COMMUNITY ANCHOR: WLCA Gift Appeal – helping families in need this Christmas

Words and promotional imagery by WLCA


 
Witton Lodge Community Association is proud to launch our 2023 Christmas Gift Appeal.

Created to support local families who will struggle to afford gifts this Christmas, we are appealing to our amazing community to donate new gifts or toys for children aged 0-16yrs. We also welcome unwanted gifts you have but please ensure they are unused/unopened so we can give them to a family in need.

This heartwarming initiative was launched for the first time in 2022 and we received a huge number of gifts and toys that were wrapped & delivered to families in our local area. We’d love to exceed last year’s donations and help even more of our community this festive season.

Please help support this appeal by donating as well as sharing it with your family and friends. Let’s make this Christmas wonderful for ALL of our community 

Our elves have been busy setting up the donation stations at our four hubs, so pop along to drop off your gifts at your nearest location noted below.

Witton Lodge Donation Stations:

  • Perry Common Community Hall, 87 Witton Lodge Rd, B23 5JD (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
  • Witton Lakes Eco Hub, off Faulkners Farm Drive, Erdington, B23 7XX (Mon-Fri 9.30am – 3.30pm)
  • Health & Wellbeing Hub, First Floor, 196 High Street Erdington, B23 6SJ (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
  • Sycamore Court, 46 Buxton Road, Perry Common, Birmingham, B23 5GA (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association, 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.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Social Economy Cluster launches at Witton Lodge Community Association

Words by Witton Lodge Community Association

On 24 October Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) were delighted to welcome the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, to officially launch the Social Enterprise Cluster.

Part of a £2 million support package through the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) using unspent Commonwealth Games money, this initiative has been created to help level up some of the region’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The Cluster is being led by key social businesses in all the Combined Authority’s seven constituent council areas of Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Coventry, and Solihull.

Each organisation will receive seed funding to help them develop plans to identify specific projects that will improve the local area and act as a springboard to bring in further investment.

Witton Lodge CA was co-funded by Power to Change as the first local cluster and is now joined by a dynamic mix of social businesses including CWCDA, iSE, Colebridge Trust, SWEDA, Access to Business, and Provision House, all of whom have excellent experience in developing and supporting their respective communities.

This is a valuable opportunity to learn from each other and create a sustainable eco-system for social organisations and their communities to flourish.

Afzal Hussain, Chief Officer at Witton Lodge Community Association, said: “We were delighted to welcome everyone involved with the Social Enterprise Cluster to Witton Lodge for the launch of this fantastic initiative. This investment will give us the much-needed resources to do the job we are trying to do, to improve the local area and economy to generate wealth and retain it in our communities.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to decide what’s right for us, and help create change that makes a real, tangible difference.”

The WMCA’s Social Economy Growth Programme is being funded by the WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund, which was established in response to the Games coming in under budget.

Following discussions with the Mayor and the WMCA, the UK Government agreed to invest the £70 million underspend back into the region to enhance the legacy of the Games and ensure the benefits continue their positive impact for years to come.

Watch Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street discuss the importance of social economy with Afzal Hussain, Chief Officer, and Linda Hines MBE, Resident Director/Chair of WLCA.

For more on Witton Lodge Community Association, 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.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: WLCA nominated in Community Inspiration Awards 2023 – voting open until 30 June

Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) has been shortlisted in the Community Inspiration Awards 2023 for the Environment Champion Award, which recognises an individual or organisation that has been helping to make positive improvements to the environment.

Voting closes on 30 June, with the winners to be announced at a special award ceremony held on 8 September.

To vote for Witton Lodge Community Association in the Community Inspiration Awards 2023, click here.

The Community Inspiration Awards is an annual event organised by Community Foundation, to celebrate and recognised the ‘outstanding contributions made by members of the community, staff from public sector organisations, charities, and businesses whose efforts have made a positive difference and has inspired others.’

Afzal Hussain, WLCA Chief Officer said “We are absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the Environment Champion Award in the Community Inspiration Awards 2023.

“This nomination means so much to all our team and volunteers and we would be grateful if you could spare a minute to cast your vote for Witton Lodge Community Association!”

