Generously funded by Birmingham City Council as part of Birmingham 2022 Festival, Creative City awarded grants directly to community groups. Working with artists the aim was to flood the city with new creative work. Inspired by the Games, local charity Advocacy Matters were awarded a grant as part of their 20th anniversary. They worked with Bostin Creative to create the film ‘Personal Best’, which was screened at our Birmingham 2022 Festival Site in Touch Base Pears. The short film championed the voices and hopes of five remarkable people living in Birmingham. All with different disabilities and at different stages of their lives, they strive for a future of inclusivity, visibility and true community. 

Last week, the festival team spoke with development worker for Advocacy Matters, Joyce Wallace, where we looked back on a project where culture and The Games went hand in hand for the festival.

Introduce your name, role and project.

My name is Joyce Wallace and I’m a development worker for Advocacy Matters. Part of my role is to recruit volunteer advocates for our organisation, where I do our community work and support our volunteers.

Because our organisation is twenty years old this year, and the heart of the organisation started with the volunteers, we wanted to do some something to celebrate that. We wanted to create something which was enigmatic which would be an important part of our training programme. We wanted something that we could creatively use to give the impression of what advocacy is and why it’s so important that they come to support us on our training programme.

The film looks at five stories of people who have disabilities, where that’s one facet of them but they are amazing and enigmatic in other areas of life and that’s what’s more important.

How would you describe your project to those who are new to your work?

Personal Best encapsulates the changes and experiences that people have whether they be nineteen or whether they be in their 80s when their lives are disrupted by a disability. They would not say that their lives have been disrupted by a disability. Their lives are their lives.

What has been your favourite part of the project?

Showing the films and getting emotional about it every single time I see something different! I like the trailer because it’s really punchy, and I like that we have got the people involved and taken into a different place.

Bostin Creative have achieved things that has changed the participants as individuals because they believed in the work we wanted to do. We found ways of igniting people’s interest in something, taking them to a different place which they wouldn’t normally have understood or experienced.

Do you have any plans for after the festival?

Personal Best is going to be shown at a national advocacy conference at the end of the year as a resource. We want to take it to different places – we hadn’t done visual projects before. This was the first voyage, and we’ll definitely do that again.

Is there anything else in the festival you’re excited to see?

I’d like to see PoliNations, I’m looking forward to seeing that!

What excites you about Birmingham 2022 Festival?

I have always known that Birmingham is full of secret and wonderful places – there’s just so many beautiful places and surprises! We sometimes don’t like to shout about our surprises and Birmingham have taken the opportunity to do so. It’s enlightened people to what Birmingham really is about, and at the heart of it is people who really care about each other from all walks of life.

Personal Best is available to watch online via YouTube.

Personal Best is a Creative City Project generously supported by Birmingham City Council. The film is written by Emily Summers, captured by Tom Synnott Bell and created by Bostin Creative with Advocacy Matters and Blue & White Creative.