Stuart Ashmore

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Sandwell MBC is recruiting for two Community Development Workers

Sandwell Council has established a pilot to transform local services using a community development approach, developing community lead projects in partnership with the voluntary sector aligned to Vision 2030, the council’s strategic objectives and local town priorities.

We are seeking two experienced community development workers to join our Community Partnerships Team, delivering an ‘Asset Based Community Development’ approach.  You will play a key role in developing partnerships and engagement activity, building sustainable relationships with communities across Sandwell. With the ability to empower and motivate others, you will work closely with local voluntary sector organisations, coproducing projects to support local identified needs, building strong, effective relationships with communities and partner organisations, promoting a community development approach.

You must be a strong team player and an excellent communicator, who has experience of community development work.

Applications close 15th March 2021 or as soon as sufficient applications are received. Therefore, you are strongly advised to complete and return your application as soon as possible.

Find out more, including how to apply, by clicking HERE.

If you have a disability and require assistance in making an application, or have experienced a problem whilst applying for a position, please contact the Resourcing Team on 0121 569 3300 or via e-mail to:

Up to £15k offered for innovative ideas to help boost West Midlands communities

Residents, community organisations and businesses with innovative ideas to help local areas recover from the effects of the pandemic are being offered the chance to win funding and support of up to £15,000.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is introducing a new ‘Dragons’ Den’ style competition for anyone with a new idea which will help local communities build back better.

Called the Community Recovery Innovation Challenge, 20 prizes worth £500 are available for the best ideas along with an invitation to an innovation masterclass. In addition, the top three chosen will receive bespoke support valued up to £15,000 each, to help them take their project to the next stage of development.

As well as funding, owners of the successful bids will receive support and coaching in how to further develop their project and turn their idea into reality.

Projects should address at least one of 12 categories including debt, domestic violence, mental health and support for grassroots culture, art and sport. Proposals must be presented in the form of a short film and / or summary document giving a brief overview of the community, how COVID-19 has impacted it and how their idea will address the problem. Competition entries should include a rough outline of how any funds would be used.

Entries should be submitted by midday on 21 March 2021. To find out more visit

What is ‘Tactical Urbanism’ and how could it be used in Sandwell?

Join us for a special virtual workshop that looks at how tactical urbanism, which is a form of low cost urban planning, can be a resource to connect with where we live and us as citizens post covid-19 pandemic. We will go into detail about what it is, how we can practically use it, what is good practice, alongside a series of practical and participative activities that help us to identify citizen-led opportunities and new project ideas.

Now is the time for tactical urbanism!

The Covid-19 Pandemic has deprived us all of access to the public spaces that were once a normal part of our daily lives. It’s fair to say many of us now see these places in a new light. Being stuck inside all day has made us realise how important they actually are to our health and wellbeing.

Now is the perfect time to come together as communities, reconnect with our places and push to improve them. After what we’ve been through, we all deserve our neighbourhoods to be better than they ever were.

Tactical urbanism is a form of placemaking that includes low-cost, temporary changes to the built environment, usually instigated by community activists. It is almost always a grassroots initiative, basically taking a place that could seem a bit rundown or underused, and doing something exciting to utilize or renovate the space. For example, turning an unused pathway into a small garden or cycle lane; creating pop-up eatery places or street food events; or turning an abandoned green space into a public park.

Our Workshop

Sandwell Council has collaborated with New Union to offer this FREE ‘Tactical Urbanism’ workshop, as part of their Rethink Re:Place Festival. The festival will take place between 22nd-28th February 2021. It will celebrate all things tactical urbanism and seeks to make it user-friendly and accessible. It hopes to inspire and empower people to change their neighbourhoods for the better in the wake of Covid-19.

The festival will feature virtual workshops, blogs, interviews with interesting placemakers and activists, and even a policy hackathon. We would love to invite you to sign up to take part in a special workshop for Sandwell Council, at 1pm-2:30pm, Wednesday 24th, which will take place on Zoom (you will be sent a link).

What will the workshop cover?

The workshop will make use of New Union’s Community-focused Tactical Urbanism Toolkit and will cover the following:

● What tactical urbanism is in easy to understand language.

● How tactical urbanism relates to placemaking more generally.

● How tactical urbanism can be used to bring people together.

● How tactical urbanism can be used as a storytelling activity for communities.

● Examples of inspiring tactical urbanism projects from around the world, including those that have effectively used storytelling.

As well as providing this information, the workshop will feature 3 interactive group activities designed to get participants talking about their community places and the changes they would like to see in them, and to inspire ideas for implementing tactical urbanism in your community. These will cover the following:

● What makes our community unique?

● Placemaking on a budget

● Community cohesion

Why should you take part?

“How do you think tactical urbanism could be used to improve Sandwell?” This could be an excellent opportunity to share your ideas and receive some feedback from others. This could even help you to get the ball rolling on your own tactical urbanism project in our borough.

