games, like item descriptions and so on. Someone’s got to write all those little blurbs, right? That’s usually me.”  

Where would you like your artwork to take you next?

“I want to be financially secure; and I am thinking of trying to do some 3D modelling, as a hobby.”

For more on Jess Brown and a full online archive of her graphic novels and comic visit www.damsels-dont-wear-glasses.com

NEWS: Erdington Local June/July newspaper out this weekend – get your advance copy free on Saturday 18 June

Words by Ed King

Erdington Local June/July newspaper will be making its way across Erdington this weekend, being delivered to selected homes, schools, and businesses.

But if you want to be one of the first people to get your hands on a copy, free of charge, you can grab an advance coy direct from the newsroom on Saturday 18 June.

You can also help our distribution team get some copies out on and around Erdington High Street, or take some home for your friends and neighbours – with tea, coffee, soft drinks, and snacks for anyone who can help with deliveries.

Just head to the Central Square Shopping Centre on Erdington High Street and look for the Active Arts Secret Studio Space, downstairs opposite MS Fruits and St Vincent charity shop.

Our distribution team will be busy getting the papers ready to go our across Erdington, but you can drop in and get a copy before anyone else in the constituency – just pop in and ask for Claire.

This month, Erdington Local is taking a look at crime across the constituency – with a special feature on the trends and patterns of criminality in Erdington, alongside some exclusive news stories about local initiatives and projects in Stockland Green trying to make our streets safer.

There is also a direct message from Erdington’s top cop, Inspector Rachel Darby, talking about the work our Neighbourhood Teams are doing to challenge crime and bring criminals to justice.

Our cover story is a first hand account of the Platinum Jubilee event on Erdington High Street organised by Pastor Rasaq, a fantastic occasion that celebrated both Queen and community during a very special afternoon. But be warned, not everybody there was waving a flag in honour of Her Majesty.

In the news pages we have some Hot of the press coverage about the amazing work being done by Pride House Birmingham, welcoming LGBTIAQ+ to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games – alongside the successful campaign by Erdington Councillor Gareth Moore to give Birmingham Pride Festival a permanent home in the city.

Be the first to learn about the proposed renovation to the St Barnabas churchyard, the new proposed traffic safety measures in Castle Vale, a special Fun Day in Sorrel Park, the next Evening of Creativity at Oikos Café, and how a worrying application for HMOs next to several schools and nurseries on Sutton New Road was finally thwarted by local.

Also, read how Birmingham City Council have finally admitted to charging residents of Standleys Tower on the Lyndhurst Estate for a sheltered housing scheme that has not existed for over a decade – costing them thousands of pounds.

Ignored by the rest of Birmingham’s media, this story was an Erdington Local exclusive after we learnt about the desperate plight of the Lyndhurst residents from Erdington Ward Councillor Robert Alden. You shout, we listen. We shout with you, and the Council are forced to hear us.

Also on our pages this month are a LOCAL PROFILE on an amazing Erdington artist, Jess Brown – next to an inspiring OPINION article from local campaigner and Green Party candidate, Siobhan Harper-Nunes which has been a privilege to publish.

There is also a full page feature on the unique and ambitious Festival of Flying coming to Castle Vale, inspiring the local community to literally reach for the skies – with many exciting opportunities for people to get involved ahead of the festival finale in September.

Catch up on school life from local educators in out BACK TO SCHOOL section – with news this month from Abbey Primary, Kings Rise Academy, Queesbury School, Riverside Education, and Wilson Stuart School.

Find out about a variety of volunteer opportunities from Compass Support, on our BACK TO WORK page.

And get involved in the LOCAL AMBASSADORS sponsored Sleep Out to help support local foodbank, being held on Saturday 16 July – we sincerely hope you can join us and GIVE UP YOUR BED – HELP KEEP PEOLE FED in this incredible and worthwhile charity event.

So come by the Erdington Local newsroom on Saturday 18 June and get yourself one of the first copies of our next monthly newspaper – packed with news, features, and opinions that directly affect Erdington.

Erdington Local is the only newspaper in the city that fully represents our community.

And if you’re feeling like heling out a little more, ask Claire about how you can help distribute copies of the Erdington Local newspaper – either by joining our delivery teams on and around Erdington High Street on Saturday 18 June, or taking some for your friends and neighbours. All help is extremely appreciated.

And remember, if there is anything you want to tell us about – or you want us to tell everyone else about – then we want to hear from you.

For a direct line to our editorial team, email: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

BACK TO SCHOOL: Abbey Primary School collect bikes for local refugees and displaced people

Words and pics from Abbey Primary School

In an effort to support local refugees, Abbey Primary School are getting involved in ‘The Bike Project’ – to help displaced people coming to Birmingham with travel around the city.

