On the 29th of May at the Mount Zion Community Church, The Future Melting Pot attended the 2019 LOUD Conference’s ‘Town Hall Experience’. The event was comprised of a six-person panel debating incredibly important societal issues affecting the community, with a healthy dose of audience participation along with it.
The panel, excellently mediated by Nikki Tapper of BBC WM Radio, included Derrick Campbell, Assistant Police and Crime Commissioner Ashley Bertie, Councillor Sharon Thompson, Ophelia Gayle, Dr Joe Aldred and Bishop Wayne Ballakistan.
The Value of Conversation in the Community
The conversation kicked off with a discussion around community. Specifically, what does community mean to them? Why is it so important? There were a number of salient remarks invoking such key phrases as unity, responsibility, power, and of course, family. However, we particularly liked Ashley Bertie’s observation, that “communities are a rich tapestry of different talents.”
That is why conversations within the community are so important. Events such as this are a great way to bring different skills and talents together and help develop the potential for unifying said talents for a common purpose or goal.
Which Issues Were Debated?
The main body of conversation was formed around three key social issues – homelessness, mental health, and knife crime.
At The Future Melting Pot, we have recently gained a very specific focus on the issue of homelessness and indeed our very own Estella Edwards was given the chance to ask the panel a question on this issue. However, the separate issues of mental health and knife crime are also inherently linked, and we thought it interesting that many of the root causes identified (as well as the solutions offered), were the same for each issue.
What Did We Learn?
The beauty of bringing together so many different people, with different voices informed by different experiences, is that everyone is able to learn something. We felt that the debate raised some really interesting points on what role ‘the church’ can play in an attempt to address these issues, as well as differing viewpoints on where much of the responsibility for resolutions rested.
However, we felt that the most important point that rose from the conference was the need for collaboration and alignment between groups, churches and local authorities within a wider strategy for Birmingham.
The Next Steps
We at The Future Melting Pot are more than willing to defend the value of dialogue, but as one audience member pointed out, dialogue can only get you so far. “Where are we going from this meeting? What are the next steps?” she asked.
This is exactly what we at The Future Melting Pot want to know, and that is why we are hosting our own Homelessness Conference on the 19th of June, which you can register for here.
The aim of this conference is to bring together all the different organizations working to combat homelessness – whether that be local volunteer groups, faith groups, or local authorities – so that we can bring about an alignment of the common practices and formulate a city-wide strategy. We believe that by effectively utilizing the resources we have, and by bringing together the currently unconnected network striving to fight homelessness in the city, we can find a way of successfully addressing this issue.
The Future Melting Pot believes in utilising evidence-based approaches to tackle complex social issues. Homelessness is one of the social issues that we are interested in and we have partnered up with Homeless Rooms Birmingham in recent months.
Homeless Rooms Birmingham was launched on 17th April at the South & City College campus in Digbeth. Homeless Rooms Birmingham consists of a platform which aims to connect homeless room seekers with social landlords. It was launched alongside the Geoff Horsfield Foundation, a foundation launched by Geoff Horsfield, a former footballer.
The event begun with a networking session where attendees mingled with one another. It then continued with a panel consisting of the founders of Homeless Rooms Birmingham, Mark Peters and Lee Blake, Alan Fraser, CEO of YMCA Birmingham, and Geoff Horsfield, founder of The Geoff Horsfield Foundation.
The team at The Future Melting Pot has worked tirelessly to make the launch event a success. We have published a social impact report about the Homeless Rooms Birmingham platform as well as set up a fundraising page.
In March of this year (2018), the Birmingham Mail published an interview with Tracey Patterson of Birmingham’s Homeless Support Team (BHST). Tracey observed that 2018 has been ‘the worse year yet’ in terms of rough sleeping (link to the article here: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/homelessness-worst-ever-been-birmingham-14437159).
What is also notable is that Tracey had ‘never seen so many young people on the streets’ as well. BHST, which Tracey set up alongside her husband Barrington, are a local charity which give out emergency supplies of essentials to rough sleepers in the city. Organisations such as BHST are at the front-line of the city’s homelessness crisis, and are some of the best placed people to give early warning to statutory organisations and wider society. At The Future Melting Pot, we are always eager to gather information from sources that work face-to-face with homeless people. Our forthcoming research project on will centre the experiences of young homeless people themselves and those who interact with them most closely. This is arguably the best way to ensure that policy reflects peoples’ lived experiences.
Organisations such as BHST should be applauded for the work they do, often without the recognition or funding of larger charities. They are on twitter @BhamHST
Photo Credit: Birmingham Post
Road collisions affect more than just the victims
Our vision is to reduce road traffic collisions involving young people aged 16 – 24 in the West Midlands.
Our mission is to inspire 16-24 year olds to take action and change their attitude towards driving.
Our plan is to create specific targeted prevention programmes shaped by young people and their communities.
To find out more, please click here to visit the dedicated #HaltHeartache website!
The youth of today are characterised as work-shy and unmotivated for true work. We vote the least, work the least and yet we are the most highly educated and literally possess the ideas of tomorrow. Speaking as a member of this generation, the mindset that “we possess degrees no one sees as useful and no actual experience” is like a fury that never ceases. It is a down-heartening message, but the truth is so uplifting; and we can prove it. We haven’t quit. We face the pain of a depression we have no responsibility for and yet we continue to work in all forms.
Action research done by TFMP has shown a consistent pattern from university students, to school leavers, to the disenfranchised of Shard End and Washwood Heath. Each interview, a slice of a struggle generations wide, shows freelance, cash in hand and charity work by the dozen. Each one characterised themselves as unemployed, unable to contribute and useless; the truth is the opposite. This is the message drummed in from a million different sources and not one of them on the ground. The interviews, the meetings, the relationships, tell a whole other story. The generation burns with the Blitz Spirit to work no matter how informal, how unorthodox. If it supports, if it helps, we are there powering on to survive until our time in the sun comes.
There is a long way to go: the economic wasteland is most real for the 16% of those not protected in education or employment. But the fight hasn’t ceased. The pride I feel to be part of a generation where we fight even when we think we have lost is overwhelming. The one prediction for the future is when the clouds clear and the walls stop rattling this Youth of the Blitz Spirit will show a dedication that will lead the next boom. It is only those who quit, who fail.
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