Shamalha Zafir

Good morning, my name’s Deborah Norrey. I’m working on the History at Hobsmoor Project. Today’s date is Thursday the thirtieth of November 2017, and I am here with Shamalha. Shamalha, can I please start by asking you your name, your date of birth and, where you were born please?
Yeah. My name is Shamalha Zafir, I was born on the third of December 1972. I was born on Somerville Road ‘cause we didn’t get to the hospital [Chuckling].
Somerville Road, is that…?
In Small Heath, Birmingham.
Small Heath. And is that where you, you grew up, Shamalha?
No, we moved out of there, when I w, we were, I was about two, moved to Wyndcliff Road and lived there forever. Until I moved to South Yardley [Chuckling].
Can you tell me a little bit about the road you lived on?
What it looked like, what the neighbours were like.
It’s a cul-de-sac, so it was, and right at the top of the sc, er, the road was the school so, it was just, my school was literally, you come out the door, w, you walk a minute and there you are, you’re at school. Mm, the neighbours, w, was… when I was younger, it was, like, different sets of neighbours to as we got older, ‘cause when I was younger, I think, we were one of two Asian families. Erm, and by the time I left there, I think there was about… ooh, the, the road was, the, the road had become mixed throughout my time, and there was less of a mix by the time I left. It was, it had gone one way [Chuckles], and I think it was a safer place, I think, to sa, Small Heath became, erm, more of a, erm, cultural area. It started off as one culture, became multicultural and then, back to one culture again. Erm, and there was a lot of aspects we didn’t have growing up, that I find there are so many now. Like, even a simple halal butcher’s, there was probably one, erm, around our area and now, in that stone’s throw away where there was one, I think there’s about six. Erm, nothing like halal food takeaways, but there’s, there’s, there’s a m, vast difference to what it was then. Erm, the road itself, erm, the few, as we were growing up, as we were getting older and more community members I remember when … I was little and I used to come home from school, and if Mum was out shopping or if Mum had, gone to her friend’s or something and the door wasn’t open and I’d sit on the doorstep and wait for my brother and sisters, the lovely lady next door to us and, she was a little old dear and she used to come out and give us custard cream biscuits [Chuckles], while we were at the doorstep. So I remember growing up, sitting there, hoping my Mum wasn’t home [Laughing], thinking, ‘Yes, I’m going to get biscuits’. So, me and my brother and my sister, we used to just sit on the doorstep having custard creams, it, all, I can remember all through the summer. Unfortunately, she passed away, I think I must’ve been about nine years old, I remember feeling like, that was the first, person I’d physically known who’d passed away and it was, it was really sad but because… it was, sh, it was a different culture to us, we didn’t go to the funeral ‘cause the family didn’t invite us to the funeral so there was, nothing, no way of being … involved in it. Even though we knew her very well, we used to, and she used to love coming out, talking to the kids and enjoying time with the kids. And then… she, then we had another family move in and I remember them, Tom and Gail, and the amount of noise and the stress they had, we thought we were loud [Laughing]. I learnt about loud then. So no, it was a mixed, mixed road for a long time, erm… it was, I remember you used to, come back from school, erm, you had something to eat and we were out the door. At the, end of our road was the car park for St Andrew’s, football ground, and it was just gravel so we used to just play there all the time [Laughing], and play on the bars, pretend they were, you know the gates, when you lock them and we pretended they were monkey bars and… we were happy, and then they built houses over it so we lost our play area. There was two parks either side of us, so we could play in any park. Erm, they were lovely parks and, er, I think as we got older, the, one of the parks became… a drugs den, really, so they had to close that park up. The other park had a community centre, so you went over the hill and, down into the c, into the youth centre, and play in the area there. Unfortunately f, that became, inhabited by, not very good local people and then, that was, it was actually filled in. They just, filled in the whole area so it was a mound and now, there’s some lovely houses there [Chuckling]. So, it’s like, the, I think property development has taken over parks, a, a lot and I think y, there’s a lot of… Small Heath was a nice area, it was a, it had greenery in it but now it’s just everything’s built up and built up and built up. And down the bottom of the road, I remember when we were kids, it was just, two ha, two houses, it was like granny flats, really. Erm, I remember we used to go down and knock on the door and ask them if they wanted anything from the corner shop, and they’d always give us ten pence to get them what they needed [Chuckles]. So it was the first one out, first one down [Laughing]. So, tha, I remember doing that, then we had, erm… er, there was down the road, I think, if we went down the road, I th, the place there, it… a, a, again, it’s become, it was a, an empty lot for ages. There was, a shop we used to pass to go to the local halal butcher’s and, he was such a lovely man there. I mean, I assume he was lovely and hope no other connotations but, he was lovely. He used to s, come into the shop and he’d always give us, if we were spending ten pence, we used to get a free sweet as well [Laughing]. And I think that was just customer services, really, which, you don’t get now. I mean, they knew your family, they knew who your mum and dad were, they, they knew if you were acting up. And, if you did anything naughty, they didn’t, they would close the shop and take you down, or stand someone else in the shop and take you to your parents. It wasn’t any of this business as letting you get off or… and, I think, with the shop owners… because we, we were of that generation, we were more respectful, I suppose, and we had the fear, the shop owners weren’t… so fearsome either. ‘cause now, I think children go in and they, they’re creating problems and creating troubles and it’s just getting from bad to worse, whereas we, wouldn’t dream of it, parents could give you a clip round the ear [Chuckles], ear for doing any… if you, if we, if they’d got a complaint we, you know, we were terrified, even like, at the top of the road was the school, and we were terrified of misbehaving because, the parents took the teacher’s side no matter what. Now, I see when, that my friends have become teachers and they’re like, ‘We have to, control ourselves because if the child says, “This teacher’s not very nice”, the parent will accuse us’. Whereas we, the, we had no say whatsoever. Parents went in, listened to the teacher and, if we behaved, that was fine. If we didn’t, we’d know about it when we got home [Chuckles], for like… two hours of a lecture at least [Laughing]. And you’re like, ‘Why didn’t I listen to the teacher?’ [Laughing]. But erm, that, the school was lovely, ‘cause even, afterwards when I left and, I w, used to go back to my primary school, and just like, erm, even if it was photocopying for work at secondary school and stuff, the teachers still knew me. ‘course there wasn’t that… when we went to school, it was just, you walk into the school from any direction. Now, there’s fences and you have to go through a certain gate. There wasn’t… erm, there wasn’t anything like that and I think the reason, I remember, I can remember I was at college when it was the Dunblane disaster, I don’t know if you remember when .. n, he came in and… and that horrified everybody. And I think, that’s what set up making the schools safer, but I dunno, ts, it, it, they’re more like prisons now, for children. Mm.
What, what school was it you went to, Shamalha?
Er, it was Wyndcliffe Primary School, to begin with, Wyndcliffe Primary Junior School. And then secondary school was Small Heath Secondary School. And from there, I needed to spread my wings so I went to Bourneville College. It’s a [Chuckles], bit of a distance but I went there. It was, er, b, p, you have to see things as you grow up. And then I went to, erm, Leicester University, for my degree.
So if we go back to just, just, back to your school days for a moment, when you were at school, was it, which, was the school quite a mixed school as well as the community?
