A book of local memories has been published by Age Concern
Birmingham (ACB) to celebrate the lives of older people in the West
Midlands, whilst also raising money for the organisation’s much needed

During the past 18 months, the Birmingham-rooted charity kept its key
services going, supporting thousands of older people and carers throughout
the Covid pandemic and lengthy lockdown.

ACB’s Chief Executive, Becky Bews said “our organisation exists to support
older adults and others in need to promote health and wellbeing and during
the COVID-19 pandemic, our aim, more than ever, has been to support those
most vulnerable and at risk. Back in mid-March 2020, as the pandemic took
hold we, overnight, established a helpline and reviewed our service provision
adapting services to support existing and new clients during such a stressful
and anxious period.

We worked with other organisations to provide increased service and support
remaining agile, flexible and responsive, responding to need in the best way
possible. Whilst vaccine development and roll out has been exceptional and
increases protection, we are not quite out of the woods yet, so we are
continuing to work tirelessly to support our communities even as light starts to
appear at the end of this long tunnel.”

Whilst key services were being delivered during 2020 and 2021, Age Concern
Birmingham continued to deliver a memory-based heritage project which was
funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. In the face of the pandemic,
the organisation continued to collect stories, poems, photographs and
memories from older people in the West Midlands. The project has now
culminated in the publication of a 21-chapter book featuring the memories of
over 50 people.

The book is called I Remember When and the foreword was written by Lady
Anne Knowles, a former Chair of the charity (pictured above holding the
book). Lady Anne Knowles, the widow of the late former leader of Birmingham
City Council, Sir Richard Knowles, has also contributed some of her own
memories and in her foreword she highlights the book’s narrative of resilience:
Lady Anne said: “As we read through this rich diversity of recollections, one of the common
threads is the theme of resilience. It is easy to forget that the older generation
have been on their own life-journeys of aspiration and achievement in spite of
very different, though nonetheless great, challenges.”

Peter Millington, the editor of I Remember When, describes this fascinating
anthology of stories and memories as ‘an antidote for Covid’. He said:
“One irony of the project has been hearing the memories of the generation
who collectively lived through historic conditions which not only compared with
the present situation, but were arguably far worse. The stories in this book are
often of struggle, hardship, poverty and the terrors of war. But the common
themes of humour, pride, determination and a strong sense of family and
community shine through.”

The book spans a range of years from 1918 to the present, with personal and
socially historic insights into every decade. From a Marathon running bus
driver to the Lady Mayoress of Birmingham, the book is packed with the
precious memories of yesteryear.

I Remember When will be launched at an event at ACB’s Communitea Café at
76-78 Boldmere Road on 30th July 2021 at 11am. The launch event will
feature short talks about the project, a down-the-decades quiz and an
opportunity for audience members to talk about their own memories of life in
the West Midlands.

The book has gone on sale at £6.00 in the Age Concern Birmingham charity
shop at 76-78 Boldmere Road, Sutton Coldfield, from our organisation’s day
centres and from our community café at Hawkesley Community Centre,
Edgewood Road, Kings Norton. Proceeds of sale will support the work of Age
Concern Birmingham.