The people of Birmingham have been recognised for their compassion in the way communities have supported each other during some of the most difficult times, by being crowned the UK’s first Compassionate City on the 14th March.
Accredited by Compassionate Communities UK, the key to gaining this recognition is bringing together all areas of the local community, including Birmingham City Council, NHS, schools, cultural organisations and employers, to provide support, space, togetherness and understanding for those undergoing the experiences of death, dying, loss and caregiving.
The Compassionate City title is part of an international movement with the participation of cities worldwide. The purpose is to build compassion as a major value of life across all sectors of civic society, putting kindness at the heart of health and care strategies in all parts of society.
Birmingham is already recognised as a Healthy City. However, community leaders sought to secure the Compassionate City title to bolster its commitment towards people who are grieving, living with a serious illness and caregivers.
The examples that are being celebrated as part of this award include the annual events normalising issues of death, dying and loss by community group BrumYODO, and the commitment to Compassionate Community Connectors to ensure citizens are more confident in supporting each other and access to peer support in schools, workplaces and communities.
Members of the Compassionate City Birmingham Network came together at the Library of Birmingham to celebrate the achievement and invite others to get involved. This was also an opportunity to acknowledge the compassion and kindness of the city’s residents, and for people to share the good news.
Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham is a city that offers a warm welcome to all and one where we want everyone to thrive.
“Our commitment to the Compassionate City Charter is a great way to recognise the kindness and compassion across our communities and build on work that’s already taken place and ensure all of our services, schools, employers and citizens can feel confident supporting people living with a serious illness or who are grieving.”
Dr Julian Abel, Director of Compassionate Communities UK, said: “Death, dying, loss and caregiving affects us all. We care for people close to us many times in our lives and we also face our own death. How we die, how we grieve, is affected deeply by the people around us. This is why it is important to understand that everyone can contribute and help, whether this be in our schools, our workplaces, our places of worship, our neighbourhoods and all of the other civic parts of lives.
“This accreditation is more important now than ever before as people are still recovering from a global pandemic. Nothing shows more support than the community coming together to combat loneliness and ensuring that people know they are not isolated, especially during the difficult moments of death, dying, loss and caregiving.”
The Compassionate City Birmingham Network is keen for businesses, schools, community organisations and individuals to get involved in future events and initiatives.