Yes. Yep, definitely. It was such a mixed school, I had lots of different friends, lots of different religions and… going to school, when I was going to school, I, I knew, what religions and more about the religions of my friends than I think my kids do, even though we teach them. I know religious education is taught but, all of us children, we were, we w, we went, when there was a trip to the temple, we went to the temple, when there was a trip to, the gurdwara, we were at the gurdwara, when it was at the mosque, yeah, we went there, when it was at the church, we were there. Erm, I remember, a few years ago, my, erm, daughter, she was going to, erm, well, it was basically from school, a mass at, erm, Christmas… well, it wasn’t the mass, it was just like, what a mass is about at Christmas, and they’d organised a church visit. Said, s, ‘That’s fine, off you go’, signed the paper, that was… and I went in to drop her off, ‘cause she was younger then and y, you, you dropped them off then, and erm, there was a man, and he was, he was agitated, ‘No, I’m not sending the children’, and there was a few ladies, ‘We’re not sending the children to church’, and the teacher was trying to explain, ‘All the children are going’. So, obviously, I like to get involved so I says, ‘What’s going on? Let me explain it. Maybe the translation needs something doing’. ‘Don’t want to send our children, our children are Muslims, they’re not going to a church’. And, I, I can’t believe that attitudes like that exist because, I, I, my straight reaction was, ‘If, if, you’re afraid that your child is gonna lose his or her faith by going to a church then you haven’t taught them your faith, then you’re not strong in your faith yourself’. Because if you believe in something… but… what is wrong with mixed culture? I don’t know because we grew up in a mixed culture. We went to the m, shops with our friends and, we went to the fish and chip shop and they’d get sausage and chips and we, we’d ju, just have plain chips, it’s… there wasn’t anything halal, we couldn’t have fried chicken and chips and we couldn’t have anything like that. The shops, even the supermarkets didn’t have frozen halal products. There was nothing, we… were in an environment where we had to make our own choices and we had to understand that there’s limitations to what we can get and cannot get. And, we used to have our cooking, you know, we had cooking at home, we, we eat and our meats and whatever at home. And, I mean, for years and years, whenever I went to, I went, I was a vegetarian when I was out with my friends. I would, I’m not a vegetarian but I was because there was nothing you could actually eat. But, that didn’t bother us. It was just the way things were, and, now I think there’s so much you can… you can go down the road and get halal chicken, halal chicken, halal chicken or you get halal pizzas and halal this. Erm, there’s so many changes that have been made that weren’t around in our time. But, we didn’t think anything of them, and my parents weren’t, and, most of the parents at that time didn’t think it’s such an issue to c, to create a drama about. It’s just, it is what it is, you just carry on. And… a lot of our uncles and stuff, they used to work at the, Wimbush factory and, bring lovely cakes home because broken cakes can’t get sold, but they can get eaten [Laughing], and so we used to … bags and bags of cakes coming home. Erm, and I used to think to myself, ‘Why oh why does my dad have to be a quality control inspector at Toyota? Why [Chuckles] isn’t he working at the bakery?’, not realising then, but my father’s position was a lot better than a factory w, but I didn’t care then, I wanted cakes. Erm… because my father, in, he was from Pakistan, he came from Pakistan when he was sixteen, he was highly educated in Pakistan. He came to college and university and that was his sole reason for being in England, was to study further, so he finished his college. Erm, he didn’t finish his university degree ‘cause he enjoyed the life and he was having too much fun so he did… but he was educated, he knew, er, he was aware of the world. But, what he missed out on, he made sure that he, he got his, children, into education. Erm, it was very important for us to finish our education. And because he knew, he lived in London for ten years before he went back to Pakistan, erm, he got married to my mum. Er, my mum, again, she was educated Islamically and she was educated in Urdu, and when she came to England, she was ignorant of the language. But my mum was never brought up to be an ignorant person, and it was very, very hard for her, she absolutely hated the fact she didn’t know English. Erm, and, the few people she met, the women were happy to be secluded in their homes because they didn’t know the environment. My mum refused this, she, knocked on a neighbour’s door. Erm, she was a, a white lady and she knocked on her door and, said, ‘Teach me. Teach me, I want to learn’. So Mum learnt a few words and the lady was fantastic ‘cause she, knew that there was English, erm, erm, ESOL classes, basically, in the local library, being, by various community members, and so she took Mum there, and my mum learnt English erm from going there. But, she wasn’t happy, she didn’t, she, m, wanted to make sure that, her daughters were never in a position where they couldn’t communicate, or be in a position where they would have to ask anyone for help, that we should be able to do it ourselves. So, she pushed our confidence, my dad, and mum, pushed our education but my mum made us confident.
I remember when I was in secondary school and we had, school leavers, which you can have Easter leavers at that time. They didn’t have to sit their exams, oh, it wasn’t an option for me, there was just, it was not [Laughing] an option in our house. And I remember thinking, ‘cause there were some Easter leavers and some people were leaving and they were getting, shops, er, jobs in shops, shop assistant jobs and, shoe s, shops and chemists and they were making money and… you’re a child, you don’t understand, and I says, ‘Well, I’m not going to college. I’m going to work in a shop and I’m going to make money. I’m going to work somewhere else, I’m going to make money’. And my mum, erm, she gave me a wonderful learning experience, for which I’m eternally grateful. She, erm, organised a job for me… working in a factory [Chuckles]. So, half seven in the morning was my start, and I would go in, and start at half seven, and work ‘til four o’clock, in door handles. The inside shavings of them, when you make a door handle and you break ‘em in two, you have to clean the shavings of them. So all day, with a knife, I would clean the shavings, and then there was, the heaters and they have these little, the round baubles on the heaters, they come, have two bobbles on them. So you have to snap them off, and my fingers, my thumbs were raw, my fingers were raw. We had gloves, but it was, you had your head down. I, ‘cause the … the casting was done there so it was hot and it was, grimy. And Friday, Monday to Friday, you’re working there for six weeks. My mum said, ‘Apply to college as well, and you can work as well so, it’s up to you’. So I’d applied to a college, at Bourneville College. Afterwards, I says, after six weeks, I says, ‘Mum, September college is starting, I want to go to college [Chuckling], I am not working like this for the rest of my life’. And, every day, I was bringing my wage packet home and my mum would say, ‘Look, you keep, certain amount, you keep ten to fifteen pounds, that’ll do you for next week, for your lunches and trav, and getting there. And the rest of the money will go towards household bills’. So I was like, ‘Working away for fifteen pounds, was it worth it?’ When I got to the end and I was leaving and my mum said, ‘Here’s your money, buy yourself some clothes, buy your books, buy what you need. I didn’t spend your money but I wanted to show you, that really, if you work in a factory, you’ll be covering your bills and not much else. So, but if you get yourself an education and you do better in your life, you will always have something, even, whatever happens in your life, your education will not leave you. You can always fall back on it’. And, that has been so true. Er, I mean, I’ve not stopped working, I can’t stop working, I can’t stop my mind, even, I weh, I went to college and I went to uni. When I left uni, I was thinking, ‘Where do I want to go? I know business’, but I didn’t know which field I wanted. Even then, I couldn’t stop. I worked in a library, so I learnt different things in the libraries. I went to South Yardley Library, then I was supply in Centre for the Child, in the Birmingham City Centre, and I had a Saturday job at Small Heath Library. So, I was working in libraries until I found a job. Thought, ‘Right, I’m going to do an office job. I’ll know where I want to be in an office’.
