COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Your Voice, Your Vote

Words by Afzal Hussain – Chief Officer of Witton Lodge Community Association

At Witton Lodge we’re delighted to support the recent launch of ‘Community Voice’, a new community-led initiative that enables residents from across Erdington to have a real say on local issues and opportunities.

Together, we want to connect with those who are passionate about their community, including those ‘less heard voices’ eager to shape and deliver local services and improve their neighbourhoods.

Community Voice welcomes people from all backgrounds and will work hard to reflect the makeup of our local communities from across Erdington and North Birmingham.

We already know there is huge appetite, interest and expertise and Community Voice will help to amplify this.

Now, there is also the small matter of a general election. Our right to vote was hard-won through the tireless efforts and sacrifice of many, so please do exercise this right, and vote.

I was also reminded of sacrifice, during the recent D Day commemorations, when we heard moving accounts from our veterans about how British, Commonwealth and Allied troops made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.

Your vote is your voice, and it holds the power to influence the decisions that affect local lives, shape our communities and determine the future of our country.

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.

NEWS: Erdington High Street cordoned off as police investigate man found with “life threatening injuries”

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics taken from archive

Parts of Erdington High Street have been cordoned off today after police discovered a man with “life threatening injuries” yesterday evening.

A police investigation has been launched to find out what happened to the man, who is now in hospital, after patrolling officers found him at 7:30pm on Thursday 6 June.

At the time of writing there is no confirmation on how the man suffered his injuries, and police have not stated if it was or was not a result of any violent attack.

Several outlets around the Halifax Building Society and Craft Bakery, opposite the top of Harrison Road, have been sealed off with blue and white police tape whilst officers conduct their inquiries.

Shops have shut down to allow the investigation, with many workers sent home this morning.

A statement from West Midlands Police confirmed: “An investigation has been launched after a man was found with serious injuries in Erdington High Street.

“Officers patrolling the area found a man with serious injuries in Erdington High Street, at around 7.30pm on Thursday 6th June.

“He was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where he remains.

“A scene is currently being held to establish the circumstances as to how the man was injured.”

Police are further asking for anyone to contact them with information that may assist their inquiries, whilst assuring concerned members of the public there will be “a police presence” on the High Street whilst they conduct their investigation.

A spokesperson for the force added: “If you saw anything or can help with the investigation, you can contact us via Live Chat on our website, or by calling 101 quoting log 4572 of 6 June.

“Officers will continues to patrol the area and a police presence will remain to reassure the community.”

A spokesperson form West Midlands Ambulance Service added: “We were called at 7.31pm to an incident on High Street, Erdington. One ambulance attended the scene.

“Upon arrival we found a man in a serious condition.

“He received treatment from ambulance staff at the scene before being conveyed to hospital for further treatment.”

BACK TO SCHOOL Queensbury School wins Modeshift STARS National SEND School of the Year

Words and pics by supplied by Queensbury School

Gravelly Hill SEND secondary school and sixth form, Queensbury School, has won the Modeshift STARS National SEND School of the year 2023-2024.

Situated on Wood End Road, Queensbury School provides education and support for 11-19 years old with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

After winning the regional award earlier this year, three Queensbury students travelled to London with Head Teacher Mr Wilson and Transport Manager Mrs Richards to represent the West Midlands in the national awards.

Acting as ‘Travel Ambassadors’, the students helped plan the journey to and from the capital city.

Queensbury Head Teacher, Mr Wilson, said: “Our students not only got us to London but also presented incredibly well, melting the hearts of the audience in a packed hall at Hamiliton House. They represented the school so impeccably it was a true pleasure to go with them.

“They presented on stage to a huge national school audience on all the projects we have run in school like Bikeability and the Clean Air Zone project.

“The judges must have been impressed because we WON the nationals! Queensbury School is the Modeshift STARS National SEND School of the year 2023-2024.”

Mr Wilson added:  “Special thanks to Mrs Richards and all the staff that have been involved not just this year but over previous years with Bikeability and increasing independence.

“The is an example of Queensbury going from a ‘good school’ to a ‘great school’ and we look forward to many more to come.”

