OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

As your local MP representing Erdington, Kingstanding, and Castle Vale, I care about the issues that affect you and our community. Here are some of the things I have done in the past month:

I recently hosted a meeting with Simon Foster, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Chief Superintendent Richard North, local traders, and officials from Birmingham City Council. 

We discussed the ongoing issues of crime and antisocial behaviour on Erdington High Street.

Importantly, they heard concerns from our traders, recognising the need for more robust measures to enhance security and enforcement, and the need to work more closely to combat crime in the area.

I was also approached by traders on Slade Road who raised concerns about issues they were experiencing, including theft, antisocial behaviour, and the presence of sex workers. I empathised with the challenges facing local traders and will be following up on their concerns and working towards a constructive solution. 

I recently participated in a National Day of Action for Safer Streets to prevent road accidents, injuries, and deaths. As part of this effort, I’m backing the campaign to reduce speeds to 30mph on local roads. I would urge everyone to have their say by taking part in the consultation – please do get in touch if you want to know more. 

Despite 13 years of Conservative cuts to policing, I will not give up on fighting crime and antisocial behaviour in our area. I will keep working to secure the resources we need to keep our community safe. 

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope you enjoyed the summer break. As for me, August has been another busy month, tirelessly working to get the best for our community.

Recently, I proudly stood with residents to oppose the latest planning application for a 7-bed HMO on Gravelly Lane, which would have made it the 209th HMO in our area. It’s no secret that our communities in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale have been grappling with an influx of HMOs, and the associated problems that follow.

Thankfully, our campaign successfully persuaded Birmingham City Council to reject the application, making it clear that we don’t need any more HMOs in our neighbourhoods.

Another matter that was bought to my attention was the speculation of the future of Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre in Kingstanding. The Centre holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I first worked as a district nurse, so I know how important the Centre is for local people.

I wrote to the CEO of NHS Birmingham and Solihull seeking clarification. His swift reply provided assurances that the Centre will stay at its current location for the foreseeable future, however, concerns remain about the state of the building that are under careful observation.

Places like Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre provide vital services to local people. Sadly, after 13 years of Tory neglect, our local NHS centres are at risk. Only a Labour Government can fix this mess, save our NHS, and prioritise the health needs for communities like ours.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

(Ed’s note: This column was first published in the Erdington Local newspaper on 4 September, before the announcement of a Section 114 notice issued by Birmingham City Council.)

NEWS: Councillors rally support for Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre as threat of closure looms

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics by Ed King

Kingstanding residents have been urged to show how much they value the Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre after the NHS admitted it could soon close for good.

Situated on Waren Farm Road, by the colloquially known Concker Island, the NHS operated centre is open 365 days a year and has taken the strain off local hospitals for decades, but a recent inspection deemed the building “substandard”.

Kingstanding and Oscott Councillors have been informed the Urgent Care Centre, which stopped accepting walk-in patients about three years ago – according to staff – could close in a matter of weeks. However, staff at the facility were unable to confirm if the closure was imminent.

Oscott Councillor Barbara Dring (Labour) told: “We need Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre to stay open. The service is so important to this side of the city. Everyone who uses it needs to tell the NHS how important and beloved the centre is. We cannot lose another wonderful facility and only say how great it is after it is gone.”

She added: “Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre also plays a pivotal role helping the vulnerable and disabled in the community who it appears are not always considered in decision making. It has long been a community lifeline for so many.”

Kingstanding Councillor Rick Payne (Conservative) has also demanded “talks with the Trust” after hearing about the centre’s imminent closure.

A spokesperson for NHS Birmingham and Solihull said: “No decision has been made at this point. However, Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre in Kingstanding is currently housed in a building which is of a sub-standard quality, with significant patient safety concerns arising as a result.

“It’s important to us that our patients receive the best possible care in the most appropriate and safest facilities, which is why we are working through options for the future of the service.

“Over the coming weeks, we’ll be talking to patients and staff about any proposals in order to ensure the service can adapt to meet the needs of its local population and teams.”

The possible closure of the Urgent Care Centre Centre comes amid widespread concerns about local GP surgeries being overloaded and appointments with doctors becoming harder to obtain.