It was for a, erm, it’s called Telecom Éireann and it was an Irish company that used to do the, you know the poles and the ter, telegraph lines in Birmingham? Er, we were in charge of the transport company, we had to deal with the vehicles there. So I was working there and I was just a data inputter, that’s the job I got, was a data inputter. A month later, they put me up to Office Manager ‘cause they said, ‘This is [Chuckles], you’re beyond this, you can deal with company data’. Everything I was dealing with, all the vehicles and the vehicle checks and making sure all the registration documents, MOTs, everything was done, this was my job. And, there was over 500 vehicles. They, unfortunately, lost the contract so had to go back to Ireland, and I was thinking about, ‘What am I going to do for a job?’ And, there was a row of offices, and opposite to us there was an office and I’d said ‘hello’ to everybody, you know, introduced myself, ‘cause I always went out there, spoke to everybody and… the fella across the way, he’s, he used to get our post or we’d get his post and we used to swap posts and he used to come in. And I says to him one day, I said, ‘Oh look, you know, this is the last time I’ll give, giving your post back ‘cause they’re closing up, they’re moving in a month’. He goes, ‘Are you moving with them?’, I said, ‘Not to Ireland, no, I’m, I’m still here’. That afternoon he came in, he says, ‘D’you wanna job?’ Said, ‘OK but, you know, this is what I’m getting now and what…’, and he goes, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ll match that, that’s fine’. And I, y, you know, so, we went, and, that was my interview [Chuckles]. I went in and I remember thinking they had one, computer that was on MS-DOS and I was thinking, ‘This is going back in time, mm, I’m going to do two weeks here’. First week, he said, ‘Look, we’ve only got one computer’, he goes, ‘I don’t know anything about computers but… by the way you’ve looked at it, I know it’s not very good so [Chuckles], can you set up us, a computer system and…?’ So I set up the, er, computer system, the payroll system, we changed everything on there. And the two weeks that I’d given myself, I worked with them for nine years [Laughing]. By then, I was, erm, the manager of three sister companies for the same, people. So we had roadworks, we were doing roadworks, and they did the M6 toll road, it’s one of ours, Olympic Park, Channel Tunnel, Rail Link, and we also did plant training, like on the, erm, on the JCBs and the dump trucks and the diggers and the cherry-pickers. And we also did labour supply to put labour into various different areas, so it was like… I was, er, you know, you, one day you’d be, phoning up job centres in Bodmin and the next day, you’d be phoning up in Kent and… it was everywhere, you know, and I was phone, I was… I was doing a vast amount of work. Invoicing out, making sure payments were received, recording, cataloguing everything. When the accountant came in, I was doing all the work with the accountant and, and he’d say, you know, ‘I d, I just need to come and look over this and finalise it, otherwise all the work’s done’. Erm, that’s, erm, I was thirty by then and I met, erm, my future husband and, we got married whilst I was still working there. I had my first son and I was pregnant with my second son and I thought, ‘No, I want to spend time with my children. I don’t want to work full-time and miss out everything’. So then I said, ‘Look, I’m leaving, I c, er, you know…’ Obviously it was, they got a bit upset, I trained up a new person, everything was done. As I was leaving, erm… the accountant came in, everybody came to say goodbye, the accountant came in, he said, ‘Why are you leaving?’ I said, ‘Literally, I don’t want to be at work and miss out, miss my children growing up’. They said, ‘Do you want to stop working?’, I said, ‘No, I don’t want to stop working. If I could get a job from home, I’d love it’. He said, ‘Well, why don’t you work for us then? We’ll bring the work to you at home, you work from us, your times, your hours’. So I worked with them for seven years [Chuckles]. And then after that, we h, we’d started up our own business during that time, bathroom showroom, done the accounts for that, which was in, local here, in, erm, er, Hay Mills, or Yardley, coming up to Yardley and it… bathroom showroom and, er, that connected me with most of the community because everybody came in. Erm, once you’re in a shop and people know your face and then they see you at the schools, they remember you and they approach you and … I think… that’s when I got to know the v, wider community, being there and being a recognised face. Erm, and I realised then, when I was growing up, how life was, I remember having, erm, as a child, erm, how, w, we used to see that my friends were finishing school or whatever, going to Pakistan and getting married, having to bring their … And I was like, you know, ‘It’s terrible and…’, but then I realised, that the people, that, that’s happened to and they didn’t like it, they’re doing it to their own children. Af, and that’s when I knew, knew, I had to be back in the community and saying, ‘No, it’s got to stop somewhere. Your children are not… they’re not who we were, we, we, where we would accept things or where you accepted it. The children need more’. So, that’s where, erm… I think I, became more involved in the community, to see if I could do anything to help.
I’ve lived my life [Laughing], I’ve done everything. Erm, also, I mean, I think, eh… with, me being who I am, I think teaching starts from an early age, which is when I, er, met Doctor Roy Paget ‘cause he was a tutor for my children. Erm, I’ve been working with him now for the last three years and we’ve written three books together. And the first book we’ve launched is Emotional Intelligence for the Crucial Years for young children. Erm, I’m trying to get this message across to all the women, how important it is, to start educating and speaking to children, like they’re adults and not like they’re babies because they know everything, they pick up everything. So this is another reason I try and do morning sessions, to teach this, that treat your children like they understand, because they do, and what they understand develops their mind and develops who they are, good or bad.
So, if we just go back to when you first moved into Yardley… couple a questions. What, what made you decide to actually move into Yardley?
And secondly, what were your first impressions of it?
I, when I first moved into Yardley, we moved, I got married and I moved in with my husband. So, that was my, reason for moving, him [Laughing]. Um … the impressions I had then, I remember coming to Yardley thinking, ‘This area and this community, is what it was like when I was a child growing up’, because it was that mixed, cultural, erm, environment, ra, like, how I was younger I grew up. And I said, ‘Yes, this is where I want my children because, there’s, there’s no limitations here. You’ve got, you’ve got your own community, you’ve got, different communities here, there’s no limit. There’s, different, erm, types, the, type of people in a working structure, you’ve got, you’ve got professionals, you’ve got… everybody there and I want my children, to grow up in an environment where they’re not just stuck to one type of person. They have to understand the differences out there, like we did. I think it makes them more rounded. And, that’s, what, I really like this area. I can remember, I had my children very, very quickly, erm, and, they were, all three of them at one point were in nappies, so you can imagine it was difficult to get out. And milk bottles, you know, getting milk in, w, my whole shopping list was milk to begin, milk and nappies, I was buying milk and nappies for years [Chuckles]. And I remember once, I’d run out of milk and I, there was the three of them and I was thinking, ‘I have to get the three of them into the car, I have to… then, go to the shop and I have to do something. And I have to go to the corner shop and I need to get them in the car, just to get to the corner shop’, and I was like… [draws breath]. So I looked outside the window and there were some young lads playing outside and they were like, erm, I, when we first came in here, a lot of the, other Asian families tell, told us these young lads, the mixed lads, white, black, A, all of them, says, ‘Oh, they’re not very good lads and they’re gonna mess about and everything’. But, they were outside there and I w, I just looked at the boys, I says, ‘Boys!’ I screamed at them out the door and they were like, ‘Oh no, we’re in trouble’, they were like, ‘Yeah?’ I says, ‘Can you go to the shop and get me some milk please? The kids are there and I can’t just leave the house’. I says, ‘Here you go, here’s a fiver, get me three bottles of milk, they’re a pound each, keep a couple of pound for yourself, have it for yourself’. They came back and I thought, ‘Either I’m not gonna see the fiver again [Chuckles], or I am, you know, they’re gonna bring the milk, you just have to trust…’ They came back, they’d brought me the milk and they gave me the change. They says, ‘No, it’s alright, we don’t want the change’, I says, ‘Take it, I, I actually don’t mind’. They said, ‘No, no, no’, you know, ‘You’ve asked us to do something, we’ll do it for you’. They goes, ‘If you need us again, just give us a shout and we’ll do it.’ And for years, they did that for me, they’d just, every time they’d come past and, they’d see me in, in th, if they’d see me, they’d, ‘D’you want anything, Auntie?’ [Laughing]. And, in this area, I’m Auntie or Mum. They do, actually call me Auntie or Mum. They will come into the house and, erm, a lot of them, ‘cause my husband works, erm, hands-on, he, he always needs labourers. A lot of them have worked with my husband, erm, as labourers before they’ve moved on, erm, to do other jobs. And they have, they’ve moved on, they’ve done well. Erm… erm, it’s just been really nice ‘cause everybody’s come through. And I think being at the corner, as well, we’re a corner house and a lot of people knock the door for various different reasons. And, obviously, you get your Jehovah’s Witnesses as well, which, I have a great way of getting rid of them, if anybody wants a tip. When they knocked on the door one day, and I was pregnant and I was in a mood, and I wasn’t happy [Laughing]. So I opened the door and, erm, there was another pregnant woman there as well so I thought, ‘You know what? I’m, you’ll get no sympathy ‘cause I’m in the same state so [Chuckles] you’re not gonna get no sympathy today’. Knocked on the door, ‘We want to talk to you’, I said, ‘It’s a no cold-calling zone’. ‘Oh yes, but we want to talk to you-’ ‘But there’s a no cold-calling zone, you have to phone me before you’ve come to t, come and talk to me.’ ‘Can we have your number?’ ‘No.’ And they s, ‘But… we just want to speak to you’. I says, ‘No, it’s no cold calling, you can’t sell me anything’. They said, ‘Well, we’re not here to sell you anything’, I says, ‘Yes you are. You’re selling your religion and you want the most expensive thing, you want my soul. It’s not happening’. [Laughs]. Mm, they walked off [Chuckles], I’ve never had a knock on my door since [Laughing]. I’ve seen them but they don’t knock on my door [Laughing]. So, there’s a great tip there if anybody wants it [Laughing].
