Charitable Causes, Promotion & Partnership


Club 3000 members celebrating the new free@last centre opening

Tackling poverty in our communities

By John Street, director and founder at free@last

multiple challenges from poverty. It partly makes sense as the


painful loss of another young person’s life is headline grabbing. Millions of pounds worth of

resources is ploughed into trying to stop youth violence, but nothing changes, and lives continued to be lost daily. Twenty-one years ago, a new hope dawned with the purpose to enable and equip a particular section of our city’s residents to improve their opportunities and live life to its fullest potential. The challenge was taken up by a newly formed charity, called free@last, which focused their efforts in the Nechells neighbourhood – between Millennium Point and Star City. On 13 March 2012, the BBC news published a news report stating that ‘in the Nechells area, 50 per cent of children live in poverty and NHS figures suggest people there die younger.’ An inquiry began, and a few

projects popped up to try and address the problem, but a decade on the poverty figures within

he news often paints bleak view of our cities, especially those where there are

Nechells stands at 53 per cent, showing an increase, rather than decreasing. What these projects lacked – like

all ‘projects’ – is to not have a strategic understanding of the root causes of poverty and the need for a strategic approach to eradicate this disease. Strategic thinking is defined as a

mental or thinking process applied in the context of achieving a goal or set of goals in an endeavour. When applied in an organisational strategic management process, strategic thinking involves the generation and application of unique business insights and opportunities intended to create competitive advantage for a firm or organisation. If a business or organisation

does not have a strategy, customers and service users will not truly understand our offer, our customers or our competition, which could be one of the reasons why we may struggle to see change and prosperity. As we move from fighting Covid-

19 to living with the virus as a part of societal norms, our nation’s leaders have thought strategically about the impact of this pandemic

on every one of us – individuals, families, businesses, statutory services – and in a relatively short time of history we are now returning to some sense of normality. Poverty is a virus, with far

reaching effects that takes lives and damages those who live under its control. For us, at free@last, we have a

created a strategy to overcome child poverty in our community, meaning that, once implemented, if a family doesn’t want to live in poverty, they won’t have to! We understand our ‘offer’, our ‘customers’ our ‘competition (or enemy)’ and we are on the right road to recovery. However our journey is much

harder and longer than our country’s Covid-19 journey, as poverty has infiltrated our land for centuries, but our strategy puts an end to sticking plasters on gaping wounds and starts the fight against the cause that’s killing our children today. This journey is only made

possible due to the many, individuals and businesses who support free@last and provide the opportunities to enable and equip

the children, young people and families whom we support, to experience new opportunities, take control of their own lives and live life to their full potential. We have had many businesses

support our youth-led business, Brum Ting Ltd, which provides a variety of products for tourists and local Brummies. Linked with the Commonwealth

Games our young people (15 and 16- year-olds) have been able to do some amazing things – We have also had many

businesses join our Club 3000, showing support for our work through a membership that opens opportunities for networking, local business discounts and self- satisfaction that you are making a difference. Strategic thinking is crucial for all

of us to recognise that our city’s resources are sufficient for all of us to flourish, we just need to redistribute them in a strategic way, to where they can be more effective.

For more information email:

June 2021 CHAMBERLINK 51

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