Lozells, Methodists And Community Service

Map of Lozells Photo courtesy of Spring Housing

Lozells is situated about 2 miles North West of Birmingham City Centre. It is well known for its racially diverse population. It is made up about half of the ward of Lozells and East Handsworth and lies in-between the borders of Aston, Newtown, Hockley, and Handsworth.

Like others in Birmingham’s Inner city, many of the original (mainly terraced) houses in this community were built when Birmingham’s population exploded during the Industrial Revolution at the end of the nineteenth century.

Several Methodist Churches existed in the area at the time. But one stands out more than the others, and it is what we now know as the Lozells Methodist Church.

The Church

The church is situated right on the corner of Gerrard and Lozells Street and was built sometime in 1893. Then known as Lozells Street Mission, it was a ‘Mission Church’ or branch of the more well-known George Street Methodist Church. Which is also affectionately referred to as the ‘Aston Villa’ Church, which was set up by the Methodist Church on Constitution Hill.

Lozells Methodist Church & Community Centre's panoramic view
Lozells Methodist Church & Community Centre

Lozells Methodist Church & Community Centre is now a Grade 2 listed building, it’s the only one of the three Methodist Church buildings, of such status, to survive.

The church has been many things throughout its history besides being a mission church. During the first and second world wars, it was a bomb shelter and food rationing station. During the Windrush era, it was a meeting place for migrant families and workers. It was also a library and music school for a while.

In 2009/2010, it underwent a major internal refurbishment. So that, it could not only continue its original mission of ‘serving the Lozells Community’ but also be, a fully fledged Community Centre that is ‘In The Community, For The Community.

It’s doors officially opened in 2010 at well attended community ceremony. During the ceremony, the minister of the church at the time, Helen Jobling, said that, Centre was established to:

  1. Provide spaces to deliver community projects, events, and offices for other charities and social enterprises.
  2. To develop and deliver community projects that will alleviate deprivation, develop empowerment and reduce social injustices.

Lozells Today

Now, as then, Lozells is a community facing many challenges. The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 lists Lozells as among the country’s 5 percent most deprived wards; the 3rd most denied in Birmingham. 4th for income & employment and a high level of unemployment.

Download the full report here: Index of Deprivation 2019 | Birmingham City Council

Photo of Lozells Road, Birmingham
Lozells Road © Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.

Key Economic Facts for the Lozells & East Handsworth Ward indicate that, an age profile younger than Birmingham’s average; and a percentage of ethnic minority residents well above the city average.

Lozells is also affected by race, with race riots in 1985 and 2005. Recent newspaper items report the high rate of crime in the area. These include drugs, gun, knife crime, and domestic violence..

Lozells Methodist Community Centre Now

Lozells Methodist Church and Community Centre sign
Lozells Methodist Community Centre

Amid these gloomy statistics and negative newspaper reports, the Methodist Church continues to offer its Christian mission of service. Through listening and responding to the needs & aspirations of the local community.

Campaigns to listen to the community’s needs started long before the Centre’s renovations happened. Resulting in the delivery of many projects. Projects that tackled, unemployment, isolation, health,

Lord Bourne, Minister of Faith, who visited the Centre in August 2018, observed in his report; Titled: Faith in Communities: Bridging the Divide – how faith communities are helping make strong neighborhoods:

Lozells Methodist Church recognized the growing exclusion of some

people in the local community and spotted an opportunity for their newly

refurbished Community Centre to help increase inclusion and combat

loneliness. To address these issues, the Centre offers facilities such as

computers and free internet access, a ‘Chill Zone for a cup of tea and a

chat with friends, as well as a Job Club, a soup kitchen, sewing classes,

wellbeing classes, holiday playschemes, among other things”.

He later wrote, personally thanking everyone for their very warm and hospitable
welcome’ and said:

“I was genuinely amazed by the number of projects supported by the Centre and the positive impact they are clearly having amongst the local community.”

He further added in his report that:

“What I saw at this Centre was a desire to ensure that the Church was indeed an asset for the whole community and recognition from that community that this was a place where everyone could meet, mix and grow together, all while ensuring the spiritual and historical integrity of the place of worship remained.”

Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Minister for Faith

The Future

With a Church membership strength of sixty-one, four staff and volunteers of its Community Centre that are committed to continuing this charity work by sustaining this vision and engaging with the local community to ensure their Community Centre and projects remain assets for local people.

However, there have been many challenges, particularly in funding for staffing, projects, and property costs. This is further worsened by the impact of the Covid 10 pandemic.

This aside, Lozells Methodist Church and Community Centre through, active consultations and partnerships with Lozells stakeholders, are constantly looking for ways and means to alleviate the challenges faced by the Lozells community. It is anticipated that through the efforts of the Church and Community Centre, the work of Methodists in Lozells and its neighbors will continue for years to come.

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