This year Birmingham was graced with the honour of hosting the 22nd Commonwealth Games in what was a sporting spectacle but also an enormous feat of logistics, catering and graphic production.
With a solid sustainability agenda to adhere to, the Organising Committee had several plans in place to make sure not an inch of banner, sign or scrim went to waste once the Games was done.
The first port of call was to make sure all of the components used to construct the signage were made of the same recyclable monofibre material, this included eyelets, strengthening lengths and the banners themselves.
This ensured that entire pieces of fabric, should they not be repurposed, could be easily placed in a suitable recycling bin and not need deconstructing before being processed.
But before all the fabric was sent on its recycling journey, we at Event Cycle were tasked with repurposing as much as we could.
What a task this was. We repurposed a huge 8,872m2 of graphics from the cycling road races, running events, stadiums and arenas. From flags to fence scrim, banners to backdrops we found some fun and interesting uses for them all.
The Balsall Heath CATS- Children Action Team Support promotes social inclusion among families and carers of children and vulnerable adults with disabilities, to improve quality of care and life, and assists them to integrate into society.
In particular they provide play, recreational and educational activities, information and support for parents/carers and raise awareness of the issues affecting people with disabilities.
Making a vibrant, safe space
This summer they have been putting on drama classes for their community and while wanting to make sure the children have fun, they also need to make sure they feel safe and secure. BH CATS do this by covering the outdoor areas around their activities with material to protect the children’s privacy and provide a comforting space.
Until now, the fabric had been black and grey but with the donation provided by the Games, they now have a plethora of vibrant colours to choose from, creating a fun, visually stimulating space to house their temporary homes.
Running 2 not-for-profit festivals a year for the community of Boldmere and beyond, Boldmere Futures bring together local businesses, residents, community groups, charities and councillors to promote and improve the area’s social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being. With a summer and winter festival to dress and limited funds to do so the team were on the lookout for some fun fabric to adorn their walkways, sports tracks and stages. So we sent some their way once we had collected it up.
The fence jackets will be used to make their entrance barriers more attractive for festivals, the scrim will be used in a variety of places around Boldmere including Wylde Green Station to brighten the place up and remind them of the triathlon being in Boldmere for B2022. The wraps will be used around lamp posts, bollards and other items.
A spikey customer
One of our cutest donations to date came in the form of sun shades for very small animals. Hedgehogs in fact.
Hedgepigs provide care, protection, treatment and security for a large number of the little creatures who are in need of rescue, care and attention through sickness, maltreatment, poor circumstances or ill use.
On top of this, the charity also provides advice and education to the general public concerning hedgehog welfare, highlighting the need to alleviate cruelty and suffering by increasing the understanding of their needs. They do this at a series of events, where they need table coverings and side panels for gazebos which they were lacking before the donations from the Games came along.
Another excellent way for fabric to be used is to make new products and Event Cycle have a very willing band of merry sewers waiting in the wings to do just that when fun fabric comes our way.
Little Recreations, Neith Textiles and Calluna Upcycling all work to produce new products made from old materials. From bags, to boxes, totes to festival flags, the three enterprises work their magic to make sure material has a longer life whilst daunting 10% of their profits to a chosen charity too. Check out their websites if you want a piece of the games.
Plenty of other organisations benefited too, including the 11th Nuneaton Scout Group, 786 Wolverhampton, Community Games, Help a Squaddie, Queen Alexandra College, Scrap Shack & Community RePaint and West Heath Community Association who support children, the community, veterans, the blind, visually impaired and those with disabilities between them.
The fabric will be used in activities, to help provide decor to new centres, buildings and as a resource for local schools, theatres and arts groups. They are finding many worthy ways to make use of the fabulous fabric kindly given to them by the Games.
Creating community benefit after the Commonwealth Games
Creating a village for professional athletes is no mean feat. From white goods to bathroom supplies, exercise essentials to everyday kitchen materials, making a home away from home means each country brings in what they can to keep their contenders comfortable. And at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games it was no different.
