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Business competition marks further step towards recovery


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The winners of a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style competition to help local communities build back better have been announced.

The three winners, chosen from over 130 entries, will each receive up to £15,000 worth of tailored support to help them take their project to the next stage of development.

One of the three winning projects is husband and wife duo Mandeep and Prabs Johal of Wolverhampton. They are planning a series of pop-up neighbourhood fitness hubs in parks and green spaces to tackle low levels of physical activity in the city. Wolverhampton has the lowest level of activity across the West Midlands, and the project aims to tackle this threat to health.

Prabs said: “Our project aims to empower local communities to live healthy and active lifestyles and increase access to fitness activities within small neighbourhoods, overcoming barriers of people having to travel out to fitness centres.

“With the funding, we aim to deliver projects that see local communities thrive – especially as we build back from the pandemic.”

Also winning a package of support is Baby Aid Birmingham (BAB), a baby bank, which operates similar to a food bank by providing emergency support in the form of essentials such as baby food, clothes, toiletries, and equipment. 

The third winner is the Birmingham Playhouse who propose to run a programme of storytellers in-residence in early years settings. The project aims to support bridging the attainment gap, which Covid has increased due to the disruption to children’s development in early years settings.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Whilst we know how critical it is to get our region’s economy motoring again and get people who have fallen out of employment back into work, we must also make sure that communities are at the heart of our post-pandemic recovery.

“Congratulations to our winners and the 20 runners up who are all developing exciting and innovative ways to support their communities recover from the effects of the pandemic, and I look forward to seeing all these projects develop over the coming weeks and months.”

In addition to the winners, 20 runners up will receive awards worth £500 each to support their projects. The winners and runners up were all invited to an innovation masterclass held today (21 May) to help them figure out the next steps in turning their ideas into reality.

The competition is one of the activities organised by the West Midlands Recovery Coordination Group, which was formed in June 2020 to address the broader social and community issues arising from the pandemic and identify the steps towards recovery.

Written by: David Watkins

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