The beginnings of a collaborative space built by people in Bearwood


A Community Hub in Bearwood: inspiration & discussion at Build, Make & Mend

Build, Make & Mend / Sunday 3rd June / 11am-4pm / Free / Dorothy Parkes Centre, Church Road, Smethwick, B67 6EH

What can a community hub do for us in Bearwood?

We’ll be finding out at our Community Hub Panel, 2pm-3pm.  

We have a great line-up of visitors to Bearwood who are going to share their experiences of setting up community-led hubs and workspaces.  All are very different, to inspire us and get us thinking about what a community hub on Bearwood’s high street could be. We'll introduce you to those speakers in this blog. But first, what's the point of a community hub?

Community hubs, or ‘bumping places’ (we like this phrase!), are walk-in places situated in the heart of a community and run by local people to connect, support and inspire local people.

They can take the shape of whatever is right for that community. In Bearwood we know there is a huge community of creative people connecting and creating together.  We know there are people who have lots to offer but are marginalised, needing the local food bank or living in local hostels or on the streets.  We know from the workspace and creche pilot that a collaborative place is important for home-workers to feel less isolated or for home-working parents to access flexible, affordable childcare. And we know that our communities abound with people and organisations doing great things to bring people together, improve wellbeing and get new things going. 

Research shows that community spaces are really important in helping individuals, communities and parts of communities to connect and create together.

Community hubs can promote social cohesion, by bringing together different social or generational groups; increase social capital and build trust; increase wider social networks and interaction between community members; and increase individual’s knowledge or skills.” from What Works Centre for Wellbeing.  



Spaces that we can identify with, feel welcomed into, and be a part of, are important. You probably know that from experiences at Thimblemill Library, at Warley Woods Community Trust, Lightwoods Park, or local faith centres.  So we know that, and the research proves it. Then let's act.  Let's build something that connects all these things, right where the mass of residents, businesses and visitors can easily come together to work, play and create - our high street.

At our Community Hub panel session Bearwood local Sally Taylor will welcome our guests and explain the vision for a Bearwood hub, so you can think and talk around how you want to help build that vision, challenge it, or perhaps re-work it.  Then our guests will tell us about all the great things happening or planned in their communities, through their community spaces. They are:

IMMY KAUR from Impact Hub Birmingham.  

"At Impact Hub we believe those that are willing to dream, dare and have a heart for a better Birmingham need a place where they can realise these dreams." This Beartopia project has been enabled in part by the incredible support that Sally Taylor has received from much of the team at the Impact Hub.  Amy Martin and Sally Taylor recognised partnership potential for this and developed the #RadicalChildcare local pilot.  The wider team have helped develop the thinking and helped in the most practical of ways, including building this website, creating graphics and photographing our progress. Partnership specifically through skills sharing has been a really positive model.

How could we build this kind of skills-sharing model in Bearwood and what do we dare to dream together?

DANIEL BLYDEN, another Impact Hub team member, will share stories from the development of Gather Dudley + CoLab Dudley.

Gather Dudley can’t join us as they have a community Big Lunch on the same day - good luck with it folks! - so we’ve asked Daniel to share his perspective. Here’s how the team in Dudley describe themselves:

“We invite participation by people with diverse experiences, skills, talents, knowledges and interests, from different sectors of society. In Dudley we have met and connected hundreds of doers; people with all kinds of skills, talents and knowledge who want to connect and co-operate in practical activities and projects which make the place they live feel safe, kinder and creative.”

How can we best invite and encourage participation in Bearwood, to help our neighbourhood feel safe, kinder and creative?

LORNA BREWSTER will talk about her new leadership role at co-working space Moseley Exchange, as she develops her thinking about next steps for the Exchange in involving and serving the local community.

“At The Moseley Exchange, we have worked to create a flexible place where you can find the people and resources you need, whether that be a quiet place to work, printing facilities, intelligent conversation, or simply just a hot cup of coffee.”

How do we design a space together in Bearwood that works well for everyone, whether worker, resident, shopper, visitor or passer-by?

PATRICK WILLCOCKS is going to tell us all about the Old Print Works in Balsall Heath. A large building with a cafe, over 40 workshops for designer makers and craftspeople, a coworking space, yoga studio and more.

The Old Print Works is “a space for making, creativity, sustainability and localism"

What kinds of spaces would Bearwood people need in a high street hub? How would we all be enabled to make the space our own and what difference could this make to small businesses locally?


Build, Make & Mend will take place at Dorothy Parkes Centre on 3rd June 11am-4pm.  The full programme and booking details are available at  Refreshments will be sold, prepared by and in aid of Bearwood Action for Refugees. Join us!  

Amy MartinComment