Handsworth Unites in Celebrating the King’s Coronation Through Community Cohesion Day

Birmingham’s Handsworth neighbourhood came alive on May 7th, 2023, as residents, community members, and council and faith leaders from all walks of life gathered to celebrate peace, unity, and the Coronation of His Majesty the King. The Community Cohesion Day focused around the Big Help Out, bringing local services and organisations together to volunteer their time for the community. It also included The Big Lunch, celebrating with the Lord Lieutenant and other distinguished guests.

The Handsworth Community Cohesion Day was a free event organised by neighbourhood volunteers led by Nishkam volunteers, that took place at Soho Road, Handsworth, from 10am to 6pm. The event was designed to promote peace and cohesion across the neighbourhood, while also addressing inequalities. It was an opportunity for people to come together, learn from each other, and work towards creating a more cohesive and peaceful community.

The day was filled with fun activities, including children’s sports and games, art projects and exhibitions, free health checks, and wellbeing talks. Attendees enjoyed performances and presentations, a petting zoo, and delicious vegetarian food, drinks, and snacks all day long. One of the main attractions were rides on a working model steam engine train, brought and driven by Davinder Singh from Bristol.

Speaking on the momentous occasion, Tina Francis, a local Hockley resident said: “The event is fantastic because there has been lots of information about health. It is interesting that because we are in quite a densely populated area people are more likely to have different diseases than if they were living further afield. There has been a lot of public health promotion, especially looking at diabetes and heart health. However, today has also been about seeing the heart of the community and looking at each other’s heart and caring for that.”

The Handsworth Community Cohesion Day was not just about having fun. It was also an opportunity to combat social isolation and loneliness by participating in The Big Lunch initiative, created by the charity Eden Project Communities in 2009. The Lord Lieutenant Sir John Crabtree and Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward were among the VIP guests who joined the Coronation Big Lunch and presentations.

Tarandeep Kaur, a Handsworth resident said, “I think the Kings coronation is really special and for some it’s a once in a lifetime event that brings communities together and encourages much needed interaction. Handsworth celebrations have brought necessary services to the community, like public health checks and engaging children’s activities. These days we all seem to sit on screens so seeing smiling community members, in person, has brightened up the day.”

Making a memorable entrance on a model steam train, Lord Lieutenant Sir John Crabtree was cheered and welcomed by the Handsworth community. Speaking at the event he said:

“I think the clear message [of the coronation ceremony] was that [this is] a modern Britain with a new king… He sees himself not just as a defender of the Anglican faith, but as a defender of all faiths, and I’m sure that’s what we’re going to see going forward.”

The Lord Lieutenant also read a message from HM King Charles III and Queen Camilla for the occasion, “Both my wife and I are enormously grateful to all the communities, families, neighbours, and friends who are coming together across the United Kingdom to mark our coronation… We feel supported and sustained from so many heartfelt good wishes from around the country.”

Newly elected High Sheriff of Birmingham, Wade Lyn, shared his message of hope and unity, stating “We all have the power within us to create a positive change, in our lives and in our community around us.” He added: “Whether it is volunteering in the community, advocating for a cause which you believe in, or simply being a good friend to someone in need; and we can contribute to making the community a better place”.

The Handsworth Community Cohesion Day saw the launch of ‘The Big Help Out,’ where community volunteers could donate to the St Michael’s Church food bank, and join Nishkam SWAT, a charitable organization that serves in local areas and transforms financially disadvantaged communities, in serving hot food and drinks to the homeless communities in Birmingham City Centre.

During the event, it was announced that a special commemorative archway would be erected at the junction of Soho Road and Soho Hill in Handsworth. This archway would not only serve as a symbol of new beginnings, but also serve as a warm invitation to create and seize new opportunities in the area. Speaking on this, Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council said: “To mark the rebirth of this area, the Council has agreed with the Nishkam Centre for a commemorative archway on the Soho Road. This archway will be a gateway not to our proud history but to our collective brighter future”.

Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Patron of the Nishkam Centre, thanked the dignitaries, adding, “We need peace, and that peace comes when we align ourselves to the King of Kings [God]. Our King at coronation also sought the King of King’s help and assistance. We all need to do this too. If we have no peace, there can be no development. We now have a new King, we need to have a new consciousness – work together, seek peace and look after each other.”

For more information on the event and Nishkam Organisations, please visit www.ncauk.org


Press Enquiries:

Name: Ajit Ubhi

Email: info@ncauk.org

Phone: 0121 515 4229

Notes for Editors:

  1.  Nishkam Group of Organisations are;
    • The Gurudwara – spiritual regeneration and peacebuilding,
    • Nishkam Community Co-operative – promoting self-reliance and self-sufficiency for earning livelihood through hard work (kirt),
    • Nishkam Civic Centre – promoting benevolence (parupkar), which won the Queen’s award for volunteering in 2010,
    • Nishkam School Trust – Sikh ethos, Multi-faith, values-led education,
    • Nishkam Health Trust – caring with compassion, helping with humility and listening with love,
    • Elderly accommodation.
  2. The partners on the day, in addition to the Nishkam Group were: St Michael’s Church, St Michael’s C of E Primary School, Department for Work and Pensions, Soho Road BID.
  3. Nishkam SWAT is a charitable organisation based in West London and Midlands that works to unite and transform financially disadvantaged communities by focusing on projects that make a difference to people’s lives in the short term and improve their prospects in the long term. As part of the Handsworth Community Cohesion Day, Nishkam SWAT will be serving hot food and drinks to the homeless communities in Birmingham City Centre as part of The Big Help Out initiative.
  4. Eden Project Communities is a UK-based charity that aims to create a network of community-minded people and organizations across the country. The charity was founded in 2009 and was responsible for creating the Big Lunch initiative in 2009 to encourage communities to come together and share a meal with their neighbours once a year. The aim of the Big Lunch is to help combat social isolation and loneliness, and to build stronger, more resilient communities. The initiative has since grown to become one of the UK’s largest annual get-togethers, with millions of people taking part each year.
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