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

To vote for Witton Lodge Community Association in the Community Inspiration Awards 2023, click here.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Spring into summer with the return of Perry Common Festival – Sat 29 April

Words & pics supplied by Witton Lodge Community Association

The wait is nearly over – after a four-year absence the Spring into Summer Festival returns to Perry Common this weekend.

Perry Common will come alive on Saturday April 29 as local residents come together to enjoy community spirit at its finest.

This year’s event has a lot to live up to but promises to be one to revel in with a range of activities planned to occupy the crowds.

Highlights include a super slide, bouncy castle, donkey rides and a football cage.

There will also be a number of stalls manned by partner organisations like The Net Pentecostal Church, St Martin’s Church, The Friends of Witton Lakes and Boss Gardens.

Established in 2010, Spring into Summer has become a much-loved community celebration in Perry Common with the event regularly attracting hundreds of visitors.

Paul Tse, Flourishing Community Development Officer at Witton Lodge Community Association, has co-ordinated the 2023 version.

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Spring into Summer has been missing for four years but it is now back and we are expecting an eager and excited crowd for next weekend’s extravaganza,” he said.

“The event captures and celebrates the vibrant community spirit that exists in Perry Common.”

Spring into Summer 2023 takes place from 12-3pm on The Ring, Witton Lodge Road, Perry Common, B23 5JD.

Perry Common Spring into Summer Festival / Saturday 29 April 2023

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

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: NBER Business Engagement & Growth workshop at Perry Common Community Hall

Words by Steve Sharma / Pics supplied by Witton Lodge Community Association

The latest North Birmingham Economic Recovery (NB:ER) Group Business Engagement & Growth workshop provided invaluable insight into the importance of strategic marketing and branding.

Hosted by Witton Lodge Community Association and held at Perry Common Community Hall in January, attendees learned how to coordinate and implement outbound and partner marketing as well as the value of Public Relations and Branding.

A series of presentations also examined why effective marketing is a crucial part of any business plan and how emotions and meaning behind branding have an enormous impact on the success of marketing.

Formed in response to Covid-19 to support both businesses and individuals recover from the pandemic, the latest NB:ER workshop was part of the group’s continuing commitment to ‘creating effective routes into skills training and sustainable jobs for those currently facing barriers and/or exclusion.’

Guest speakers included Lyndsey Thomas and Heidi Salmons from IM Properties and Winvic Construction, who engaged with the audience to draw out the concept and power of branding.

“It was a pleasure to deliver and be a part of the latest NB:ER Business Engagement & Growth workshop talking to attendees about how consistent and genuine marketing, branding and social value are essential components of a successful business,” said Lyndsey.

“The attendees were really engaged and interacted throughout our session asking considered questions and making valuable connections with other small businesses during networking in between presentations and after the session – a well organised event by the NB:ER team!”

Emma Rhymes from Winvic Construction talked about how to use CSR and Social Value to grow your business while Linda Jones, from the Salus Fatigue Foundation, spoke about the journey of a local successful enterprise.

NB:ER coordinator, Jobeda Shahed, said feedback from those attending the workshop was very positive.

“It was great to see so many people taking part, with many commenting on how they picked up useful tips on how to create meaningful and impactful marketing,” she said.

“Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the event, especially our partners for their great presentations.”

The North Birmingham Economic Recovery (NB:ER) Group is formed of businesses and institutions with a vested interest in North Birmingham, including Aston Villa Foundation, IM Properties, BMET, and Witton Lodge Community Association.

The NB:ER Task Force is chaired by Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, who took over the role after the passing of Jack Dromey MP – who was a ‘driving force’ behind the group’s inception.

NB:ER is further endorsed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority, who are a member organisation to the group.

For more on the North Birmingham Economic Recovery (NB:ER) Group & Plan, visit www.northbirminghameconomicrecovery.co.uk

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

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Local residents send out over 300 presents through WLCA Christmas Gifts Appeal

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Witton Lodge Community Association

Over the festive season, local residents sent out over 300 presents to families and children in Perry Common – donated and distributed through the Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) Christmas Gifts Appeal.

