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, and Indians – who’ve been here in numbers for generations, as well as so many others – Somalians, Nigerians, Tamils and Chinese, who have settled here more recently.
But the common link between all these different communities and people is that we choose to make Birmingham our home.
And 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 committee wants to answer.
The social cohesion and community safety scrutiny committee 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? Wwhat gives you a sense of belonging – is it the street you live in, your neighbourhood, or the city as a whole?
How much pride is there in Birmingham? Why do people choose to live in Birmingham? Why do businesses choose to locate here?
What positive stories are there about people with shared values coming together to make a difference? Do our schools do enough to teach young people about Birmingham, its diversity and its heritage?
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 will then hold public sessions, which will hopefully be live-streamed 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.
We would welcome a written statement of your views on any of the above points, along with any other comments.
For information about how to submit written evidence, please email email@example.com or call 0121 303 7770.
* Councillor Waseem Zaffar, chair of the social cohesion and community safety scrutiny committee, Birmingham City Council.