[Laughs] [Coughs] So, how long have you been here now, Shamalha?
It’s twelve years now that I’ve been here.
And have you noticed any changes to your street at all in that time?
Yes, I have, I’ve seen that a lot of, erm, we’ve got more Asian community coming to this area now, which wasn’t so much then. Erm, I’ve seen a lot of the kids grow up and move out and… [child talking]. I’ve seen a lot of the children, they, grow up and move out and do better for themselves and it’s really nice to see these children do better. Erm, I think there’s, erm, the community spirit… is still there but it’s not as much as I saw it before, but … I, I don’t see a difference because anybody comes past, if I’ve got the door open, you know, y, they’re walking past, I give ‘em a wave or I stop them and I have a chat or I’ll go down and, you know, if they need anything. A lot of the ladies come to me, and they say to me that, ‘Oh, can you read this letter, make this phone call’, which I do. They can’t speak the language, obviously you do. But a lot of the other ladies come though, erm, a friend of mine, if she’ll walk past, ‘Linda [ph], I need you to do this’, ‘Linda [ph], pick me this up’, or, you know, she’ll always tell me when there’s an offer on at the shops [Laughing]. So, I think… [child making noises]. That I the, the… there’s not so much changes as in changes. I think there’s more… ah, I, ‘cause you get to know people better and you know more, I think the community, community has just got a lot stronger. But I do find, that a lot of the people who’ve been residents here a long time, don’t mix in with the newer Asian community because the Asian community maybe keep to themselves a lot more. But, they’re absolutely fine with me, the, you know, they can talk to me about anything and they’ll come round and I, I know they’ll say to me, they’ll knock on the door and they’ll say, ‘What, what curry have you done tonight?’ And I’ll be like, you know, ‘I’ve done this, I’ve done that’, and they’re like, ‘Well… save us some for tomorrow, we’ll have it, f, we’ll take it off ya’ [Chuckles]. So I mean, they’re very open, anyone can knock on my door. My neighbour came in yesterday, she brought me some cakes, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s just the way we are. Er, we go out together. Me and my neighbour here, Ellie [ph], she’s, erm, she’s mixed race. She’s, j, my kids call her Auntie. Erm, Sammy [ph] comes in, he’s a plasterer, he’s a friend of my husband’s. He, he calls me Mum, erm, the kids call him Uncle Sammy [ph]. It’s just… there is no limitations to who comes here but I’ve noticed that it’s not an open-door policy where ev, elsewhere. Erm, I r… across the road, there’s a lovely lady who lives up there, she’s a lovely old lady. But she’s afraid to come outside now, which is a shame, because her neighbours… [child talking]. Ssh. She’s had, because there’s social housing across the road, her neighbours haven’t been very good. Erm, and I remember one of them… [child talking]. One of them had a fight, ‘cause he argued with everyone, then he, he argued with my husband and my husband said, ‘Look, you need to quieten down. Or, you know, the community is, they’re not very happy with you at all. And you’re losing friends, you’re supposed to be here, making friends, if you wanna stay here, not alienating everybody’. And the little old dear came outside and she said, ‘Thank you for telling him that’ [Laughing]. So, yes, but I do find that, erm, when there are issues or when anything is happening, we do get a knock on our door [Chuckles]. I remember once when, erm, got a knock on the door, lady in a panic, absolute panic, ‘My daughter’s gone missing. She was on the bike and I was walking behind her, and we were going to her uncle’s’. She said, ‘Straight from the road, and I can’t find her, she’s gone missing’. And my friend was here at the time and we had somebody else here at the time, we all, I jumped in the car, with my friend, my other friend jumped in her car and drove round, put the lady in her car to drive round. My nephew jumped in his car and my husband jumped in the …van and we left my niece here with the kids. And we drove round for, like, about five minutes looking everywhere in all directions. We all coordinated it, then we came back and we were like, ‘Can’t find her’, she was in… bits. And then I’m standing outside, I said, ‘I’ll stay here, anybody coordinates’. And then I see this little girl on her bike, I said… ‘Have you looking for your mum?’, she goes, ‘Yeah, she was meant to be behind me’. So then I found my friend who, the lady was with, I said, ‘She’s, she’s here, she’s safe’. So she was there the, sh, they’d gone to see the uncle, she’d, the mum had phoned her brother and he was looking for her. I’d ca, I saw him waving, looking flustered and panicked, I said, ‘This way’ [Chuckles] so… we all got, the girl was found and everything and the lady was thanking us and it was like, ‘No, it’s no problems’. Next day, she came with chocolates and flowers, saying, ‘Nobody would’ve rushed around like that and I really appreciate it’, and I thought, ‘No, yes they would have. Everybody would’ve done it ‘cause when it comes to a child, you don’t think, you do’. And I said that to her and she goes, ‘Well, thank you so much, thank you so much’. And it was really nice to see how everyone, ‘cause as soon as the neighbours heard what was happening, all the neighbours were outside, everybody was willing to come outside, and stop what they were doing at home to look for a little girl, and that was so lovely. It’s one of the best things, I’ve seen in community spirit, it was just lovely.
So [Pause] with the, with the, community in the area changing, do you find that you’re more, at the forefront of that community now?
