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Stephen Pennell ©

If someone had previously predicted that brilliant Birmingham musician AffieJam would be all over the media “cleaning up”, we’d have put money on it being at the Brit Awards or the MOBOS. But she has so many more strings to her guitar than ‘singer-songwriter’ and now she can add community activist to the list. Modest to a fault as ever, she told us that she didn’t want this piece to be about her, but music is our primary concern and that’s why we’re telling this story.

And in her latest chapter, Affie is heading up communications and fundraising, as well as getting her hands dirty with actual physical labour, for Headingley Alleyway and Road Action Group (HARAG), a Constituted Voluntary Group working together with Birmingham City Council and other agencies. Their aim is to clear up the constant fly-tipping in the alleyway behind their properties, secure it and create a safe community green space for all, including children, the elderly and vulnerable individuals.

Affie moved back to the area last year and was disheartened to see a residential area used as a dumping ground for rubbish.

"I was baffled that people would treat such a residential area as a spot to tip," she said. "It's really disheartening as it's a place I used to play in as a kid."

"It's even more disheartening that other people see your home as a dumping ground as well and that it's not just people with no bins in the area. We realised we can't do it alone so that's why we made the group.”

After a week of hard graft, the alley is almost clear, and accommodation and support has been found for homeless people who were living rough there. The story has been featured by the BBC and ITV local news, and while things are already immeasurably better, the campaign goes on to raise £15,000 to keep it that way by installing new gates.

You can help this worthy cause by donating to their JustGiving page here. E-mail:





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