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.