Tag Archives: victory

Victory at Connexions as Unison Campaign Secures Jobs and Services

Over 100 staff at Connexions had good news yesterday after hearing that Birmingham City Council have backed down and withdrawn the threat of redundancies, stating that there will not be any more cuts to this vital service in the coming financial year. We hope that whoever is in power following the council elections in May will provide a continued commitment to Connexions.

Connexions gives help and advice to young people who are unemployed and are looking for work, college or training. They also help young homeless people, pregnant teenage girls and teenage parents.

UNISON argued all along that to make cuts to this service when youth unemployment is at an all-time high and still rising was morally wrong, reckless and irresponsible and finally Birmingham City Council have listened.

UNISON Convenor Charlie Friel said

This is really good news for our members who been put the emotional wringer by this council for over 18 months. It’s a victory for our members, it’s a victory for common sense and it’s victory for the young people of Birmingham.

Graph shows youth unemployment from 1992 to October 2011 - since October, youth unemployment has continued to rise and in January 2012 was at 22%

We are really pleased to hear this news, which has come about through months of campaigning, multiple strike days and media pressure on the council. At a time when youth unemployment is at record levels, it is madness to close the service which helps young people to find work or training.
Youth unemployment nationally stands at 22%, but with Birmingham having some of the highest areas of unemployment in the UK, and being the youngest city with over 1/3rd of people under 25, it is expected that youth unemployment locally is higher.
Of course, this comes too late to save offices in Handsworth (unemployment: 21.7%), Erdington (unemployment: 12.9%) and Kings Heath (unemployment: 12.5%). We wait to hear if the planned closures of offices in Northfield (unemployment: 10.1%) and Yardley (unemployment: 10.4%) will go ahead.
Unemployment rates are for the parliamentary constituency which the office is in, and the data is taken from this parliamentary report from January 2012. Nationally the unemployment rate is around 8.4%, whilst the average for the 9 Birmingham constituencies is 12.8% – around 50% more than the national average, which suggests youth unemployment may be over 30% locally.

So more good news for 2012. Now we need to work from this to getting commitments the following the local elections, Connexions offices around Birmingham will be re-opened in order to help people in some of the hardest hit parts of the UK to find work and gain new skills.

source for youth unemployment graph

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Filed under Birmingham City Council

Victory for Charles House!

The reply from the Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families (Councillor Les Lawrence) to a question from Cllr Eddie Freeman (Weoley) says it all;

A significant number of comments, representations and consultation responses were received with regard to the provision of respite services to those young people, such as attending Charles House, indicating the value and importance of the service to their well-being, personal development and families.
The commitment shown by parents, staff and young people as expressed at the Northfield Ward Committee Meeting and at the meeting, as you detail in your question, was an important factor in the consideration of the future for Charles House.
I can therefore confirm that Charles House will continue to be a vital component in the overall provision of respite services. Already changes to the process by which places are provided have occurred, staffing profiles assessed, to enable improvements in the access to and provision of placements.
Therefore Charles House, which has on three separate occasions been judged by OfSTED as outstanding, will continue to provide high quality respite care for young people together with supporting their families underpinned by staff who are highly respected.

There is not much wriggle room in that. So, congratulations to the staff and children of Charles House, their parents who campaigned so effectively and to everyone else who lent their active support. The latter includes a few Labour Councillors in the South West of the City and our own Stirchley and Cotteridge against the Cuts group. (SACAC)

This victory was achieved by high-profile, effective and militant campaigning, led by the parents themselves. It was all organised at regular mass parent meetings; they planned the press campaigning, the lobbying, the letters to be written and the relevant meetings to be attended. These meetings also invited in Council officials such as Eleanor Brazil, legal experts and Les Lawrence himself. Some Labour Councillors turned up at times of their own volition, others had to be dragged. SACAC members were proud to have been invited in for every meeting, to give support and advice on campaigning strategy.
But it was SACAC that pioneered the two most public demonstrations, a street corner Saturday morning stall in Cotteridge on Saturday 5th November and on the Kings Norton Green on Saturday 10th December. This latter event was preceded by parents, children and SACAC members filling up Councillor Steve Bedser’s surgery to bursting point and winning Steve’s active support for Charles House. At both stalls the public support received was overwhelming.

It was also SACAC that accompanied the parents to a memorable Northfield Ward Committee meeting on Monday 21st November. To say that the campaign made its point forcibly would be an understatement. It was probably the turning point – as acknowledged in the letter above. Councillor Lawrence was reminded in no uncertain terms of the promise he had made to keep Merrishaw Community Day Nursery open, only for the shutters to go up soon after. When we all trooped out having made our point, Cllr Lawrence followed, and spoke to us in a very different tone of voice. It was probably at this point that it was realised a big mistake had been made.

So, the articles in the press, the coverage in the B31 blog, the lobbying of Councillors, the street demonstrations, the letters written and the solidarity achieved by keeping all parents together, plus the support of the local anti-cuts group, made a victory possible.

We, of course, hope that the survival of Charles House is not at the expense of any other such house or Council services. But if anywhere else does feel threatened, the service users concerned can take a leaf out of the Charles House parents’ campaign to see how to defend themselves.

If and when the Council cutters come for any other vital services in this part of the city, be rest assured that SACAC will be there once more. And while we think about it, is it not time to consider re-opening Merrishaw Community Day nursery?

Report from Bob Whitehead of Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

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Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts, Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts

University of Birmingham drops all cases against students, after widespread criticism.

Stop Fees, Stop Cuts Birmingham University has announced that the University of Birmingham has dropped all the cases that they were investigating against 15 students who they had alleged had broken university rules during a peaceful occupation held last month.

he University of Birmingham has backed down from an increasingly embarrassing attempt to discipline 15 students.

The Vice Chancellor David Eastwood received criticism from religious leaders, MP’s, unions and prominent academics including Professor Noam Chomsky and John McDonnell MP.

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