NEWS: Free Easter Egg Hunt to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – from 12noon on Saturday 30 March

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Short Heath Fields Trust

A free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields this Saturday (30 March) with local children and families from across the Erdington constituency all invited.

Running between 12noon and 2pm, special festive eggs will be hidden along the hedgerows and sides of Short Heath Playing Fields – which sits in just off Short Heath Road and next to Bleak Hill Park – with each egg carrying an individual pattern.

Children must first hunt for the eggs across the parkland, draw the patterns – to prove they’ve found the eggs, then head back to the Easter Egg Hunt HQ and claim their prize from the Short Heath Easter Bunny.

There will also be an Easter Bonnet Parade held at 1pm, where those attending are invited to show off their festive head gear and decorated Easter hats – with prizes given to the ‘best boy’ and ‘best girl’ in the parade.

The event is totally free, to enter or attend, with no charges for the prizes or anything given to the children for taking part.

Organisers have confirmed the prizes for children will contain chocolate, and there will be a paid for raffle held with more prizes that adults can enjoy.

There will also be a refreshments tent open during the event, run by the Short Heath Wombles – the local community group who litter pick across the park. All money raised with help support future events on the Playing Fields, such as the annual Halloween Pumpkin Hunt which attracts families from Castle Vale to Kingstanding.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust, who took over the management of the parkland in May 2023 after a fiercely fought battle to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ from a Council led housing development, the Easter Egg Hunt is now in its third year.

Run by dedicated volunteers and supported by the local community, the Trust has been responsible for organising many free to attend events on the Playing Fields – whilst also arranging for regular football sessions to be held there every Saturday, run by Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy.

Ahead of the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, a spokesperson from Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) told Erdington Local: “The Easter Egg Hunt is a great event for the kids and their families. SHFT are establishing this free event as a regular for the community’s calendar, as this is our third one.”

They added: “It’s a chance to have some family fun, and with it being free it means it really doesn’t matter what your background is – it’s for everyone to enjoy, especially with money being so tight for so many families at the moment.”

The SHFT free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 30 March, between 12noon and 2pm. For more details, click herE to visit the SHFT Facebook event page.

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

NEWS: Free photo walks around Rookery Park and Erdington High Street – ahead of Green Spaces exhibition at Ikon Gallery

Words & pics by Ed King

Across March, a series of free to access photo walks and workshops will be held in Erdington – with Birmingham born photographer Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora inviting local residents to explore how green spaces and urban settings can impact their mental health.

Starting on Monday 4 March, the first photo walk will take place between 10:30am and 12noon – with subsequent workshops held at the same time on Monday 11 March and Monday 24 March.

The events will run for about 45mins each, with regular stops, and no previous experience of photography required to take part. Organisers have asked those attending to ‘wear suitable warm clothing and footwear for urban walking.’

Locations outlined for the photo walks include Rookery Park and Erdington High Street.

As well as the photography workshops, participants will have the option to display their work at Ikon Gallery in June as part of a special exhibition called Green Spaces – alongside portraits of those who attended the events in green spaces that are important to them, taken by Dhaliwal-Boora.

Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora is an award winning Birmingham photographer and multi disciplinarian artist, who uses her work to ‘empower and give voice’ to marginalised communities and explore how to visually capture and represent ethnicity, gender, and place.

Awarded the British Journal of Photography’s Portrait of Britain prize for three years running, from 2022-24, her previous work has been exhibited at the UN Headquarters in New York, Wembley Stadium, The People’s History Museum in Manchester, and at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022.

To see previous portraits taken by Dhaliwal-Boora, click here to visit her online portfolio or on the link below.

A collaboration between Ikon Gallery and Living Well Consortium – a group of 30 charities, volunteer groups, and not-for-profit mental health organisations – the Green Spaces project and exhibition are intended to ‘raise awareness of, and engagement with, topics centred on mental health and wellbeing’, according to organisers.

According to UK based mental health charity Mind, a quarter of the British population will experience mental health problems – with the Office of National Statistics finding the one in six people across the UK will experience depression at any one time.

Men’s suicide rates, often linked to mental health concerns or depression, are three time higher than women’s in the UK – as found in a report published by The Samaritans.

Green Spaces is scheduled to be on display at Ikon Gallery from 12–23 June, later this year.

