Saturday 18th November 2023 was the United for Warm Homes Day of Action, and we joined groups across the country by holding an event and putting together a community quilt. Our venue was Northfield Arts Forum shop, in Northfield Shopping Centre, which is a lovely, accessible community space.
We wanted to engage with the whole community, so as well as telling people about the Warm Homes campaign and asking them to contribute to our quilt, we also had various activities for all ages, including an area with Lego and Duplo. After a quiet start in the morning the event had a pleasant feeling as children played while people of all ages enjoyed free refreshments and contributed messages and pictures to our quilt. Campaigners did well getting through the door, running the activities and talking to people.
We invited Northfield MP Gary Sambrook, but after he wasn’t able to make it we invited all the councillors whose wards are in the constituency. Fortunately Liz Clements and Alex Aiken were able to come, and they contributed patches and had a photo taken with the quilt.
While the Warm Homes campaign is nationwide, and we campaign across Birmingham, at the moment we are focusing in Northfield constituency. This is because Friends of the Earth have identified Birmingham Northfield as a marginal constituency, which might change MP at the next general election, so we are keen to get Warm Homes on the agenda of all political parties locally.
The Birmingham United for Warm Homes campaign was first launched in autumn 2022. Since then we have contacted various Birmingham-based organisations, sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and in February we held a panel event about retrofit with other local groups such as Basall Heath Retrofit, Acocks Greener and Footsteps. Of course there is need for financial help, insulation and clean energy all year round, but this is a seasonal campaign mostly run in autumn and winter, so it was good have another, positive event to kick off this round of the campaign.