But where does it all go when the event is finished? Worry not, the Organising Committee had great plans and enlisted Event Cycle to help. Rather than send the leftover items for recycling, they chose to repurpose them with the communities around the city in which the Games were based.
Donate for Victory!
One of the many core values that Victory Church in Rugeley holds is their love for their Community. They offer venue hire, children's clubs, birthday parties and much more.
Sam Smith ,a very active member of their team, is always searching for ways to enhance their spaces and help the organisation engage more with their local community. He was able to take delivery of a number of items that would benefit not just his church, such as the New Testament and Psalms books but also their community led programmes.
Deck chairs were reserved for their outdoor events, toilet brushes for their bathrooms as well as a French Boules Set and Foam Dart Pistols for their children's hub and sensory zone. When you offer such an eclectic array of events, you never know what might come in useful!
Small world, big hearts
Just across the road from Victory Church sits another one of our beneficiaries, Help a Squaddie. Help A Squaddie’s main goal when formed was to help rehouse Homeless Ex Service Personnel. They soon discovered that homelessness could often be prevented if the symptoms and issues were addressed much sooner in the process. They set about changing their main objectives into helping struggling veterans get the help when and where they needed it.
Kerry Urquhart, CEO of the charity, advised us that the kettles and toilet brushes that they received from the village donation are in storage ready for the opening of their new Veterans Crisis house. And the clothing received will be distributed amongst their client veterans who need it.
Kerry told us: “We have always known that the thing missing in our area for veterans is Crisis housing. We have managed for seven years by placing veterans in hotels but obviously this is not ideal and more so, when mental health crisis is a factor.
“Early in 2021 we applied for £300,000 from the National Lottery thinking we had very little chance of success but in December 2021 we received the fantastic news that the funds had been granted.
“We have found a house and had an offer accepted.
“The House is named The Russell Aston Home For Veterans after a soldier who was Killed in Acton in Iraq. Each bedroom is also named after a fallen soldier which has given huge comfort to their families knowing that their sons live on to help other veterans in need…”
Work hard, play hard
Balsall Heath Children's Action Team Support (BHCATS) formed as a group to help local children and young people with disabilities be part of the local community and to support, develop and appreciate their different potentials.
They are always looking at ways to support more than 80 families directly and help their wider network of over 20 organisations. When they saw the chance to receive some free flags to decorate their play spaces, they quickly got in touch.
The flags really brighten up the play space and that's not all…
BHCATS core activity is delivering play and leisure opportunities for local children and young people with disabilities, from those with physical disabilities including multiple and complex to those with learning and behaviour support needs.
Receiving numerous office and everyday items from this event will certainly help them to continue to deliver their excellent work supporting young children, young adults and their families. Woven baskets, rope, hand paper towels, cable ties, pliers and even a mini golf set, allow them to realise their ambitions and we are excited to see how far it will take them.
The team's ambition is to run regular after-school, weekend and holiday provision from a bespoke building to ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to play, grow and be independent.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Running gyms and providing a destination for youths, helps create a real family dynamic and a sense of belonging.
After 5UP initially benefited from some key items such as kettles and crockery for their onsite kitchenettes as well as towels and fans to use in their gym facility, it was obvious to co-founder Major Heran, that he needed to keep a close eye out for any future donation alerts so that he could help as many organisations as he could within his network.
With such a wide reach to gyms, schools and social clubs, 5UP helped us realise a use for a lot of the items that were available, post event.
Astroturf for a new sports zone at Birmingham Youth Sports Academy (BYSA) as well as more towels, antibacterial sprays and children’s playmats for sister gyms, were quickly snapped up to encourage safe and clean sports through play.
Tip of the iceberg
These are just a few examples of 15 charities who benefitted from our Villages inventory.
The difference these items will make to their local communities and organisations is huge and both us and our recipient charities are so grateful that they have a new purpose, after the main event.
Every item has a use and a reuse, whatever it is #EventCycleIt