‘The Bike Project’ takes second hand bikes in any condition, fixes them, and donates them to refugees and asylum seekers in Birmingham and London. According to their website, over 9,600 bikes have been donated so far.

Children at The Abbey have been learning about the plight of displaced people around the world and are reaching out to the local community to help them help others through ‘The Bike Project’.

Rebecca Lonergan, a teacher at Abbey Primary School, said: “We are very proud to be a School of Sanctuary and are always looking for new ways we can help support and show solidarity with refugees.

“We have been lucky to meet lots of people with first hand, lived experience of the asylum process and learn about the many issues they face, so when our Year 6 children heard about the charity ‘The Bike Project’ we knew straight away that this was something we wanted to support.

“Life for refugees in the UK can be very hard. Having to learn a new language and culture far from family and friends after fleeing for safety can lead to mental health issues. Alongside this, having to live on less than £6 a day whilst not having the right to work leads to further struggles and isolation.

“The gift of a bike provides free travel, a chance to meet new people and become part of a community, and boosts physical and mental health.”

The Abbey will be opening its doors all day on Friday 17 June, asking anyone with a bike to donate to drop it off at the school.

Rebecca added: “We are aiming to collect 50 bikes and we need our generous local community to help! Year 6 children at The Abbey will be hosting a pop-up donation point on Friday 17 June, from 8:30am to 3pm.

“We will be taking donations of any old bikes – they do not need to be in working order.  Bikes can be any size (including children’s bikes)”.

If you can donate a bike to The Abbey, as part of ‘The Bike Project’, they can be dropped during the day on Friday 17 June at: Abbey Catholic Primary School, Sutton Road, Erdington, B23 6QL

If you have any queries or would like to drop a bike at a different time, please contact r.lonergan@abbeyrc.bham.sch.uk

NEWS: Cllr Robert Alden hits back at Heather Wheeler MP’s “godawful” Birmingham comment

Words by Ed King

Erdington Ward councillor Robert Alden, and leader of the Birmingham Conservatives, has hit back at comments recently made by Heather Wheeler MP who referred to Birmingham and Blackpool as “…godawful.”

Sparking widespread outrage across Birmingham, and a slew of social media comments with pictures celebrating the beauty and rich culture to be found across the city, Mrs Wheeler’s off the cuff remark upset two entire cities and angered tens of thousands more across the UK.

In an open letter to his Conservative Party colleague, Cllr Alden challenged the ‘all too common prejudicial view of our city’ whilst citing ‘the birthplace of the industrial revolution’ as the ‘engine room of the UK economy.’

Cllr Alden went on to celebrate Birmingham’s ‘big heart’, and how it is a ‘safe haven… for those facing religious persecution’ – as represented by the City of Sanctuary status Birmingham has held since 2015.

He continued to cite Birmingham’s ‘culture of philanthropy’, ‘industrial heritage’, and ‘more Michelin restaurant than anywhere else in the country outside London’ – even offering to show Mrs Wheeler around his proud home city when she visits for the Conservative Party conference.

Birmingham has been the host of the Conservative Party Conference for many years, with the next all-party event planned for October 2022.

Member of Parliament for South Derbyshire, and both a Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Assistant Government Whip, Mrs Wheeler made the remark during the launch of the Government’s new digital strategy on Thursday 9 June.

Mrs Wheeler MP was reported as saying: “I was just at a conference in Blackpool or Birmingham or somewhere godawful.”

Apologising for her remarks the following day, Mrs Wheeler MP posted on Twitter she had “…made an inappropriate remark that does not reflect [her] actual view”.

But the derisive comment had already been picked up by mainstream media, sparking ager and defence from politicians and public alike – with many taking to social media to visually and verbally challenge the comments.

Erdington neighbour and Yardley MP Jess Phillips was quick to respond, stating that whilst she understands: “people make off the cuff remarks regrettably all the time” it is the “implied snobbery that’s the problem.”

Phillips continued to recognise that whilst “it’s ok not to like everywhere. It’s not ok to look down on them in a sneering way” – before challenging Mrs Wheeler’s perceived “patriotism” as needing to be “much more than singing Jerusalem and waving flags” and “finding the joy from the people and the grit as well as the scenery in our country.”

Also appearing on social media, a post of Heather Wheeler MP contributing to Parliament via a digital platform in 2020, amidst social distancing restrictions, seems to show the South Derbyshire MP use inappropriate language whilst addressing the House.

BACK TO SCHOOL: St Barnabas Primary School receives Bishop of Birmingham Award

Words by Ed King / Pics by Ed King and St Barnabas Primary School

Erdington’s St Barnabas Church of England Primary recently received a Bishop of Birmingham Award, one of only three schools across the diocese to achieve the accolade.

