Are you trying to solve a problem in Birmingham?

Are you part of a group working to improve your local area? Do you need help cutting through ‘officialdom’?

Come and hear practical examples from two community groups who have successfully sorted out problems they faced in Frankley and Selly Oak at a Birmingham Partners event on 26 January in Stirchley.

Birmingham Partners exists to connect people and networks to make Birmingham a better city. Members of the network will be on hand to provide expert advice.

New council ward boundaries: voice your opinion

The boundaries and names of Birmingham City Council wards are changing – so it’s time to have a say on behalf of your community about what happens in your area of the city.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has produced a new draft ward map after reviewing the current situation and is running a public consultation on this until 8 February.

The commission suggests the council should have 101 city councillors in future, 19 fewer than at present, but these councillors should represent smaller areas and a similar number of electors across the city. Under the proposals there would be 77 wards in all, instead of the current 40.

How to have a say

#BrumBoundaryReview

A warm welcome guaranteed

There is a growing network of venues across the city where local community groups offer a friendly face, a cup of tea and a chat when people need it for at least a few hours a week.

Places of Welcome is an initiative that aims to tackle isolation – something that can kick-start other issues needing professional intervention further down the line.

The network developed out of the Birmingham social inclusion process ‘Giving Hope Changing Lives’, as a response to the question: “Is Birmingham a welcoming city?”

If you’re part of a community group prepared to offer a Place of Welcome in Birmingham, contact Sarah Turner at info@thrivetogetherbham.org to find out more.

Read about the thinking behind Places of Welcome and a list of Birmingham venues already taking part.

Towards Birmingham 2020 district workshops

What will Birmingham City Council look like in 2020?

And what kind of things need to change to get there?

Birmingham City Council needs to change and has less money to spend on services, so the council of 2020 will look very different to the council today.

It needs your help to shape the services our city wants.

The council has already had invaluable conversations with people across the city, in all walks of life, in the five years since budget cuts started to make an impact on the delivery of services.

And over the past few months, the council has looked at its work in detail through its Future Council programme.

At the heart of the new approach that’s emerging will be working locally with community groups. The council needs you to let it know if it is on the right track and to share your own thoughts and experiences.

Councillors and council officers are holding practical workshops in all ten city districts in early November on the council of the future.

Places on the workshops are available on a first come, first served basis. Click on the link below for the workshop you would like to attend and follow the instructions.

For people who have hearing impairment, workshops where a signer will be present are marked* – venues that also have a hearing loop are marked **

4 November 13:30 – 15:00 Summerfield Community Centre*

4 November 18:30 – 20:00 Quinborne Community Centre

5 November 13:30 – 15:00 Ward End Library

6 November 13:30 – 15:00 South Yardley Library

9 November 13:30 – 15:00 Kings Heath Community Centre

9 November 18:30 – 20:00 Alexander Stadium*

11 November 13.30 – 15:00 Sutton Coldfield Town Hall*

11 November 18:30 – 20:00 St Barnabas Church**

12 November 13:30 15:00 Northfield Library

12 November 18:30 – 20:00 Stirchley Baths

Free energy workshop for community groups

Local groups who want to find out more about sustainable energy and local supply and grid issues can take advantage of a free event coming up in January.

Regen SW – an independent, not-for-profit group that works with industry, communities and the public sector to change the way energy is generated, supplied and used – is running the event in Birmingham alongside Western Power Distribution, the electricity distribution network operator for the Midlands.

The event will be a chance for community groups to network and collaborate over energy issues and comes out of Regen SW’s belief that sustainable energy has a vital role in thriving local communities.

Book a place at the 12 January event.

Find out more about Regen SW’s involvement with communities on YouTube.

More funding for This Girl Can projects in Brum

After Birmingham got behind the This Girl Can campaign in a big way earlier this year, Sport England is releasing a new round of funding so city groups can deliver more physical activity and sport sessions for women and girls.

The aim of This Girl Can is to inspire more women and girls to conquer their fear of judgement to participate in sport.

To coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March, Birmingham City Council and Sport Birmingham worked together with local city communities through the #ThisBrumGirlCan Community Grants Scheme and encouraged almost 5,000 women and girls to take part in healthy activities.

City groups can now apply for grants of up to £300 to get a sport or other physical activity up and running in their area – with previously funded groups able to apply again to build on their success. Funding is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Find out more on This Girl Can funding and download an application form.

People power in Birmingham: free events for Democracy Week

As part of Birmingham Democracy Week 2015, Standing Up For Birmingham and ‘think and do tank’ the Chamberlain Forum are hosting two free events exploring how residents can take more control of how the city is run and fully participate in shaping its future.

Civic to Civil: citizens and communities as partners in improving the city is a discussion about how Birmingham and its council can be improved through community involvement. It will look at how the council can better engage with its citizens and the part Birmingham people should play in suggesting and helping with improvements.

A high-profile enquiry chaired by Sir Bob Kerslake last year found that the city council’s engagement with citizens was poor and it wasn’t open and honest enough, that regeneration focused on the city centre with neighbourhoods being neglected, that partnerships with the council haven’t worked and that residents aren’t involved enough with the city’s future plans.

Come along and find out what the council is doing to try to remedy these problems and how civil society – citizens, communities and community networks – can and should be involved in this.

Taking Power Back is a new book by Simon Parker, Director of New Local Government Network (NLGN) – a group of public and private sector organisations united by a belief in innovation and creativity – which will be launched at the second Democracy Week event.

The book explores putting citizens and communities in greater charge of governance and local power, offering practical suggestions and arguing for a new kind of politics that can fully unleash society’s creative potential.

Both events are held on 14 October in the Chamberlain Room, Council House, Victoria Square – the discussion from 5-6.30pm and the book launch from 7-8.30pm.

Book a free place at the Civic to Civil discussion and the Taking Power Back book launch.

Ward boundary changes: last chance for a say

A public consultation on Birmingham’s ward boundaries is wrapping up on 28 September.

Part of a review being undertaken by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, ward boundaries will be re-drawn so they better reflect the shape of city communities. Each ward councillor will represent roughly the same number of voters.

The overall number of councillors in Birmingham may change – the commission has recommended that Birmingham has 100 ward councillors instead of the current 120.

The Boundary Commission wants to hear from a wide range of people and will use the views submitted to come up with final recommendations which it will invite comments on later this year.

Grants available for community safety work

Birmingham Community Safety Partnership, which brings together public sector agencies like Birmingham City Council, police, health and fire service to work towards a safer Birmingham, has a small grants fund that can help local groups take action addressing issues around crime and safety.

The Mobilising Communities Small Grants Fund was set up particularly to encourage applications from community or voluntary groups that prioritise delivering new, locally-based activities or projects – and especially those that encourage new partnership working with other local groups.

Applications for grants between £500 and £5,000 are invited for this financial year. Joint and partnership working between applying organisations is encouraged.

Find out how to apply for the Mobilising Communities Small Grants Fund.