What are we noticing?

In the coming weeks we’re hoping to create a space where local people in Firs & Bromford and the wider Hodge Hill area can share what you’re noticing about your neighbourhood in these strange and challenging times – what’s good, what you’re missing, and what we might be able to build on, together, after ‘lockdown’ has ended.

At the moment we’re trying to work out the easiest way to enable as many people as possible to part of this ‘gathering’ process. We’re experimenting with new technology, including an app called ‘padlet’. It should be possible to click on the panel below and add your own comments – as text, picture, sound or video – using the ‘+’ buttons. Do please have a go – and watch this space: we hope to launch the proper site very soon!

Made with Padlet

Together We Can! East Birmingham estate multiplying its connections


The Firs and Bromford estate in east Birmingham is benefitting from an extra £375,000 of investment over the next three years, thanks to a ‘Reaching Communities’ grant from the Big Lottery. Added to funding through local residents group Firs & Bromford Neighbours Together, the estate will see almost half a million pounds invested in ‘Together We Can!’, a project which will take the already well-established community-building work in the area to the next level. ‘Together We Can!’ will employ four full-time workers to bring together young people and adults from the estate, across its diverse cultures and backgrounds, to grow existing community projects, to start new groups and activities, and to engage more and more local people in relationships with their neighbours.

Instead of focusing negatively on the ‘challenges’ of the area, the work of residents on Firs and Bromford has deliberately taken a more positive approach, seeking out local people with passions, skills and talents, and supporting them to share them with their neighbours. One of the outstanding successes of the area over the last few years has been the development and growth of the Bromford Theatre Group, which now puts on an annual Christmas Panto and many other events each year, drawing in local people who have shared their ‘behind the scenes’ talents for costume-making, set design and catering, as well as acting ‘centre-stage’. ‘Together We Can!’ is building on that great work and, through door-knocking and drop-ins, street events and intergenerational social action projects, along with more intensive 1-to-1 mentoring and support, will help more and more local people to grow in confidence, skills and connections in their neighbourhood and beyond.

Chair of Firs & Bromford Neighbours Together, Florence Parkes, said: ‘This is such an exciting new stage in the life of our neighbourhood. It’s not just about the money – it’s about building a growing, thriving community here. None of us can do it on our own, but we’re saying: “Together We Can!”’

‘Together We Can!’ is a partnership project between Firs & Bromford Neighbours Together (the local residents group administering the Big Lottery’s 10-year ‘Big Local’ investment in the neighbourhood), Worth Unlimited (a locally-rooted youth work charity) and Open Door Community Foundation (a community-building charity that was set up locally last year, out of the work of the local church).


Editors note:

For more information, contact Florence Parkes (Chair, FBNT), 07773 659718, or Revd Al Barrett (Open Door Community Foundation), 07738 119210.

The Core Values of Open Door

We are passionate about our core value. They are what make us who we are and help us discern what we do!


We take an intentional approach in all our work which:

  • is local neighbourhood focused
  • is ‘bottom-up’ and asset-based
  • is holistic, or ‘ecological’, in relation to both people and neighbourhoods
  • is relational, mutual and ‘co-produced’
  • is inclusive of all local people, seeking to break down barriers which divide and ‘label’ people
  • challenges inequalities of power and value, seeking justice, especially for the most marginalized in society
  • embraces messiness and complexity as inevitable and valuable
  • is constantly learning and critically reflecting
  • positively values the traditions of people of faith, and seeks to nurture the social, physical, emotional, intellectual, occupational and spiritual wellbeing of all (see below)

We believe these values make us distinctive in our approach and guide us in all we do.

Open Door Community Foundation launched!

The work of Open Door (our drop-in started in September 2012) has grown out of the commitment of Hodge Hill Church to ‘Growing Loving Community – in the love of God, with all our neighbours, across Hodge Hill’.

Since 2012, we’ve grown from a weekly drop-in to a weekly bring & share Community Lunch, and monthly legal advice sessions in partnership with Birmingham Community Law Centre. We’ve done monthly ‘Hodge Hill Cuppa’ sessions (serving drinks and starting conversations) with parents and carers in the school playground in 2 local primary schools (Firs Primary School and Tame Valley Academy). We’ve also run a number of baking and cooking courses, and supported local women to grow from scratch what’s now a thriving multicultural Women’s Group.

A lot of hard work over the last year or so has resulted in our registration as a Company Limited by Guarantee (no. 9549202) and a Registered Charity (no. 1164850) – now called ‘Open Door Community Foundation’. Our link with Hodge Hill Church, and our partnership work with Worth Unlimited, Firs & Bromford Neighbours Together, and Firs & Tame Valley Primary Schools, remain strong, but we now have robust governance in place to help us grow and manage our work in the best possible ways. Look out for more exciting developments in the coming weeks!

We’re looking for Open Door volunteers!

Since we started Open Door in 2013, we’ve grown from a little trickle of people coming through our door, to a regular stream! This has been wonderful in many ways – we’ve made so many friends, and so many people are sharing their gifts and skills in ways they’d not thought possible before!

It’s also brought new challenges. The changing political and economic climate has seen more and more people coming to Open Door with serious and complex needs: a lack of basic necessities like food, benefit sanctions that have often been imposed unjustly, debts with companies that are sending threatening letters…

We have a great team, but we now quite urgently need a few more ‘skilled’ volunteers on a Tuesday morning, from 10-12. The kind of skills we are looking for include:

  • 1-to-1 listening to people, and taking action together
  • making phone calls, for and with people
  • navigating the internet (e.g. job searching, advice sites)
  • putting together CVs (on MS Word or online)

You don’t need any specialist knowledge (most of us are learning as we go along!), but a bit of confidence goes a long way.

If you think you can help, even once a month, then please get in touch:

email: s.maxfield@opendoorcf.co.uk
or mobile: 07775 727528

Welcome to Open Door!

open doorOpen Door is what it says. Every Tuesday, from 10am until 12, at The Hub (146 Bromford Drive, Birmingham B36 8TY), the door is open, the kettle is on, and there are people around with friendly faces, a warm welcome, and a listening ear.

People might come to Open Door with ‘needs’, but we welcome everyone through the door as a human-being with skills, knowledge and passions that they can unlock and share with others.

We offer support around:

  • finding work
  • writing CVs
  • managing money
  • internet access and IT skills
  • confidence-building
  • volunteering opportunities
  • finding childcare
  • accessing advice & services
  • turning ideas into reality

So come along and join us every Tuesday at the Hub.  The kettle is always on!