For more information and to book a place on the Erdington photo walks, please email Green Spaces producer Amelia Hawk at a.hawk@ikon-gallery.org

To find out more about the Green Spaces photo walks and workshops in Erdington visit: www.ikon-gallery.org/news/view/photo-walks-and-workshops

For more on the Green Spaces exhibition at Ikon Gallery visit www.ikon-gallery.org/exhibition/green-spaces

For more on Jaskirt Dhaliwal-Boora visit www.jaskirtdhaliwalboora.com

OPINION: We don’t just grow vegetables… Court Lane Allotments Erdington

Words by Luke Davison

Here at Court Lane Allotments Erdington, we don’t just grow vegetables. We have 108 plots with six partners, groups or organisations holding a plot. From YMCA, Birmingham MIND, to EcoGrow. Providing help and support to vulnerable people and young adults. From Forest School for children to activities for non-income families.

We are a huge benefit to the local community and the go to hub for improving mental health, exercise, socialisation, and multicultural integration within the community.

We recently received a grant to convert an empty plot into an area of use for people with mobility issues. Nine individual raised beds at wheelchair height, with greenhouse and shed on site stuffed with hand tools and all you need to grow your own. More on that coming very soon.

Why not come along to our next Fayre, one of three we put on throughout the year, on 10 December to see for yourself and meet the team. Grab yourself a free mince pie, cup of mulled wine, and let your children visit Santa in his log cabin and receive their free gift.

Here at Court Lane Allotments Erdington, we don’t just grow vegetables…. We flourish…. Together.

For more on Court Lane Allotments visit www.facebook.com/courtlaneallotments

NEWS: Free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – Saturday 19 August

Words & pics by Ed King

A free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day is being held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 19 August, running from 12noon to 4pm – organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Open to children of all ages, organisers are inviting local families to take part in a day a community sports, games, and outdoor activities.

Classic school sports day games will be held – such as three legged, sack, and egg and spoon races –  alongside more contemporary children’s sports, including soft archery and badminton.

All games will be free to enter and take part in, with stalls selling local gifts and refreshments available at The Womble Tea Tent. There will also be a raffle or tombola to help raise money for SHFT – the community group that fought to save, and now manages, the beloved local green space.

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council (BCC) tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

After a long fought battle with BCC, on 8 June this finally year SHFT signed a license agreement giving them official responsibility of the playing fields until 31 May 2024.

Championed for its importance to the local community, used by individuals and families for outdoor and wellbeing activities, the cherished parkland on Short Heath Road has hosted regular events for local residents – including the annual Pumpkin Hunt, which sees hundreds attend from all over the constituency.

With the UK Met Office predicting a comfortably sunny day on Saturday 19 August, event organisers are hoping the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day will offer more local families a chance to enjoy an active day together without breaking the bank.

A spokesperson from SHFT told: “SHFT have always believed that free events for the children of our community are important.

“Crucially, a free event like our Fun School Sports Day will mean all kids can join in and their parents/carers don’t need to pay a penny for it – unlike a visit to a zoo or adventure park.

“It’s all about inclusivity, and every child deserves to have FUN.”

For more on the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day, click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. 

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

FEATURE: “Our very own field of dreams,” FC Elite Academy to deliver football sessions on Short Heath Playing Fields

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics by Ed King & FC Elite Academy

Sport is set to return to Short Heath Playing Fields, as Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy have teamed up with Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) to deliver a programme of youth football coaching on the beloved green space.

Having secured planning permission to develop their existing home at Twickenham Park into a permanent sports facility and community hub, FC Elite Academy are now looking at Short Heath Playing Fields to train up some of their younger squad members.

The ambitious Kingstanding club are looking to develop their current College Road ground and are currently fundraising for the £70-80k they expect the project to cost – including building a 3G pitch, clubhouse, changing areas, café, on site office, and parking facilities.

Plans for Short Heath Playing Fields, revealed to Erdington Local, show the establishment of four football pitches, five training ‘grids’, a ‘runner’s route’ around the parkland, and an ‘event zone’ at the top end near Short Heath Road.

FC Elite Club Chairman, Mario Gerroni, told: “Football sessions will be taking place on Short Heath Playing Fields in May. FC Elite Academy and Short Heath Fields Trust are forming a new partnership.

