FORCE FOCUS COLUMN
In Chelmsley Wood a small, not-for-profit, organisation exists.
It’s called ‘Gro-Organic’ and its mission is to help others. It uses an army of motivated volunteers to regenerate communal gardens, walkways and neglected land. But its conception wasn’t planned, instead it came about by accident.
Its founder, Sarah Gill, decided to help clean up her estate to prevent tenants being evicted from their homes. Before too long, 60 or so neighbours were part of the movement; learning new skills and teaching others.
Young people began giving up their time in the school holidays. The work allowed them to find a renewed sense of pride and achievement. Three quarters of the volunteers are aged 14-25. For some, who were getting involved in risky behaviour, it offered a positive to focus on.
Sarah and her team also work with local police officers to find work in the community for ex-offenders. It helps them gain valuable experience, training and skills.
As you can probably tell, this is an organisation that reaches people who others thought unreachable. It exists not for its shareholders or customers, but for vulnerable people who need it. All takings are ploughed back into the charity. For me, it encapsulates the best of the West Midlands spirit.
That is why, last year, I recognised Sarah Gill’s achievements by honouring her with an Outstanding Citizen Award. I set up the Awards in 2015 to place on record the good work people do for individuals and their wider community.
Whether acts of great compassion or bravery, the awards are handed to people who have helped reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
Now, in its fourth year, the Outstanding Citizen Awards have opened for nominations. We want you to tell us if you know somebody, like Solihull’s Sarah Gill, who has done something outstanding.
In all, there are three awards up for grabs: Outstanding Citizen, Outstanding Young Citizen and Outstanding Community Project.
If you would like to nominate a local unsung hero and give them their moment in the spotlight then please visit the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner’s website and fill in the online form.
The Awards ceremony will take place on July 5.