Tag: community

Sling your hook for the canals

On Thursday 20th June, the Canal and River Trust organised a volunteering day to tidy up the canal running past the University and Selly Oak. Around 30 people from across the community, including University staff, Guild of Students staff, and private accommodation provider Unite Students staff, volunteered their time to what we assumed would be a few hours of litter picking. How wrong we were.

It turns out that litter picking when you’re by the canal is quite the adventure. There were the litter picking grabbers and black bin bags that you might expect, but upon arrival (and after slipping into some very fashionable high visibility vests and protective gloves), we were handed metal grappling hooks on lengths of rope. What ensued was four hours of hurling the hooks into the canal and pulling up all sorts of strange treasures from the depths.

The first person to pull out a car tyre was hailed as Master of the Canal, which was sort-lived as several other tyres soon followed. By throwing the hook into the water and securing the end of the rope under your foot, and then dragging the hook back to the bank along the bottom of the canal, you were able to hook all sorts of things out of the mud.

A cry went up when somebody hooked our first bike – rusty and clearly submerged for months, if not years, the twisted metal was pulled out of the canal and taken away to be suitably disposed of. Then we found another, and another.

Once the muddy treasures started to be unearthed, the mood shifted to one of competition. Everybody wanted to find something they could be proud of, and we threw in our hooks over and over again hoping to find the jackpot.

By the end of the session we had found car tyres, trolleys, fences, goalposts, multiple bikes, a van bumper, and a car door. All of this was sitting below the surface of a mile of canal and would no longer pollute the waterway, no longer damaging animals and narrow boats. Knowing that we had pulled out all we could for the day, and smelling slightly of canal water, we headed back to work or back home.

With one of the most intricate networks in the world, it’s clear that Birmingham’s canals need a bit of looking after from time to time. To make a safe and clean environment for people and wildlife, regular volunteering opportunities to ‘sling your hook’ and get involved in the treasure hunt will be taking place on a regular basis. Keep an eye out and get involved with your community…even if it’s just to compete with your mates as to who can find the most amazing junk.

These are a few of my favourite things ????

As the hope and warmth of Summer approaches, now is as good a time as any to reflect on the best things about Selly Oak. Whether you live or work here, Selly is a diamond in the rough…and here’s why we love it.

There’s always somebody around to have a chat with. The Selly Oak community is a vibrant one, with families, young professionals, retirees, students, business owners, and more calling this place home. When the sun and the BBQs come out, this is even more apparent – lazy afternoon parties across multiple back gardens and people walking down to Aldi to get more ice or extra burger buns!

There’s everything you could need. Your weekly shop is covered with a whole choice of stores including Aldi, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and a handful of independent supermarkets. There’s a few pharmacies, a vintage shop, a hardware store plus a Homebase if you really need to grab something in a hurry. There are countless takeaways and restaurants, including the beloved Nandos on the new shopping park. Don’t even get us started on the TK Maxx, the great (and cheap) pubs, and of course the convenience stores (Campus Wines for the win!). Oh, and there’s our very own train station.

It’s easy to get into town or out to the countryside. Between the train station and numerous bus routes, getting into Birmingham city centre is really easy. You can also go in the other direction towards Longbridge and Reddich, with the Lickey Hills not far away by train. Birmingham is one of the greenest cities, but it’s also one of the youngest, and getting to events on Broad Street, Digbeth, and the Jewellery Quarter costs £2.80 on a railcard and takes about 15 minutes tops. We prefer a picnic in Lickey Hills Country Park to dancing the night away at Lab11 but there’s nothing in your way…even if you want to do both!

We could keep writing for weeks, but we want to hear what’s your favourite thing about Selly Oak. Comment below or on social media!


#ThisIsSelly – James

self portrait of man in glasses in black and white

Introduce yourself

I’m a second year maths student and I’ve lived in Selly since July. Before that I lived in Liberty Park for my first year so I already knew the area quite well. I’m originally from Dorset, so I love everything about the sea. Although, you don’t get much of the coast in Birmingham! As well as my studies I’m in PhotoSoc and would love to be a travel photographer one day, maybe after saving a bit of money from an accounting job. My plan is to use my degree to go onto an actuarial graduate scheme when I graduate but taking photos is definitely my passion!

What is your favourite thing about Selly Oak?

Selly is an amazing place for students. It’s like a second campus right next to the main one – it’s really likely that you’ll have other students for neighbours, and it’s almost impossible not to bump into someone you know on the way to uni in the morning or coming back in the afternoon. There’s a really relaxed feeling because it’s the place most people come home to after a day of studying. So I guess my favourite thing is the chilled atmosphere, and how there’s always someone you know not too far away.

What is the weirdest thing that has happened to you or you’ve seen happen in Selly Oak?

By far the weirdest thing I’ve seen is a girl in one of those blow-up T-Rex costumes doing the Dirty Dancing lift in Circo. It was before Sports Night so it’s not actually too unusual for a Wednesday night!

What does ‘community’ mean to you?

Selly Oak has so much going on and you never feel alone here. There’s always someone around that you know or one of your housemates knows and it’s amazing to have that where I live. Selly Oak is absolutely a community, and I know sometimes students get a bad rap but I think they bring energy and atmosphere to the community. Because Selly is such a fun place to live, with all your mates around you and the best pubs and takeaways right on your doorstep, not to mention the University is within walking distance, it’s sometimes easy to forget that we’re not in uni halls anymore. I’ve had to learn a lot about what it means to live with friends, and as part of a bigger community – no-one will cook or clean for you, you have to set up your own bills, and organise your own rubbish for bin day. That said, I’m already a lot better at that now than I was in the summer when I moved in, and I hope that I can contribute even more and be an even better part of this community as the years continue.