“It’s a positive move for everyone involved and I am excited to see the growth of sports from Short Heath Playing Fields, bringing something back to the community.”

Short Heath Road resident, Ifan Stretkesia, added: “This is a good thing, it’s good that we are finally listened to and our children have something they can now do.

“We go to all the events at the (playing) field and my daughter wants to play football. There is nothing for children now, just Xbox. They need to grow strong.”

FC Elite Academy was set up in 2013 by Mr Gerroni, an experienced football coach who previously worked with Aston Villa and trained ‘soccer’ in North America. The club’s website describes its ambitions to ‘continue growing grass roots football in the North of Birmingham.’

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

But following years of fiercely fought campaigning by concerned residents, a recent letter from the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, confirmed the site will now only be sold as a ‘sports field’. The letter also confirmed SHFT would be give a 12-month license to manage the site and ‘establish themselves’ as effective landlords.

A report conducted by Birmingham City Council into the viability of using the playing fields for residential development further identified acid grass on the green space, making it harder to continue with their plans for housing. Further environmental concerns were raised by about the wildlife and plant life that would be affected by building on the parkland.

SHFT began talking to FC Elite Academy back in August 2020 about providing football on Short Heath Playing Fields, who were busy working on their planning application for the Twickenham Park site.

Plans to bring sport back to Short Heath Playing Fields, a parkland once used by several local schools for Physical Education, are now moving forward – with the club offering to both set up and maintain the football pitches and start sessions this May.

As part of the deal, all community events organised by SHFT will continue on the playing fields – including the annual Halloween event and Easter Egg Hunt. A special dog walking circuit will also be established, allowing the many local pet owners who use the green space to continue unheeded.

A spokesperson for SHFT told Erdington Local: “Mario from FC Elite becoming SHFT’s sporting partner and bringing football for 4 to 12 years olds back to Short Heath Fields is a community dream true, you might say our very own field of dreams.

“And with a guaranteed one year license from Education (at Birmingham City Council) you know those dreams will become a reality.”

SHFT added: “It’s been a hard fight to save the playing fields. Now it’s the people of Erdington’s chance to get involved and use the playing fields as a sports field again, this is a great opportunity for boys and girls of all ages 4 and up to come and train and take part.

“FC Elite have a proven track record and we are all looking forward to working together in the future.”

For more on FC Elite Academy visit www.fcelite.co.uk and for more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Pype Hayes parks to get £100k through Future Parks Accelerator Programme

Words by Liam Smith / Pics supplied by Erdington Local and Cllr Mahmood

Pype Hayes residents met with Councillor Basharat Mahmood (Pype Hayes, Lab) on Tuesday 2 May to discuss funding secured for three parks in the area: Pype Hayes Park, Paget Green, and Sorrel Park.

A handful of local residents were present at Pype Hayes Park to hear the Councillor, who was joined by members of Birmingham City Council’s parks team, speak on the potential plans for the parks as part of the Future Parks Accelerator Programme.

Cllr Mahmood told Erdington Local: “I am delighted to have secured £100,000 of funding from Birmingham City Council as part of the programme to be spent on improved our much loved parks and open spaces in Pype Hayes.”

Councillor Mahmood was elected to the Pype Hayes Ward in Birmingham’s local election on 5 May 2022, beating the Conservative candidate, Clifton Welch, by 92 votes.

Mr Mahmood campaigned for Labour with objectives to tackle “crime, and antisocial behaviour. Improve youth provision” and to ensure “our parks and green spaces are maintained and well resourced.”

At the meeting this week, one of the main talking points among the residents in attendance was on Pype Hayes Hall.

Pype Hayes Hall was built in 1630 by Henry Bagot, whose family lived there for over 250 years, and eventually sold to Birmingham City Council in 1920 for use as a convalescence and children’s home.

In 2014 the Council then sold the Grade II listed building to Bromford Mill Properties for only £25,000, after the private developers outlined £11,000,000 plans for a 60 bed luxury hotel, spa, and swimming pool.

Although since being sold, the hall and its multiple buildings have remained off limits within the park – slowly decaying, whilst development on the site still yet to commence.

One resident described the hall as “an absolute blight on the park.”

Other residents suggested how it could be repurposed into facilities such as a café with toilet access as well as a community centre.

