Thousands of people in the West Midlands came together at the weekend to celebrate their community at more than 100 events funded by the National Lottery, thanks to a new partnership between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
The events took place during the first Mayor’s Community Weekend (Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July 2018), with people getting together at local celebrations to make new memories and share experiences. They were awarded a share of more than £55,000 of National Lottery funding, after groups were invited to apply for grants of up to £500 to celebrate community spirit at events.
Staffs SmileStones held a painting party at Hednesford Park in Cannock Chase with their grant. The group celebrated their first anniversary of spreading smiles across Staffordshire, by painting stones and hiding them in the park for others to find, whilst searching for stones decorated by others. Almost 450 stones were decorated after local people got creative on Sunday.
Communities also enjoyed a sports festival held by the Birmingham Sport and Physical Activity Trust at the University of Birmingham. Free taster activities were on offer for people of all ages and abilities to try, including archery, bowling, curling, tennis, and wheelchair basketball. Many people had the opportunity to play a new sport for the first time on Sunday at the fun and welcoming event.
In Coventry, neighbours in Canley were invited to a barbecue on Prior Deram Walk by Canley Uniting Communities. The group wanted to bring local people together in an area which has seen a growth in diverse communities over the past ten years. The event on Saturday was a big success, as neighbours from different cultural backgrounds connected with each other. It was a chance to discover common interests and join forces to tackle issues affecting their neighbourhood.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “Community groups across the region have been fantastic in getting involved to make this first Mayor’s Community Weekend a real success. It’s been brilliant to get out and about to see such a variety of different events taking place right across the region, celebrating the great community spirit we have here in the West Midlands. Thank you to everybody who put on events, thank you to the Big Lottery Fund and their National Lottery funding and I hope to see more events like this happening in the future.”
James Harcourt, England Grant-Making Director at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “It’s been brilliant seeing people across the West Midlands come together to celebrate their community. The Mayor’s Community Weekend was a fantastic way to connect neighbours who live side by side every day to share experiences and make new memories. Thanks to National Lottery players, it’s been a memorable weekend which we hope will inspire people to do more together in the future.”