The workshop is ultimately designed to be used as a tool to engage residents from the local community in discussions around placemaking in their area. So, taking part could provide some useful activities that you could then implement in your own community-based workshops going forward.

“Are you ready to sign up and take part?” Register your interest by signing up via Eventbrite, here:

(Blog written by Alex Robinson of New Union)

University of Birmingham Professional Skills placements

What is the College of Arts and Law Professional Skills Module?
This autumn semester module enables Arts and Humanities students at the University of Birmingham to undertake a work experience placement as part of their degree. The aim is to develop their professional skills and confidence, enhance their employability and to explore a potential career.

How will it benefit your organisation?

  • A student can provide extra capacity, perhaps working on a project you may not have otherwise been able to fulfil.
  • They can contribute creativity, energy and a fresh perspective, and help with strategies for engaging young people.
  • Through their studies they have developed a range of skills that can benefit you, such as research, persuasive communication and organisation.
  • This module typically attracts driven, ambitious and inquiring students, keen to enhance their commercial awareness, sector knowledge and career focus.
  • Employers often ‘reboot’ their processes based on ideas or innovations from placement students.

How does it work?

  • Students must complete a minimum 70 hours (10 days) of work between June and December; often students become so invested in their placements they continue volunteering beyond the conclusion.
  • Organisations can offer full-time or part-time placements in summer and/or part-time placements during the autumn term (Oct-Dec) and can offer one or more projects/roles.

The Covid crisis prompted an urgent rethink in our approach to placements and we were fortunate in partnering with many organisations who seized the opportunity.

How do Virtual Placements work?

  • Students undertake placement project work from their homes and you provide recruitment, induction briefings, and regular supervision remotely, via video platforms, phone calls and emails. You don’t have to organise desk space, subsidise travel costs, or even be in your office when they are working.

What next?
If you are interested in offering a placement in 2021 and would like to explore the possibilities further, please email Lesley Griffiths, Placements Officer, on to arrange a meeting or phone conversation.

‘Strengthening the Sandwell Economy’ – invitation to a Community Conversation

Business in the Community (BITC) and Midland Metro Alliance would be delighted if you could join us for a virtual ‘Community Conversation’ where we will explore how people from all sectors can support the recovery and rebuilding of the Sandwell economy. We believe that resilient communities are made up of collaborative partnerships that are willing to work together and build on local knowledge resulting in long term change.

A Community Conversation is a cross-sector networking event enabling fruitful conversations between business, the voluntary sector and local government. They explore, how everyone working together can build a healthier community.

A key outcome from a Community Conversation is a commitment amongst participants to continue to work together and agree on collaborative actions that can make a real difference in a place.

We want all participants to share their knowledge and perspectives in order to address local needs, we want to draw on the strengths of everyone in a place

BITC will assess actions / pledges / offers after the event and plan for further action.

This Community Conversation will focus on the benefits of improved connectivity with areas of opportunity and major employment sites. To complement this, we would like to explore wider social and environmental issues that all three sectors can address in a collaborative fashion.

In session two, local community organisations have been invited to present a current challenge or idea.

In light of restrictions brought about by Covid-19, we will now be delivering this community conversation as two virtual sessions.

Outline of session one – 24th February, 10:30am click here to register for session one
• Welcome and overview – Business in the Community
• Opening speakers – Midland Metro Alliance and Sandwell Council
• Working together to ‘Build Back’
• Cross sector breakout rooms
• Report back and wrap up
• Close

Outline of session two – 10th March, 10:30am click here to register for session two
• Welcome back and recap from previous session – Business in the Community
• Local Community Presentations x 3 – presenting priorities / opportunities for engagement
• Q & A
• Cross sector breakout rooms
• Report back and actions
• Wrap up / close

The break-out sessions are designed to discuss challenges and ideas and workshop collaborative solutions as a group. This will provide an opportunity for participants to work as part of a cross-sector team, sharing their knowledge to provide real support to local communities.

For questions, please contact Kelly Stackhouse: email – or call – 07921 493274.

You will need access to Zoom to attend this meeting, please click on the links for both sessions above to book your place.

Online Training from West Midlands Combined Authority

As part of West Midlands Combined Authority’s ongoing work with faith and community groups supporting individuals who either are or at risk of rough sleeping, the following free online training is available for groups to access. Places are limited and available on a first come first served basis.


For more details or to request a place on any of the following please contact James Walker at or on 07766 441424.

17:30 – 19:30 Thursday 21st January – Impact Measurement – Directory of Social Change

17:30 – 19:30 Thursday 28th January – Assisting Non-UK Nationals – National Homelessness Advice Service

17:30 – 19:30 Thursday 4th March and Thursday 18th March – Psychologically Informed Environments, Trauma Informed Care and Strengths Based Approach – No One Left Out



Community Buildings and Lockdown 2020 Experiences – Report

“How many of us had “pandemic” in our risk register?” is the question posed (and answered) in a new report compiled by Community Matters (providing support to the voluntary and community sector across Yorkshire).

