South & City College Birmingham are looking forward to welcoming The Duke of Cambridge to the newly refurbished Handsworth Campus as part of his visit to the City on Friday 29 November.
The Duke will meet Mike Hopkins, Principal of the college and students who are studying at the Handsworth Campus on the Soho Road, and will hear about the improvements which have been made to the centre over the past 18months.
The college has invested £3million in the Grade II listed building – which had previously not seen any renovations for over 20 years following a merger in August 2012. The renovations have been ongoing and stage two has just been completed – opening the front of the building to students and the public this month.
The centre has become an important feature in the community, with many community groups and local businesses using the facilities such as the Community Hub – a suite of rooms which groups and businesses can use free of charge.
The front of the building has been sympathetically renovated; whilst inside there has been a new reception with Costa Coffee bar, new student library, fully fitted gym and sports hall, new classrooms, plumbing workshop for construction students, media suite and recording studio and more.
A range of courses are available at Handsworth Campus, both full time and part time for school leavers and adult learners, and include accounting, business studies, hair and beauty, health and social care, IT, ESOL as well as higher education courses.
The Duke will have the opportunity to speak to students who study at the college and for whom being able to learn and gain qualifications at a centre close to home is invaluable.
Shamreen Akhtar, aged 21, from Handsworth said: "I am delighted that I will get to meet The Duke of Cambridge and have the opportunity to show him the improvements that have been made to our campus here in Handsworth. Being able to learn so close to home is important for me, and the improvements have meant that the college is a very lively, vibrant and enjoyable place to learn."
Principal of the college Mike Hopkins added: "We are very much looking forward to welcoming His Royal Highness to South & City College and thank him for taking the time to come and see the improvements we have made to the Handsworth Campus for the benefit of students and the community. We understand the importance of people being able to study close to their homes – which is why we have nine campuses across the city. We have invested heavily in Handsworth, not only to restore the building to its former glory, but to create a welcoming environment for our students.
"It has also been an excellent opportunity for some of our students to get hands-on experience. Construction students and apprentices have been working alongside contractors on the improvements, getting experience of working on a live site.
"The renovations are part of a five year plan. Further works are planned to refurbish hair and beauty salons, the student canteen, further classrooms and more."
Whilst at the college, His Royal Highness will also meet community groups who have been working to build community cohesion in the area following the disturbances in 2011. These include Continental Star, Nishkam Centre, Birmingham Leadership Foundation, People's Heritage Centre, Lozells Methodist Project, Birchfield Community Development Trust, Jamia Mosque, Prison Link, COPE Mental Health Foundation, Wheeler Street Foundation and the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust.
The college are actively engaged in the community, and have been instrumental in the development of the Soho Road Business Improvement District – a group of businesses from the Soho Road who are working together to make improvements to the area. Since beginning earlier this month, the group have already held events to celebrate Diwali and will be carrying out significant improvements in the near future.