Love your City? So do I.

Love your City? So do I.

This week, guest blogger, Will Ashworth, a recent graduate from City of Wolverhampton University, interviews Navi Aukh about her amazing initiative, Love My City.

Wolverhampton is such a miserable city, right? Wrong!

Especially when you are talking to the people from Love My City, the campaign designed to smash this notion to smithereens.


When a report last year by The Legatum Institute labelled the city the most miserable place in the UK, Navi Aulkh disagreed. Navi, who works at the All Nations church on Temple Street, knew what we all know about our city – that it is far from a miserable, and that there are plenty of things to love!

Inspired by this knowledge, Navi took to Facebook to let everyone know how wrong she thought this summary of Wolverhampton was, in an attempt to counteract some of the negativity that it had created. This small gesture of defiant optimism soon sparked a huge response from the so-called miserable people of the city, with thousands of likes and shares in a matter of days. From this, the Love My City Facebook page was born, with Navi using her background in design to create a stunning logo that reflects her passion for the city that is shared by so many.

Armed with an idea that she knew she could grow, Navi pitched Love My City at October’s Make:Shift. Her goal was to start a campaign to promote a message of positivity about the city and to make links with other local organisations and businesses that could help spread the message that Wolverhampton is a magnificent place to be!


Navi pitching her idea at Make:Shift


The main goal of Make:Shift is to ‘Change Wolverhampton with an Idea’, and Love My City has gone from strength to strength since the meeting in October, with multiple doors being opened to Navi that have helped her turn this goal into a reality.

She has made links with organisations such as Creative Wolverhampton, producing a small range of merchandise such as branded t shirts that were displayed on a stall at the Mental Spaces Art Fair at the Newhampton Arts Centre. They have given these t shirts away to the people of Wolverhampton and have been around the city promoting their message of positivity.

The campaign has also had national coverage, as they were featured on the Radio 4 programme Saturday Live, where local people gave their account of Wolverhampton in response to the recent negative press.


Gemma Cairney

Radio 1 DJ Emma Cairney Sporting a Love My City T-Shirt



According to Navi, they have been in contact with the city council in order to secure permission to put up a series of posters around the city featuring their hashtags, #NotMiserable and #BetheChange.

As well as the continued promotion of this message, Love My City has also found another function in helping those in need. When they were recently approached by a family of refugees that were in urgent need of clothing and shelter, they were able to use their profile on Facebook to alert the good people of Wolverhampton to their situation. Within three hours they had been donated food, bedding and clothes, and have since offered similar help to other homeless and vulnerable people in the local area.

Just think. Something as simple as a Facebook post, with a little help from Make:Shift, can grow into something making a huge difference to where we live.



Make:Shift lifts off for success … and has now gone into orbit

IMG_3090Well, I had to say something to cover my obvious embarrassment at omitting to include the Camera Obscura in my Make:Shift round up. This was (honestly!) due to some technical issues but please see the lovely picture of Ann Walker, who has been leading this project at Boundary Way. Not only has she battled to get planning permission, she has also had plans drawn up as well as delivering some taster activities
My sincere apologies to Ann. I hope you can forgive me.

Make:Shift 2015 lifts off for success

The ideas were flowing at Make:Shift 2015 on Saturday as more than 60 people from across the city shared their thoughts on how to ‘Change Wolverhampton with an Idea’.


Make:Shift participants never let us down in terms of innovation and creativity and this year was no exception.

Participants received funding and business advice, and got involved in workshops designed to inspire people to create or enhance their own ideas.

Ideas put forward at the event included:

– A new campaign called ‘Love My City’, aimed at countering some of the negative press Wolverhampton has recently received

– An idea to support people and their families effected by dementia

– An initiative to support homeless people to develop a self-sustaining social enterprise

– Starting Wednesfield in Bloom
– Developing an artist’s quarter in the Chapel Ash area of the city

The creators will now be supported to implement their ideas.

Ideas at last year’s event have taken off, and include:

– Mental Spaces, supporting new and emerging artists in the city with free exhibition and studio space
– Creative Wolverhampton, uniting, supporting and promoting creative industries in the city
– Earth Fire, delivering holistic therapies to the people most in need of this service
Musical Twigs, a multi-media creative arts project aimed at local families

Thank you to everyone for helping to make this year’s event such a success.

Five reasons YOU should be at Make:Shift this Saturday

Five reasons you should be at Make:Shift on Saturday:

1. It’s the place to be for anyone with a passion for Wolverhampton
2. You’ll be in great company – Make:Shift is a magnet for creatives and innovators
3. You’ll be the first to find out how last year’s ideas have developed
4. You’ll get to hear all the great new ideas being pitched or perhaps even pitch one yourself
5. You’ll get a delicious free lunch freshly prepared on the premises by local social enterprise Aspiring Future

Plus there will be plenty of opportunities to network, discuss, get free advice on getting your idea off the ground and to meet people who can really make it happen.

Alright. Alright. I know I said five reasons but I just love Make:Shift and the reasons just kept coming. Come and find out why this Saturday 31 October 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at The Old School, Dudley Road, Blakenhall.

