Birmingham COMMUNITY Matters: celebrating our return to in-person events

April 7, 2022 Tags: , , ,

Have you heard about the 2022 upgrade to Zoom? The ‘Room’ installation enables you to meet real people in a real place. Honestly, it has the potential to change the world!

Sorry – we know we’re too late for April Fools’ jokes. We’re just excited that, on Wednesday 30 March 2022, we were able to hold our first in-person event for two years.

Entrance to Soho Community Hall with BCM banner inside

Step inside Soho Community Hall and find out what happened at our event …

Thank you to Carol and Soho Community Hall in Handsworth for hosting us, and to the lovely people who booked in advance to come and meet our Community Matters Helpers.

What happens at a BCM session?

At our face-to-face sessions (we used to call them surgeries, but decided this is too formal), people with questions about starting, running or growing a community organisation can sit down with our Helpers, working through their challenges together.

You can learn more about the setup here: ‘What happens at BCM’s face-to-face sessions?’.

Pre-pandemic, we billed these events as ‘drop-in sessions’, meaning anyone could turn up. We’d greet people at the door, find out about their plans and problems, and then match them with the Helper best placed to support on the day.

Moving our services online in response to the coronavirus pandemic meant doing some advance planning. We got smarter about matching people with suitably experienced Helpers at a mutually convenient time.

Emma Woolf and one of our guests, sitting together at a table and talking. Emma is a white woman wearing glasses and a pink cardigan. Our guest is a young black man with glasses and a nice paisley shirt

Guests at our events work through their questions with one of our Community Matters Helpers

With this first ‘real life’ event, we asked people to register before the day – mainly so we could manage numbers and ensure everyone would have space to spread out. But knowing a little about our guests in advance helped us to provide even more relevant support.

‘Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach’

The morning was brilliant – and a reminder of why you can’t beat being together with people in real life.

We met someone who asked about securing funding for a community room and cultural centre. We talked about mapping costs, and the extra considerations required when the building is listed.

We talked with someone else about expanding the reach of community organisations: finding volunteers to help them run, and expanding networks of users through referrals and various social media platforms.

While exploring with someone else the potential for a community garden run by volunteers, we were happy to tell them about the excellent Birmingham Open Spaces Forum. BOSF is a volunteer network organisation that brings together all the community groups in Birmingham with an interest in green open spaces.

Claire from BCM and Carol from Soho Community Hall

Claire from BCM [left] and Carol from Soho Community Hall, sharing a joke

While we talked parks and trees, someone else shared details of Birmingham Trees For Life – a dedicated tree-planting charity for the city.

BCM’s motto is ‘Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach‘. This always bears out – and even more so when we’re side by side with people. It was great to hear our guests bouncing off one another with contacts and ideas, facilitated by BCM but independently of us.

If you have questions relating to setting up, running or growing a community group in Birmingham, look out for our next events, listed on Eventbrite. We know there are benefits to delivering our services online too, so we will continue to offer that one-to-one support from the comfort of Zoom.

Links and resources

PS. One thing we need to say about all our services: unfortunately, we can’t usually support community interest companies. It’s not because we don’t love CICs and the work they do; it’s because we’re a registered charity with specific aims and limitations. We explain it fully here.