The gardens next to Pype Hayes Hall, which park visitors can still use, were also mentioned, with Danny Squire of the Sutton Coldfield & Erdington Park Rangers saying: “we would like to get the community take a more active role in the management of the gardens, and to encourage people to grow and maintain these spaces.”

Other suggestions included involving the schools in the local area to get more involved with the park, with gardening projects and groups seen as a potential solution.

Councillor Mahmood added: “All points raised at the meeting will be forwarded to the relevant departments, including the concerns raised about Pype Hayes Hall.

“These meetings give residents the opportunity to discuss issues and concerns with me.

“They help bring about change and I would encourage everyone to get involved to make Pype Hayes cleaner, greener and safer.”

Residents are to be encouraged to attend further meetings about the parks and their funding.

For more from Cllr Basharat Mahmood visit www.facebook.com/PoliticianLabourParty

NEWS: Community up in arms after “hurtful and ugly” vandalism destroys Covid memorial on Bleak Hill Park

Words & pics by Ed King

Local residents and community campaigners are up in arms after a “hurtful and ugly” act of vandalism recently destroyed a Covid memorial garden in Bleak Hill Park.

According to Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT), the action group that fundraised and built the Covid memorial, vandals snapped in half the ornamental cherry trees that stood centre place in the garden – before using the wooden stakes to try and smash the sign welcoming people to the site.

Away from the memorial garden, which is situated along the path cutting through the park from Short Heath Road to Marsh Lane, vandals also damaged a bin for dog mess SHFT had also installed.

Short Heath Fields Trust began building the Covid memorial garden on Bleak Hill Park after having plans approved by Birmingham City Council in March 2021 and securing funding from the National Lottery.

400 trees were further donated by the Woodland Trust, as part of their ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ initiative.

Around 6000 bulbs have also been plated at the Bleak Hill Park Covid memorial, including British bluebells, snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils.

However, the community led project has seen challenges since the start – including plants being stolen, and the accidental destruction of 200 trees when ‘Council error’ mowed them down during routine park maintenance.

Local residents have also reported significant litter at the site, including broken booze bottles and drinks cans scattered around the two benches made especially from environmentally friendly recycled plastics.

A spokesperson form SHFT told Erdington Local: “This is a heartbreaking moment for the Trust and its members, many of whom have worked hard on this project.

“The community turned out in all weathers to make this a peaceful but engaging part of the park and a fitting memorial for Erdington people lost to Covid 19.

“This project has hit obstacles at every stage, including the Council mowing down the sapling trees in the area they told us to plant, to the plants being stolen. But this is by far the most hurtful and ugly.

“Local tempers are running high, and people are extremely disgusted at the mindless vandalism and destruction of the ornamental cherry trees in the memorial site and the dog mess bin further in the park.

“Locals are asking questions like ‘why?’ and ‘what possesses anyone to think this is OK?’”

But despite the cruel attack, which has brought widespread condemnation of those responsible, the local community are committed to rebuilding the Covid memorial garden and breathing new life into the project.

One of the four cherry tress remained untouched by the vandals, which residents and campaigners now see as a sign of hope for the community led Covid memorial garden.

A spokesperson for Short Heath Fields Trust added: “One tree remains, but that tree represents the hope and belief that we as a community will overcome and win against the adversity that stands in our way.

“The community will always win.”

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

NEWS: Halloween Pumpkin Hunt returns to Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 29 October

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by SHFT

On Saturday 29 October, Short Heath Playing Fields will see the return of the annual Halloween Pumkin Hunt event – as organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Completely free to attend and open to children (and big kids) of all ages, the SHFT Pumpkin Hunt has become a firm,  fun, and frightening fixture on the local community calendar.

Running from 5m to 8pm, people are invited to take part in the park wide ‘hunt’ – looking for the handmade ‘pumpkins’ hidden across Short Heath Playing Fields.

Handcrafted by SFHT Chair Estelle Murphy and hidden across the playing fields by the committee members and local volunteers that make up SHFT, the illuminated pumpkins each have different Halloween based motifs – such as bats, ghouls, and grinning Jack-o’-lanterns.

People entering the playing fields from Short Heath Road will be asked to find and draw the ten pumpkins hidden across site, which can be exchanged with SHFT event volunteers for a special surprise treat at the end.

