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  • Writer's pictureThe Faith and Belief Forum

Awards Spotlight - Brownhills Community Association

Introducing Brownhills Community Association.

Community Associations play a vital role in supporting people across Walsall. The programmes and services found at each Community Association are varied and often bespoke to respond to the local need. These centres and their dedicated staff are pillars of their local communities and provide invaluable support. Community associations have, in particular, been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to the needs of the community through food parcels, befriending and deliveries (and much more), reaching out to the most vulnerable and creating positive impact.

Why do you love what you do? It is hard to pinpoint just one thing about why I love what I do. On a day-to-day basis, we meet with members of the community from different backgrounds who feel they want to help others by volunteering, whether that is with befriending calls, donating food, or delivering books and pick-me-ups. We then meet with members of the community who need support. I love what I do because, to a degree, we can offer that support, or I can certainly signpost them to another organisation who can. I believe it would be hard to find a job which is as rewarding as working in the community.

What is your proudest moment from the work you’ve done in your community? We worked with 13 other community groups to launch a 'Neighbourhood Natters' project – thanks to funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. This project helps to reach members of the community who are feeling lonely and isolated. We offer them food parcels, boredom busters, pick-me-ups, books, befriending calls and much more. I am proud to be involved with this work and I think working in partnership with other community groups in Walsall (Walsall Community Network) will make a huge impact on mental wellbeing for many in the community.

The Awards are about bringing people together, can you tell us about some of the great things that are happening to bring people together in your sector/community/Walsall? I’m conscious that I am being a little repetitive, but I do think that the 13 community groups coming together to help those in our communities is a huge achievement. We all offer slightly different services; we all target varied members of the community. When we work together as a network, we can offer so much more to so many more people. We are also part of the Faith and Belief Forum’s Community Dialogue programme, as part of the project members of the community come together to chat about their experiences – encouraging people from different backgrounds to talk is brilliant, it helps us understand what is going on in the community and how different people are being affected by the pandemic.

Can you tell us about an individual/organisation in Walsall/nationally/globally that you admire and why? I absolutely admire the great work that the volunteers at The Lamp Food Bank (run by St James Church) are doing including Allan Boot, Melissa Harris, Tracey Taundry, Stacey Morris, Elizabeth Corbett, Rebecca Southall and Carn Painter to name just a few. They work tirelessly to ensure they are reaching out to members of the community who need them most. Recently we had a member of the community who was asking for a food parcel outside the food bank opening times, I called Mellissa Harris and despite her being on holiday, she arranged for someone to open up the food bank to help the individual who needed support. The Lamp Food Bank is the first food bank to be set up in a community centre. Melissa works hard at St James Church pulling all the volunteers together.

Can you share something that you have learnt during the pandemic? I have learnt that it is very easy to get caught up in work and the busyness of life - we do not make time to talk to others. The pandemic has taught us all to value time with others, to talk openly about how we are feeling and to be kind. From the examples I mentioned previously, I truly feel that we will get through this pandemic quicker by working together. Please support your neighbours and your community.


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