New home for Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup

Around 30 staff, parents and invited guests gathered to celebrate the opening of Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup this week following its move to School Close in January. 

Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Portfolio Holder – Children, Education & Skills at Solihull Council, officially opened the playgroup’s newly refurbished and decorated premises located next to Kingshurst Primary School.

Cutting the ribbon: Councillor Ken Meeson 

Kingshurst Caterpillars was set up in 2005 and provides a stimulating environment for 2-3 year olds to learn social skills and develop confidence ready for school.

Welcoming guests: Chair, Elaine Herbert (centre) with Playgroup Manager, Kerie Drinkwater (right)

For over 10 years the playgroup operated from Kingshurst Youth and Community Centre, however, re-development plans for the area meant that a new base for the playgroup was needed. Councillor Meesan and council colleagues were thanked for facilitating a smooth transition to the new facilities.

Elaine Herbert, Chairperson of Kingshurst Caterpillars said:

“Although the move was unplanned, it has been really positive for us. Re-locating has enabled us to increase the number of places from 26 to 40. We now have windows and lots of outdoor space for the children to play and enjoy. We arrived in January with 26 children and we’re now full to capacity. We’re a much needed and valued service.”

Staff and Board Members

The event was attended by a number of specially invited VIPs who have supported the playgroup from its early beginnings to more recent years including Children in Need, Jaguar Land Rover, Solihull Sustain and Development in Social Enterprise.

Thank you Ken Wilkinson and Dean Smith at Jaguar Land Rover. JLR raised £2000 to pay for a new gazebo and will be returning in the summer to build up the kids area. Relationship brokered by June Mole at Solihull Sustain.

Elaine added: “We are so grateful to the support we’ve had from our funders and partners over the years. We would not be here today without them.”

Thank you Children in Need! Melanie Connelly and Anna Ducie (centre) pictured with Elaine and Kerie

The Community Enterprise for Success programme has been guiding the board through the process of registering as a Community Interest Company which will help strengthen its financial footing and ability to provide free pre-school provision to low income families in the area.

Manager, Kerie Drinkwater said: “The majority of the children live in high rise flats or maisonettes and do not have access to safe outdoor play. We take children from their 2nd birthday in order that they can access the benefits and experiences at the earliest age possible.”

New outdoor play area

Kingshurst Caterpillars Playgroup is open weekdays and can be found on School Close, Birmingham, B37 6BN. For more information email Kerie Drinkwater or call 07947 661067.

Young families welcome Small Changes charity shop

Small ChangesA new charity shop that specialises in children’s items has opened in Solihull.

Small Changes, located on Lyndon Road (off Coventry Road), opened on 10 February and sells a range of children’s clothes, baby-wear, school uniforms, sportswear, shoes, toys, books, nursery furniture and equipment.

Karen Davenport, Retail Shop Manager, said: “Parents think it’s a great idea. They are so impressed with the quality and range of items we have for babies, toddlers and older children. Every item donated to us is checked and cleaned onsite and all the funds raised will support our work with local people and families affected by drug or alcohol addiction.”

Small Changes is the first shop to be launched by Changes Charity which supports people to lead healthy and productive lives as they maintain their recovery in the community.

Karen is currently recruiting volunteers for Small Changes and also Changes Coffee shop which will soon occupy the empty unit next door.

Karen adds: “Both shops will be connected so that mums can enjoy a coffee before they collect the kids from school, or pop in on their way home and catch up with friends while the children have fun in our play area. We want to create a family friendly environment where everyone is welcome. Somewhere people can meet, volunteer, access services and gain skills.”

Small Changes is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 4.30pm, 242 Lyndon Road, Solihull, B92 7QW.

To find out more about volunteering or to donate items please contact Karen on 0121 742 9616.

Facebook – Small Changes Charity Shop

Twitter – @SmallChangesB92


More information

Changes Charity enables people in recovery to realise that a life free from drug and alcohol addiction is possible. From detox to supported housing, our person centred development programmes support individuals to rebuild their lives and move from dependence to independence.

Our trading arm, Changes UK CIC, creates volunteering, training, education and employment pathways for people in a number of user-led social enterprises including Building Changes, Changes Gardening, Changes Coffee and one stop shop for the recovery community at Recovery Central our new premises in Digbeth.

For more information visit Find Changes on Facebook and Twitter.


WBC Fit Club moves to Grace Academy

Operating from the basement of a butcher’s shop in Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre had served WBC Fit Club well for many years. “It was a good old fashioned boxing gym, cheap, no frills, and everyone loved the place. But unless you knew about us, you wouldn’t know we were there,” says Paul Webb, instructor and founder of the community boxing club.

Paul set up WBC Fit Club in 2009 and provides children’s boxing classes to encourage young people to take up the sport, keep fit and active and in turn help curb anti-social behaviour.

Paul was on the look out for larger premises when the invitation to teach kids at a local secondary school came knocking. “In passing I mentioned to the principal and vice principal at Grace Academy that I was searching for larger and more accessible premises and within 48 hours we’d worked out an affordable package. Best of all we could move without putting up our prices which I didn’t want to do”

Although Grace Academy has a gym, and Paul had taken students there in the past for fun days, demonstrations and gradings, there was still the issue of raising funds for a new boxing ring.

“We decided to hold a sparathon where the kids sparred professional boxers. The deputy principal Mr Spina was very hands on! He sparred pro boxers including two time world kick boxing champion Waine Turner and helped us with one of our boxing shows.

“We held our year end grading and presentations at Grace Academy, just before Christmas. Right at the end we announced to parents and our students that the gym we were in was now our new home. Everyone was over the moon.

“The move means that we have more space, better changing facilities, and easy access. But best of all, somewhere to hold our own boxing shows. It also means that the Grace Academy students have somewhere to continue their training after school.

“This partnership is going to grow. I strongly believe that it will benefit my classes/programme, the school and most importantly, the local community. We have exciting times ahead.”

To find out more about WBC Fit Club visit


Community Christmas Tree lights up business centre

Community Christmas Tree
Pictured left to right: Community Lead for Gro-Organic Daniella Ferrarrin, volunteers Malcolm and Tina, Angela O’Brien, Solihull Enterprise Centre

Gro-Organic CIC together with local volunteers from Chelmund’s Cross, finally revealed their decoration making skills as they presented Solihull Enterprise Centre with their very first ‘Community Christmas Tree’ today.

Gro-Organic’s Community Lead, Daniella Ferrarin, has been managing the project which involved facilitating sessions with residents to hand craft a variety of christmas decorations from surplus wood sourced from local allotments. A cookery workshop to bake scented orange decorations was a great success – filling the air with the smell of Christmas.

Marston Green Christmas Trees supplied the tree which is now sitting proudly in the reception area, greeting visitors and tenants as they come and go.

The Community Christmas Tree project is just one of many structured activities organised by Gro-Organic throughout the year to promote the health and wellbeing of local people in an enjoyable way.

Angela O’Brien, Enterprise Support Officer at Solihull Enterprise Centre said:

“I would like to thank all of the volunteers for taking their time to make the decorations and dress the tree. We are so pleased that local people are included in all aspects of enterprise here at the centre, it’s really lovely to see everyone involved at such a special time of year.”