Published on 27/03/18

Permission to Smile: Citizenship at the Grass Roots

Birmingham is a city of over one million people and over a quarter of a million households.  It is a diverse, energetic and friendly city with many cultural, social and sporting amenities.  However, social isolation remains a major scourge on our society and many people, young and old, have little opportunity to take advantage of these amenities or even interact with neighbours.  Older people are trapped in their homes through disability, cuts in social services and reduced public transport schedules; young people often only interact with their peers through the medium of their smartphones.  

Permission to Smile will be a popular grass roots campaign driven by a partnership of the Birmingham Civic Society, Street Associations and Birmingham City University (BCU) School of Media.  The campaign will be launched on 12th May 2018, and the outcomes will be wide ranging and various; new youth clubs, young mums’ groups, street associations, English conversation classes, and many more. More details can be found at the Permission to Smile website (   We will address and overcome the fundamental reticence to smile, engage and act together to reduce social isolation in our city; this is citizenship at the very grass roots.  

The campaign has already attracted support from Birmingham City Council (Places Directorate), Birmingham Post & Mail, Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) and a number of businesses in the city.  But you too can help:

# Put up a banner (ideal for business sites, supermarkets, churches, local community halls, etc) ….we have 500 available!
# Join the debate on social media ….Twitter URL: Facebook URL: Instagram URL:
# Put up a poster on business or community notice boards ….we have 1,000s of these!
# Help distribute window/car stickers ….10’s of 1,000s available!!

If you can help in any of these ways, please contact: 

Martin Graham
Permission to Smile, PO Box 16995, Birmingham B2 2FE
0121 440 8600
07931 282716

Or you could simply help us to fund the campaign via our Crowdfunder site:  The campaign will cost £20,000 but, as you will see when you click through, we have already raised over £15,200