Birmingham is a rich mix of faiths and cultures from all over the world. And it’s not just a random mix. Almost uniquely in Europe, we have big scale settled communities – particularly of West Indians, Pakistanis, Irish, Indians – who’ve been here in numbers for generations. As well as so many others – Somalians, Nigerians, Tamils, Chinese, for instance, who’ve settled here more recently.

But the common link between all these different communities and people is that we choose to make Birmingham our home. Either we recently came, or maybe our grandparents chose to come, our parents stayed, and we, generations later, still choose to call home this extraordinary city that we love. And let’s be clear: white Brummies are almost as likely to be descended from immigrants, probably Celts of one kind or another, as their Kashmiri or Congolese neighbours. In Birmingham, it long since stopped being a question of us and them. This is a city of ‘we’. The question is, who ‘we’ are?

And this is the first question that my newly created City Council committee wants to answer. To do so, the Social Cohesion and Community Safety Scrutiny Committee, which I lead, is holding a public inquiry: what does it mean to be a “Brummie”?

We want to find out what local people’s shared values are – regardless of age, ethnicity, religion or background.

Do you consider yourself to be a Brummie? Are you proud of it?  What do you think the typical values of Brummie people are? And what gives you a sense of belonging to the area – is it the street you live in, your neighbourhood, or the city as a whole?

How much pride is there in Birmingham as a place to live and work?

Why do people choose to come and live in Birmingham?

Why do businesses choose to locate in Birmingham?

What positive stories are there about people with shared values coming together to make a difference?

Do Birmingham’s schools do enough to teach young people about Birmingham, its diversity and its heritage?

These are the kinds of questions we will be asking. Over the next six weeks we are inviting people and businesses to send us their views on what it means to be a Brummie. We’ll then be holding public evidence sessions, which we hope will be livestreamed on the internet.

But an inquiry is only as good as the evidence it receives. This is why we want people across the whole of our city to get involved, talk to neighbours and colleagues and contribute to this no-boundaries discussion by letting us know your thoughts. We would welcome a written statement of your views and experience on any of the above points, along with any other comments you might have. We will collect all the written submissions and use these as evidence to support our work.

PLEASE get involved in this. It will only take a few minutes but could make a really big difference.

If you would like any further information about this Scrutiny Inquiry or how to submit written evidence, please email scrutiny@birmingham.gov.uk or call 0121 303 7770 or tweet #MyBrum

The deadline for written submissions is the 3rd September 2012.


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