Introducing the Millennium Appeal of the Birmingham Consular Association

COMPUTER BOOST PLANNED FOR DISADVANTAGED BIRMINGHAM YOUNGSTERS...

An appeal to provide lap top computers to boost educational prospects for children "looked after" by the local authority and to support the provision of computers for the education of children in Hospital was launched by Birmingham Consular Association on January 19th as its Millennium Appeal.

The Association represents over two dozen countries which maintain diplomatic representation in the City and the Appeal was launched at a Reception hosted by Association President and Swedish Consul David Gwyther at the city centre offices of Martineau Johnson in St Philip's Square.

In a three pronged approach the Association intend to fund raise themselves, seek grants, and work with partners in industry, in order to:

  • Provide lap top computers for those "looked after" youngsters in the care of the local authority who are going into full time Further and Higher Education; and to,

  • Work with the James Brindley School which provides education for children who are too sick to be in school, including those in Hospital, to improve their Computer network.

The Appeal will be working closely with the Eve Brook Scholarship Fund which was founded in memory of the late Chair of Social Services.

Making the presentation on the project Association Secretary and Polish Consul Mike Oborski said "as a Consular Association we are proud to be in Birmingham. Our very presence tells you in the clearest possible manner what an important City Birmingham is to the Countries which we represent. We are here because you matter on the World stage! We are proud of your success in building the reputation of Birmingham as a truly major international city."

"We want to put something back into a Birmingham which is now 'ours' as well as 'yours'!"

"How better than to back the young people, and particularly the most disadvantaged young people, of this marvellous City!"

Guests at the Reception included the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr McArdle and the Mayoress; Chief Education Officer Tim Brighouse; David Edgar of the Eve Brook Scholarship Fund; Slade Arthur of Tempus Computers; and Len Daniels from Toshiba Information Systems (U.K.) Ltd; as well as leading Councillors and Officers and members of the Association.

If you are interested in supporting the appeal contact Cllr Mike Oborski, Honorary Secretary of the Birmingham Consular Association on 01562 823911 or at Polish Consulate, 6 Osborne Close, Kidderminster, Worcs. DY10 3YY.

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Full text of Birmingham Consular Association Secretary Mike Oborski's presentation on the Association's Millennium Appeal to the Reception on 19th January...

My Lord Mayor, Distinguished Guests, Colleagues,

A series of happy chances has brought us together tonight.

Firstly, as my President has said, the Consular Association wants to "put something back" into Birmingham.

And for those of you who are wondering exactly which countries are represented diplomatically in Birmingham — and are part of this association —let me tell you — Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and Tunisia, and our latest arrival is the Republic of Lithuania!

Our first "happy chance" or"link", indeed often known as the "missing link" is my wife Fran — previously Special Educational Needs Coordinator with the Tuition Service — which is now part of James Brindley School. She herself is now Advisory Teacher for looked after children working with Clive Davies – Advisor for raising the attainment of "looked after" children – and for those of you who don’t know the jargon "looked after children" means those youngsters fostered or placed in residential children’s homes for whom the City is the Corporate parent — those young people who are often the most vulnerable youngsters in our community.

Fran talked us into wanting to do two things.

Firstly, to support the absolutely marvellous work done by Lynne John and her team at James Brindley who in an average year, whatever that is, provide education for between three and four thousand — think about it up to four thousand young people - who for periods ranging from a few weeks to many months are unable to attend their own schools for medical reasons. At the extreme we are talking about the most seriously ill youngsters in our hospitals with life threatening conditions.

Lynne’s team need additional support for their computer network. To put it bluntly people have been very generous with the glamorous stuff — like computers and software — but they also need the basics — at its simplest lots and lots of cabling. We would like to help.

Secondly, I should tell you that nationally 75% of young people "looked after" by local authorities leave school with no academic qualifications whatsoever. This is an appalling, tragic and unforgivable waste of talent which has been highlighted nationally by Tony Blair and locally by the City’s Chief Education Officer, and now Director of life long learning (he keeps adding bits) Tim Brighouse!

Within Birmingham there are some 1,750 young people at any given time "looked after" by the local authority ranging from tiny babies through to a handful of University Students.

The Core Skills Partnership are working to get PCs into residential children’s home. Education and Social Services in the City are working together through the Government’s Quality Protects Initiative.

In the first instance we want to help those "looked after" youngsters who are going into full time Further and Higher Education by providing them with the lap top computer and printer they need to support their education and to give them a level playing field with all our other youngsters.

Chris Price who heads EdIT—this Country’s very finest Educational IT Service - why am I saying this he doesn't even pay me — is our onboard mentor and advisor!

Slade Arthur and Tempus Computers, based here in the heart of the City, have already displayed a willingness to bring their expertise, enthusiasm, and generosity on board. We are delighted to welcome Toshiba who are also here with them today.

An absolutely crucial link in this project is the Eve Brook Scholarship Fund. Those of you involved in local Government in the City remember Eve as an outstanding Chair of Social Services who died far too young. The Charity established in her memory raises funds to assist talented "looked after" youngsters — mainly in the arts. They have very kindly agreed, in their words "to serve as a conduit between BCA and looked after young people". Their assistance, as a respected Registered Charity is enormously appreciated and we are greatly indebted to David Edgar for his kind assistance.

Lord Mayor, your enthusiasm and your commitment to these young people has been a real inspiration.

The commitment and support of leading Elected members, particularly in Education and Social Services, also a real stimulus and inspiration.

For our part we want to do three things.

Firstly, we will be organising a major fund raising event in the Summer. That is still in the planning stage — but we are determined to put our fund raising where our mouths are.

Secondly, we will actively be seeking grants and funding.

Thirdly, we will be seeking partners in industry who can assist.

Tonight is a launching point—nothing more.

Those are the things we are, and will be, working upon.

Tonight is a launching point — nothing more.

We have found an enormous reservoir of support, co-operation, and goodwill.

We now need to turn that into an effective reality.

I would like to conclude by thanking my Chairman, David Gwyther, for his hospitality tonight.

We would like you to enjoy the refreshments, informally exchange ideas, and above all, go away committed to making this project an enormous success.

As a Consular Association we are proud to be in Birmingham. Our very presence tells you in the clearest possible manner what an important City Birmingham is to the Countries which we represent. We are here because you matter on the World stage! We are proud of your success in building the reputation of Birmingham as a truly major international city.

We want to put something back into a Birmingham which is now "ours" as well as "yours"!

How better than to back the young people, and particularly the most disadvantaged young people, of this marvellous City!

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