To help fight the hardship many have been facing this year, and to help every child in Perry Common wake up to a gift on Christmas morning, in November last year WLCA began asking friends and neighbours to clear out their cupboards and donate unwanted or forgotten toys.

Donation boxes were established at the Witton Lakes Eco Hub, Perry Common Community Hall, Sycamore Court, and the Health and Wellbeing Hub on Erdington High Street – with kind hearted people from all across Erdington leaving good-as-new toys and gifts.

Local groups also joined in on the seasonal charity drive, with members of the Slimming World club that meet twice a week at Highcroft Community Centre also donating ‘anything they could spare’ to the Christmas Gifts Appeal.

Staff from WLCA and a team of local elves (volunteers) then set about wrapping everything in time for Christmas Day and delivering the presents across the Perry Common community.

In total, over 300 gifts were sent out to families – including boxed games for children, cuddly toys, and clothes to keep you warm over the winter months.

One local woman and grandmother, Jane Gaskin, donated over 20 gifts to the Christmas Gifts Appeal, with people responding by recognising her goodwill as “a Christmas miracle” and how she “always have had a heart of gold”.

Her daughter, Naomi Smith, added: “Well done mom, I’m glad you have been able to help some families who may need it this Christmas, and that the cupboard under the stairs is no longer a death trap of toys waiting to bury me and the cats!”

Jane Gaskin responded: “I don’t know about Christmas miracle I just don’t think kids should go without and if I can help I will.”

Over the festive season, the team at WLCA also put together 100 ‘Winter Warmer packs’ to help older residents fight the fuel crisis and stay safe and warm this winter – as well as organising a special ‘free festive lunch’ for local volunteers, in partnership with the Aston Vila Foundation.

WLCA further supported Wilson Stuart School as their pupils made a special visit to the Witton Lakes Eco Hub to get into the festive spirit by decorating the community centre’s Christmas tree.

A spokesperson from WLCA said: “We would like to send a massive heartfelt thankyou to EVERYONE who donated toys and gifts to our Christmas Gift Appeal.

“We have been overwhelmed with the kindness of local residents whose generosity will allow us to bring festive cheer to families and children in need.”

Steve Sharma, WLCA Communications and Marketing Coordinator, added: “The generosity of local residents supporting our Christmas Gifts Appeal has been overwhelming. Thanks to them, families who are struggling will wake up with gifts for their children on Christmas Day. It really does showcase community spirit at its best.

“Our volunteers have also been magnificent, putting the Winter Warmer packs together and distributing them to the elderly and vulnerable.

“A special mention must also go to pupils from Wilson Stuart School who visited the Witton Lakes Eco Hub to decorate our Christmas Tree and did such a brilliant job.”

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

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: ‘They’re not just our houses, they’re your homes’ – a short walk through the history of the Perry Common Estate

Words by Steve Sharma / Pics supplied by WLCA

Perry Common dates back to the 1920’s when farmland was acquired by Birmingham City Council to re-house families from elsewhere in the city.

The development of the Perry Common Estate provided residents with a spacious 2 or 3-bedroom houses and the added bonus of a front and back garden.

But by the 1980s, these non-brick Boot Houses were in very poor condition with chunks of concrete falling from properties, dampness wreaking havoc with people’s health, and metal supporting frames becoming very weak.

In 1989 a total of 908 families received a letter from the City Council declaring their homes would have to be demolished. The implications of this were devastating but community spirit soon change the course of history,

Passionate residents, united in their fight against the demolition, established Perry Common Residents Association. Shortly after, in 1994, eight of its members became the founding directors of the new Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA).

Twenty-eight years later, WLCA has a long and proud track record of housing and capital asset development and management across the north of the city. The registered landlord is thriving, with a portfolio of 200 homes, providing affordable, safe sanctuary to families across North Birmingham.

In 2017, the Association set up a subsidiary, Witton Lodge Community Homes (WLCH) to progress housing and community asset development aspirations. It pursues a dedicated housing agenda, namely, to provide affordable and social housing which meets the needs of the local community.

WLCH targets such empty properties to bring them back into use while working with the City Council and other stakeholders to explore opportunities for new build development which can provide affordable housing solutions.

