Category Archives: Out & About

Eid Mubarak to all Birmingham Muslims



Construction starts on major new centre for disabled people

Touchbase ground breaking

  • Birmingham City Council Leader, John Clancy, attends ground-breaking ceremony in Selly Oak where the new ‘TouchBase Pears’ centre will be located
  • The major new centre for disabled people in the West Midlands is due to open in 2017 and will provide specialist services for people with sensory impairments and wider services for the whole community, creating over 130 new jobs in the local community
  • £14 million centre continues the regeneration of Selly Oak and will create over 130 new jobs in the local community

In Selly Oak, national deafblind charity, Sense, held a ground-breaking ceremony to celebrate the launch of construction of a new major centre for disabled people. The TouchBase Pears centre, which is due to launch in summer 2017, will provide vital services to help disabled people in the West Midlands lead more independent lives.

Birmingham City Council Leader, John Clancy, was joined by Sense CEO Gill Morbey, and champions of the project to mark the official start of the build. The ‘champions’, who are deafblind, have contributed to the planning of the project, and at the event they buried a commemorative time-capsule, which highlighted  visions of what they hope the world will be like for disabled people in the future.

Announced in December by the charity’s Patron, HRH the Princess Royal, the project is estimated to take 18 months to complete and is a key part of the regeneration of Selly Oak. In addition to creating over 130 jobs in the local area, it will also provide a welcoming hub for wider community services, such as a café, arts and performance area, sensory garden and gallery.

Every element of the centres fully-accessible design has been developed in consultation with children and adults with a wide range of disabilities to ensure it fully meets their needs. Sense will use the centre to run a number of specialist services, supporting people with sensory impairments to learn new skills, build their confidence, develop communication skills and take part in community-based activities.

The cost of construction is expected to total £14 million, and the charity has a fundraising target of £5 million. £1.4 million has already been raised from trusts and foundations.

Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr John Clancy, said: “This exciting project represents a real lifeline for disabled people in the West Midlands and will help many people lead richer, more independent lives.

“I have no doubt the TouchBase Pears centre will quickly become an important community hub in Selly Oak and the added bonus is that the project has created over 130 jobs in the area.”

Gillian Morbey OBE, Sense Chief Executive, said:  “We are delighted that construction for this major new centre is under way and that we are one step closer to delivering a resource to the Midlands that will not just benefit people with sensory impairments but will also be a hub for the wider community. The TouchBase Pears centre will make a huge difference to many people’s lives and we can’t wait to open the doors next year.”

Glenn Howells, Greenwoods and Stepnell are overseeing the architecture, project management and construction respectively.

To find out more about the TouchBase Pears centre, or to donate to the project visit:

52 Days with Team Birmingham

Find it in BirminghamSo 52 days into my leadership of the city council (not that I’m counting!) and the hectic schedule shows no sign of easing up.

I’m not complaining though. On the contrary, the more people I meet, the more I am reminded of two things:

  • We live in a remarkable city full of remarkable people who want to make a difference.
  • Citizens, businesses, faith groups, charities and community organisations care passionately about Birmingham and desperately want the best for our city and the people living here.

Since I last posted an update on my diary I’ve continued to have productive meetings with people who share my commitment to a successful Birmingham.

So from the world of business, I’ve had talks with David Caro from the Federation of Small Businesses, Michele Wilby of Colmore Bid, Neil Rami at Marketing Birmingham and the members of Find it in Birmingham.

The latter meeting was to discuss our budget consultation and, staying with that consultation, either side of Christmas my cabinet colleagues and I attended a range of public events to discuss the very difficult spending decisions we’re having to make at Birmingham City Council.

We held three public meetings and were also online for two round table webcasts where we answered questions submitted by residents.

Budget Q&A Jan 7

Budget Q&A Dec 14

Not surprisingly we faced a number of very challenging questions as people voiced concerns about the latest cuts in central government funding. But, despite the understandable fears and in some cases anger, the meetings and webcasts were very constructive. Above all, the feedback underlined just how much people care about Birmingham City Council services.

I’ve already written about my meeting with Children’s Society CEO Matthew Reed to discuss developing a Free School Meals Trust in Birmingham and work continues on that project.

I made it clear when I became leader in December that I want to get out and about to meet people and organisations across the city. So I’ve met Birmingham Open Spaces Forum members at Cotteridge Park to discuss their invaluable work in our parks and green spaces. I’ve visited businesses owners in Bordesley Green who are working with us to tackle litter problems.

One thing that unites all these people is their passion and that passion was in evidence once again on New Year’s Day when I visited a number of fantastic organisations helping the homeless and vulnerable in our city centre. I was subsequently proud to join many of these organisations at Birmingham Food Drive on January 9.

The committed people at Birmingham Food Drive are doing amazing things to help Brummies in need – many of whom are undoubtedly victims of austerity.

One of the ways Birmingham will recover from that austerity is through innovation and technology, so I’ve also had a constructive meeting with David Lock and Charlotte Crossley of Innovation Birmingham Campus. The Innovation Birmingham team focusses on helping innovators and tech entrepreneurs succeed – something that is key to our future success as a city.

I’m proud of the fact that Birmingham is a city of many communities. It is also a city of many faiths and I’ve recently met Adam Hardy and Archbishop Longley from the Roman Catholic Diocese . I was also an honoured guest at New Bigley Hall’s Mawlid celebrations to mark the birth of the Prophet.

It’s been a whirlwind start but I’m not complaining. Building a better Birmingham is a team effort and I’m delighted to be working with such amazing team mates.