Elsewhere, the locally loved walk in centre on Erdington High Street closed its doors during the coronavirus lockdowns – eventually renaming the service as the Erdington Urgent Treatment Centre and moving to the Stockland Green Primary Care Centre in October 2020.

The High Street facility did reopen as the Erdington Health and Wellbeing Hub in December 2010, offering a range of free to access support through both drop in and pre-booked sessions with trained advisors – run by Witton Lodge Community Association.

From 2000 to 2010, under the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown respectively, the NHS opened more than 230 walk-in centres across England.

But the facilities have been steadily shutting their doors, with the health regulator Monitor finding over 50 have closed since 2010 – with further research by the not-for-profit political-activism organisation 38 Degrees finding a further 44 are no longer seeing patients.

Originally planned to improve patient access to primary care, the NHS walk-in centres have ‘stirred debate’ within the healthcare sector over their cost effectiveness sand use of resources – according to Monitor.

However, the facilities have proved generally popular with local residents and users, offering an alternative to often overburdened GP surgeries.

One local patient, David Smith, complained: “I have given up trying with my doctors, they say phone up at 8am and the line is always engaged.”

For more on Warren Farm Urgent Care Centre visit www.warrenfarmurgentcarecentre.nhs.uk

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pic supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope everyone in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale is looking forward to the summer break and spending some valuable time with their family. Although Parliament is in summer recess, my work in our community will continue throughout.

Recently, I was made aware of a planning application that proposed to convert the Royal Oak Pub into a 10-bed HMO. The property is located in Stockland Green ward, in an area that already has a significant number of HMOs. I led a campaign calling on local people to object to the planning application, and our petition collected the support of 398 concerned residents.

I’m delighted that Birmingham City Council listened to residents’ concerns and refused the application. This shows what can be achieved when a determined community works together.

Also in July, our amazing NHS marked its 75th Anniversary. I’m proud to have worked in the NHS as a nurse, first training as a district nurse in Kingstanding and then dedicating 25 years to supporting people across Birmingham. Living in Erdington, I still rely on and cherish our local NHS services.

The NHS was Labour’s greatest achievement, founded in 1948 and continues to provide care to everyone free from the point of use. Sadly, after 13 years of Tory mismanagement, we have seen a huge decline in our health service, making it impossible to book GP appointments, creating long operation waiting times and worsening staff shortages. Our NHS is broken, and it will take a Labour government to save it.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

LOCAL AMBASSADORS: It’s not you, it’s the system – navigating the NHS

Words by Jo Bull

My name is Jo, and I dare to exist while disabled. I am under the mental health team and I’m diabetic. I have experience on both sides of the desk in public services.

I don’t think it’s news to anyone that the NHS system is broken. Even before Covid-19 there have been areas of lack in terms of understanding and awareness with chronic illness, sensory issues, trauma informed practice, and hidden disability.

I write this because I need reminding of the following on a daily basis when I am ill. Because the system conditions us to feel like we are a burden, we are often left to manage our own illness – or treated as if we know nothing about our own brains and bodies after a lifetime of living and working within them.

And we can frequently experience unsafe treatment, in terms of both attitude and medication when practitioners are making assumptions or not paying attention.

The system is now so fragmented, overloaded, and traumatised, half the workers within the NHS are in states of fight or flight – and as no one has supported them to self-care, patients and service users often bear the brunt of that.

Sometimes they literally do not have enough bodies to do their job. Sometimes they are not feeling safe and grounded enough in their own selves to listen, absorb information, or keep us safe.

Two overloaded traumatised people meeting in these circumstances often don’t do well together. This is dangerous and distressing for people without complex needs, and even harder for those of us who do not fit the norm. If the system no longer works for the typical and abled it is now a massive hurdle for those of us who aren’t.

We need to pause, breathe, and meet each other – medic and patient – as two humans navigating impossible waters together. We need to have empathy for each other, without compromising needs or safeguarding, and without blaming, shaming, or being dismissive. Negotiating and navigating together, as a team.

As service users, we can tell ourselves the following things: they may not be able to meet our needs, they may not have empathy for us, they may not understand. This is not within our control. However, we do not have to accept or absorb arrogance, ignorance, abuse, or stigma.

We are not to blame for the gaps or lack within the system we keep falling through. The system’s lack is not the user’s fault; we do not need to hate ourselves. We are not a burden.