I find that I, I, I am there, I think I don’t realise it, but when I see how many people come to me and what they discuss with me, even when I’m at school and the ladies speak to me, I realise that, yes, I am now. Erm, I realised it more so ‘cause of [Chuckles] when it was, the elections and they come and knock on your door and, er, they say, ‘Oh, we want to do this, we want to do this’, and I remember the last time it was the election and they said, ‘When are you gon…’, you know, ‘We’re looking for your vote’. And I said, ‘I’m not voting for anyone ‘cause I’ve, because I’ve been complaining to the Council, about the amount of dog poo that’s on the road.’ Said, ‘When I can walk down the road, and not, my pushchair’s not squishing dog poo or I’m avoiding it, and I find out who’s done it, that’s the person [Chuckles] I’ll vote for’. Well, the dog poo’s cleared [Laughing]. Coincidence… [child making noises], ssh, ssh. Coincidence. Erm, the last time there were, erm, when, this, this election, when, this one was happening and they were canvassing and knocking on the door, and, erm, I discussed some policies with them, erm, that I had issues with, erm, I brought them up because I think they’re f, I felt they needed to be brought up. So I’m discussing these policies and issues and they’re listening and ag, trying to explain to, themselves away. And I said, ‘You’re explaining yourself today but I haven’t seen anything, and this issue has been going on for the last six months and I haven’t seen anything’. This is just me speaking to them, not realising, and then, we had our, erm, the pavements, the lines have become, like, they’ve re-painted the lines and everything. And the council member came round and he was discussing the refuse, the collection of the rubbish, and he was saying, oh, you know, why it hasn’t been collected. And then, erm, he said, ‘We’re doing our very best and the other party isn’t doing anything’, and I said, ‘Why are you telling me?’ He said, ‘Because you’re a community leader, you’re on our report, you’re on our database as someone who’s a community leader and to speak to you, about these issues if we want people to support us’. And I was, I was in shock, I was actually shocked [Laughing], that, I’m on a database [Chuckles] as a community leader, oh dear [Laughing]. I think I, I’ve been too vocal! But then, I don’t mind. Because if I’m vocal for my community, good, I will do it again. I’m not, I’m not referring to a religion, I’m not referring to a culture, I’m referring to the community. And I don’t, I’m, very happy to do that.
That’s excellent.
So [Chuckles], that was one of the things that shocked me and I hadn’t realised I was [Laughing]. I don’t think that, I think, that, I am doing, what everybody does. And I’ve come to realise now that a lot of ladies from my community won’t speak up. They will speak, but they won’t speak up. And I think, when I speak up, erm, it might give somebody the push, and the drive to work with me and do it with me. And I mean, at the community centre here now, at Oasis Hub, er, er, Hobmoor, the Hub itself, Nargis [ph], is… I mean, she’s absolutely wonderful in bringing the community together. She has got, so many ladies out, being in locked houses and bringing them out, which is, why it’s a great source for me to go to, to start teaching the development of their children so their children are not… and I kn, the ladies do, they, they come and they open up, saying, ‘Our, erm, household development isn’t such as this and what do we do, what do we do? And the children aren’t listen…’ ‘Well, you have to make them listen. You have to be, that powerful that they understand that their mother, is powerful enough to make a difference. Because I can make a difference in my kids’ life, you make a difference. Just by doing nothing, you’ve made a difference in your child’s life because your son will look at you and say, “Women can’t do it”. Or your daughter will look at you and say, “This is how I need to be”. No, be vocal. If your son can do it, so can your daughter’. My daughter does everything and my sons do everything. If there’s dishes, whichever child’s name comes out of my mouth first is putting the dishes away [Chuckles]. And if then, if the logs need to be brought inside for the log fire, whichever child walks past me, it, it’s l, I don’t care, which child it is, it’s going to be done. Erm, when I’m cooking, whichever child shows an interest that day, that, ‘I want to help you cook’, that’s the child that’s helping me. I don’t care if it’s my son or my daughter, it doesn’t make a difference to me. They, they’re coming in and… that is, that is a w, a way of teaching your child, as well. It’s not… [clears throat] that, it’s just basically saying, ‘You need to, you know, you need to do everything’ [clears throat], excuse me, sorry. [Clears throat], sorry. And I think that these ladies, erm, out in the community, because they’re brought up not to know [Chuckles] the differences, or not… t, t, well, they are brought up to differentiate, they… they are passing this on to their children as it’s been passed on to them and it’s got to stop somewhere. You, you have to be… [child crying].
Honey, this is, this is, it’s gonna hurt …
Other than the community, Shamalha, what about the area itself, have you noticed any changes in the area?
Yes, I see there’s, erm… I think that we’ve got, I… w, with the community, yes, it’s happened but the area itself, when I moved in here… Hobmoor, where Hobmoor School is at the moment and the community centre, there was nothing there. It was a park and it had just started development and I was like, ‘What’s gonna be built there, what’s gonna be built there, what are they building?’ Obvi, obviously, I never went to find out and, erm, and I was just there watching it go up and I realised it was the school. Because the school used to be, erm, the Hobmoor School was [clears throat] at Bierton Road, where we used to go and vote, so then I found out it was there and I thought, ‘Ooh, it’s a nice new building. I’ll put my son in there’ [Laughing]. So, so… [clears throat] so basically, that, that building has come up. Oaklands Park has gone from strength to strength because, erm, I don’t know much about The Vibe because when I came in, I didn’t know if anything was happening in The Vibe but now I know so much about it. Because, erm, Nicola [ph] herself[inaud] and Arts in the Park and everything, it’s been, it’s been promoted so well, through the community centre, and that, people are getting to know what’s happening in the area. Erm, and I’ve, I, I’ve realised The Vibe exists, where I didn’t, say, seven years ago. It was just a building, I didn’t know what it was, it was just a white building, drove past it many times. But, to see now, what that is about and to see the community come alive in that area is brilliant, it’s absolutely fantastic. And then, erm, that is structural development so you can see it, and you can see the influx of, how people use this. I mean, the park itself is, it’s fantastic, I mean, there’s so many different… things that have been happening in the park. You’ve got the, erm, exercise machines there and you’ve got the bike-riding area there, you’ve got, everything that could make the kids happy now and I, and, and… it wasn’t so much when I first moved in, it was just an open area. And m, my kids go to the park now, I’m happy enough t, for them to get onto their bike and, go into the park and come back because, to date, we’ve not heard… I mean, that park has b, been kept clean and it’s fine. Erm, there was an incident, where er there was a stabbing [clears throat], which was, something that I’d never heard in this area before. I, you know, it was, you’d heard it in Small Heath or Sparkhill but I’d never heard, of, that happening. And, but the way it was dealt with, the, the policing and everything, oh, it was amazing. It was, it was quick… so, the scare factor wasn’t there that the people had got away with it and what if they’re coming back and is this gonna be a local area now for, gangs? No, the policing of the community was so strong and so swift that no, it hasn’t become a gang area, which is really, really good because where it is [clears throat], what, where the incident took place, it’s right between The Vibe and the community centre. And this is where we send our children, and you want that to be a safe place, and I think that, that, it has worked for it to be a safe place, and… just with, how quickly it was dealt with.
Erm, other than that, we’ve seen the change in the Swan. When I came in, to the Swan Centre wasn’t as it is now, it was, it was a whole different area. The whole, landscape has changed there, where Tesco is now, the Swan Centre. There was no petrol station there, it was just lots of, indoor markets, really. You go in and you go… and I think I, must have visited it a few times. But now that it’s a local Tesco, I’m there nearly other, every other day [Chuckles]. But [clears throat], that is a vast, vast change that’s happened. A new roundabout was built there, the new road layout, they cut through the landscape. But, it’s actually so lovely now and, it’s just so used, you, you just can’t remember what it was like then, but, you do know what it was like then. And I think [clears throat], that’s changed a lot in the sense that, we see a lot of different, erm, ‘cause at first, I thought, you know, with the Tesco being there, a, the local business are g, are gonna suffer. Yew Tree, was the local shopping centre, with, erm, maybe that’s going to suffer and… But no, I think the interest that you get from Tesco and people taking a drive down, you get more business drummed up in the area, so it has helped in the area as well. So, I think that’s, that’s one of the major changes, and the Oaklands Park. Erm… I, I think structurally, that’s all I can think of. Oh, the Richmond Centre as well, which didn’t exist. It was a pub, erm… that pub, w, went f… I think, there was two pubs, mainly, when I came here, that were running and it was the other one here. I can’t remember what it was called now. Ooh, I j, I can’t remember what it was called but it was the second pub there. And I remember my first year, of moving into this house, which was 2007 when it was, erm, blocked off and it was, it was closed down and it was cordoned off and it stayed that way for about… four, five years until, the, development people bought it and they’ve got, built houses there. Then, after this one started building, the second pub, which was I think The Richmond, called The Richmond as well anyway, that closed down as well and, erm, then the… I th, I don’t know who bought it but then, it became the Richmond Centre and I’ve visited that centre and it’s lovely [Chuckles]. So yes, those are the… those changes have come about as well. Erm, the other change that I’ve seen, which wasn’t here when I moved in here, was exactly opposite the Richmond Centre, like diagonally across, is where there’s a, a great big new mosque, erm, which there wasn’t one when I was here. So, that’s something as well that you see that’s changed in the local area where there’s, you can see now that there’s more of a community. I think that mosque has been there, what, four years now? Erm, it wasn’t there when I moved in and there w, because there wasn’t call for it, as, there wasn’t a lot of the Muslim community there. And I find now, because of the move, not just from South Yardley but in through Bordesley Green, that is becoming a, it, that’s, that’s there now and it’s being used as well. So I think those are the major developments that have taken place since I’ve been here and they are quite big developments.
