There are many are many exciting dates in the BCS diary each year. But the BCS Annual General Meeting is one we always relish. Not only does it give is an opportunity to reconnect with our seasoned members. But it always gives us an opportunity to officially welcome our new members and to showcase all our amazing, projects, collaborations’ and progression across the city. Doing our best to make Birmingham even more brilliant than the second city already is.  

Deutsche Bank, hosted our event and what a great opportunity it was to connect with them after all the Deutsche Bank’s Green Team’s brilliant work with Birmingham Trees for Life concluded in March 2022.  

The room was buzzing with exciting conversation’s, we a had a lot to catch up on as for some of us this was the first time we had reconnected since Covid – it felt good!  

Michael Butler Chairman our chairman outlined a clear mandate with three important themes that BCS will embrace moving forwards, inclusion growth and partnership. In a richly creative and industrious city with a legacy of commitment to positive change, a city that welcomes the talents of everyone – whoever you are and wherever you come from these are exciting times to be a BCS member. 

And along with the current members and trustees BCS pledges to support the induction of the next generation of civic leaders for the next 100 -years.  

Michael outlined what a privilege it is to oversee a new generation of volunteers and oversee our five committees, Citizenship, Heritage, Trees, Planning and Public Art progress and grow.  

Citizenship –  

The Next Generation Awards run by Jo Dunlop supported by 10-15 charities each year showcases the entrepreneurial skills from students in secondary schools, developing and running a simple business venture that benefit the local community. The NGA’s are in their 18th year. With 20 schools taking part across Birmingham each year in the 11-14 age group. This year the wining school was King Edward VI Balaam Wood Academy’ s Re-Uniform idea. Their forward thinking was way head of the current cost of living crisis in the summer of 2022 when there was and is a need in their community for more affordable school uniforms as they understood how families in one of the most deprived areas of Birmingham struggled with the cost of secondary school uniform. Also taking on the issue of sustainability and understanding how we must reduce landfill. Pupils will collect worn donated uniform. Repair it, clean it, iron it and represent it as uniform more than fit for another school pupil. Designing marketing plans, a call out for unwanted uniform, a fashion show, a uniform shop and honing their skills in art, business, textiles, the media and marketing. Training new students to take over the management of the scheme each year so that it can benefit pupils year after year.  

With the support of Newman University donating the £1500 prize money and mentors to guide the students through their journey, we see a seed of an idea, grow into a sustainable business model that in time becomes part of the school legacy and a long-term community programme. A programme of nurturing and supporting the business leaders, creative thinkers and philanthropists of tomorrow.  

Birmingham Trees for Life –  

After 16-years, 100,000 trees planted, working with thousands of school children and thousands of volunteers, educating us about the importance of trees, changing tree policy, including the Urban Forest Master Plan, contributing to Birmingham being awarded Tree City of the World, filling thousands of holes at over 370 tree planting events with beautiful trees and creating woodlands all over Birmingham. Working with 17-charities, comedian, Joe Lycett, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Deutsche Bank. 

   

Where four core trustees have volunteered again and again, in all weathers to support the programme and make a huge difference to the green legacy of Birmingham. Not only that it was a moment to honour one of the big names at BTfL, Jane Harding, for all her hard work as Project Manager for over 12-years awarding her a silver medal for her outstanding service to BTfL.  But Geoff Cole and Sue Griffith were awarded silver tree buckets from the Queens Green Canopy Tree that stood outside Buckingham palace during the Platinum Jubilee a great honour for such amazing achievements.  

Now BTfL has handed the green gauntlet over to Birmingham Tree People, a charity, protecting, promoting and planting trees across Birmingham, training volunteer tree wardens to care for trees, plant trees, count trees, map trees and celebrate trees and planting trees where they are needed the most. Continuing the green revolution and increasing tree canopy cover all over Birmingham by working with school, businesses, residents’ and BCC.  