Alongside the Pumpkin Hunt, there will be fancy dress competitions for ‘Best Dressed Under Five’, ‘Best Dressed Boy’, ‘Best Dressed Girl’, and ‘Best Dressed Adult’ – as well a pound entry raffle, and an array of stalls selling hot chocolate, sweets, bath bombs, scents, and other fancy goods.

There will also be a mystery haunted tunnel, where those that dare can enter and face the ghoulish surprises inside… suitable for all ages, but with adult supervision advised for younger children.

Organisers also suggest people attending should bring their own torch and a sturdy pair of shoes suitable for walking across parkland in the dark.

Following on from the success of the past two years, the SHFT Halloween Pumkin Hunt on Short Heath playing fields has welcomed hundreds of families – with people coming from Kingstanding to Castle Vale to take park in the now annual event. Situated right on the No28 bus route, Short Heath Playing Fields is accessible across the constituency.

Organised and managed by Short Heath Fields Trust, the popular Pumpkin Hunt is one of the first regular events to be held on the parkland – following a fiercely fought battle to save the green space from development.

In August 2020, a campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ was launched by local residents to challenge Birmingham City Council’s plans to build an 84 strong housing estate on the parkland.

Following over two years years of fierce negotiations, the housing development plans were finally scrapped by Birmingham City Council, and SHFT – which became a formally constituted groups from the original campaign group – are currently in talks with the Council about a lease to take over the official management of the site.

Organisers of the Pumpkin Hunt and other events on the playing fields, SHFT have long stated the area should be preserved as a community asset – used for health, wellbeing, community sports, activities, and events.

SHFT Chair Estelle Murphy told Erdington Local: “After the amazing success of the last few years the Pumpkin Hunt is back again. We have seen visitors from Castle Vale all the way through to Kingstanding.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to have some fun outdoors together. We always look forward to seeing friends we have made through previous events and making new ones.

“We have had some amazing fancy dress costumes over the last couple of years and we are looking forward to all the monsters, goblins, and witches we will meet this year.

“Bring a torch if you are coming after dark, but turn it off in the mystery haunted tunnel, if you dare…”

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust Halloween Pumpkin Hunt visit www.facebook.com/events/607795361128944

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

NEWS: Join the Erdington Community Volunteers for a free ‘Erdy Cuppa’ on the Lyndhurst Estate

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Erdington Community Volunteers

On Wednesday 21st April, the Erdington Community Volunteers (ECV) are inviting everyone for an ‘Erdy Cuppa’ on the Lyndhurst Estate – hosted on the park behind the tower blocks in the middle of Abbey Way, Rowden Drive, and Gabriel Drive.

Click here for a Google Maps link to the ‘Erdy Cuppa’ location.

Totally free of charge, the volunteer group will be offering local residents the chance to meet up under Covid safe conditions for a cup of tea, coffee, and a natter with their neighbours.

Running from 2pm to 4:30pm, so families can join in after school, this week’s inaugural ‘cuppa’ will be the first of many events that organisers want to see pop-up around Erdington – encouraging people to get to know people in their community whilst utilising the area’s parks and green spaces.

ECV founder and Erdy Cuppa organiser, Jo Bull, told Erdintgon Local: “We want to give people a good way to get to know their neighbours, whilst celebrating all the beautiful parks and green spaces we have in the constituency.

“Even in a strong community such as Erdington, people can feel isolated and alone – especially during the coronavirus crisis and lockdowns. But now restrictions are being eased, the ‘Erdy Cuppa’ events will give people a chance to get back into the community and start sharing life again.

“The park at the back of the Lyndhust Estate is a beautiful green space with play areas for children and great places just to sit and connect – with enough room to do so under Covid safe conditions.

“We hope to hold more pop up ‘Erdy Cuppa’ events across the constituency and encourage people to get to know their neighbours with a friendly chat over a nice cup of tea.”

Founded as a response to the first coronavirus lockdown, the Erdington Community Volunteers has been a prominent community support group throughout the pandemic – sitting on the Erdington Covid-19 Task Force and supporting much of the food distribution across the area.

As lockdown restrictions ease, the group are now looking at ways to encourage community engagement and help people safety come out of the coronavirus crisis.

