Jewel and Frances are members of St John’s Church in Sparkhill and both volunteer at Narthex, a charity based at the church. Jewel runs a lunch club for the elderly and Frances supports asylum seekers and refugees through the Resource Centre.
Sparkhill has always been a multicultural melting pot. It takes its name from the Spark brook that ebbs through it; an appropriate symbol for an area in which transient communities flow in and out.
Frances, born in Bermuda, came to Sparkhill from Pakistan 27 years ago and has seen the demographic landscape shift continually in that time:
“It’s constantly changing,” she says, “The Irish came in and out. The Caribbeans came in and out. The Pakistanis and Indians go in and out. Now there’s many Somali and Yemeni in and out, along with Eastern Europeans. Every few months if you walk down the Stratford Road you can see the shops change in front of your eyes, Caribbean eateries to sari shops to Polish delicatessens…”