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Extension announced for trailblazing project in Birmingham

11 August 2020 · Categories: Communities Care

Community Catalysts are really pleased to announce that our partnership work with Birmingham City Council has been extended for another two years so that we can continue helping local people to set up community enterprises in the city.

As the local Catalyst, I have thoroughly enjoyed leading the work so far and have learned such a lot from local citizens and partners across the city. We have had some great moments in the first phase of the project and it has been good to see new local enterprises develop.

I am pleased to be able to share the project report which was compiled to celebrate the first 18-months of our work in Birmingham.

Some of the key highlights featured in the report include the Fun Fest event held in October 2019. This was a full day of activities and tasters held at the Queen Alexandra College. It was fantastic to see 120 local people – people, families, professionals – turn out to meet the new local enterprises supported by the project and have a go at short introductory tasters of what they do.

“Creative, encouraging and really enjoyable. Very inclusive – absolutely loved it!”

– Fun Fest participant

The feedback from the event was positive, with 94% of people saying they enjoyed the day and 100% of enterprises finding it useful for promoting their work!

“It was nice to see my son doing activities that were different and to see him enjoying himself”

– Fun Fest participant

Following the success of this event we held the ‘Give it a Go’ taster programme in early 2020. The programme saw 7 local enterprises offer taster sessions in drama, dance, boxercise, a health-based employability programme, yoga, mindful art and gardening. We partnered with local colleges, a day centre, support providers and the Shared Lives scheme to offer these free sessions. 53 people took part, with many attending multiple sessions. Feedback from the day helped enterprise leaders hone their offers – a real example of coproduction in action!

“The session was genuinely inclusive for all our students”

– Joanne (tutor)

The Give it a Go programme led to some great connections being made with 94% of people saying they would like to do the activity again. Some of the sessions in particular filled a real gap and people were keen to see regular sessions take off.

We were just able to complete this programme (all bar the final taster session) before Covid-19 lockdown restrictions came into effect. This has had a huge impact on our local enterprises as all community sessions had to close.

For those who were able to, enterprise leaders have taken what they do online. This has been challenging as well as rewarding and I have been really impressed by the adaptability of the entrepreneurs. Some have even found new customers for whom this format offers a flexible, accessible option that avoids the challenges of transport. And a number of Birmingham enterprises have made videos for The Buzz which has been a great way for them to connect with new audiences.

Looking ahead, the landscape has certainly changed with new challenges as well as opportunities. There is perhaps more need than ever for smaller, local alternative options for people as we tentatively start to reconnect in person. One of the fantastic new opportunities for our project extension is the possibility of working with young adults leaving education as we develop connections with the Council’s new Preparation for Adulthood team.

Enterprise leaders will need to continue to adapt – something they are very good at! – to find appropriate ways of working safely with smaller numbers of people at a time. I’m looking forward to supporting them on this journey as they continue to develop. All of this is working toward our vision of a world where people, wherever they live, can get the help they need to live life their way.

By Zoe Miller Community Enterprise Catalyst (Birmingham)

Further reading:
• Blog: A little colour in Covid times – 6 weeks of The Buzz
More about the Birmingham project

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