Sparkbrook to Springfield – 2 (Environment)

Running from near the city centre to Hall Green, this set takes an arbitrary cross-section of sights from Sparkbrook, Sparkhill and Springfield. These areas are mostly populated by people of Pakistani origin, whether that be through their family or newly arrived, but the Irish were the first generation to immigrate here in the 20th century. Many people I spoke to liked the communal atmosphere of the area and one mentioned it was a kind of safe haven for women wearing the hajib. Conversely, other people I spoke to, mainly outside the area, were less positive about the changes and had the perception of an insular community.

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Hall Green and Shirley – 06/01/12 and 07/01/12

Celia was on the Stratford Road today walking Ziggy, one of her three show dogs. She has some reservations when it comes to how the suburbs have changed in social status over the years but still loves living in Hall Green. [1256]

Margaret has been in Birmingham since 2007 but hails from the island of Bute, Scotland. Still with a Scottish accent, I asked whether she was ever planning to return there but Margaret avidly replied no, having so many fabric shops and haberdasheries close-by makes life in Hall Green ideal for any keen seamstress. [1191]

Harj works as a medical supplier’s representative and was visiting a business in Hall Green to promote their services. Whilst she lives in London, Harj spends a lot of time working in the Midlands and around the Manchester areas. [1522]

Gary has always lived near the Stratford Road and owns Tower Blinds based on School Road. Business was said to be more challenging than usual but things were still going well enough. [-185]

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Hall Green to Sparkbrook – 21/01/12

Maxamed came to the UK from Dubai in 2000 and is currently on a gap year whilst studying Media. We talked about the Somali TV channels, specifically the lack of documentaries about immigrant success stories. He plans a project to counter this and also told me about work he’d previously made about khat. [157]

Asmina has always lived in Birmingham she told me about the abuse that is regularly received in some areas because of the hajib. However in Sparkbrook where she lives with her three children, she feels safe and people aren’t likely to ‘point the finger’. [573]

Mahamud has previously lived in Somalia and Holland but now resides in Sparkbrook with his wife and three daughters, two pictured below. [964]

Sommaya (see Muhamud). [964]

Sabrin (see Muhamud). [964]

Julian moved to the UK from Romania around 2 years ago and working in construction. He was in Hall green today to work but lives over in Walsall. [1016]

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Sparkbrook to Shirley – 07/01/12

Craig is living at a hostel in Sparkbrook but was in Afghanistan as a paratrooper until 2008. He finished during his second tour after getting shot in the hip and is finding civilian life back in the UK significantly less exciting. [145]

Ali came to the UK recently from Pakistan and is studying business at college whilst looking for a job. [512]

Justine lives locally in Moseley and works as an osteopath but was visiting Hall Green today with her father to look around the cluster of used car dealerships in the area. [1191]

Joseph has been in Birmingham for about a year and owns a Chinese takeaway business in Hall Green. [1331]

Adam is a roofer by trade but has been working as a part-time postman and supermarket driver since losing his job last year. He had a positive outlook on life but had to dash to make a delivery. [-260]

Dave is originally from Nottingham but came to Birmingham in the ’70s and the local area of Solihull in the ’90s. He works for the Job Centre and we discussed the planned supermarket and shopping centre developments to the aging Shirley shopping parade. He was out today to make a regular trip down the high street and said he liked the way he’d bump into friends and acquaintances. [-369]

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Hall Green and Shirley – 06/01/12

Jen (and Isaac, below) were on their way to a friend’s house via the Stratford Road today. Jen is studying A-Levels in Medieval History and Geography amongst others… [1531]

…Isaac (and Jen, above) are students studying in Solihull. Isaac is currently doing a Photography BTEC and is under a bit of pressure with coursework deadlines at the moment. [1531]

Renu came to the UK around 45 years ago from Kenya and works in adult education teaching English. She was using the Stratford Road today to walk to the Shirley high-street for some shopping. [-34]

Robert (and Peter, below) are bus drivers who came to England from Poland around 6 years ago to find more lucrative work… [-40]

…Peter (and Robert, above) discussed how exchange rates had changed over the years and that some Poles moved back as a consequence. He also compared the diversity of a city like Birmingham and the potential for tension between groups to a much more uniform community such as his in Poland. [-40]

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Sparkbrook to Hall Green – 26/12/11

Rory came to Birmingham from Ireland in 1969 to find work and has generally lived locally to the Stratford Road. He commented how back then all the faces is Sparkhill were white whilst he worked in construction and as a lorry and plant driver. [1004]

Hussain came out to query what I was doing photographing the shop he worked in when I told him about the project. The haberdashery was work whilst his wife studied for a post-graduate diploma but he plans to return to Pakistan to escape the current economic climate here in the UK. [350]

Ali was helping to man a friend’s restaurant where I had stopped for lunch and we discussed the apparently few differences between Islam and Christianity. He is originally from Pakistan like the majority of Sparkhill and Sparkbrook people I’ve spoken to and now works part time as a cleaner after finishing at a local factory. [284]

Marcia was on her way to her brother’s house on the Stratford Road and although we spoke briefly she seemed keen and positive about the project as a born and bred resident of the city and area. [193]

Mr Lally was out shopping on the Stratford Road with family when I approached him. He was visiting from Scotland with his wife for the holidays but prefers the greener and clearer Birmingham to his permanent residence in Glasgow. [431]

Mrs Lally was proud to speak of Mr Lally’s head chef status of a restaurant in Glasgow. [431]

Rushabh was in India until eight or nine years ago and is currently studying computer science at Birmingham City University. He lives locally and was on his way to the bus stop going into Birmingham. [1080]

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Sparkbrook to Hall Green – 17/08/11 to 03/09/11

After a little break I have made it past the halfway point of the project with 52 of 100 people photographed. I’m temped to rest the project and continue in winter or spring. On with the photos, posted in order taken.

Ricardo has been in the UK for 7 years and works at Land Rover despite also training as a chef and plumber. He lives in Sparkbrook and aims to become a radiologist in the medical field. [262]

Tony was with Rachel [416] when he was nominated for a photo by her. They plan to move out of Sparkhill and back to Tony’s hometown and family in London when possible. [605]

Breagon was out with his dog today and had bought a newspaper when I spotted his western attire. He’s originally from Ireland and worked as a skilled labourer before retirement. [805]

Mrs Ladwa was waiting for a bus when I approached her in Hall Green. We discussed the social make-up of the Stratford Road and she suggested Hall Green was where Hindus like herself, from India, lived in the area. [1659]

Kazmi lives in Pakistan but has been in Birmingham for the past few months to celebrate Eid with his family. He runs an engineering consultancy specialising in the lucrative liquefied petroleum gas business and will return home this month. [1550]

Mohammad lives in Aston but was visiting family in Sparkhill today as part of the Eid celebrations. [552]

Hussain was visiting friends in Sparkbrook but lives in Aston. He had some great shoes with detailed embroidery, something also picked up by Stan (below). [44]

Stan is from Russia and was showing an acquaintance around a new business premises, he was in a rush so that’s all I got! [46]

Frank was with his wife Ophelia (below) and son Ewan today. He came to Britain from Ghana 10 years ago and has since served in the logistics division of the Army. [341]

Ophelia was with her husband Frank (above) and son Ewan on a shopping trip to one of the local supermarkets on the Stratford Road. They live locally and both come from Ghana. [341]

Chris works for the post office in the city and has been in Birmingham since he was 10 years old. Whilst he was born in Shropshire, part of his childhood was spend in Essex until his parents moved to Birmingham. [1158]

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