Erdington Covid-19 Task Force partners have been running activities to celebrate Volunteers Week 2021.
Bosses at the Pioneer Group co-ordinated a tour of Stockland Green to showcase the impact volunteers have had on life in the community over the past 12 months.
Here, Ifor Jones, Head of Partnerships at Pioneer, reflects on the day.
For our allotted day we decided to hit the volunteer trail in 3 spots in Stockland Green. First, Highcroft Community Centre followed by George Road Alleyway and the Gulley Creatives and finally Brookvale Park. We would have included the Methodist Church which is also a hub of volunteering activity but as it was half term there was no activity on our day.
We had two trestle tables set up on a beautiful Wednesday morning one for Highcroft Committee and one for Stockland Green Brownies.
Highcroft centre is an open access community centre at the heart of Stockland Green with a long-term lease from the City Council. It is run entirely by volunteers and managed by their centre worker, Maxine Mc Nair. They are currently looking for volunteer Committee members including a secretary and treasurer. If anyone is interested contact Maxine at email@example.com.
For the Brownies we had two of their volunteer veterans: Gillie Adams and Alice Adkins. We explored what being a Brownie volunteer means. With over 50 years between them Gillie, and Alice have worked with hundreds of girls in Stockland Green and Aston during this time. Being a Brownie adult leader (Brown Owl) entails running a weekly session and planning and prep for this in advance together with occasional weekend trips and events. Gillie and Alice between them will have put on around 2,500 sessions alone.
We explored what it means to be a Brownie. For them it was about teaching girls about leadership, taking responsibility whilst having fun. They recognised that some of their girls have been and continue to be from challenging areas but that has not seemed to make a difference to the popularity of their sessions in terms of numbers who attend and the outcomes for the girls in the long run who may progress to the guides and are likely to benefit from the sessions in terms of their schooling and wider education. Both Gillie and Alice were keen to mention their Brown Owl, Linda Horton who has been a volunteer for 46 years!
Gulley Street Creatives
We visited next the alleyway off George Road next to the incredible Brookvale Park and met up with Vicky one of the driving volunteers who have turned your typical neglected back alleyway into an Oasis of tidied up, greened up and creativity. Over 12 months Vicky and four other volunteers have worked tirelessly and with imagination and a sprinkling of surreal humour to clean and green up this alleyway – yes there are brightly coloured teapots hanging from the trees! Other features include mini gardens growing vegetables. For 2021 we were told that through the hops been grown there will be a beer brewed.
George Road alleyway is one of many alleyways crisscrossing streets west of Slade Road in the heart of Stockland Green. Each have their own volunteer crews and are doing similar cleaning and greening with their own stamp. Through Stockland Green Action Group, they all come together and share their endeavours as well as campaign and engage with the horrendous situation with HMOS and exempt providers working with landlords, housing associations and vulnerable residents.
The third part of our volunteer trail was to Brookvale Park where we were updated on the volunteer efforts there by Mary Kennedy from Kingstanding Regeneration Trust (KRT). KRT now have a base within Brookvale Park and are supporting the Friends of Brookvale Park. They have begun to build a volunteer base that supports both the Friends and Trust in taking forward their plans for Brookvale Park; indeed, both organisations and just today, have been awarded the Queens Award for Volunteering.
Current volunteer activities
- Regular litter picks
- Touch rugby sessions every Wednesday
- Young people on KRT’s NEET work programme.
Future Opportunities – to be led by volunteers.
- Walking football
- Tai Chi
- Hospitality training in the community cafe (soon to be built within the park)
- Community events
- Opportunities for former tradesmen (like Men’s Shed project)
- Walking group
- Art Group