How the Civic Society Contributes to the City; Civic Society Chairman Freddie Gick Hails the Organisation's Work
Byline: Freddie Gick
I have been following with interest the coverage of the Birmingham Civic Society in both your news and letters columns during the last few weeks.
My purpose in writing is not to take issue with what I believe to be the sometimes misleading reporting of the views expressed by individual members of the society.
Instead, I believe it is more helpful to your readers to provide them with a few details of what the Civic Society does and how it contributes to the development of the city.
The discerning reader will note that The Birmingham Civic Society is unique among the hundreds of amenity societies around the country in managing a set of proactive programmes aimed at improving both the physical and social environments in which we live. Examples of the work we do include:
The Next Generation Awards programme seeks to promote the concept of active citizenship among 11 to 14-year-old children from all communities. Typically, participants spend six weeks projecting their lives forward and developing plans for how they would like the city to change by the time their children are their ages. This year 2,000 children, the majority from Asian backgrounds, are currently participating in this programme.
An innovative workbook on Birmingham's heritage and social context for final year primary school pupils is under preparation for distribution to all primary schools in the city.
Through Birmingham Trees for Life, a partnership with the city council, the society managed a pounds 65,000 tree-planting programme last year, involving several hundred school children across the city. A similar programme is underway in the current year.
The society is also working with the City Centre Partnership and Marketing Birmingham on a study of signage for the city centre. This includes a proposal for the society to provide information for a set of heritage information panels to be installed to inform residents and visitors about the history and heritage of the city. Important objectives of this work are to add interest to the city streets, to enrich visitor experience and encourage tourism.
The society has already distributed 500,000 free copies of its Heritage Buildings Guide, the most popular guide to the city. A further 250,000 copies are currently being printed for distribution in the Midlands and through tourist information centres throughout the country.
The society has succeeded in raising the funding for this guide, totalling over pounds 80,000 from commercial sponsors and charitable trusts. Marketing Birmingham has used the guide as the basis for its popular audio trail available through the Birmingham tourist information offices.
The restoration of the statue to Joseph Sturge was largely due to the work of the society in raising around half of the funds needed to bring it back to its original condition.
Our planning committee, which includes architects and surveyors, has enabled the society to express views on most of the significant development proposals affecting the city, on issues arising in conservation areas and on the management of our open spaces. …