Met With Staff and Students
The Duke of Cambridge has met staff and students at South & City College Birmingham’s newly refurbished Handsworth Campus, as part of his visit to the City on Friday 28 November.
The Duke was welcomed by crowds of cheering students, staff and passers-by as he arrived at the entrance of the college. The Duke of Cambridge met Principal of the college Mike Hopkins and heard about the improvements which have been made to the centre over the past 18months.
The college has invested £3million in the Grade II listed building – which had previously not seen any renovations for over 20 years following a merger in August 2012. The renovations have been ongoing and stage two has just been completed – opening the front of the building to students and the public this month.
The centre has become an important feature in the community, with many community groups and local businesses using the facilities such as the Community Hub – a suite of rooms which groups and businesses can use free of charge.
The front of the building has been sympathetically renovated; whilst inside there has been a new reception with Costa Coffee bar, new student library, fully fitted gym and sports hall, new classrooms, plumbing workshop for construction students, media suite and recording studio and more.
The Duke spoke to students who study at the college and for whom being able to learn and gain qualifications at a centre close to home is invaluable.
Shamreen Akhtar, aged 21, from Handsworth said: “I can’t believe I have met The Duke of Cambridge! He was very interested to hear about the college, and he really listened to what the other students and I had to say.
“He asked about the courses we are studying and what we hoped to go on to achieve after, and wanted to know about what role the college played in the community in Handsworth.
“I feel very proud that Prince William has been to my hometown, and that he’s been into the college that I have studied at. I think it will really lift the area .”
Principal of the college Mike Hopkins added: “I am delighted that The Duke of Cambridge has visited our Handsworth Campus. We have invested heavily in the centre, not only to restore the building to its former glory, but to create a welcoming environment for our students.
“The Duke was very interested to hear what we have done, as the last time he visited the area was after the 2011 disturbances which affected the whole country as well as Birmingham, so he was able to see the differences and the improvements we have made.
“It has been fantastic publicity for the college, a great reward for all the staff that have worked so hard on the improvements to the college, and I think his visit will mean a lot to the people of Handsworth.”
Whilst at the college, His Royal Highness also met community groups who have been working to build community cohesion in the area following the disturbances in 2011. These include Continental Star, Nishkam Centre, Birmingham Leadership Foundation, People’s Heritage Centre, Lozells Methodist Project, Birchfield Community Development Trust, Jamia Mosque, Prison Link, COPE Mental Health Foundation, Wheeler Street Foundation and the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.
The college are actively engaged in the community, and have been instrumental in the development of the Soho Road Business Improvement District – a group of businesses from the Soho Road who are working together to make improvements to the area. Since beginning earlier this month, the group have already held events to celebrate Diwali and will be carrying out significant improvements in the near future.
A range of courses are available at Handsworth Campus, both full time and part time for school leavers and adult learners, and include accounting, business studies, hair and beauty, health and social care, IT, ESOL as well as higher education courses.