Do you think that’s good for the community as a whole?
Erm, I’d say Tesco, having that, Oaklands Park is fantastic. Obviously, with the school and the Hub, that’s brilliant for the community as well. Erm, with the mo, mosque, er, it, it’s… I don’t mean to sound terrible but it’s, it’s like a, erm… it’s limited who uses it. Erm, if they had a community centre and allowed other users, then yes, it would be great for the community. Yes, it’s good for the Muslim community, but not as a community for the whole. Erm, I wouldn’t say that it shouldn’t be there, I mean it’s there, and… but it should be more open, for, use f… and, it would give everybody an idea of, what happens inside a mosque. There would be a, less of a fear factor. I know that, erm, in Small Heath Green Lane Mosque, they do a lot of open days and they have various different community members coming in, to keep that fear factor out. They, the, they see, they let people see, it’s a school, it’s a learning establishment, nothing more than that, and a prayer area. Erm, they do community events, I know they go out and any time there’s a disaster, whether it be local, or international, they do have vans and support units, and they’re out there.
Erm… [clears throat] er, I know that, erm, the one time that, that the community came together is, er, it was the horrific incident, when, erm, Mohammed Saleem was stabbed when he came out of the mosque. Erm, he’s my uncle, erm, it was horrific, he was just walking home, all he was doing was walking home. He was an old man, er, he was walking home from mosque, from prayer, and, it was one racist thug, that’s all it took. It’s an incident, it’s there, it’s happened, but from there, I remember when, w, we went to read his funeral prayer, and, I’ve never seen that many people turn up, to read even, the, er, come for the what we call Eid prayers. Erm, the road was blocked off, the Police were there, people were praying his funeral prayer in Morrison’s car park, who allowed the car park to be, cordoned off as well, to allow people to, pay their respects. Erm, and it wasn’t just Muslims there. It wasn’t just Muslims there, it was communities as a whole and… I think, you know, somebody like that can make a difference, it makes changes. And, I think, w, obviously, you don’t want some, that sort of incident repeated at all, but please, somebody learn from it. It’s, within your community, do not segregate yourself. Community’s there for a reason. They’ll speak, people will speak to you how you speak to them. If you come up to them and you smile at them, people automatically smile back. But if you’re gonna frown at them, they’re gonna say, ‘What?’ and you’re gonna, you’re gonna lose that… ‘cause you can’t, you can’t make, a first impression twice. Y, y, you just make it and it’s there. People are either gonna like you, or not, and it’s how you approach a person. Sometimes, you can approach a person nicely, they’re still not gonna like you but, hey-ho, not everybody likes you [Laughing]. It’s, it’s life, no matter where you are [Laughing], and…
So yeah, I think that, erm, mostly, the, the community has benefitted from the, the developments that I’ve seen. Especially, I think the community centre has made a big, big difference in the community.
And how did you get involved with the community centre, Shamalha?
Erm, mainly so because I am a school governor. So, erm, we have our projects that we look at, erm… if I can talk a little bit about the school, is that ok, from the beginning of the set-up of the school? Erm, the school started, it was Hobmoor School, erm, and the headteacher there, she was… I dunno, she was just good, I suppose. But, when Ofsted came in, the school was put into special measures. And a, second headmistress, like a part-time headteacher was sent in, erm, which the first headteacher didn’t like so she left and she resigned. So we had a… temporary headteacher. Erm… when that school was opened, erm, there was so much… so much there that the school could’ve done but we didn’t see any improvements. S, there was basics there as… but you d, you don’t know what to expect, especially me as my first child was going there. And, I thought it was fine. The child went there, second teacher came in and she tried to make improvements but she had an upward struggle and she was temporary, so I don’t think she put that much effort into it. Erm… there was improvement but you couldn’t see a vast majority. There was a, a turnaround of staff, erm, a lot of the staff had left, which I later found out weren’t great staff to begin with. And then, the, school became an academy, it became Oasis Academy, I think there were some people who didn’t want it to become an academy. But, all, said and done, when I did my research I didn’t see anything wrong with academies at the time. Erm, I still don’t now. Erm, so, it became an academy and they appointed Paul Tarry and, I think he was the best thing for that school because, he has made such a vast improvement on that school. I say this because, the community centre was always there with the school, but it was never used. There, it was not used until Paul came along, it was a closed building. So there was an amazing resource, available to the community that was ignored for at least four years, which was such a waste. Erm, I remember Paul came in, and he had a, he, himself, his first priority, a, rightly so, was to improve the education of the children. And he spent a vast amount in time on doing that and it just goes to prove, how dedicated he is and how he managed to get the best out of his staff, by showing that the, thi, the, that this school is one of the five percent most improved schools nationally. I mean that says a lot for Paul. He, he is at the moment, the school is at the moment, I mean this is from being parent governor, learning this, the school is at the moment, he’s, f, financing the, rent of the, erm, Hub, so that this Hub can open up and the community centre can be open to everybody. Erm, Paul did that, Paul, and he got his group together and h, and they opened up the Hub, and they, just started off as best as they could. Erm, Andy Brown came in, the pastoral leader, he came in, erm, he’s dealing with the Hub in the evenings and Nargis Romangi [ph] is doing the daytime and th, they mix together how they’re doing things. Erm, they have brought it from strength to strength, but they couldn’t have done it without Paul. Paul has implemented … some fantastic things. I mean, I have to say this, we have, erm, where Sue Hollis [ph] and Mrs Clarke [ph] work, they have the, erm, the safeguarding group. Erm, it’s, s, amazing what that school does because no other school that I’ve known so far does as much as they do. I’ve known parents have come up, and said that, ‘They have helped us in situations where we had no food’. These ladies go out of their way to… bring in food, take them to food banks, make them aware of how to use everything. Ladies have had problems with families, with husbands, they’ve helped them, they’ve had, ladies have had illnesses who can’t physically bring the children to school, they will go out and bring the children to school. I mean, no, that, if that isn’t community outreach, I don’t know what is. And I think, all that has been … we had it bef, you know, there, there’s been other headteachers, they haven’t done it. Paul Tarry has put this together and Paul has done so much, for this school. [child talking] Erm, so that’s where I start with how I got involved, is I can see the difference, one because I’m sending my son… to school because he started at the nursery, under the leadership of the first headteacher when it was a school. And then the second headtencher [ph], temporary and, he left while Mr Tarry was there so, I have seen that school go f, from its… from how it was, to develop to where it was t, for Paul to bring it to where it is, erm, it’s, it’s an amazing school now. And I remember when it went into special measures, so many people, took their kids out of school because they just did not want their child in that… un, you know, it was, they probably thought it was