Public Art –  

In its 20th year this committee understands the value of Birmingham’s public art as part of its legacy and civic pride and seeks to protect and enhance art works in the public realm and to work with partners across the city, to ensure it is a valued as part of our heritage and future prosperity, Chairman, of the Civic society’s Public Art Committee, Alexander Mahrra is an art director at ArtFromAandK and a former graffiti artist believes public art should involve the younger generation in new ways which led to him beginning Grandbabs, an intergenerational project aimed at 18-24-year-olds form marginalised communities.  

This is an on-going community project working with residents in a retirement village and filmed up to 120 residents engaging with young people on themes such as the police, environment and mental health. Through portraits and paintings and how art can make a difference, how it can be mutually beneficial and how it can impact positively and lead to important conversations across generations, aiding understanding, reducing isolation, celebrating togetherness and breaking down boundaries. Expanding the project to ensure public art is maintained and preserved in the city and ensuring young people are immersed in public art and recognise its importance. Going forward when discussing the future of public art BCS will involve everyone from everywhere as every voice is as important as the next.  

   

Planning –  

Matt Vaughan, trustee of the planning committee takes a balanced view of planning in Birmingham. The committee provides fair and constructive planning advice, promoting sustainable development and high-quality design. Acting as a critical friend to developers, local authority and communities and support communities in planning matters which raise concern.  

Ensuring Birmingham’s voice is always heard and the best results are achieved for the city. Matt says, ‘We work towards the time when BCC will consult with BCS. We choose our projects wisely and encourage a wide and varied demographic of skills and professions to join us in the committee. We are investing in public debate, which is a relatively new way of working for BCS. Our first public debate was about the redevelopment of the brutalist architecture of Queensway. 80 people attended the debate on the future of the building, the public response was passionate and animated and we will be hoping for more of these discussion groups. The renaissance awards gives individuals a voice to vote for their favourite conservation project in the city of a building, public space or structure. The votes will open again soon and we welcome your input to show us the hidden gems you feel deserve to be recognised.
 

Heritage –  

Chris, Adamson, chair of Heritage Committee highlighted the great work done this year in honouring blue plaques dedicated to Tony de Vit, progressive hard house DJ, The Rum Runner club, home to the New Romantic movement and the one of the most famous pop bands in the world, Duran Duran. The most recent blue plaques awarded George Daeson and Samuel Timmins, pioneers and scholars who developed the Shakespeare Memorial Library, now presiding on the 9th floor of the Library of Birmingham. A plaque dedicated to John Middlemore and the Emigration Homes he opened in Highgate over 150-years ago. The plaque stands as an extraordinary Commonwealth connection, a significant part of Birmingham’s heritage. The leaflet launched in March celebrating a trail of important female figures in the history and heritage of the city, including, the Suffragettes, Victoria Wood, Louisa Ryland, Malala Yousafzai and Edith Willis as well as many more amazing women that have shaped our history and empowered generations of people, working with Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid, William A Cadbury Charitable Trust and the lottery Heritage fund.   

   

To mark the Alexander Stadium’s £72 million redevelopment a blue plaque was installed at the stadium to acknowledge Willaim Alexander’s contribution to athletics in the city and the Birchfield Harriers and with special thanks to Irene do Boo and Penny Colbourne for all the work they do for the heritage committee.  

There are so may amazing things we have already achieved, with so many more projects we are working on for the future. All of these things are achieved by volunteers, whose passion, hard work and love of this great city and its citizens is apparent with every venture BCS undertake and we have a lot to thank them for. But these changes and improvements and support only happen because of people and we need more people – people like you reading this blog right now. Who can bring skills, experience, passion, innovation and joy to a charity that really makes a difference to everyone in the city.  

So, join us and become a BCS member, get involved help us make the changes to be even more progressive, diverse, creative, forward-thinking and pragmatic.  

Be part of the legacy that builds on a better Birmingham every day – it’s been a great journey so far, so lets make it even better – together!  

For more details email – info@birminghamcivicsociety.org.uk  

Or click the link https://www.birminghamcivicsociety.org.uk/why-you-should-join-the-civic-society/