Roll up, roll, up, come and see the poor people


riots in Lozells

An organisation which wants to launch walking tours to two of the most deprived areas in Birmingham has been given a National Lottery grant of £38,000.

But why is it getting this money, and is it a waste of cash?

The grant

Legacy WM is an organisation which aims to promote the history of migrant communities after the war. It wants to run free two-hour walking tours of Lozells and East Handsworth in Birmingham.

Director Aftab Rahman, told the Birmingham Mail that riots and gang problems have marred the reputation of the area, but added: "It is better than a lot of other places in the city, especially in terms of cohesion. It's multi-cultural. Eastern Europeans, Africans, Asians – no one is made to feel unwelcome. I have learnt so much more since doing this. The area often gets a negative press and most people are not aware of the significant role it has played in making Britain great."

Positive move

On the one hand, The National Lottery is clearly convinced that this reflects one of its key aims of supporting the UK's heritage. It generates £30 million for good causes every week, and has handed out an average of 124 grants per postcode district. £38,000 is a drop in the ocean for the Lottery, so it may be worth the risk.

There's an argument that the tours could generate more visits to the area, help reinforce people's pride in the area in which they live. It could help regenerate a deprived area - and change the public perception of it. The area has become known for riots, gangs and racial tension. Should we really mock positive efforts to build a sense of community pride?

Let's not forget that this is not the first time that an organisation has arranged guided tours to deprived parts of the UK. In the Victorian times middle class people were offered a walk on the wilder side of London by an entrepreneur called Thomas Cook - who used the success of these tours to build a household name.


On the other hand, MP Khalid Mahmood, told the Daily Telegraph that he felt this was a waste of money. He said : "This is not the deep Amazon, I don't know why people would need a guided tour." He added: " People in the area will be bewildered by this funding when they are struggling to put food on the table."

So what do you think? is this a waste of money? Would you take a tour? Let us know in the comments.

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