unsecure future. But, I mean, I am so glad I stuck, a, my kid, I kept my kids there and I stuck with the school because, v, now, it’s, it’s… it’s been worth it. My son has done so well, he’s in, he’s moved on to secondary, he’s in Year Seven now. But, my other two children are there and I can just see how much development and how much, emphasis is putting on, in, he, Paul has put into, not just developing the child, educationally but emotionally, giving them the confidence to be out there. So… erm that, and… well, this is one of the reasons, when the ch, when the school was g, in special measures, and things were changing, is when they came a post up for the, erm… p, er, parent governor. And that’s when I decided, because it’s in, we don’t know what’s happening with the school and we’re hearing the news and I don’t know what’s happening, I want to be involved in this. I want to know what’s going on. So I put myself forward and that’s how, and becoming a parent governor’s really helped me as well because, it made me so aware of what’s happening in the school. And then when the community centre came alive, erm, and it was just part of, erm, to go out there and, I think part of my role is to, to work with the community centre. Erm, so I go in and I see, and I, I like to be in there and help whenever I can. It’s hard sometimes because I have the little baby but like, Nargis [ph] is, ‘Bring her in with you, she’ll be fine’ [Chuckling]. And whatever I can do with her being there, I am there and that’s why I’m so much in the community centre, because, I can bring her in and can work around my child, but I can work with the community as well. And, you know, the, the ladies there are fantastic and, they’re so glad to have somewhere to come to, which, you know, i, it’s very hard. When you’re sitting at home and you want to come out, sometimes you, y, you can, you go out and where you gonna go? Somewhere to have coffee? Some di, days, yes, you’re fine, some days, you, financially, you can’t do that. Community centre’s there for you to, you know, go in and you can have, like I organise a coffee morning, erm, on the Mondays. I’m trying to get the f, as, as soon, whenever we get the f, the hall free, we go in for a coffee morning. And, the ladies do come in, and it, they do appreciate that being there. And, erm, you know it just, I’ve, the community centre has done so much now. It’s doing football classes, it has Islamic classes, you got i… [draws breath], you got literacy, numeracy. There’s even, erm, job centre meetings where the, you can, like, they’ll, you get some help with CVs and working with that, you can use laptops to look for jobs. Everything the community needs to better itself, that, the Hub is providing for them. And it’s such a good resource which, was a shame that it was wasted for so long. Erm, and I think it’s working together with, with The Vibe, both of them are now, have come alive. And there’s so much, even like, say Hobmoor Histories, that’s come out of being within the community, it’s all working together now. And… we’ve learnt a lot, like… since Paul’s been there, you have, they, they’ve done Aspire Week, where there’s no schools, er, lessons for a week and there’s just, Aspire, you get together and you do what you want to do and I know… Oliver leads that and I’d never met Oliver before Aspire and I think Ol, Oliver’s wonderful for what he does, as well. He’s, and he’s there now, he’s always there and… he’s enriching the community because, where people don’t, understand and when you g, go to other places, they don’t, bring arts and, anything like, you know, creativity. And, that’s one of the sk, things the school does, it, it teaches a ch, child to, be inspired. And that, once a child has learnt it, they will carry it with them throughout life, it’s essential, in teaching because… and this is where I say Paul teaches, Paul has got emotional intelligence, in ch… ‘cause maybe you, there’s certain things, parents won’t do, not because they don’t want to do it, because they’re not aware of how to do it. It’s not, it’s, it’s not the parents’ fault, it’s just they don’t know where to go for a certain thing or where to go for a certain thing if they’re not confident in their selves, like… even now, when I get, my, my friends and they, they’ve been brought up and they speak English and there’s, absolutely nothing wrong with them. But they’re afraid to make a phone call because of the person on the other end might say something like, what are they gonna say? Pick up the phone and do it. But, people are afraid to take that first step and I think… when you’re a mother, and you were afraid to do that, you’re always limitting your child. You need to be out there. It’s like when I’m on the phone and I’m speaking and, my daughter says to me, ‘Why do you put your posh voice on?’ [Laughing]. And I’m like, ‘It’s not my posh voice, it’s my, professional voice’ [Laughing], ‘there’s a big difference, dear’ [Laughing]. So, erm, they, they’re aware that Mum’s on the phone and she’s, she’s talking to somebody professional or she’s talking to a friend ‘cause they know from, how I switch and I don’t realise I do it but children pick up on many things [Laughing]. Erm, and I think, that… you know, with, with Sue Hollis [ph], Mrs Clarke [ph] there and with Paul Tarry, he’s, obviously he’s leading this community, you have Oliver helping the children, you have, erm, Nargis [ph] helping the ladies in the community. Altogether, as a c… I think, Oasis, Hu-, it has helped the community so much in the last four years and I have seen it, I have seen that change. Just, that’s just one area that we’re looking at, and they work so hard. And I know from progress reports, sitting in the, erm, meetings, how well the school is doing as well, and I have got nothing but praise for them. The teachers as w, the teachers are working so hard, Paul works hard, all the team work hard, it’s not just one person. I mean, Paul is great, he’s managed everything beautifully and, I’m, sad to lose him, really [Chuckling]. We’re losing him but he’s, going on, he’s br, he’s doing better and, it’s fantastic for him, as well. But, it will be a loss for the school [Laughing]. He’s just got to find someone as good as himself [Chuckling].
So, i, it seems to me, Nargis [ph]… [tuts]. I’ve got Nargis[ph] in my head, sorry Shamalha –
[Chuckling], that’s alright.
– that you actually really enjoy living in Yardley.
I do, yes. I really, I think it’s brilliant. I, I don’t think… I mean, obviously, there’s all sorts of people out there but, I could go and knock on any of my neighbours’ doors now and have a conversation and stand there with a cup of tea. I could go in here and, and there’s other ones I could… just knock on the door, see how they’re doing because I know my neighbours. Erm, people’ll come down and… ‘cause we’re the corner house, anything happens, if parcels can’t be delivered, they’re knocking on my door, ‘Can you keep the parcels?’ [Laughing]. So…[swallows] I think most people get to know you like that ‘cause I’ve, we’ve always got a parcel for someone [Laughing], and they’re knocking on the door.
So is there anything, that you don’t like about Yardley?
[Pause] erm… um, I’d have to think about that. There’s not a lot, really that I can complain about and I think it’s, I’m, I’m quite happy here and I’m quite happy bringing my children up here. So, if I’m happy bringing my children up, there’s nothing really to complain about [Laughing]. The only thing I would say is I wish, I wish there was a local secondary school that we could send our children to that’s just as good [Chuckling] as the, as the primary school [Chuckling]. Other than that, I think that’s brilliant, I’d… I think if, if Oasis Hub, Hub did, er, Hobmoor did a secondary school, that would be great. [Laughing]. Put that in, you know, maybe it’ll get [Laughing], picked up [Laughing].
Bit louder.
Yes, yes. [Speaking loudly] We, we need a secondary school [Laughing]. Hobmoor High School [Laughing].
Is it… if, if you had to nail it down, what, what d, what would you say, i, it is about Yardley that, you find so special?
