Community spirit is well and truly alive in one Birmingham area, where residents have taken matters into their own hands to ensure that they live in a clean and safe environment.
The Sampson Road Residents Association was set up by a group of volunteers to take control of key issues facing Sparkbrook and the immediate area surrounding it. Tackling challenges ranging from litter through to criminal behaviour, the team is the epitome of community spirit.
The group started out as a small team of people who wanted to improve their local area, and it has now grown to become a public movement. In this month’s issue we look at how this small team of residents is helping to connect with authorities and make a real difference to this area of Birmingham.
Recently, Sampson Road Residents Association teamed up with charity Word4Weapons to place a knife bin – the sixth of its kind in the West Midlands – in the area, to encourage people to give up their weapons and make the community a safer place to be. Whilst there was some reluctance initially, the first time it was emptied, the police took 40 knives and two guns into their hands and off the streets, and these numbers continued to grow.
The group’s links with the police are key to its success. As well as the knife bins, Sampson Road Residents Association have also turned their attention to traffic safety, following two fatal crashes. Rallying together, residents gathered at Kyotts Lake Road in Sparkbrook in a campaign that highlighted one of Sparkbrook’s traffic hotspots. The passion in the community for the city council to introduce new safety measures led to a 1,000-strong petition being submitted.
One of the group’s key projects is called ‘Clean Medina’, which aims to make the streets cleaner by working with young people and teaching them how to care for their community. On the first Sunday of every month, the residents’ association gathers children to pick litter off the streets in return for certificates and treats. Clean Medina brings together children and young people of all ages and ethnicities, who work together in a safe monitored way. As well as cleaning their own community, it’s a great way for them to make friends, learn more about the environment, and give back to their fellow residents; all whilst having fun.
Last year, the project started to struggle with incentives for the young people and was promoted by LoveBrum as a local cause to support. This was one of the first causes that LoveBrum uncovered and, during one of the early voting rounds, LoveBrum members chose to support Sampson Road Residents Association with £1,500 funding. This money helped reinstate prizes leading up to the group’s annual United Clean Medina in Farm Park, which welcomed over 150 adults and children. After the clean-up, treats were provided and a bouncing castle for the young volunteers. Councillor Victoria Quinn also kindly provided Easter eggs. It also helped fund the children’s travel to other areas across the city to clean the streets.