Transforming perceptions of the UK’s second city.

Negative perceptions early in my career

I remember attending swanky events down in London during the nineties and noughties when I was on the board of a national trade association. The reaction I got when I said I came from Birmingham told me everything I needed to know about what people thought of my home city:
“Oh, dear! What a shame for you”
“Do they actually have any design agencies in Birmingham?”
Or just simply, “Why?”.
If I’m honest, Birmingham at the time was well past its sell-by date and didn’t have the sense of civic pride that you might have found in Manchester or Leeds at the time. Since the 1970s when I moved here at age 4 with my family, Birmingham has had to reinvent itself and it’s no surprise that’s taken 50 years. With a deep-rooted industrial heritage, the City has had to work hard to find a new shared vision and create the opportunities that are driving its success today as a young, diverse, vibrant, entrepreneurial and ambitious global powerhouse. But that was then and this is now.

The essential catalyst for change

The Commonwealth Games being held in Birmingham has provided the essential catalyst for the whole region. As I know from running a creative agency, you sometimes need an immovable deadline to make things happen! But happen they surely have.
I’m watching BBC Central News as I write this and what’s so clear is that this event is pulling our local communities together like never before. The sense of excitement and pride is tangible. The biggest legacy of these Games won’t be in any shiny new sports stadia but in the pride of the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands. We have a newfound confidence and sense of community.
We knew the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee had to get local people behind the Games in order for it to be successful. They have encouraged grassroots involvement at every stage. It’s the Games for everyone after all!

A chance to shine in the global spotlight

Staging the event itself over the next two weeks puts Birmingham in the global spotlight to show the world what we can do. But while sport will be the focus of the TV cameras, it’s the experience we give to the athletes, their support teams and all the family, friends and spectators that matters. Because, they will spread the word when they return home and encourage others to come and visit, study, live, invest and, most of all, enjoy all that we have to offer.
This once-in-a-life-time event has created huge opportunities for so many:
  • People have learned new skills, made new friends, and established new connections.
  • Businesses have won new contracts, developed products and services, benefitted from additional investment, raised their profile, and won more customers.
  • Communities have been consulted, got involved, promoted their causes, benefited from public funds and joined together for the greater good.
  • Our City and regional infrastructure have received a much-needed boost with heavy investment in better place-making.
  • And we’ve never looked shinier!

An enduring legacy

Long after the Games are over these benefits will endure, supporting the future wealth, health and happiness for the whole region.
On a very personal level, I am hugely grateful for the opportunities that these Games have provided for our whole agency team. It’s definitely been a huge catalyst for our own growth.

Sport is Just the Beginning

Commonwealth Sport promotes a simple, powerful idea that ‘Sport is Just the Beginning’. I passionately believe that these Games can be the beginning of a new chapter in Birmingham’s story. We are more confident, creative and outward-facing with plenty of reasons to be proud to call this City and region ‘home’ and welcome the world.
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