What we can have control over is how we view ourselves, and learning more about ourselves so we can continue to identify and ask for what we need.

Jo is part of the LOCAL AMBASADORS project, using community journalism to give local people a louder voice – including adults living with disabilities. For more stories from our LOCAL AMBASSADORS visit www.erdingtonlocal.com/category/la-news-features

If you would like to know more about the LOCAL AMBASSADORS project and join the team for free, fun, and friendly workshops on journalism and creative writing then email la@erdingtonlocal.com

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

A year ago, I was proud to be elected as the Member of Parliament for Erdington. Our community made history as I became Birmingham’s first ever Black MP.

Since I was elected, I’ve helped more than 1,500 local people with casework, championed our community in Parliament, and become a strong voice raising the issues affecting people in Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale.

During the same period, the Government crashed our economy leaving millions of people facing financial uncertainty as families struggle to keep up with soaring bills and mortgages. 13 years of Tory governments have left our economy weak, and after more than a decade of cuts to the public sector, our vital services are a shadow of what they were under the last Labour government.

As a former nurse of 25 years, it breaks my heart to see our NHS on its knees. Nurses’ pay is struggling to keep up with the cost-of-living crisis, with inflation levels forcing many hospitals to set up foodbanks specifically for their staff. I’ve met nurses at my advice surgeries who simply do not have enough money to eat.

It’s astonishing that for the first time in 106 years, nurses went on strike after the Government refused to talk to them. Ministers were lining up to clap for our NHS staff during the pandemic but are now failing to give them a decent pay rise.

The Government’s delay getting around the negotiating table with the nurses’ unions has resulted in 140,000 cancelled NHS appointments, and patients are paying the price.

Local people are constantly telling me that they can’t get a GP appointment. Every morning at 8am, thousands of people call their local GP surgery to get an appointment but aren’t successful.

One constituent told me that she called her local practice and was fifth in the queue but by the time she got to the front, there were no appointments left. She told me ‘If you ring at 8:01am you’ll be on the phone for 40 minutes and you won’t get an appointment because they’ve all already gone’. Stories like these are sadly not unique.

After 13 years of Tory failure, our NHS is broken, working families are poorer and our economy is in decline.

The Tories are out of ideas, and their ‘sticking plaster’ approach no longer works but I’ll continue to stand up for Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale to ensure that local people’s voices are heard in Parliament.

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

OPINION: A message from Paulette Hamilton, MP for Erdington

Pics supplied by Paulette Hamilton MP

I hope everyone has enjoyed a lovely Christmas break and spent some valuable time with your family. As I look back at 2022, I know it has been a challenging year for many people in our community and across the country.

At the beginning of the year, we sadly lost Jack Dromey MP. He was loved by many across the constituency that he proudly served for 12 years. In the months that followed, I was absolutely honoured to be elected as the Member of Parliament representing Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale. I know that I have some very big shoes to fill.

Since I was elected, I have been working non-stop and have helped more than a thousand local people with casework issues ranging from housing and antisocial behaviour to immigration and benefits. I have regularly spoken up for local people in Parliament and held the Government to account by raising the issues that are important to you like fly-tipping, poor housing, and the cost-of-living crisis.

We campaigned to stop another betting shop opening on Erdington High Street – and won. Sadly, the betting shop has now submitted an appeal to the government to try and overturn the council’s decision and wishes of local people. I will be fighting this appeal all the way.

Our High Street needs investment and I’ve worked with local groups to submit a funding application that will transform to the area and make it a destination again – if it’s approved by Ministers.

I’ve been working in every corner of our community – whether it’s helping with litter picks in Stockland Green, arguing for tougher laws to tackle rogue landlords in Gravelly Hill, supporting our incredible local businesses on Erdington High Street, making the case for more police resources to get crime down in Kingstanding, helping local people in Castle Vale with rising housing costs or fighting for better services in Perry Common and Pype Hayes.

I regularly visit foodbanks in our community that do incredible work to support struggling local families. I’ve listened to heart-breaking stories from working people who are struggling to cope with the cost-of-living crisis. Local people told me that their wages just weren’t paying enough to keep up with rising bills.

