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New Smethwick centre opens to help people into community - with pictures

By James Vukmirovic | Smethwick | News | Published:

A Sandwell project aimed at helping newcomers settle into the community has officially opened its new premises.

The Mayor of Sandwell, Councillor Ann Jaron, was among the invited guests as Brushstrokes Smethwick marked the opening of its new building on Smethwick High Street with a celebration event.

Brushstrokes is a partnership project between Father Hudson’s Care, the Infant Jesus Sisters, the parish of St Philip Neri and the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd.

The new building, which replaces the previous base at St Phillip's Church on Watt Street, will allow Brushstrokes to increase the provision of practical resources to destitute and homeless people, being able to reach out to the community by visiting and befriending isolated and excluded people in their own homes, welcoming people to their community cafe and the teaching of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes.

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Father Hudson's Care Chief Executive Officer Andy Quinn opened proceedings at the event on Wednesday with a speech about the importance of the move to the new building and how it would benefit the users of the service going forward.

Further speeches came from Brushstrokes Project Manager Dave Newall and former refugees Atyaf Sultan and Horani Othaman before Mayor of Sandwell Ann Jaron gave the final speech of the event, talking about her upbringing by her Polish parents, and her involvement with Brushstrokes, who are one of her chosen charities for 2019, before unveiling the plaque which officially opened the centre.

Dave Newall acknowledged the importance of the move and how it would increase the services provided by Brushstrokes.

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He said: "I think for us, the previous space we had was great, but it was far too small. It means we can provide more of the advice and the resources and all of our services in a way which is a bit more dignified and there’s opportunity to use the building in the evenings, which we couldn’t do before as well, so it creates an opportunity for much more community involvement and to extend the service for new arrivals."

Andy Quinn spoke about the newer services provided by Brushstrokes and how it would help people going forward.

He said: "I think the newest service we have provided is advice. We have a very wide range of advice services now and we need to consolidate that and strengthen that. That’s been the biggest new service.

"The ESOL is the key service in terms of helping people integrate into British society by learning the language. It’s a bridge that people need to walk over."

To find out more about Brushstrokes Smethwick, go to brushstrokessandwell.org.uk

James Vukmirovic

By James Vukmirovic
Community Reporter - @jamesvukmirovic

Community Reporter at the Express & Star, helping under-represented communities to find a voice in Wolverhampton. Contact me at james.vukmirovic@expressandstar.co.uk.

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