Zaf Inspires Community to Help BCA Centre


Cash Stripped Building Facing Uphill Battle to Survive

After being hit by extensive budget cuts by the council a determined community have shown what they are made of.


The Birmingham Community Association building on Small Heath’s Jenkins Street had been facing closure after Birmingham City Council cut funding the centre. However, in an inspiring move community members have taken up the challenge of keeping it open.


The building, which is a council building being leased by the Birmingham Community Association (BCA) has passed many obstacles in the past which include a tornado. However, budget cuts and neglect have caused the building to end up in a dire state. No heating, crumbling ceilings and no funding has hit the association.


However, in a dramatic and lifesaving project All4Youth and Community’s Mohammed ‘Zaf’ Zafran, teaming up with national DIY chain Wickes, volunteering group Cospa, National Lottery along with South and City College have rejuvenated the centre.


The idea started with South and City College who had been approached by Zaf. Together they approached Wickes for resources. However, Wickes offered them much more and gave them managers and access to their customers. Over 200 students, all from South and City College aged 14-19, turned up for the event which included painting, decorating, constructing and a lesson in health and safety – all of which is being recognised in an official certificate designed by vocational education organisation City & Guilds.


Sue Brady, Funding and Quality Assurance Manager for RM Training the organisation put in charge of assessing the students for their certificate said, “This day is amazing and the turn out of this event is incredible. It is the fact that they are bringing the building back to life which is amazing. It is great and I hope that it benefits everyone. They are looking after their own future.”

Whilst Frances Sherwood, Chairperson of the BCA, said “It is good to see young people in the building again. It really is fantastic to see them here. They are working really hard whilst enjoying themselves.”


“My daughter used to come here and now my granddaughter comes here. This is the hub of the community. This is home.”


When asked why he decided to take the project on Zaf said, “This is my local area so I wanted to do something. This building gives a brilliant atmosphere. It is a disappointment that people do not know how amazing of a building this is because of the way it looks but the turnout is amazing.”


Washwood Heath Councillor Maryam Khan paid tribute to the dedication of Zaf and his team. “It is absolutely fantastic that the community are actively taking part. The cuts have left a lot of communities disheartened but I think Zaf is doing a fantastic job because he has made sure that the community is doing work for their own area and by getting young people involved. It does give you that sense of responsibility.”


Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor Mike Leddy told The Asian Today, “This is a fantastic project. It’s amazing that the buiding will have a future because the association has such a fantastic history.”


Asked what the end dream is, Angela King member of the BCA said, “The end dream is simple. We are opened for business. This is an area for young people where they can come to be educated, have fun and spend time away from negative issues. We would love to use it as an educational facility and I hope it will, once it looks a bit more welcoming.” 


Bryan Hughes, 17, said, “VIY Project was fantastic and a big thank you our Mentor and Hero Zaf, who promised us that we will enjoy ourselves on the day as part of being competitive and he was spot on. Me and my friends have already put our names down for the next litter pick project which Zaf will do next in few weeks time in which Zaf wants to raise money for a Colleague at South and City College Juliette Harrison who has been diagnosed with Cancer and is being treated in Prague. “

Whilst 15 year old Bashir Nawaz said , “Really good event and an amazing experience. So many youths under one room and the spokesperson at the end of the ceremony was right that without Zaf, this would not have been possible and he is doing a brilliant job letting the people know what are the community needs. We want to help him with all his projects.”


Zaf has currently been nominated for a National Diversity Award in the category of Positive Role Model. If you would like to nominate him visit


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