Seeking a Portrait of BH

A Portrait of Balsall Heath in Images or Words

We are looking for pictures and stories of Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook to be included in our upcoming print newsletter which will be delivered to residents.

Send submissions to editor.nno@gmail.com




A lot has changed since our last editorial; three (unusually mild) seasons, a spiralling political climate, plenty of new arrivals and the loss of some very important people.

Dr. Anita Halliday MBE, one the founders of St Paul’s Community Development Trust who devoted her life to improving lives, especially in Balsall Heath, was an inspiration and will be missed dreadfully. Her legacy lives on in so many places and this blog is just one of the many good things she started. We will endeavour to follow on from her good work. Please do send your news, suggestions and pictures of Balsall Heath to share so we can keep it thriving. You can use the contact form on the right. We’d love to share your input.


Sorry to be so late with New Year greetings,but here we are at last. We meant to be back last week but were defeated by two things – acute (!) staff shortages and acute news shortages. But now that everyone is briskly taking on 2018, both these are looking up, and we hope we can keep up with all the news that’s in the neighbourhood.
It looks as if the big issues of last year will still be the big issues of this year: housing (lack of); adult care and of course the NHS. We’ll try and keep up with the local impact of these major problems – and any solutions which may be inching forward. (Didn’t like the app for advising the homeless where they might find accommodation – unless free smartphones are thrown in.) Better ideas must be out there.


Thank you to everyone who has sent news, pics, event information to us in 2017. Please keep it coming, and even more so in 2018. Thank you to all those who have arranged great events, provided great services, and volunteered to help with all sorts of things that can’t happen without extra pairs of hands. Thank you especially to the Forum for being an ever-present reminder and cause of what a fantastic community this is.
There will be lots to look forward to in the coming and very New Year. Moseley Road’s fine buildings may at last get some of the attention they deserve. Various organisations may get contracts renewed and refreshed – and may even win new ones. Children and young people will begin to practise for their role in the Commonwealth Games. We will keep you updated
Meanwhile, NNO is taking a week off to eat turkey and read lots of daft books. Back in the New Year, and if you are feeling deprived – now’s the time to catch up on all the archive material you have missed in the past year! Have a lovely holiday – let it NOT snow!


The Forum’s wonderfully successful Dynamic Youth Awards evening makes everyone proud to be part of the Balsall Heath community. Youth may sometimes get a bad press but there were plenty there on Wednesday to prove they don’t deserve it. Balsall Heath may sometimes get a bad press – but it has to be said that among the array of special guests present there was not one who would believe it. Their consistent theme was – ‘If only there was a Forum like this everywhere. If only there were communities like this everywhere. If only there were achievements like this everywhere.’
The Church Centre looked as bright and welcoming as anywhere could be, and was packed, as is always the way for Forum events, with people of all ages, all ethnicities and all faiths. Well done to the organisations who sponsored the youth awards, and especially well done to the Forum for putting it all together for the seventh time in a row, to recognise the young people and encourage them on their way.
We all need encouragement – so let’s not forget the amazing achievements of the Forum, and its loyal people (largely unpaid): cheers Hamid, Sanjay, Mohammed, volunteers not forgetting Maurice, Abdullah, and all the Forum’s committee led by Subah, who are beavering away largely behind the scenes. We can’t thank you enough but we can try!



t’s always good to see Balsall Heath, its people and organisations get some good publicity. The broadcast about the zero carbon house, on Radio 4 was splendid recognition of a most unusual house design. Unfortunately, the presenter chose to say it was amazing to find such a thing in Balsall Heath ‘of all places’. In the context,he seemed to think our neighbourhood was not a likely environment for ‘radical’ measures.
It’s true the area has had its problems – more than its fair share in fact. However, Balsall Heath also SOLVED its own problems – by using radical and innovatory methods across the whole community. So the Street Watch organisation rid the area of prostitution and all the associated crime and vice, which most people thought could never be done. In a smaller way, the Balsall Heath Farm which we write about this week is also a pretty radical establishment to find in a run-down part of the inner city. The innovations of yesterday, today and tomorrow follow in the footsteps of the people who built Balsall Heath – as we show on the front page, they didn’t just have a secondary school. They had a School of Art. The whole stretch of Moseley Rd. from the old tram depot to the Friends’ Institute a mile away shows how much thought and different kinds of enterprise went into buildings for leisure, for learning and for commerce.
Then as now, the neighbourhood continues to create ambitious enterprises, invent new services and build or restore elegant buildings. Overcoming profound disadvantage is a struggle and calls for help from allies as well as strength in the community. So it’s the right place Mr. Goldberg, and the right time.