For more Queensbury School visit www.queensburysch.com

Queensbury School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

BACK TO SCHOOL: Kingsthorne Primary School’s Year 6 visit Outward Bound Centre at Aberdovey

Words by Neveah in Y6 / Pics supplied by Kingsthorne Primary School

15 – 19 April were the dates of the first ever Kingsthorne Y6, four night residential to the Outward Bound Centre at Aberdovey.

The 41 children and six staff that went were truly pioneers. We all had an unforgettable experience and a great time.

The views of the estuary and beyond were gorgeous, particularly when it was sunny. We saw lots of nature too including cows, crabs, and jellyfish!

During our time at Aberdovey we conquered many fears and completed lots of fun activities. Some of the activities that we did consisted of abseiling, gorge walking, jetty jumping, and the jog and dip.

Two of my favourite activities were the jetty jump and the gorge walk. Both of these were incredibly fun, even if you did get absolutely soaking.

I learnt a lot on this trip including how to be more resilient and independent. I even learned how to make a duvet – now there is a skill for life!

Many people overcame their fears and made memories that they will never forget.

Kingsthorne Year 6 students at Aberdovey, Wales

For more on Kingsthorne Primary School visit www.kingsthorneprimary.co.uk

Kingsthorne Primary School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

NEWS: Local community join city leaders at candlelit vigil for killed schoolboy Dea-John Reid

Words by Erdington Local editorial team / Pics by Joe Marchant

On Friday 31 May, the Kingstanding and local community stood in silence at the exact spot where 14-year-old Dea-John Reid was stabbed to death in 2021 – at a special memorial event held three years ago to the day the schoolboy was killed in broad daylight on College Road.

Those attending the candlelit vigil include Dea-John’s friends and family, alongside local community leaders, Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, Edgbaston MP Preet Gill, Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, and Birmingham City Council Leader John Cotton.

The mood was mournful but defiant, unlike the vigil a week after Dea-John’s death in 2021 which pulsated with anger after hundreds of protestors descended on the area from across the country.

The racial tinderbox which could have exploded in the aftermath of the schoolboy’s killing never did, due to the hard work of local community members who worked to untie and not divide the Kingstanding or North Birmingham community.

However, the subsequent not guilty verdicts from the highly publicised murder trail sadly did little to quell the growing frustration and anger.

But that anger turned to action, and the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John’ campaign has been working to make changes to the judicial process that they feel let them down in 2021.

Addressing the crowd at the 31 May vigil on College Road, the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John’ campaign informed how they want to create ‘Dea-John’s Law’ – which would see jury members reflect the racial make up of an area.

In the 2021 murder trial, 11 jurors in Dea-John’s case were white in a city of 52% ethnic minority residents.

Bishop Desmond Jadoo and Dea-John’s mother, Joan Morris, led prayers at the spot where the teenager died.

Bishop Jadoo told Erdington Local: “This evening has been a success. I was pleased to see the Leader of Birmingham Council and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner here today, as well as MPs.

“What happened here three years ago, if filmed it would have been something like Mississippi Burning, and though it is important to remember Dea-John’s name and honour his memory we have to try and change the system which let him down.”

He added: “To have the backing and help of the University of Birmingham is also really important to our campaign. We have got support from young people who want to get involved, they want to see the

“We are campaigning for a civil rights law too. We cannot forget the horrific injustice which Dea-John suffered on the last day of his life and when the verdict was passed by 11 white jurors.”

At 7.34pm, a minute’s silence was held for Dea-John and then balloons were let off into the sky followed by chants declaring: “Say his name, Dea-John Reid”.

Birmingham City Council Leader Councillor John Cotton told Erdington Local: “I came to show solidarity with Dea-John’s family and stand with the community today. What happened here three years was a terrible racist murder.

“We are a majority minority city and I think the campaign is important because I believe public institutions need to reflect the communities they make decisions about.”

He added: “I think juries should reflect their communities.”

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster also told: “I think it was necessary to pay our respects to Dea-John and give our condolences to Dea-John’s family.

“Any change to the criminal justice system should be done after evidence led academic study. I think Birmingham University coming on board with the campaign which will give it an academic rigor which is needed.”

PICTURE GALLERY: Candlelit vigil for Dea-John Reid on third anniversary of schoolboy’s death

For more on the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ campaign visit www.facebook.com/Justice4DeaJohnReid

NEWS: Local residents invited to ‘Spring into Summer’ as Perry Common Festival returns on 15 June

Words and pics by Ed King / Promotional artwork supplied by WLCA

Local residents across Perry Common are invited to ‘Spring into Summer’ as the Perry Common Festival is set to return on Saturday 15 June, running from 12noon to 3pm.

