Since 2014, Lozells-based organisation Aspire & Succeed has supported residents to create and deliver a shared vision for their neighbourhood through a Local Conversation.
Every two years, residents of Lozells in Birmingham come together to recognise all that is great in their neighbourhood at the Community Awards Ceremony hosted by Aspire & Succeed.
At the event, residents share inspirational stories about how and why they got involved with the project, eat freshly cooked food, and celebrate the achievements of local groups and individuals.
Last week’s event took place at St Francis’ Centre in Birmingham and marked the sixth Lozells Community Awards.
Project worker, Anwar Karim, who co-hosted the event, said: “It enables us to appreciate our incredibly diverse community which includes people from many different cultures and backgrounds. Everyone is encouraged to get involved and nominate each other, from residents to pupils at local schools to small businesses.”
The Awards reflected the three neighbourhood priorities identified by residents as part of the Local Conversation: children and young people, jobs and money, and environment and safety. Awards included Community Group of the Year, Business of the Year and Community Leader of the Year.
The Health and Wellbeing Award 2019 was awarded to Sisters of the Mercy, an organisation committed to doing pastoral work with some of Lozells most vulnerable people.
Lozells in Bloom 2019, an award that recognises positive environmental work in the community was awarded to Sameena Mirza for her remarkable gardening efforts. She said: “I feel that it is not just a hobby, it’s good for your mental health. I hope that when people see my garden, it inspires them. Once you get the bug, you’re forever growing and nurturing.”
The event had a particular focus on the importance of education with awards for Primary School Pupil of the Year, Secondary School Pupil of the Year and Teacher of the Year.
Four members of the community were presented with the Long-Standing Service Award 2019 for their dedication and commitment to Lozells over the years (totalling 130 years). A Posthumous Honour Award was also presented to those who have passed away recently to commemorate their contribution to the community.
Shale Ahmed, Project Manager for Aspire & Succeed in Lozells, said: “The Local Conversation has given residents the opportunity to connect and address issues in the neighbourhood, making it a better, friendlier and safer way to live. We’ve come a long way as a neighbourhood considering some of the obstacles we’ve faced. It is a blueprint for other neighbourhoods about how to deliver a successful resident-led project. As an organisation, we support people but they are the ones making the change.”
The evening ended with cake and laughter, as residents reflected on the progress made over the last two years. Aspire & Succeed will be hosting the event again in 2021.
The Local Conversations programme in Lozells is one of 20 place-based projects across Great Britain. The programme is funded and supported by People’s Health Trust. The aim is to address health inequalities by ensuring that control is in the hands of local residents. The programme recognises the local wisdom and assets of residents and looks for evidence of improved pathways to health through, for example, stronger relationships, improved confidence and aspiration and control over money and resources.
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