I think at, still at the moment, we have a lot of community spirit. Erm, I was waiting outside once for my children and, erm, they were taking their time coming home when they were walking home and I… like, I, if they’re not here at, within ten minutes, ‘cause I know how long they take, I stand outside and I stand at the corner of the road, take her for a walk with me, and we’re looking for them. I was walking up and down once, my neighbour came outside and says, ‘They haven’t come up yet’. Says, ‘I’ll take a walk down’, so he walked halfway up the road. and then, erm, another one of my neighbours, she was coming down and she’s, she’s expecting and I said, ‘Right, they’re in trouble. If they’re slower than a pregnant woman, they’re in trouble’ [Chuckling]. So she spoke, she goes, ‘No, I’ve seen them, they’re safe and they’re conscious and…’ So, people are looking out for my children and they look out for children. So I’m thinking, ‘They’re still not back’, so then in the end, I said, I rang the school and they says, ‘Oh yeah, they’re in choir practice’. Oh, I could’ve murdered them [Laughing]. For, for me, to know that, when my kids are walking out and about and, the community members are keeping an eye out on the children, it’s amazing. And that is what I love, there’s still community spirit here, and, everybody’s willing to listen to you, and if you s, you know, like I was spoke…ing[ph] to the ladies and I said, ‘Community centre, pop down here’, they will go there, they will do things. And they w, they do, erm, work together and I think… yeah, I think it’s community spirit that keeps me here at the moment. If, if that was gone, erm, I’d still say, ‘Look, yeah, the great schools, but my children are coming out of school, maybe she’s going into school but…’ There’s nothing here, I mean, I don’t think we’ve a, argued with anyone or had problems with anyone. I mean, I know there’s, there’s ups and downs and there’s good and bad, in each community, you’re not gonna get perfect communities. But it’s not so bad as something that can’t be fixed and sorted, it’s, it’s just, a, nice community to live in. I know most, I know names of most everyone. N, the new people that move in, you c, they come, you can see them, you say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ But most people come, I mean… there’s been incidents, erm… there was a time, I don’t know if I’ve… can I say it, if I’ve got time, or…? Yeah, yeah, OK. There was an incident, erm… the little g, the, the little kids had gone to school and the little girl was about six years old and seven years old, her, was her brother and a ten-year-old. And they’d come out and, erm… apparently, a man had said to the little girl, ‘D’you wanna come and play in the park with me?’, and they’d all run home. So, we were, everybody was up in arms and we were all out, ‘What’s going on?’, and everybody was working out. And, erm, some fella, he’d, she’d just said, ‘He was one o, he wore those worker clothes, bright yellow worker clothes’, and this, incident, occurred about eleven o’clock in the morning. About half-five in the evening, and my husband came home and I was telling him and my husband goes, ‘Oh right’, and my friend was here. He said, ‘I’m going to the shop, I need to get a couple a things from the shop, do you need anything’, I said, ‘Get the milk’, whatever. He was coming back and, ahead of him was somebody who’d come out of a, truck and he was, he was a worker guy with his, hi-vis on, and he’d gone into the shop. He came, he bought what he needed, my husband was behind him, he came out the shop, these people that the incident happened with are still looking for this person with the hi-vis vest on.
So they see this poor man, walking down and they all got out and started screaming and shouting at him. ‘You went to a n, child and…’, whatever, and my husband was like, ‘No, I’ve just seen him come back from work, don’t do this’, and they were all agitated and it was a big argument and it was a big incident. And my husband said, ‘Look…’, you know, ‘cause they were ready to, get violent. My husband said, ‘No, nothing like this is going on. Get the child, if she says this is the man [Pause] I’ll join you in getting violent’ [Chuckling]. ‘But, if this isn’t the man, you all owe him an apology, ‘cause you don’t do that to someone’. And they got the child, obviously it wasn’t him, so she says, ‘No… dunno who that is’. So, everybody was then looking at my husband, my husband said, ‘You know you’ve got to apologise’ [Laughing]. So they all apologised [child whining], and they went back, but, you can see that… they stick together f, even, when it comes to harm of a child, we stick together, but, they’re still willing to listen. They are still willing to listen and give someone the benefit of the doubt, which, goes to show, it’s not a mob mo, er, m, erm [tuts] mentality. It’s not mob mentality ‘cause, if it was mob mentality, they wouldn’t have listened to my husband, they would’ve just attacked. But it’s not mob mem…tality, which is where you want your children. You know they’re safe ‘cause the neighbours are watching out for them. But you know they’re not, neighbours that are gonna influence them, negatively, which is, why I think I love this community, I really do. I like being here.
That’s lovely, Shamalha, thank you.
[Child talking]
Is there anything, you would like to add, at all?
Erm… I think I’ve added quite [Chuckling] a lot, haven’t I? [Laughing]. But, I would like to say, in the summer, erm, I do, I take my kids and we like to have a nice walk around the area. We go i, out in the evening after our meals. Too cold in the winter and lazy to be honest, but in the [Chuckling] summer we do it. It’s, it’s, they love going out and it’s like, we’ll walk up and we’ll go round, we’ll go past the park, around the Yew Tree, back up that way ‘cause it’s all lovely and… I’ve been doing that for a few years and so far, you know, we’ve had, fun. And it’s just nice, and we’ve, sometimes we walk past Blakesley Hall during the day, in the summer we go pa, past Blakesley Hall… and there’s an event happening, and we’ll just walk into the event and, get your tickets and whatever. I mean, there was hawking that goes on, and there’s always an event at Blakesley Hall, which you can e… and, and it’s so local, that I can take my children to, without spending lots and lots of money but for them, to have a nice day out. And I think that is, that, that’s lovely as well, having, having, Blakesley Hall as well. It’s brilliant, I d, I mean you’ve been there, I’m sure, and you’ve seen it and it’s, it’s, it’s great. Blakesley Hall is really nice [Chuckling], isn’t it? And I know, the kids go on the, visits from school and we’re like, ‘Yeah, we just go anyway’ [Chuckling]. ‘cause it’s there and it’s, it’s not closed off and it’s… and people travel to go there.
And it’s walking distance from here, isn’t it?
And it’s walking distance, yeah, you just get out and get out and… in the summer, I always go past there, just to know what events there are happening. And I know which days, they go into my diary [Chuckling], which days we’re gonna go there. So yeah, that’s what I wanted to add. Sorry, I didn’t mention Blakesley Hall at all but, it’s wonderful having Blakesley Hall just around the corner from us.
And, that is a part of the, the, tradition, well … the Yardley history.
Yeah, it’s the heritage in Yardley history, it is, it really is, and y, you could learn so much but just… even if there’s no event happening and you can just walk in and you can just learn so much from it there, which, we do with our children anyway. Erm, this is the community they live in, they need to know about it, and it’s very important that they learn the history. Because when I was in- [child shouting]. When I was in Small Heath and, where the Green Lane, er, Mosque is now, I know, when we were kids, that it wasn’t a mosque. It was a, er… library. Erm, the Green Lane Mosque it was, it was the original library and there was a swimming pool at the back of it. And then the library moved to Muntz Street and they kept the doors, of the, from, they took it from the Green Lane Library, the original doors, they put in Muntz Street. They have the sliding doors and they have the m, the main oak doors still there, still alive. So you know, it’s, things like that, you learn, when you’re in a community, and you remember. And, I was only a child when the library became, empty and then it was taken over by the mosque and then… er, er, I mean, with, the mosque has brought it up and the library’s doing great as well because it’s attached to the school, it’ll always do fantastically well. But same here, there’s so much going on, the kids learn about the community and yet you, I still ask them, ‘Do you remember when, there was no school there?’, and they’re like, ‘No’, because they didn’t, obviously they weren’t around [Laughing]. But I still say it to them, I say, ‘Well, it was like this and it was like this and, this was like this and…’ Yeah, i, i, it’s lovely to learn about where you are. It always is.
Well, thank you for that, Shamalha. It’s really interesting.
Thank you. I hope I didn’t bore you.
Anything else?
That’s it [Chuckling]. I just hope I didn’t bore you [Laughing].
Not at all, that was absolute… right, I’ll switch it off.
[End of Track]


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[IA 5:22] = inaudible section at this time
[word 5:22] = best guess at word
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