NEWS: Chester Road manufacturer and disability employer featured in King Charles III commemorative album

Words by Kevin Emery & LOCAL AMBASSADORS / Pics supplied by Shelforce

Shelforce, a Chester Road based window and door manufacturer, has been featured in a special 75th birthday commemorative album for King Charles III.

The Erdington company was founded in 1836 and is committed to ‘employing and training those with disabilities’.

Earlier this year, Shelforce was presented with The King’s Award for Enterprise in Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility) after His Majesty the King approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation that the Erdington company be recognised in the inaugural King’s Award for Enterprise.

The Erdington based business has now been further recognised in the new book King Charles III: The Leadership and Vision of a Modern Monarch, launched at Claridge’s in central London on His Majesty’s 75th birthday earlier this month.

Published by St James’s House and royal biographer Robert Jobson, the fully illustrated and beautifully presented hardback book charts Charles’s life, from his role and responsibilities as the Prince of Wales, to his accession and coronation as king.

The special celebratory publication also highlights examples of achievement and progress across social, cultural, technological, and commercial spheres.

Howard Trotter, Shelforce’s Business Manager, met King Charles III at a royal reception hosted by His Majesty the King at Buckingham Palace for all Kings Award for Enterprise winners.

Mr Trotter said: “It is an unbelievable honour for Shelforce to feature in such an important and historic book in the year of the King’s coronation, and we are delighted to represent the local community of Erdington.”

Located at Erdington Business Park, off the Chester Road, Shelforce provides a place where people with mental or physical disability can thrive in employment and produce high quality products in a competitive market.

First established in 1839, the organisation was set up as part of the Royal School for the Blind to provide visually impaired people with paid employment and training – originally producing items such as brushes, baskets, and mats.

Relocating to Erdington in 1981 and changing its The City of Birmingham Sheltered Workshops of the Disabled in Erdington, a wider brief was established to begin employing people with different disabilities.

Eventually changing its name to Shelforce, after working with Coventry University, the local manufacturer was officially opened by The Princess Royal, HRH Princess Anne in 1984 – expanding its operations to include bed manufacturing, engraving, and woodwork, and making gates and fences for Birmingham City Council.

For more on Shelforce visit www.shelforce.com

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: WLCA host Jobs Fair at Perry Common Hall on Friday 13 October

Words and promotional imagery by WLCA


 
Witton Lodge Community Association is hosting a Jobs Fair on Friday 13 October, inviting local jobseekers to meet with major employers from across the region.

The WLCA Jobs Fair will be held from 10am to 2pm at Perry Common Community Hall, 87 Witton Lodge Rd, Birmingham, B23 5JD. Click here for a Google Maps link to the address.

The Job Fair will be showcasing a range of training and employment opportunities from a variety of organisations including Amazon, who will be promoting their opportunities for local people from all backgrounds.

The Witton Lodge Community Association Employment and Skills Team will also be on hand to engage with those attending and provide advice to support their journey into work.

The upcoming Jobs Fair is an excellent opportunity for people to meet the team, employers, and training providers to find out more about the range of employment and training opportunities available across the city.

Marcia Lewis, Employer Engagement Officer at WLCA said “We are delighted to provide a welcoming space to help connect jobseekers from our local community to potential employers as well as a range of training providers to support attendees with any skills and training needs they may have.”

She added: “The Jobs Fair will be held in the heart of our community at Perry Common Community Hall and will be showcasing opportunities in warehousing, health & social care, hospitality/facilities, construction, office, customer service and more. We look forward to welcoming everyone on the 13 October.”

To find out more about the WLCA Jobs Fair, or to discuss your employment or training needs with the WLCA Employment and Skills Team, contact WLCA on (0121) 382 1930.

Or follow WLCA on social media and stay up-to-date with their our news, events, and activities.

