The event, which was organised by West Midlands Combined Authority, Black Country Churches Engaged and Transforming Communities Together at St Matthew's Church, East Park in Wolverhampton.

'It's good to talk' said an old phone company advert, but this event really proved this. We were delighted to have around 100 people from faith communities and organisations from all over the Black Country attend on Thursday, September 27.

Church Conversations 1
People gather from across the Black Country to celebrate the work churches and other groups do to support their community

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street thanks faith communities

Mr Street spoke about his pleasure at seeing so many religious groups being involved in the event.

He said:

"It’s incredible to see so many different religious groups here this evening. One of the reasons I wanted to do this job is the West Midlands is the most diverse place in Britain, if not in Europe, and is diverse in every sense of that word, with communities, faiths, young, old, gay, straight, disabled, able-bodied, it is an incredibly rich situation and this is a real opportunity for us to show the rest of the country how we can build this tolerant community in which everybody thrives, so when I see tonight, it goes right back to that first narrative when I think, wow, there is such an opportunity for us here."

Tackling some difficult issues

As part of the evening, we were able to set up a series of discussions, between members of the community and someone from the West Midlands Combined Authority. These discussions were topic based:

  • Mental Health
  • Skills and Youth Unemployment
  • Homelessness

We wanted to ensure that everyone attending had a chance to share best practice and listen to the challenges faced by different groups in their communities.

Church Conversations 4

Follow up is key!

For us at Transforming Communities Together, follow up is key.

Chair Rev Dr David Primrose said:

"What we’re trying to do is to make sure that we learn from the experience we already have, so what people are sharing around, we’re going to note that experience, we’re going to make sure that as we go forward, it’s evidence-based and the other bit along that is people who want to take further any of our three particular topics will have a chance to meet together, learn from each other’s conversations that take place this evening and then say so how we’re going to make a difference."
Church Conversations 5
The Marketplace showcased a lot of good practice including YMCA Opendoor, Mosque / Church Twinning in Walsall, Just Finance Black Country, BCUIM, Dementia Friendly Churches & Places of Welcome., Near Neighbours, Ignition Job Clubs and the Children's Society

We'd like to thank the west Midlands Combined Authority for the use of their video and photos and the support of the Express & Star.