Sunday, 25 July 2021

A book of local memories is raising money for Age Concern Birmingham

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 services.

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.

Visit our website at 

Age Concern Birmingham is a registered charity number 518610.


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