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association and links to their social media, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

Witton Lodge Community Association is a key partner in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

BACK TO WORK: Erdington engineering firm Precision Micro looking for 16-21-year-olds to join 2023 Apprenticeship Scheme

Words by BTW editorial team and Precision Micro / Pics supplied by Precision Micro

Erdington based engineering firm Precision Micro are looking for 16-21-year-olds to join their 2023 Apprenticeship Scheme

A proud Birmingham business, Precision Micro began its operations in the city’s famous Jewellery Quarter in 1962 but is now based at Fort Dunlop – supplying parts for well known global brands in the automotive, aerospace, medical, and energy sectors.

Following the success of last year’s apprenticeship drive, the management-owned engineering company is now looking to welcome a brand-new cohort into its 2023 Apprenticeship Scheme, and kickstart their careers in the engineering industry.

During the four-year placement, apprentices will have the opportunity to experience every department within Precision Micro, learning the key skills required to produce precision-etched metal components.

Successful applicants will begin their apprenticeships in September this year, while working towards a Level 3 in Engineering with Birmingham Metropolitan College – James Watt Campus in Great Barr.

Precision Micro produces millions of high-quality precision etched components every year and has a long history of investing in its people, with its Director and Co-owner, Mick Taylor, himself starting out as an apprentice three decades ago.

Mick Taylor, Director at Precision Micro, said: “We’ve been investing heavily in our business in recent years, with millions of pounds put into expanding and upgrading our facility and equipment, so it’s a really exciting time to be joining Precision Micro.

“Last year, four apprentices joined us and they’re all flourishing within their roles, learning lots about our business and the industries which we support, as well as contributing to the high levels of quality we pride ourselves on.”

Amongst the 2022 apprentices, Clayton and Kyle both began their time at Precision Micro after studying at Greenwood Academy on Castle Vale – neighbouring the Fort Dunlop engineering firm.

Clayton, who currently works in the Precision Micro quality team, told: “I have gained a vast amount of knowledge that helps me in different situations to either solve problems, guide jobs around the process or to work on the different projects that are incomplete”.

Kyle, who began his Process Engineering apprenticeship last year, said: “Everyone at Precision Micro is so kind, helpful, and approachable meaning you never have to feel scared to ask questions.

“My time here so far has helped me to grow as a person, in confidence and knowledge, so I can’t thank the business enough for this opportunity.”

Greenwood Academy’s Engineering teacher, Gregory Crookendale, added: “Clayton and Kyle were always model students who always showed a keen interest and aptitude for Engineering.

“I am very proud of them and I know that their resilience and dedication will serve them well in their apprenticeships.”

Since 2019, Precision Micro has invested more than £5million in upgrading its facility, significantly increasing capacity and underpinning its growth strategy, with plans to invest a further £1.4million in 2023.

This year, the company is targeting 20% growth and believes investing in apprentices will be key to achieving its ambitions and sustaining performance for years to come, with key development areas outlined in its new ESG framework.

To apply for the Precision Micro 2023 Apprenticeship Scheme, visit www.resources.precisionmicro.com/apprenticeships

For more on Precision Micro visit www.precisionmicro.com

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Supporting job seekers into work with Witton Lodge Community Association

Words by Steve Sharma

Witton Lodge Community Association partnered with Erdington Job Centre for its monthly Job Fair, providing support to job seekers in the area.

There was a great range of individuals who attended Wednesday event, either looking for some form of training – with a focus on digital skills – employability support or actual employment.

More than seventy job seekers attended the fair with most of the employment stands busy and lined with people waiting to speak to recruiters representing a range of different industries across North Birmingham.

“The turnout for these events is always great,” said DWP Employer Advisor Kym Marshall.

Not only do these job fairs prove effective in providing training and contact with employers, they also provide an opportunity for job seekers to interview for vacancies.

Witton Lodge’ Employment Coach, Marcia Lewis used her connection with Savers and Cancer Research to set up interviews for some of those attending the Jobs Fair. In total, 15 people were interviewed for Store Assistant positions with Savers and seven for Store Assistant and Customer Service roles with Cancer Research.