Other local groups are being invited to leave information for Erdington locals at the Erdy Cuppa events, highlighting further community activity in the area.

Also available at the Erdy Cuppa will be creative ways to encourage meditation and relaxation, such as free mindfulness pebbles made by Jo Bull.

To help raise funds to support the Erdington Community Volunteers there will also be original arts and crafts on sale.

For more on the Erdington Community Volunteers visit the Facebook group here: www.facebook.com/groups/625073991557017

For a Google Maps link to ‘Erdy Cuppa’ location on Wednesday 21st April visit: https://goo.gl/maps/xSES1yZZKFKjCL238

LOCAL OPINION: How a community came together and made themselves heard

Words by Estelle Murphy – Short Heath Fields Trust / Pics by Ed King & Estelle Murphy

12 months ago, Estelle Murphy joined a growing campaign to Save Short Heath Playing Fields, a beloved green space in Erdington that Birmingham City Council had earmarked for a housing estate.

A year later, as Short Heath Fields Trust prepare for a meeting with Councillor Ian Ward and the heads of planning, Estelle tells Erdington Local how “picking a fight” with the council can change your world, forge friendships, give you grey hair, frustrate you beyond reason, and fill you with pride.

This time last year I would never have dreamed of picking a fight with Birmingham City Council, but these are strange times we are living in.

When the council decided to build on Short Heath Playing Fields, ignoring alternative brown field sites, our community were outraged. Many generations have spent their childhoods on those playing fields and wanted them kept safe for those yet to come.

Modern day life has seen my community drift apart. Rarely looking up from their own worries to say hello, overcrowded HMO’s, unemployment, and families unable to make the choice between heating or food. My community has been tired and fractured.

But a small group of people decided to stand up for right, against wrong. The fight to stop the council building on Short Heath Playing Fields began with a chance encounter of myself and Stephen Hughes, which within an hour grew – adding a few of our neighbours and galvanising into Short Heath Fields Trust.

Fellow campaigners and I got front row seats as we watched our community break and mend itself all in the same breath. Tempers had snapped, and the playing fields became the final nail in the coffin. Our community had watched their way of lives, and neighbourhood, slowly erode – and frustrated people, sick of being ignored, stood side by side, straightened their backs, found their voices and roared. Together as one.

We are nowhere near the end of the fight to save Short Heath Playing Fields, but we do now have a “seat at the table”, a phrase used by Jack Dromey MP. We have had to learn new skills, write proposals, meet councillors, spend hours researching documents, deeds, and legislation.

Staring at laptop screens into the small hours, day after day. It really is like being in a maze; dead ends, wrong turns, blocked pathways, feeling hopelessness, frustration, and despair. I have got lost only to find myself coming back round another corner. I have cried. I have screamed. All because I have stepped into a world where I do not understand the rules of the game.

But then I open my door, step outside, and realise this is not just my fight. It has shown me that the kind of people who step up and stand shoulder to shoulder with you, who fight as hard as you, each in their own unique way, still exist. This is a community fight.

And this fight bought a community together. From the HMO tenants to their neighbours and pensioners, people have picked up litter, cleared overgrown pathways, and cut back brambles. They now laugh, joke, and work together again.

I have seen a young family living in an HMO grateful enough to ask those clearing the entrances to sign small wooden hearts for their new-born son, then proudly bring him to meet the community who organised a Halloween pumpkin hunt on the playing fields.

I have seen OAP’s picking up extra toilet rolls (when we all went mad and emptied the shelves_ leaving them on a young family’s doorstep. There are now families cooking an extra meal every Sunday, to make sure someone alone has something warm inside them.

I have seen my community stand together in the middle of Storm Eric, protesting the council’s refusal to cut the grass on the playing fields, when we asked for the space to be cleared so we could be outside safely in the middle of a pandemic. They were armed with handheld gardening tools determined to do it themselves if they had to.

Now I can’t walk down the street without being asked: “how are we doing” or “any news?” Despite how hard it has been, we have got through it together, and will continue forward together because we are a community. It is inspiring to see and humbling to be a part of.

And I have learned that when you ignore people for long enough, they come together to stand up, to be counted, and to make themselves heard.

For more on the campaign to Save Short Heath Playing Fields, visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com – or click here to visit the ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ page on Facebook.