People Power in Balsall Heath

Many years ago the Edward Road area was familiar to the writer, a volunteer at Trinity Centre with Sr. Magdalen of Mary Road. She remembers returning at night and seeing very young girls on the streets, also watching Christine Parkinson’s valiant years setting up the Jericho Foundation and being given a tour of the ‘positives’ in the area by Dick Atkinson, who was a co-founder of Balsall Heath Forum. Most notable was the city farm and St Paul’s School, which was particularly impressive in the way it inspired children who had not prospered in other schools.

Since then we read:

  •  Crime is down by 45%
  • Street corner prostitution has ended.
  • 66% of residents say the quality of life is improving.
  • House values have risen.
  • Businesses are thriving in Ladypool Rd, Moseley Rd and Edward Road
  • There are 22 residents groups, 50 voluntary organisations and half the population participates in voluntary activity.
  • Service providers from the statutory and voluntary sector have formed a Neighbourhood Strategic Partnership. 

However, it is pointed out that Balsall Heathans still die seven years sooner than the Birmingham average and educational and other statistics show there is still a mountain to climb. 

Dick Atkinson said, memorably, that Birmingham should be divided into its original ten villages and his thinking might well have influenced the council’s decision to devolve key services such as parks, leisure and housing from the centre to each of eleven districts – and, beyond them, to neighbourhoods like Balsall Heath. 

More information can be found on the Balsall Heath Forum website, though its ‘Last News’ section is dated 2006 . . .  


John Newson, who recently advocated safe cycling corridors, also sent good news about an enterprise there: Balsall Heath is Our Planet [BHIOP] which lists the forum as one of its partners. 

BHIOP, a community initiative that aims to cut the carbon emissions of our inner city neighbourhood, has an Action Plan for reducing the environmental footprint of the area and John is its Development Officer, based at Jericho Foundation. 

Its objectives for Balsall Heath include: 

  • Reduce the emission of carbon dioxide from our burning of fossil fuels, as a contribution to a low carbon Birmingham, Britain and world.
  • Help those who suffer from cold, hard-to-heat homes and fuel poverty to gain control and become comfortable at an affordable cost.
  • Demonstrate the use of renewable energy sources in the area, e.g. solar power.
  • Assist community organisations to make their buildings and operations more energy efficient.
  • Encourage low impact means of transport; walking, cycling, public transport and responsible car use.
  • Reduce the problem of waste by re-use, composting or recycling, and by using wastes to make fuel/ generate energy.
  • Grow more food in gardens. 


Read more about the project here:


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