Bishop David Urquhart, the longest serving bishop in the Church of England, presented the award during a special visit to the Spring Lane school last month.

Having been notified about winning the award in March 2022, the school staff and children had waited months to welcome the bishop – who brought a special trophy to recognise the school’s commitment to Christian values.

In an official citation sent to St Barnabas, Bishop Urquhart commended how Christian ‘values are illustrated and lived out by all in the school’ and how the children there can ‘use them to reflect upon their lives.’

Arriving in time for morning assembly, the bishop was met by St Barnabas’s Values and Ethos Committee, made up of children from across the school year groups.

Visibly excited and curious to meet the bishop, the children engaged with the senior clergyman and talked about the school theme of the week, ‘honesty’ – and how Fridays were ‘peace and quiet’ days at St Barnabas.

Bishop Urquart was patient and unpatronising with all the children, looking through the book pf reflections and talking to them about their individual beliefs, faiths, and the school’s core principles and values, before heading into the main school hall for a special assembly.

Hosted by Reverend Emma Sykes from St Barnabas Church, the assembly began with singing ‘Oh Happy Day’ before members of the Values and Ethos Committee told Bishop Urquhart the lessons they learned from the Christian parable of the Good Samaritan.

Harvey, Year 5, explained: “Out of all our key Bible stories which help us understand our footprint values, our favourite is the Good Samaritan. I think it teaches a lot about helping people and that everyone can make a difference through their actions.”

Safiyah, Year 3, added: “I think the Good Smartian teaches us to be respectful of others no matter your colour or religion.”

Leo, Year 4, said: “I think the Good Smartian is a good story because it helps people to help other people no matter who they are they don’t have to be our friend.”

Umaiza, Year 6, told Bishop David: “It helps us to understand that no matter who you are you can help people and other people can help you.”

Jeevan, Year 4, believed the parable “is important because it teaches us kindness and all faiths can be united and work together.”

Whilst Molly, Year 4, agreed “because of this story, we include everyone no matter who they are because we want to be like the good Smartian

Bishop Urquhart then told how the Good Samaritan was one of his first and favourite Christian stories, but how similar lessons of bravery and fortitude could be found from in David and Goliath.

The assembly then concluded by singing ‘Lord I Lift You Name On High’, and series Christian, Sikh, and Muslim prayers, alongside a special private prayer delivered by Bishop Urquhart.

After saying goodbye to the school and posing for a group photo with children and staff, Bishop Urquhart was keen to praise the good work and commitment to Christian values from everyone at St Barnabas.

He told Erdington Local: “The Bishop of Birmingham Award is for particular focus on Christian values and ethos in a school, and St Barnabas has integrated their values into the ordinary life of the school.

“They’re not just a ‘tick box’ – they’re really being lived and discussed and practiced by the children and staff, both at school and at home.

“And the welcome I’ve had this morning from the Values and Ethos Committee, which is made up of the children, has been really remarkable. They’re able to talk about the difficulties and realities of being honest as one of the important bits of our relationship together.

“Faith is caught rather than taught, and children have a rather wonderful way of inquiring into the really big questions: why are we here, who is God, how do we pray, does it matter…? They also look at adults to see if the things that adults say are being put into practice, so in that sense they bring an openness and honesty.

“And the idea that faith is just an idea is not good enough, it’s actually lived and so that’s what’s happening here – they are practicing, living, and building trust in God and each other and trying to live in a complicated and uncertain world.”

For more on St Barnabas Primary Church of England School visit www.stbarnabas-erdington.com

NEWS: Erdington author and Castle Vale LGBTQ+ campaigner chosen as Commonwealth Games Batonbearers

Words Erdington news team

Erdington and Castle Vale will be represented in this year’s Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay – with a local author and LGBTQ+ campaigner chosen to carry the prestigious symbol on part of its journey.

The Queen has placed a message inside the Baton which will be read out at the Opening Ceremony of Birmingham 2022 on 28 July, after travelling to all 72 Commonwealth countries.

Erdington author and entrepreneur CJ Lloyd Webley has been chosen as a Batonbearer and will be carrying the iconic baton in the final stages of the relay as it makes it way to Alexander Stadium.

He said: “I’m so honoured to have been chosen as a Batonbearer for the West Midlands. Being able to carry the Baton in my home area is so special.

“The anticipation is really ramping up for the Queen’s Baton Relay and Birmingham 2022. I’m thrilled I get to play a part in it.”

Brought up on the Lyndhurst estate, CJ chose drama as a diversion from the crime which his peers fell into – after landing a part in a production of Oliver Twist.

Through his talent as an actor and then as a writer, CJ forged a successful career which has seen him being described as one of the hottest talents in the UK.

