First of all, I would love to wish you all a happy and prosperous Year of the Rat!

This is our second year organising Chinese New Year Drink Reception with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. Chinese Active Citizens UK is a group of volunteers who care for the community and want to make a change. In order to do that, we host events like this throughout the year to link people and originations together to support community development.

So what’s the community’s biggest concern?

First of all, safety and wellbeing. Safety issues have always been the biggest concern from local community with a lack of understanding of how police work, in the same way that the police know little about the community. In order to improve that, we’ve been working closely with West Midlands Police and have organised Keep Safe Workshop, not only to share some of the basic information and useful tips on keeping safe, but also to bring local community and Police closer.

The second concern is neighborhood and environment. Many Chinese people live, work, go for leisure or food in the Southside area. Last year we joined Southside Bid on a community cleaning day. We walked out onto the street and picked up litters. The work we’ve done on the day was limited. But more importantly, it is to deliver a message that everyone is responsible to keep their neighborhood clean and everyone can make a difference.

The third concern is education for next generation. We have been supporting local Chinese schools delivering cultural and language classes in city centre so that our next generation is still familiar and proud of their Chinese heritage.

But education for the next generation is just one of our dedications to raise a wider cultural awareness and promote cultural exchange between Chinese and non-Chinese communities. We’ve been supporting Chinese Festival Committee for many years on delivering Chinese festivals and we’re happy to see that Chinese New Year celebration has become one of the biggest festivals in Birmingham. Apart from that, we are helping Birmingham Library on Phoenix Project, where 400 Chinese books will be donated to Birmingham and we’re here to make sure all the titles meet the needs from local community and readers.

Phoenix Project is just one of the many exciting projects that is happening this year. China West Midlands 2020 is the broader project we’re assisting to deliver different activities in arts and cultural, sports, education and business across West Midlands region. For example, we’ve invited artists from both sides to work on the same art piece, and encouraged local arts and cultural organisations to produce performances and events with Chinese elements. Because we believe a deeper understanding can only be generated from this kind of intercultural dialogue.

Apart from raising awareness of Chinese culture, we also want to raise awareness of local Chinese community and people. We speak out for the community and address concerns at many local steering groups. We also want to encourage local Chinese community to have our own voice. For example, last year we joined a campaign to encourage more people from the community to vote during the election.

Now I hope that you’ve got an idea of who we are and what we want to do. But none of these can happen without our volunteers and partner organisations. In order to link everyone together, our sub-group Chinese Future-a young professional networking group-has organised different activities such as themed workshops and social networking throughout the year. For example, last year we worked with National Trust Birmingham team and organised a pleasant walking on Clent Hills.

So please join us, it’s fun networking with people, exchanging ideas and together contributing to our community. If you would love to know more or join us, please visit http://chineseactivecitizens.org/.

Many thanks and again wish you all a happy Chinese New Year!

By Angela Huang, Chair of Chinese Active Citizens UK