Without a doubt, these unprecedented times present an entirely new scale of challenges for many families globally. However, now more than ever before, we’ve witnessed a great sense of togetherness within communities across the country. In a time where we all need a bit of good news, it’s nice to know that people are stepping up for each other and that sense of community cohesion remains stronger than ever. That is especially true for one community in Birmingham.
Oasis Hub: Hobmoor started life five years ago as an infant hub, with limited access to rooms for adult education. However, today, the hub has grown considerably. It now consists of four elements, the academy (Oasis Academy Hobmoor), the community centre, the football club, and the brand new food pantry; Oasis Pantry Hobmoor. In an area previously described as ‘a community desert’, a very powerful community movement has blossomed, watered by organisations, partnerships, and community members with a shared vision for the neighbourhood.
These movements has transformed the lives of many people, but how so? We took some time out with Hub Leader Andy Brown to talk about the impact on this fantastic community and what the next steps are.
“If you can create 20 local leaders in the neighbourhood, each running their own group, then you can empower them to work together.” Andy told us how over the five years of Hub, the transformation from a volunteer centre primarily signposting into a real Hub for community has been integral for building hope, and trust that the space (and the people within it) will be there for the long haul. Clubs and classes include: karate club, Bollywood fitness, scouts, crafting clubs, adult education, football and elderly community singers to name some. “We’re the only place in Birmingham where an Islamic class, karate club and football tournament are all happening at the same time!”
The Hub also equips people to move a step closer to employment by providing Adult Education. During daytime, while children are at school, the Hub mainly serves women with EAL backgrounds supporting them with adult learning up to L3 qualifications, including qualifications with placements in the academy. Some students have even gone onto do Foundation degrees in teaching and learning at the centre. A great example is Arlia, who started as a volunteer but later trained up as a coach. During the oasis summer sessions, the Hub gave Arlia her first job
Hobmoor’s very own football club has also empowered and equipped many young people for physical activities. The story started three years ago, when Andy Browne, our Hub leader, approached a young man teaching a group of children football in the local park. He offered to help set up the Lion Hearts School of Football Excellence, using the facilities at the community centre. The football club has grown, supporting 200 children on a Saturday with football coaching and playing in the local league. The Oasis Football for Life club also works with a range of volunteers from different backgrounds, giving people life chances who have been refused opportunities elsewhere. Even if you’re not a football fan, you can’t help but appreciate this work.
The coronavirus outbreak has made it more difficult for many of our hubs and other charities across the country to provide food. However, with four years’ experience of tackling holiday hunger, this hasn’t stopped Oasis Hub Hobmoor one bit. Andy told us how from March through to August, the heroic team of volunteers at staff ran a food parcel provision of 400 cooked meals per week and 200 substantial food parcels a week. In fact, between March and August, 5,277 meals were provided to families in need. Find out more about Oasis Hub: Hobmoor’s fantastic response to Covid-19 here.
To Andy, what makes this community so special is the “richness and diversity. I’ve learned so much from so many different people from backgrounds and cultures – you never know who you’re going to meet next, or what you’re going to learn next. Seeing these people being empowered and taking the lead is incredible.”. And for him this is what it’s all about. The notion that his team is so approachable that community members will say hello in the supermarket, purely because they want to find out more about Hub is a real testament to what the community has made it. “It isn’t about me as a leader, its about our community and the movement they’ve helped us to create.”
Please visit the Oasis Hub: Hobmoor website here, and learn more about the amazing work they do.