Welcome to The Handsworth Herald, a new blog about Handsworth and Handsworth Wood, written by Mick Archer.

I have lived in the area for over 30 years and among other things I am secretary of the Handsworth Wood Labour Party, an executive member of my local neigbourhood forum and a regular attendee of Handsworth Wood Ward Committee. None of this may mean a great deal, but in the coming weeks and months I hope to explain what these organisations are, what they do and how they affect you.

I am also a freelance journalist. To date most of my work has been in print and about education but recent developments have convinced me that there is a need to turn my gaze to things closer to home. First, because the coverage of traditional media, such as local newspapers, is spread too thinly and they seem to have neither the resources nor the inclination to cover any one area in depth. Second, because I believe we are experiencing major changes that will affect us all. Opinions differ as to the impact and cause of these changes, but rather than accepting at face value the explanations of others I see no reason not to join the debate. After all, isn’t that what democracy is about?

Do I believe I can do justice to an area as ethnically diverse as Handsworth and Handsworth Wood? Absolutely not. For reasons of language and culture (I am white, of Irish descent) I am and always will be part participant and part observer of local events. In time, however, I hope others will come forward to fill the gaps. What’s important now is that someone makes a start.

Along the way I suspect I will upset some people. But as Martin Luther King Jnr said: ‘The ultimate measure of a man (sic) is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ Time will tell whether I can give substance to those words.