In February 2021 there were over 17,000 applicants on Birmingham City Council’s housing waiting list; the local authority area within which we deliver our services. In addition, there are more 9,000 empty properties in the city.

Having achieved registered provider status with Homes England, WLCH can now apply directly for funding to develop and manage properties.

WLCA Homes and Assets Development Manager, Gareth Hopkins, said: “We have invested in our homes to make them more energy efficient. Solar Photovoltaic panels have been installed on 93 of our properties (the remaining properties are not eligible for the SPV Panels) ensuring that our tenants benefit first hand from savings with electricity consumption costs.

“As a renewable source of power, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, which is critical to protecting humans, wildlife and eco systems.

“We have also installed 132 A Rated Boilers. This has helped our tenants save up to £500 a year on their energy costs. The new boilers are also more energy efficient and help cut carbon footprint. We have also installed new doors and windows to 86 of our properties meaning our homes are more energy efficient.

“We have aspirations to do even more using our planned maintenance programme to replace more boilers (non-gas), doors and windows. When we purchase new properties we will retrofit them with new windows, boilers but also consider improvements such as solar water heating, floor and wall insulation where this is possible.

“We are proud to be investing in our properties and working towards local and national carbon zero targets and helping our Tenants save money on their energy bills.”

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

For press and media enquiries call Steve Sharma on 0121 382 1930 or email: [email protected]

NEWS: ‘Let’s Get Together’ community group showcase at Erdington Court Bowls Club – TODAY, 11am to 1pm

Words by Ed King

Today (Thursday 20 October) a special community group showcase will be held at Erdington Court Bowls Club – introducing activities and services supported by the Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme (ENNS).

Running from 11am to 1pm, with a light lunch and refreshments provided, ‘Let’s Get Together’ is totally free to attend – and a chance for people over 18 to discover, and get involved in, activities and programmes in their area.

From local art groups, coffee mornings, and adult swim classes, to support groups for carers and people suffering with Alzheimer’s, ‘Let’s Get Together’ will be an opportunity to learn about local services and community groups operating across Erdington.

There will also be a chance to meet an Adult Social Care Team and Occupational Therapists Team, alongside ENNS networkers who will help people find the right groups and services.

Further organisations attending the ‘Let’s Get Together’ event include: Midlands Medical Partners (Eaton Wood), The Alzheimer’s Society, Cuppa Squad, Salus Fatigue Foundation, No.7 Arts, Erdington Court Bowls Club, Compass Support, Care for Carers Group, The Meeting Place Café, Arts All Over the Place, CAMEO, and AquaBabes

The Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme (ENNS) is delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association and Compass Support, helping community groups access funding and support.

Chantelle Holmes, WLCA Project Monitoring & Quality Officer, told Erdington Local: “The ENNS Let’s Get Together event is a fantastic opportunity for residents of Erdington over the age of 18 to find out what groups and activities are happening in the local area that help to reduce isolation and help them to live independent and connected lives.

“It is predominantly aimed at the over 50’s and for adults who have additional needs, the activities range from things like arts and crafts, day trips, groups for carers, swimming sessions, music lessons and many more.

“It is also an opportunity to meet some of the Occupational Therapists, some of the Adult Social Care Team and Social Prescribers too.”

Erdington Court Bowls Club is a registered charity, part of the Erdington Recreational Trust, and one of the few flat lawn bowls clubs in the area.

Ray Wood, trustee of the charity and Marketing Officer for Erdington Court Bowls Club, added: “The objectives of the charity have always been to support the local community. Earlier this year we decided to increase our local links in a number of ways.

“Our lounge has been under utilised in recent years and we were delighted when officers of the nearby Witton Lodge Community Association approached us to host their exhibition of local neighbourhood support groups.”

‘Let’s Get Together’ will be held at Erdington Court Bowls Club on Thursday 20 October, between 11am and 1pm. Free to attend, a light lunch and refreshments will also be provided.

For more on Erdington Court Bowls Club visit www.erdingtoncourtbowlsclub.org.uk

For more on the ENNS, as delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association, visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk/our-projects/living-well/supporting-you/erdington-neighbourhood-network-scheme