A Birmingham-based project has received £15,000 of support as part of the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) region-wide commitment to help local communities respond to the impact of the Covid pandemic.
The Community Recovery Innovation Challenge was launched a year ago to encourage creative ideas from local communities at a grassroot level. The challenge attracted a wide range of innovative suggestions, some of which included: ideas to help improve health and wellbeing, championing youth engagement and environmental projects. This reflected the work the WMCA had been doing with its Citizen Panel, who had helped develop the organisations’ Community Recovery Plan.
One of the organisations to receive support is The Play House in Birmingham whose aim has been to help schools bring classrooms to life. Working with fifty schools a year with a touring programme of workshops, The Play House brings storytellers into early years settings, using creativity to build confidence, literacy and life skills in young children.
After receiving funding as part of the Community Recovery Innovation Challenge, The Play House, which has been operating for more than 30 years - has been able to fund working with six new groups of children and recruit and train a new storyteller.
Juliet Fry, artistic director at The Play House, added: “The Covid pandemic had a major impact on organisations such as ours, but we were determined to come out of it stronger.
“The Community Recovery Innovation Challenge support has enabled us to build-up our team and provide retraining for our new storyteller. And working with the WMCA, we’ve been able to expand our work and look forward to delivering sessions in Smethwick and Halesowen. We look forward to continuing to bring classrooms to life.”
The Community Recovery Innovation Challenge was an open competition across the whole of the West Midlands, that attracted over 130 submissions. These were shortlisted by an independent panel who agreed support for three winners and 20 runners-up.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, commented: “As we bounce back from Covid, we know that community groups and other organisations across the West Midlands have risen to the challenge to support our recovery.
“The Community Recovery Innovation Challenge was a way of playing our part in unearthing some of the most new and exciting thinking in the sector and helping it to grow and flourish. All those who received support are worthy winners and it’s great to see practical interventions taking place on the ground across a range of different settings.”