“There was an amazing effort from the team,” said Witton Lodge Employability Co-ordinator Melissa Gayle.

“The energy and atmosphere was fantastic and it was great to be part of an event supporting clients.”

DWP Employer Advisor, Michael Davis, added: “These events are periodically held to get job seekers enthusiastic about getting back into work.

He also recalled the story of a man in his 60s who attended a previous job fair event.

“At a previous jobs fair, a man, in his 60s, did not feel confident in the success of his job applications due to his age. However, after engaging with one of the training providers, he joined a course for HGV truck driving and is, now, advancing through the practical stage of the course.”

Charis, a second-year university student, attended Wednesday’s event unsure of which career path she should follow. But after the event, she said she felt “optimistic and encouraged” having spoken to the Witton Lodge team who gave her CV support and secured her an interview with Savers.

“We would like to send a big thank you to Lorraine Brown for trusting Witton Lodge to be part of this Jobs Fair event and to Savers and Cancer Research for taking the time to interview individuals,” added Melissa.

If you’re a job seeker in need of support, please contact the Employment and Skills team at Witton Lodge Community Association on 0121 382 1930

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk

BACK TO WORK: Free online employment training courses for Falcon Lodge and Castle Vale residents

Words and pics from Compass Support

Compass Support has launched a free seven-week course starting in February to improve job prospects for Falcon Lodge and Castle Vale residents who are currently unemployed or looking for work.

With two places left on the next course at Falcon Lodge, if you are interested, apply quickly, though registering now will also place you on a waiting list for courses and opportunities in both Falcon Lodge and Castle Vale.

The organisers are inviting any unemployed person, especially those in Falcon Lodge, who is looking for work and would like help to apply by calling Rob Harris, Employability Advisor at Compass Support on 07841 067662.

The course follows on from the successful training that has already taken place both in person and since the lockdown online. Now due to Lockdown 3.0, the training is taking place fully online, and is open to more people with mobility issues.

The Compass Support Employability & Wellbeing team will be delivering the training, which includes CV and job application support and life coaching.

The timetable (see below) is packed with a combination of preparing for employment training and wellbeing sessions from Compass Support team members and guest speakers. There are also one to one sessions for participants and a weekly action plan so that each trainee gets the most out of the course.

Former trainees have used the skills gained during the course to secure voluntary work with the likes of Upcycle and the Environmental Trust, often going on to secure paid employment.

Interested participants can also work towards qualifications in food hygiene, first aid and computer training to improve their job prospects or route to voluntary work. A young lady who attended the last course, for example, gained her first aid and hygiene qualifications to help her to secure work in childcare.

People taking part in the course get to know each other and offer mutual support by connecting through the Get Healthy Get Working WhatsApp group, with many going on to form lasting friendships.

As well as training, the Compass Support team is providing tablet loan scheme to access course work online, apply for jobs and learn new digital skills.

As part of the course, trainees also have access to Zoom and Facebook Live fitness and wellbeing sessions, from yoga to circuit training.

An especially popular session is learning to cook with Rob Harris, with delicious dishes such as vegetable curry, leek and potato soup, bean and pasta stew on the menu. After the sessions, the ingredients are delivered to the participants to cook themselves.

Rob Harris, Employability Advisor at Compass Support, said:

“We used to run a job club at Falcon Lodge so we recognise that there is a need to help residents to improve their chances to find employment.

“Sadly, the coronavirus has left many more unemployed in our area and we are working tirelessly to ensure that we can help as many people into employment as possible. If this new course helps just a handful of residents to get a job, we have done our job.”

Project funding was secured through The Henry Smith Charity, founded in 1628, as part of its Improving Lives funding stream.

For more information, call the Education & Employment team on 07841 067662

For more from Compass Support, visit www.compass-support.org.uk

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