I was an NHS nurse for over 25 years, and it absolutely breaks my heart to see nurses strike for the first time in 106 years.

Nurses work extremely long hours, often for very low wages. They deserve the dignity of fair pay and acceptable working conditions. The power to stop these strikes, that even nurses themselves don’t really want, lies squarely with the Government. But Ministers are still refusing to even talk to them.

Our country is crying out for strong leadership to get our economy moving and help struggling families deal with the cost-of-living crisis. But sadly, we have seen chaos with 3 different Prime Ministers, inflation hitting a 40-year high and the Government crashing our economy, leaving millions of families struggling to pay their bills.

2023 will bring more challenges for our community but know this, I will be there – with you – every step of the way, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns. 

For more on Paulette Hamilton MP for Erdington visit www.paulettehamilton.org

NEWS: ‘Hampers by Rosie’ – local mum raises money, lifts spirits, and builds a business during Covid

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan / Pics supplied by Rosie Kaur

During the coronavirus pandemic, local NHS nurse and mother of two, Rosie Kaur, has been making luxury baskets and hampers to raffle off and raise money for charity.

Filled with things to pamper and lift people’s spirits, including luxury chocolates and eco-friendly Body Shop products, the care packages quickly became in high demand after Rosie took the first one into work to help raise funds for a local charity.

Now, through the encouragement of family and friends – as well as the demand from colleagues and co-workers, Rosie has now turned her charitable endeavours into her very own business.

Rosie told Erdington Local: “I wanted to do something to cheer people up. It’s been really hard at work for some people, and I noticed that people don’t always think to treat themselves or care for themselves.

“I created hampers filled with candles, chocolates, teddy bears, and creams that I would recommend people in my capacity working as a home consultant [for The Body Shop].”

Rosie has worked as a nurse since 2007 and has been on both the Covid and cancer wards at Queen Elizabeth (QE) hospital in Selly Oak. It was her experience at the QE which inspired her to start creating gift packages.

“You see some horrific cases – I’ve seen really low staff morale. All the nurses were thinking of was Covid, Covid, Covid. The hampers were so people can think of themselves for a bit, in a good way.”

Starting around December 2020, Rosie’s Christmas hampers were raffled off at work and she raised around £80 for Cancer Research UK.

Following an overwhelming response from friends, family, and colleagues, Rosie started to explore the idea of turning her gift baskets into a viable business.

Rosie added: “My dad said to me ‘why don’t you get some business cards?’

“That’s when I started making them (the hampers) for special occasions, for Easter time, birthdays, baby showers – my neighbour Richard for his colleagues at work to raffle for a mental health charity.”

Whist many people have lost their jobs or are struggling to find employment, due to the widespread difficulties faced by businesses during Covid, Rosie has weaved a new enterprise called ‘Hampers by Rosie’ – having recently been working on orders for Father’s Day.

Rosie continues to raise money for charities such as University Hospitals Birmingham and Acorns Children’s Hospice.

To find out more about ‘Hampers by Rosie’ email Rajbinder.sohal@icloud.com  

NEWS: Erdington MP survey reveals “worryingly” high number of care home staff refusing Covid-19 vaccine

Words by Adam Smith

A “worrying” amount of care home staff in Erdington and Kingstanding are refusing to have the Covid-19 vaccine, a recent survey has revealed.

Shockingly 67% of 30 care homes in the constituency questioned by Jack Dromey MP had staff who have decided against having the life-saving jab.

One home reported 23 out of 25 staff refused the vaccine, including the manager. In another 75% of staff turned down the chance to be vaccinated.

The reasons for refusal show widespread misinformation about the vaccine’s side effects including fears of fertility problems or the jab being poisonous.

Mr Dromey said: “The results of my latest care home survey reveal worrying levels of vaccine uptake amongst care home staff.

“The fact that so many staff in care homes across Erdington are refusing the vaccine is deeply concerning. There is a significant risk posed to care home residents in particular who, for one reason or another, are unable to be vaccinated.

“What is also concerning is some of the reasons that were given for refusing the vaccines. Myths such as the vaccine is ‘poisonous’ and it ’causes infertility’ were both quoted in the responses, despite these being comprehensively disproven. Those who are responsible for sharing these dangerous myths should be utterly ashamed of themselves.”