See you there.

Wolverhampton the the most miserable city in the UK? You’re having a laugh

Using what appears to be out of date data and some questionable research methodology, today Wolverhampton has been named the UK’s most miserable city by The Lagetem Institute. Of course those of us that live and work here know what complete and utter nonsense this is. But on Saturday we’ve got a chance to show the UK and the rest of the world quite how brilliant Wolverhampton is.
So please bring your happy smiling faces and a throng of your merry friends to Make:Shift 2015 this Saturday 31 October 10:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Old School, Dudley Road, Wolverhampton.
Come on Wolverhampton. Let’s show ‘em what we’re made of!

Make:Shift 2015 is coming and a small idea can make a big difference

Make:Shift 2015 is almost upon us – Wolverhampton’s annual ideas festival, will take place on 31 October at The Old School, Dudley Road. You can get your FREE ticket here.

This year is going to be great. We’re going to be showcasing many of the ideas from last year. Where else would you find activities as diverse as shamanic drumming, film production, support to homeless people, a venture to unite, support and promote the creative industries or the production of a camera obscura? The thing that pulls these disparate and seemingly unrelated ventures together is that they are all making a difference in Wolverhampton.

As well as hearing how all these amazing ideas are progressing, we very much hope to hear some new ones too. That’s where you come in.  Over the years Make:Shift has welcomed lots of brilliant ideas large and small. Sometimes the smallest ideas can make quite an impact. Do you remember the book crossing project? This was an idea to set up a free book exchange in cafes, community centres, phone boxes or anywhere else that people would naturally pop into. It was a simple idea that didn’t need any new resources – just a few second hand books and a venue willing to host the initiative. Once it was up and running the venue looked after their own book exchange.

From these humble beginnings great things have happened. Each venue is a free resource available for communities to use and now the idea has grown to include book clubs, books reviews and regular get togethers.

So you might have got an idea that you think might not be suitable for Make:Shift. I would like to tell you that as long it will make a difference to Wolverhampton, any idea is suitable. And sometimes even the smallest ideas can make a massive difference.

Have you got an idea for Make:Shift? Why not contact me to chat it through? You can ring me, Sam Axtell, on 01902 554918 (Tuesdays- Thursdays) or email

Make:Shift for absolute beginners

So perhaps you’ve heard about Make:Shift and you’d like to come along but you’re really not sure what to expect.

Here are some frequently asked questions that will hopefully help to allay any fears that you have and help you to know how welcome you really would be.


What is Make:Shift?

Make:Shift is Wolverhampton’s annual ideas festival. It’s a chance for anyone who lives, works or simply loves Wolverhampton (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?) to come along and share ideas about how to make it even better. It doesn’t matter what your idea is. Whether it’s big or small, as long as it could makes a difference and you’re prepared to drive it forward, it’s eligible for Make:Shift.


What actually happens at Make:Shift

Make:Shift is run as an unconference. That means that what is discussed is decided on the day by the people there, so there’s bound to be lots of interesting stuff to talk about. Everyone with an idea to change Wolverhampton will get two minutes to explain their idea to everyone else. Their idea is then added to the agenda for the day. You then get to choose which ideas you’d like to discuss further. If you decide at any point that this discussion isn’t for you, you simply switch workshops. It’s up to you and it’s all very informal.

Just two things have been decided - the rest is up to you

What sort of ideas have been pitched before?

We’ve had loads of brilliant ideas pitched at previous Make:Shifts and many of them will be coming back this year to showcase what they’ve been doing. A few of our ideas include a Free Organic Garden, Gatis Street Gardeners, a holistic therapy initiative, a book crossing project, a self-build housing scheme, interactive arts and poetry workshops, social care led by service users to name a few – anything goes as long as it could make a difference to our city.


Can anyone come along?

In a word, yes, although we would ask that under 16’s are accompanied by an adult.


I’m interested. How can I find out more?

There are all sorts of ways of staying in touch. You could join our regular  e-shot mailing list by sending your details to . You could check in regularly with our website at . This is where you’ll be able to get your ticket from.

You can also join in the discussion on Facebook ( ) or follow us on Twitter ( )

We’re encouraging everyone to use the hashtag #makeshift2015.

Make:Shift is all about ideas – do I need an idea to come along?

Absolutely not. If you’re interested in what we’re doing and you’d like to meet other inspirational like-minded people just come along and enjoy the day.

I’ve got an idea but I really don’t feel confident. What can I do?

Why not contact me to chat your idea through. Lots of people do and I’m sure we can find a way around it for you. My contact details are below

What happens after Make:Shift. Am I left on my own again?

Come on. You should be getting to know me now! Of course not. As far as possible we try to allocate everyone with an idea a mentor who can provide you with some light touch support. We also organise regular get togethers that anyone can attend. These are designed to provide you with some additional support and link you in with our greatest asset – our Make:Shift network.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Make:Shift is entirely free to attend and that includes a free lunch and refreshments throughout the day. If I’ve forgotten anything else then just get in touch with me, Sam Axtell, by emailing or telephone 01902 554918 Tuesdays – Thursdays.