Hundreds of people came together in Sutton Coldfield and Erdington at the weekend to celebrate their community at five events funded by the National Lottery, thanks to a new partnership between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
The events took place during the first Mayor’s Community Weekend (Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July 2018), with people getting together at local celebrations to make new memories and share experiences. They were awarded a share of more than £55,000 of National Lottery funding, after groups were invited to apply for grants of up to £500 to celebrate community spirit at events.
Midland Mencap held free sports activities at Clifton Road Outdoor Centre on Saturday for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, as well as the wider community. People enjoyed taking part in archery, cycling, football, hockey and swimming.
Pam Johnson, Operations Manager at Midland Mencap, said:
“We’ve been so excited to hold this event and showcase the beneficial services we provide to people with learning disabilities. It was great to see whole families taking part in activities together and having fun. Our £500 National Lottery grant helped us to buy children’s balance bikes for the first time, as well as other sports equipment, which we can use again and again. This was the first event we’ve held from this venue next to Sutton Park and we’re sure it’s not the last.”
Age Concern Birmingham in Boldmere hosted a 1940s style tea dance to celebrate Armed Forces Day on Saturday in their ‘communitea café’ for local older people who may be experiencing isolation and loneliness. There was a live singer, war memorabilia and lots of cake.
Dawn McCarthy, Commercial Operations Manager at Age Concern Birmingham, said:
“Our café has become a real part of the community and we wanted to get people together to celebrate this. It’s a space open to everyone, young or old, to socialise and meet new people. A group of veterans, who loved the event, gather here weekly and they’ve become a really close knit group of friends. This was the first of event if its kind we’ve held in the café and we’d love to continue to host more.”
St Martin’s Social Care Project helped to organise a community barbecue at Archers Close Community Garden, where around 80 neighbours enjoyed food and laughter in the sunshine.
Since 2016, local resident, Peter Horton, 70, has transformed a piece of derelict land into a garden of flowers and vegetables.
“I really wanted to create this space into something positive and after recently completing a barbecue area made of recycled materials, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to bring local people together to celebrate its transformation. This event has really raised the profile of the garden, with many people visiting it for the first time. It’s a great area for people to come along and have a chat, do some gardening and benefit from fresh rhubarb, herbs and potatoes. I’m so pleased with the event’s turn out and it was so rewarding seeing people enjoy the garden.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said:
“Community groups across the region have been fantastic in getting involved to make this first Mayor’s Community Weekend a real success. It’s been brilliant to get out and about to see such a variety of different events taking place right across the region, celebrating the great community spirit we have here in the West Midlands. Thank you to everybody who put on events, thank you to the Big Lottery Fund and their National Lottery funding and I hope to see more events like this happening in the future.”
James Harcourt, England Grant-Making Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said:
“It’s been brilliant seeing people across Sutton Coldfield come together to celebrate their community. These events were fantastic ways to connect neighbours who live side by side every day to share experiences and make new memories. Thanks to National Lottery players, it’s been a memorable weekend which we hope will inspire people to do more together in the future.”
The Big Lottery Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. In 2016/17, it awarded £64 million to the West Midlands to fund bright ideas, big or small. 90% of the grants it makes are for under £10,000.
Visit www.wmca.org.uk/mcw to find out more about the Mayor’s Community Weekend.