Held on The Ring in the centre of Witton Lodge Road, the communal grass area by Storywood School and St Martin’s Church, the family friendly event is free to attend – with some activities costing only £1.

Event organisers are promoting a variety of events and entertainment for adults and children of all ages – including a super slide, bouncy castle, donkey rides, and a football cage.

The festival will also offer a chance to meet some of the emergency services that look after Perry Common residents, with a public engagement presence from both the local Fire Service and police.

Organised by Witton Lodge Community Association (WLCA) and The Active Wellbeing Society – with support from Urban Devotion Birmingham, St Matin’s Church, and The Friends of Witton Lakes – the annual event was first held in 2010.

But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the community summer festival was put on hiatus for four years – eventually returning to Perry Common in 2023.

A recognised “highlight for our community”, a spokesperson from WLCA further told how they are “are excited to continue this tradition in 2024” following the successful return of the festival last year.

The event takes on an extra special meaning in 2024 as it will also mark the 30th anniversary of Witton Lodge Community Association, the resident founded organisation established in 1994 after Birmingham City Council announced plans to demolish the estate.

Taking inspiration from the Stockfield Community Association in Acock’s Green, WLCA now manages over 200 homes in Perry Common and has spearheaded successful community developments – including the renovation of Perry Common Hall and transforming the old gatekeeper’s cottage and grounds at Witton Lakes into a thriving community garden and innovative Eco Hub.

WLCA have also used The Ring on Witton Lodge Road for a world record breaking community challenge, where they built the world’s largest holly wreath around the railings – with help from the local residents and children the at neighbouring Storywood School

Measuring a staggering 358.3m in circumference and 136.1m in diameter, the giant wreath was made of holly branches from Sutton Park and Christmas decorations donated Birmingham City Council.

Paul Tse, Flourishing Community Development Officer at Witton Lodge Community Association, added: “We are so excited to host the 2024 Spring into Summer Festival in the heart of Perry Common.

“2024 marks thirty years of Witton Lodge Community Association and we are delighted to host this event as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations!

“This event really captures and celebrates the vibrant community spirit that exists in our community, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone on the day!”

The Perry Common ‘Spring into Summer’ Festival will be held on Saturday 15 June at The Ring, Witton Lodge Road, Perry Common, B23 5JD. The event will run from 12noon to 3pm – admission is free with some activities costing £1.

For more information on Perry Common Festival and the other projects from Witton Lodge Community Association visit www.wittonlodge.org.uk or phone (0121) 382 1930

NEWS: ‘Justice 4 Dea-John’ campaign to hold candlelit vigil on anniversary of schoolboy’s broad daylight killing

Original pics by Ed King

A candlelit vigil is set to be held in honour of schoolboy Dea-John Reid, three years to the day after the teenager was killed in broad daylight on a busy Kingstanding road.

Weeks after the tragedy, on Sunday 6 June 2021, an immediate event was organised to bring the community together called ‘Shine-a-Light vigil for Dea-John Reid’.

To see the Erdington Local PICTURE GALLERY from the 2021 vigil for Dea-John Reid, click here.

Now on Friday 31 May, at 6:30pm, people are invited to gather once again at the very spot Dea-John died on College Road – just opposite the McDonald’s fast food outlet.

Organised by the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John’ campaign and led by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo MBE – a prominent Kingstanding resident and local spokesperson who supported the family of the killed youngster after his death and throughout the subsequent trail – the peaceful memorial will be attended by Dea John’s family and friends.

Also attending will be local politicians, religious leaders, police representatives, and campaigners demanding a change to the law after the Crown failed to secure a murder verdict back in 2021.

After being arrested and charged with murder of schoolboy Dea-John Reid, the three juveniles and two adult men accused were eventually cleared – following days of CCTV footage being shown to the jury, including the moment the stabbing took place.

The teenager who delivered the fatal blow, a single stab wound with a large kitchen knife to the chest, was eventually found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six year and a half years in custody – with an order to serve half of it in a juvenile detention centre.

