Six years ago Erma Lewis started the ‘Wheelchair recycling, we can do’ project which refurbishes old and disused wheelchairs for people on NHS waiting lists or for family events and one-offs. This project sprang out of an appeal she ran following storm damage on her one time home island of Jamaica.
As a former nurse, Erma had seen the problem of people being unable to leave hospital for want of a wheelchair. She began to think that if she was able to find and ship old wheelchairs to the Caribbean then perhaps she could also provide them locally. Now the idea is a registered charity and a team of volunteers repair wheelchairs at a workshop in Harborne.
This podcast was recorded just before the Local Hearts Awards in Birmingham in October 2009 – where she was shortlisted in the category of female active Citizen.
Starting community work in the 1960s, Barry Toom has had the chance to see how community work and attitudes towards it has changed through the decades. A tireless worker for the Bournbrook Community Safety Project, as well as the TARA neighbourhood forum, Barry Toon feels like a veteran in community work – and now his years has been acknowledged by being shortlisted for the Lifetime Achievement award, for Birmingham’s Local Hearts Awards, nominated by Jan Quigley.
Barry’s work has revolved around making sure we prepared for an emergency – as part of the Birmingham Resilience Team he has helped to make sure people know what to do in case of man-made and natural disasters. Barry thinks in all decades people will campaign for change – but things aren’t always how they used to be. Here’s his story.
Four years ago, after running an Islam and the Environment Week, Maud Grainger decided looking at climate change with faith communities would be a great way to take action. The group Faith and Climate Change was set up by Maud Grainger with help from Keith Budden, who has nominated the group for Birmingham’s Local Hearts Award, in the community group category.
Birmingham has over one million of the population belonging to a faith, and this was too big a group not to help with combating climate change, said Maud. The programme has now been replicated across the UK – looking at climate change in terms of values regardless of faith. Why else would a group a young muslim men from Small Heath meet some old Quakers in Bournville? To look at how they installed solar water heater in the Friends Meeting House. Looking at climate change has brought these communities together. Here, they tell their story.
John Barron is 90 years old and has spent a lifetime working for his community. He has volunteered at St Mary’s Hospice in Sellypark since it opened, and also introduced the Annual Flag Day – a street collection day for the hospice – which he has been running for over 25 years and raised nearly £300,000. He said when you see a need in the community you want to fill it – and once you have a acceptance it is a good idea – you have the determination to see it through.
In 1950 John started taking patients to Lourdes in France, arranged through Birmingham Diocese. He remembers transporting them in old coaches which were previously used for soldiers. He said his motivation is always the patients. He is cherished in his community and for his work, has been nominated by St Mary’s Hospice worker Joanne Proudler for the lifetime achievement award of the Birmingham’s Local Hearts Award. Here’s his story.