On the last day of June, I had the pleasure of photographing The Mayor's Community Weekend Event which took place at the Nechells Community Centre, Birmingham.
This was my first time at the community centre, and I was struck by the intrinsic sense of community, togetherness, and connection from everyone who walked through the door. Noran and Zenia told me about how they had set up the community centre nearly ten years ago, and they took me through the journey of how it began as a boarded up, 'bars on the window' building, to what it is today; a haven of community spirit and care for one another. The work that Noran, Zenia, and all the staff at the POD have done is incredible. The centre offers people from the local community a wide range of activities, courses, and support, ranging from ESOL classes, to help passing the driving theory test. I was impressed at the range of things on offer, a lot of things that would be inaccessible for people living in the community.
Some people visit up to several times per week, and despite the number of services available, I wondered how much the regular attendance is down to having a place to come and spend time with friends. If you are new to the area, (or the country), and perhaps feeling isolated, the community centre is a friendly, open place to meet new people and make new connections.
The morning event was a huge success, helped somewhat by this beautiful weather we are having!
Everyone got involved in the sports activities that were provided by Park Lives, an organisation who work in the centre of Birmingham with families, promoting physical activity in the park, and keeping healthy through diet.
I came away from the day feeling that I wish there were more community centres like this, one in every neighbourhood in fact, so that everyone could have a place to congregate and connect with others. There are a lack of places like this; the POD is a real oasis, an oasis that has such a positive impact on the community. Noran and Zenia and the team show just what can be done with commitment and passion, and dedication to making something work.