The three youngsters accused of murder were brought to trial under joint enterprise, a heavily contested legal doctrine which the House of Commons Justice Committee describes as “a form of secondary liability” where co-defendants can be “liable for all criminal acts committed” by the “principal defendant… in the course of their joint criminal venture.”

The Birmingham Crown Court jury consisted of 11 white members, which Dea-John’s family and advisor Bishop Desmond Jaddoo believes affected the verdict.

Since the trial, a campaign titled ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ has been fighting to change the legal system under a newly proposed ‘Dea-John’s Law’ – which would allow legal representation to challenge the makeup of a jury, currently selected at random from the electoral register, so they can better represent aspects of the crime.

The campaign has even attracted the attention of academics at Birmingham University, with Associate Professor Katharina Karcher publishing a paper earlier this year titled: ‘Re-examining CCTV Footage and Re-imagining Justice through a Critical Black Gaze: The ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ Campaign’s Dark Sousveillance.’

In a social media post about the upcoming vigil on 31 May, Bishop Desmond Jaddoo MBE said: “Please join us as we remember Dea-John, as we continue supporting his family, and as we tell you the next steps in the justice campaign as we launch our quest for ‘Dea-John’s Law’”.

Bishop Jaddoo further told Erdington Local: “This vigil is being held in the middle of a General Election campaign so we will be calling on the major parties to back ‘Dea-John’s Law’.

“The vigil is being held three years to the day Dea-John was killed after being hunted by racists.

“And it is also being held the day after the Kingstanding by-election, which is being held because a ward councillor was caught tweeting vile and racist messages and was forced to resign.”

Joan Morris, Dea-John Reid’s mother, also does not want her son to be forgotten.

She added: “Upon reflection, I will never see Dea-John become a footballer or the dentist that he dreamed off. Nor see Dea- John get engaged and married; nor see Dea-John have children; nor his own home… or even just simply have a conversation with him face-to-face.

“The final act of love I could show to my son was to ensure he had the send-off which he deserved.

“Whilst members of the perpetrator’s family will be able to visit their loved one and eventually see him released back in the community, my only visit to Dea-John is to a grave in a cemetery.”

She continued: “He was hunted by a lynch mob, reminiscent of a scene from Mississippi Burning, being called a ‘n**er’ and as evidence was given a ‘black b**tard’ and ‘bang him out’.

“A jury that was not reflective of Birmingham, who bought the stories given by the defendants in this case, and delivering a verdict against this young man in the dock of merely manslaughter.”

The candlelit vigil to remember Dea-John Reid and inform people about the “next steps” in the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ campaign is reported to include songs and speeches, with candles being lit at the exact moment the teenager died of on the Kingstanding road.

Bishop Jaddoo said the Leader of Birmingham Council, Councillor John Cotton (Labour, Glebe Farm and Tile Cross), as well as senior members of West Midlands Police, will be attending the event.

The vigil will be held at 6:30pm on Friday 31 May, on College Road in Kingstanding – opposite McDonald’s, near Watney Grove and Wooton Grove.

For more on the ‘Justice 4 Dea-John Reid’ campaign visit www.facebook.com/Justice4DeaJohnReid

BACK TO SCHOOL: Students from Wilson Stuart and Kingsthorne collaborate on Story Massage Programme

Words and pics supplied by Wilson Stuart School

In a strong display of collaboration and innovation, primary students from Wilson Stuart School have teamed up with Kingsthorne Primary mainstream school to explore the benefits of the Story Massage Programme.

The Story Massage Programme, a unique approach that melds the benefits of positive touch with the creative power of words, has captivated the attention of educators and students alike.

Ten simple massage strokes, each accompanied by a descriptive name and symbol, serve as the cornerstone of this initiative – ensuring accessibility for learners of all ages and abilities.

Rachael Griffiths, Director of Research and Innovation at Wilson Stuart, underscored the multifaceted objectives of the project. “Through the project, we aim to foster active listening, cultivate positive relationships, and forge connections between mainstream and special school settings,” she remarked.

“Moreover, we seek to enhance non-verbal communication skills, refine language proficiency through storytelling, boost confidence levels, and, above all, ensure an environment brimming with joy and laughter.”

This collaborative endeavour not only demonstrates the commitment of both institutions to inclusive practices but also exemplifies the transformative potential of partnership in education.

As students embark on this journey of exploration and discovery, they are not only acquiring valuable skills but also laying the foundation for a more inclusive and empathetic society.