The UK’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty believes care home staff have a “professional responsibility” to have the vaccine.

Government ministers are discussing whether to make the vaccine mandatory for NHS and care sector staff but unions including the GMB have warned against the idea.

Three of the UK’s biggest care home owners, Care UK, Barchester and Advina Healthcare, are insisting staff have the jab and from now on will only hire people who have been vaccinated.

Mr Dromey’s survey also revealed problems with PPE equipment not getting through to care homes seem to be solved.

Currently only three local care homes currently have current Covid outbreaks. – two with one member of staff affected, but another has seven staff and 14 residents currently battling the virus.

Mr Dromey also praised local care home staff for their bravery over the last 12 months.

He said: “Throughout the pandemic I have been in regular contact with Erdington’s care homes, including three surveys of all 47 local care homes. I have heard first-hand the extremely difficult challenges that staff and residents have faced.

“What has shone through over the past 12 months is the dedication and commitment of care home staff to the residents they care for. I know how hard they have worked, and they have gone above and beyond to provide the very best care in extremely difficult circumstances.”

He added: “I’d like to pay tribute to all care home staff across Erdington for their heroic work.”

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccines direct from the NHS visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination

NEWS: Erdington United – local football heading for the big leagues

Words by Adam Smith / Pics courtesy of Erdington United

Erdington United could be a semi-professional club playing in its own stadium and hosting FA Cup ties within 15 years, under ambitious plans unveiled by its chairman this week.

The club is hoping to create a shining beacon of non-league football in a desolate North Birmingham for semi-professional teams.

Unlike the Black Country, which has a host of non-league football clubs including Stourbridge Town, Halesowen Town, Lye Town, and Sporting Khalsa – Birmingham is chronically underrepresented in the footballing pyramid.

However, chairman of Erdington United – Luke Caulfield – told Erdington Local everyone at the club is determined to put Erdington on the footballing map.

He said: “North Birmingham is crying out for a decent non-league team to get behind and we believe Erdington has got the community to create a thriving football club.

And we have recently found out that we have the history because there was an Erdington United which played from the 1950s until the 1980s.

We formed in 2014, then had a break but came back stronger last season and we have got our place in the Festival League for next season.”

The 30-year-old added: “I told our annual general meeting last week that in 15 years I want Erdington United to be playing semi-professional football on a Saturday, which would mean we would qualify for the FA Cup.”

There is a site on Spring Lane that would be perfect for a clubhouse and our long term plan has to be to have a stadium of our own, I know it will take years and years for this to be a reality but it is something we can all work towards.”

The club is currently finalising where they will be playing next season but one thing is for sure, after each game the team will all be heading to The Kingstanding Inn, Warren Farm Road.

Luke said: “We are really fostering a family feel for the club and the owners at the Kingstanding Inn, near where we played by last season, really looked after us, they put a spread of food on every week and it’s great to all get together after a game.”

Last season, using a squad of local players mostly under 25-years-old, the team qualified for a cup final but their day in the sun was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, due to an innovative and relentless social media strategy Erdington United used the lockdown to increase the profile of the club.

Two Facebook posts about limited edition specially designed kids, Support the NHS and Black Lives Matter, went viral leading to orders from across the country for the strips.

Luke said: “As soon as one batch of kits are delivered they are sold out, people liked our Support the NHS kits but the demand for Black Lives Matter strip has been insane.

We have had orders from Newcastle, Leeds, London, Rugeley and random other places. I spoke to our manager about a Black Lives Matter kit and he was up for it, we have a mixed squad of players and growing up in Erdington I’ve obviously got black friends and family members so we wanted to make a statement.

We asked GB Kits if they could make them for us and they cannot make them quick enough because of the demand. It has been a brilliant way of introducing people to Erdington United.”

Whereas Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City’s social media accounts all attracted racist and abusive comments under Black Lives Matter posts – Erdington United fans on Facebook were totally positive.

Luke, who went to Edmund Campion School, added: “We want to reflect Erdington as a club so obviously I was really proud how everyone reacted to our Black Lives Matter posts.”

To follow Erdington United on Twitter, visit www.twitter.com/ErdingtonU

To find Erdington United on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/erdington.utd.7