Exploring Local Heritage with Young People
Message from the Steering Committee
Birmingham is a multicultural city. In our schools, and in the places where we live, we rub shoulders every day with people from different cultures and backgrounds.
One day we sat down together and found out about each other’s family history. We realised that we don’t know very much about each other’s backgrounds. And often, we don’t even know much about our own backgrounds! We talked to Carl Chinn. We liked what he said about being a Brummie. We are all different, he said – but what we have in common is the city, the spaces we share. We thought it would be interesting to look at one area in Birmingham, and the different people who live there – and how they all contribute to it. Carl suggested we look at Balsall Heath because it has a very rich and diverse history.
And that’s how this project started.
We wanted to find out about the lives of different communities that have existed in Balsall Heath over time. Where did they come from? What have they contributed to the area? How has the area changed over time? When you walk around Balsall Heath, what are the signs and traces you can see, that show the impact of different communities?
We were happy for the chance to work with groups of young people from different parts of the city. There were project groups based in the following schools:
George Dixon Academy
Four Dwellings Academy
Eden Girls' Leadership Academy
Our thanks to the teachers in the schools who supported the project. We are grateful to Midland Actors Theatre and the National Lottery Heritage Fund for giving us this opportunity!
Project Steering Committee, 2021
We were interested in ordinary people’s lives – not just important events or famous people. So we also wanted to meet people and record their memories. We wanted to uncover the stories people have about buildings or places in Balsall Heath – schools, churches, shops, houses, parks, etc. – that are connected with events in their own lives.
The online heritage trail which we have created reflects this.
We think that looking at Balsall Heath has helped us to learn about different communities. Balsall Heath is a model of the way that different communities, living side-by-side, turn their neighbourhood into a shared "home." In our city… In every city.