With each stroke and story shared, these young learners are not just engaging in massage; they are weaving a tapestry of understanding, compassion, and friendship that transcends boundaries and enriches lives.

For more on Wilson Stuart School visit www.wilsonstuart.co.uk  

Wilson Stuart School is part of the Erdington Local BACK TO SCHOOL programme, working together to celebrate school life from staffroom to classroom.

To find out more about going BACK TO SCHOOL with Erdington Local please email: [email protected]

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Reflections and renewed focus

Words by Afzal Hussain – Chief Officer of Witton Lodge Community Association

Whilst we know there is always more to do, usually at this time of the year we take a moment to reflect on the impact that we have made. This is important on many fronts, and not least to recognise the contributions of our many volunteers, local groups and partners who make our work possible.

Over the past year our five hubs had over 18,000 visits, providing vital community spaces for our residents to seek support, advice or simply connect with others.

We also awarded more than £450,000 to local groups, showcasing our dedication to empowering community organisations. These funds will make a significant difference in addressing the needs of our community and help to create local infrastructure that will serve us well in the future.

Additionally, we secured £4 million to kickstart the much-needed redevelopment of the former Erdington Baths into a dynamic enterprise hub for budding entrepreneurs and a new community centre to be proud of.

We also supported over 3,000 households through our B:Can Energy Advice partnership, saving each household an estimated £380 annually, easing financial burdens for our residents whilst also contributing to environmental sustainability.

As we pause for reflection, we are immensely proud and grateful for the dedication of our 18 volunteers, whose commitment to volunteering embodies the DNA of our Association.

Their efforts have positively impacted hundreds of fellow residents across all our sites, showcasing the power of community support and collaboration.

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.

BACK TO WORK: Fort Dunlop based Precision Micro launches 2024 apprenticeship drive

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

World leading, Erdington based, engineering company Precision Micro is looking for a fresh cohort of 16-21 year olds for its 2024 apprenticeship drive.

Based on Vantage Way, a stone’s throw from the Fort Shopping Park and Castle Vale, the internationally renowned photochemical etching company has been training young people for years – giving them the specialist skills they need for a career in precision engineering.

Providing opportunities for local young people, Precision Micro has welcomed students from Greenwood Academy through previous apprenticeship drives – getting them set on a lifelong career path at the cutting edge of engineering.

Throughout their comprehensive four-year program, apprentices will gain invaluable hands-on experience across all departments within Precision Micro – refining the crucial skills necessary for producing precision-etched metal components.

A global player in chemical etching, Precision Micro plays a key role in critical applications across many sectors, including lifesaving surgery, military jets, luxury cars, surveillance drones, and more.

Applications for the Precision Micro apprenticeship 2024 drive will be accepted until 31 May.

Successful candidates will commence their apprenticeships in September 2024 while pursuing a Level 3 qualification in engineering through Birmingham Metropolitan College – James Watt Campus.

A proud management-owned business situated at Fort Dunlop, Precision Micro’s commitment to investing in its workforce is underscored by Director and Co-owner Mick Taylor, who embarked on his career journey as an apprentice himself thirty years ago.

Mick shared his enthusiasm, telling Erdington Local: “With substantial investments in our facility and equipment in recent years, there has never been a more exciting time to join Precision Micro.

“Our previous cohort of apprentices have flourished, contributing to our culture while gaining invaluable insights into our business and the industries we serve.”

In 2022, Greenwood Academy students Clayton and Kyle started out on the Precision Micro apprenticeship program – taking their first steps into the world of work with the Erdington based engineering company, just as the firm’s current Director and Co-owner Mick Taylor did three decades ago.

Clayton told Erdington Local: “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 added: “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.”

Since 2019, Precision Micro has invested more than £7million in upgrading its Erdington based facility – including £1.8 million in 2024, building a second etch room that significantly increases capacity and underpins its ambitious growth strategy.

Across 2024, the world leading engineering firm has plans to grow by a further 20%, with existing and new apprenticeships playing an integral role in the company’s long-term success.

Precision Micro’s 2024 apprenticeship drive is open to local young people aged between 16-21 – anyone interested should register their interest before 31 May.

To make an application visit www.resources.precisionmicro.com/apprenticeships

For more on Precision Micro visit www.precisionmicro.com