Birmingham’s Southside district has welcomed a brand new venue on Thorp Street, which aims to unite the Chinese community, and supply outreach services to international residents of all ages.

The Chinese Community Hub relies on volunteer support, and offers a space for elderly people to congregate, meet others and take part in activities, as well as providing lounge areas for staff working in the area to come and relax during their breaks.

Another key element of the Hub will be educating the younger generation in Chinese culture, history and language, bringing together students who may attend different schools and might otherwise never meet. It will also help international students to form friendships and integrate into the city by teaching them about the wider events and attractions in Birmingham.

Located near The Meat Shack, the Hub is the brainchild of Southside BID chairman James Wong, who called upon volunteers in the area to refit and renovate the space. The Chinese Community Hub is initially open for three days a week for an 18 month pilot period. Should the scheme prove to be a success, wider fundraising will be required to keep the centre open.

Commenting on the opening, James Wong said: “For the last 15 years, we’ve felt that people come into Southside to work or to eat, and then leave without speaking to each other or forming bonds and friendships. We want the Community Hub to really unite Chinese people of all ages.

“There will be support services for the elderly, for students and for children. There will be opportunities to learn about family heritage, to learn and practice the language, and hopefully some of the children who meet at the Hub will become lifelong friends.”

Julia Robinson, manager at Southside BID, said: “We’re so proud of the diversity in Southside, and we’re pleased to support new businesses and community ventures in our district. The Chinese community bring so much to the area, and James’ new initiative is perfectly located to serve all the Chinese visitors we see daily.”

For more information on the Chinese Community Hub and how to get involved, contact James Wong on james@chungying.co.uk