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On the Ground with MyNeighbourhood in Birmingham

The MyNeighbourhood film crew were in Birmingham this week taking a first-hand look at some of the great work that has been taking place in the UK pilot over the past year. Across two packed days of filming, the team spoke to the full range of citizens, decision-makers, activists and facilitators from the Ladywood neighbourhood.

Day one kicked off with Neil DeCosta, a community manager who has been working closely with Ladywood citizens to co-create the Women on Wheels and Travel Buddies services that MyNeighbourhood has enabled. Neil was keen to stress that MyNeighbourhood’s co-creation approach has brought together citizens in thinking big about the possibilities in their local area. Local activist and community leader Mark Jastrzebski was quick to agree in his interview that MyNeighbourhood has been a much needed boost to the already vibrant community in Ladywood.

Moving across the Ladywood neighbourhood, the team was also privileged to talk to some of the women who have been involved from the start in the Women on Wheels service. Women on Wheels brings together women from a diverse range of backgrounds to learn to cycle over a period of weeks.” Along with building a sense of confidence and independence, Women on Wheels has already creates a new social community among participants” said Kheira, a long-time Ladywood resident.

Day two saw the team speaking with some of leading lights in Birmingham City. Both the Lord Mayor and Sir Albert Bore, Leader of the City Council, were keen to stress that Birmingham, as the largest local authority in Europe, faces a unique challenge in bringing together over a million people into a series of closely-bonded communities. Sir Albert went on to say that transportation is one of the keys to bonding communities. Megan Cross, of MyNeighbourhood project partner CEN Group agrees, saying that “buses provide a vital resource for local residents and co-created services like Travel Buddies, which allows vulnerable groups to be supported in getting out and about, are vital to opening up communities and creating a greater sense of belonging”.

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