‘Community spaces (buildings)’ meet a wide range of needs – from learning opportunities to gardening programmes, from hosting birthday parties to voting in local elections … and everything in between. They are an integral part of our society.

The first lockdown in 2020 hit everyone extremely hard – we were confined to our homes and such ‘community spaces’ were only allowed to open to provide essential support – foodbanks, pre-schooling for the children of emergency workers etc. It is, therefore, no surprise that such ‘spaces’ have felt the significant impact of the lockdown, still are doing and will do for some time to come.

So, how are such ‘spaces’ able to play their part in the post-COVID recovery when they have seen their trading incomes decimated but local needs hugely increased?

The report sets out to look at these issues and you can request your copy by following this link: Community Buildings Report

Free Employability Workshop with University of Wales Trinity Saint David

At the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) we understand that Coronavirus has resulted in an increasingly difficult job market, even more so for those who have not written a CV or attended an interview in a considerable amount of time.

We would love to extend our support to the wider community by offering a CV Writing/Interview Skills workshop, delivered by our Professional Careers Team at the university, via an online platform.

If this is something of interest to your organisation (which you feel would be of benefit to those in the community that you are supporting), please contact Sunita Mehta, Recruitment Officer, at

Do you want to be a voice for issues that matter?

Do you want to be a voice for issues that matter? To make change and empower your community? If so then Advocacy may be the course for you!

Advocacy is taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need. Social policy and service provision is at a turning point, and the debate has highlighted the need for professionals who are able to appreciate the constant change and reconstruction that social policy goes through.

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has a Learning Centre, right here in Sparkhill, where you can get started on our BA Advocacy course and learn about these changes, and the valuable contribution from those who come from different value positions, and social, cultural and economic backgrounds. At UWTSD, we can give students the knowledge and understanding to help themselves, individuals, and communities to gain a voice in their own lives – as well as an increasingly recognised qualification which can help them on their future chosen path whether it be a career, further study or giving their community a voice!

With only 12 hours per week required, the course is accessible to everyone. You don’t need qualifications, just a strong commitment to advocacy.

Find out more at or contact for more information.

Ovacome is launching its Multilingual Awareness Campaign.

Ovarian cancer charity Ovacome is launching the first multilingual awareness campaign in the West Midlands outlining the symptoms of the disease — which is characterised by bloating — in seven languages.

The campaign, running from November 18th, is aimed at reaching at least 40,000 people across the region from diverse communities, with printed material, press coverage and short educational videos which can be shared on social media.

Leaflets from the charity, which opened a hub in Dudley last year, will start appearing in medical centres and other public spaces across the region in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Urdu and English.

And for those people who do not have English as their first or preferred language, Ovacome has set up phone lines in each of these languages, in a bid to support as well as to reach out to more diverse groups with the symptoms message.

With many of the symptoms of ovarian cancer being in common with less serious conditions, they are often easy to dismiss, says Ovacome. It has come up with the easy to remember BEAT acronym of the main signs of what to look out for:

B is for bloating that doesn’t come and go; E is for eating difficulty and feeling full more quickly; A is for abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days and T is for toilet changes, in urination or bowel habits.

If you have these symptoms chances are that you will not have ovarian cancer, but it is worth getting checked out by your GP if they are new and persistent.

This is the central message of the campaign — made possible by an £86,485 grant from the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund. It comes at a crucial time in cancer diagnosis, with the pandemic causing many people to delay getting symptoms checked out, says the charity.

“We want to get the message out there loud and clear, in seven languages, that if you have persistent bloating, or any of the other main symptoms don’t put off contacting your GP”, says Ovacome’s West Midlands regional hub co-ordinator Laura Nott.

“The smear test will not pick up the disease and so it is for us all to be aware of changes to our body and not be too ready to brush off any abdominal changes as being nothing to worry about,” she adds.

Laura is also keen to hear from local partnership organisations and people in the NHS who might want to share the charity’s multi-language resources, even if they are outside of the West Midlands.

“We recognise that we are in a unique position to have this invaluable awareness material in so many languages and of course we want to make the most of this for the wider good,” says Laura.

The campaign has been welcomed by Ameena Muflihi, community officer of the Yemeni Community Association in Sandwell, who helped Ovacome put together the film and leaflet in Arabic.

“What this is doing is putting out a friendly hand and saying that ‘we are here for you in the language that you feel most comfortable communicating in’,” says Ameena. “Medical material can be overwhelming, but this content is in laymen’s terms and will build the bridge between the barriers of language. Being able to sit and listen to a video in your own language will make the information easier to process and could make all the difference between somebody getting symptoms checked out or not.”

  • If you would like to get in touch with Laura contact
  • The support line telephone numbers ask callers to leave their name and contact details and information of what support they need and Ovacome will arrange to return their call with an interpreter.

The numbers are:

Arabic – 0121 647 6630

Bengali – 0121 647 6631

Gujarati – 0121 647 6632

Polish – 0121 647 6633

Punjabi – 0121 647 6634

Urdu – 0121 647 6635

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