Visiting The Vale Festival

Along with Cllrs James Hutchings and Fergus Robinson, I’m an Edgbaston Ward Councillor. The Birmingham University campus and The Vale halls of residence fall within our ward and this year, as part of our Ward’s Community Chest money, we gave a grant to the students to help them stage The Vale Festival 2009.

The event took place today and Cllr Hutchings and I were given a tour round by one of the student organisers. The Vale Festival combines a fun event for students (who are doutbless ready to celebrate now their exams are over), with raising money for charity.

Amongst the things on offer were The Wishing Tree which has featured at festivals such as Glastonbury and which has had over 70,000 wishes placed on its branches; the black maze – an adventure in the dark, a hilltop tea tent, an outdoor cinema showing of Slumdog Millionaire, a large outdoor stage, and loads more.

The two charities which The Vale festival is raising money for this year are Self Help Africa and FareShare. FareShare is a UK charity which sources food which is in date but which would otherwise be thrown away, and passes it on to community organisations, homeless shelters, women’s refuges, children’s breakfast clubs, etc. As I learned today, the reasons why otherwise good food might be thrown away include bar code errors, packaging errors and unexpected weather (which leads to food which producers thought would be bought, not selling).

Self Help Africa was formed in 2008 following the integration of two agencies with a long record of working successfully in Africa. The charity aims to deliver practical, cost effective and sustainable help to poor people in rural Africa. They help to implement local food programmes and sustainable food production and also beekeeping development programmes. For more information, visit

With these two charities benefitting from The Vale Festival 2009, the theme of today’s event was Unite Against Hunger. Cllr Hutchings and I visited early, as we had to go to the monthly Full Council meeting this afternoon, but I hope the day turned out to be a big success. It certainly looked as if it was going to be a lot of fun.

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