On Friday I met two amazing people. One of the great joys of my job is the work I do to try and build a network of social entreprenuers who are as passionate about local change as I am. I’m always on the look out. On Friday night, I tracked down Jean Preist in Bordesley Green who’s worked wonders for her road and others. I’ve heard about her amazing work, and wanted to meet her, hear her views and say thank you.
As we were chatting I expressed my view that we need to do more in Birmingham to bring different communities together, to show folk the amazing amount we have in common, and the potential of working together to deliver change. Her husband, Joe said something interesting; that in Birmingham, as far back as he could remember – back decades – our streets have always been a bit ‘clannish’.
So, maybe today’s challenge is nothing new. You find in politics that not much is. But earlier that afternoon, I’d met the new man in charge of Saltley Methodist Church, Andy Smith. He too is thinking about how we get people to face out towards each other, not look inwards. He had a simple way of explaining it. We have to stop thinking about the ‘problems’ other people cause us. We have to remember that everyone has gifts – and gifts to give. I think that’s right. In modern communities like ours, that’s the right way to think about how we get out there and ‘build a house together’.