Penning plays which reflect the lives of his and other marginalised communities for the Birmingham Rep, CJ recently was an assistant director on a project about the Grenfell Tower disaster.

He also established Black Pounds in 2020 which runs a mentorship programme, offering support to freelancers, sole-traders, and start-ups.

A spokesman for Birmingham 2022 said: “CJ Lloyd Webley has been chosen as a Batonbearer for the West Midlands for making a positive impact within his community.”

As his role as Batonbearer, CJ has already met Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He added: “It was great to have been asked to facilitate a meet and greet between the Prime Minister and Birmingham 2022 volunteers and baton bearers.”

Follow CJ’s Batonbearer journey on Twitter @cjlloydwebley

Castle Vale LGBTQ+ campaigner Piero Zizzi has also been chosen as a Batonbearer ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2022.

Piero founded the West Bromwich Albion LGBTQ+ supporters’ group which has won awards for its inclusivity.

He also runs Pride House which will be welcoming LGBTQ+ athletes and visitors to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games.

Piero said: “Pride House is a safe and welcoming space, which aims to provide an inclusive environment for LGBTIQ+ supporters, athletes, staff, volunteers, and organisations at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth games.

“As a proud Brummie, I’m honoured to be carrying the #QBR2022 baton on its last stretch as it reaches the West Midlands and Birmingham.”

He added: “We have a unique opportunity; through the power of sport, to bring together communities and organisations from across the city to celebrate the diversity, innovation and talent that makes this city so great.”

Follow Piero’s Batonbearer journey on Twitter @PieroZizzi

The Baton is now part way through its 294-day-long journey, travelling through Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean, and the Americas, covering approximately 90,000 miles.

The Commonwealth Gales 2022 comes to Birmingham from 28 July to 8 August, with the main bulk of the competition held at the Alexander Stadium, Perry Barr – alongside further events in Solihull, Coventry, Cannock, Leamington Spa, Warwick, and Wolverhampton, and London.

Have you or someone you know been chosen as a Batonbearer?

Are you involved in the Commonwealth Games 2022, are you competing, or taking part in a weird or wonderful way? If so, Erdington Local wants to hear for you – email: edking@erdingtonlocal.com

For more on the Queen’s Baton Relay visit www.birmingham2022.com/queens-baton-relay

NEWS: ‘Picnic in the Park’ on Short Heath Playing Fields – today from 12noon to 4pm

Words by Ed King

On Saturday 4 June, a special ‘Picnic in the Park’ will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields between 12noon and 4pm – as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend celebrations.

Full details and updates can be found via the ‘Picnic in the Park’ Facebook event page, click here.

Completely free to attend and open to people of all ages, today’s ‘Picnic in the Park’ will host a range of family and children friendly activities including soft archery, swing ball, and football.

A special raffle will also be held with prize hampers to be won from local entrepreneurs Leanne’s PJ Pamper Hampers and Claire’s Body Treats, containing luxury personal care and bathroom goodies and a few grown up drinks.

There will also be as a special sweet tooth prize from Chocolate Bouquets by Claire, and a children’s raffle with prize hampers made just for young people.

Tickets are £1 per strip for the adult raffles and 50p per strip for the children’s raffle.

There will also be extra refreshments on site for anyone who wants to top up their picnic hamper – available from the Short Heath Wombles tent and served by the local ‘Wombles’ who diligently clean up the playing fields and surrounding areas.

All proceeds from both the raffle and the refreshment tent will be invested back into the local area, to help maintain the playing fields pay for more community events on the beloved green space.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust and supported by numerous other local community groups, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee ‘Picnic in the Park’ is the latest in a series of well attended community events to be held on the playing fields.

Following widespread success of their ‘Sports Day’, ‘Easter Egg Hunt’, and ‘Pumpkin Hunt’ events, Short Heath Fields Trust are hoping to bring the community together once again to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.

The events are organised by SFHT to help raise money to support the playing fields, which the local community saved from an 84 strong housing development – but also to show the importance of green spaces.

A statement from Short Heath Fields Trust said: “Many of us remember being on Bleak Hill Park years ago for previous Jubilee’s. This time we are on the newly saved Short Heath Playing Fields.

“We are hoping the weather stays dry so that families can come down and enjoy the day. Bring their own picnic, we have a refreshments tent, and ice cream van and plenty of outdoor games to play for family fun.”

Across the UK this weekend people are holding street parties and community events in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking Her Majesty’s 70 years ruling over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth – making her Britian’s longest ever serving monarch.

The Short Heath Fields Trust ‘Picnic in the Park’ has been supported by Birmingham City Council and the Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme.

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust ‘Picnic in the Park’ visit www.facebook.com/events/975529143134382

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com