Founded in 1899, Birmingham Settlement is one of the oldest charities in Birmingham. Birmingham Settlement was part of a movement of social reform activists outraged by the poverty faced by many people in the 19th century, originally its work concentrated on providing support to women and families in the extremely deprived St Mary’s area, now known as Newtown. Today our breadth of work is much wider and reaches more communities in Birmingham. Our main centre is now based in the heart of Aston and we also deliver services on an outreach basis across the city.
Birmingham Settlement has always been at the forefront of pioneering work, developing a nationally recognised reputation for excellence. In 1907, we opened the first kindergarten in Birmingham, followed shortly after by a ‘Happy Hour Out of School Club. As time has passed, we have built services that support all individuals and communities, not just women and families. In the 1970s, our Money Advice programme received national recognition when its key principles for Money Advice were adopted as the industry standard and these services continue to be a core part of our work today.
In addition to our advice, support, training and activity services, we also work in the heart of communities to bring communities together and break down barriers, promoting integration between people from different cultures, ages, ethnic backgrounds and faiths. We helping local people work together to tackle the issues that matter to them, from community clean up days and creating residents’ associations to neighbours giving up their time to help one another with tasks in their home, we have seen a wide range of community projects develop with our support.
We work in partnership with a number of organisations across the West Midlands, sharing our skills and experiences with others, training staff and volunteers, providing services to clients, lobbying for change and looking at ways we can work together to deliver services to people across the region more effectively. We are core members of partnerships such as Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services and Locality West Midlands Consortium and work closely with a number of local programmes and services providers such as Ageing Better Birmingham, BVSC Birmingham Voluntary Services Council, local schools and youth centres.
In 2014, Birmingham Settlement developed a mutual partnership with Birmingham Training Unit (BTU – formerly Birmingham Tribunal Unit), another Birmingham-based organisation providing specialist training and support in relation to welfare benefits to organisations and individuals. Now part of Birmingham Settlement’s core services, BTU continues to provide specialist training around money advice and professional development to organisations across the UK. BTU has developed a comprehensive training programme for Birmingham residents and community groups to provide skills, knowledge to support and develop their own communities.