"The report provides a long-overdue insight"
The Birmingham Pakistani Report (BPR) was released to reveal what life is like for Birmingham’s Pakistani community in the hope of educating politicians and community leaders on how to better cater for the ethnic group.
The first-of-its-kind report asked Birmingham Pakistanis about their hopes for the city’s future, their participation in sports activities and how important religion is to them, among other things.
Since 2021, census data revealed that Pakistanis are the largest ethnic minority group in Birmingham at nearly one in five people.
Researchers have said that the report is long overdue.
Project Director Atif Ali said the report was inspired by a wish to do more for his community.
After initial struggles, the idea led to the BPR, where hundreds of Pakistanis across Birmingham were consulted, from Hodge Hill to Ladywood.
An online questionnaire was open from December 2022 until February 2023 with 609 responses.
Then, two focus groups were conducted, one with women in February 2023 and another one with young people aged 16-24 in March 2023.
Finally, prominent Pakistanis in Birmingham who hold leadership positions in society were interviewed.
Mr Ali said: “The report in front of you is a vast community effort, and after a year of working on it, I’m proud of what we have achieved.
“The report provides a long-overdue insight into the Pakistani community of Birmingham.
“It says we are here, as a community, so hear us. And as someone who was born and raised in Birmingham, this is also an area close to me.”
Councillor Nicky Brennan explained how her Sparkhill ward is working to address the findings.
She said: “Birmingham is a super-diverse city, home to more than 1.1m people and Sparkhill – the ward I represent – is home to the largest Pakistani population in our city.
“So it’s fair to say that many of the issues raised in the Birmingham Pakistani Report – a timely report focusing on the needs and wants of this community – are already very familiar to me.
“Nearly one in five people living in Birmingham are from Pakistani background, making it the largest Pakistani population of any local authority in the country.
“In Sparkhill, this represents more than 60 per cent of the ward’s population.
“It is also in the top 20 per cent of most deprived wards in the country – and one of the youngest – where over one in four children (27.8%) live within income-deprived families
“This important and timely report is the first to really pull their concerns and needs into focus, and we’re addressing many of these issues under the council’s Everyone’s Battle, Everyone’s Business strategy to tackle inequalities in our society.
“We welcome the report’s recommendations and, as one of Birmingham’s largest employers, we must lead by example – and start by getting our own house in order and using our civic influence to get other city institutions and organisations on board.
“While some of these needs and wants require system change, others can be relatively easier to implement – such as ensuring women can access facilities where they feel safe to work, meet friends or exercise.”
Ms Brennan cited Sparkhill Pool and Fitness Centre, where there are women-only sessions and areas. There are also prayer mats on the site and the centre also has a modesty swimwear policy.
During Ramadan, the centre extends its opening hours and gym-goers can also freeze their membership.
Ms Brennan continued:
“This is just one facility, we need more to help remove the barriers to exercise for women – but it’s not just about leisure, it’s about access to all amenities in all spheres, to ensure women are included regardless of age, background or faith.
“While these may seem like relatively small steps for a community which faces health, wealth and other long-standing equalities.
“They are making a difference to the local community.”
“This report – which paints the most vivid picture of Pakistani experience – will help shape future policy and identify the needs and dreams of those who make up the largest minority group in Birmingham.
“We can all be proud that we live in a truly diverse city, but that diversity must be matched by the eradication of these gaps to create equality of opportunity and outcomes for all our citizens.”
Key results of the BPR
- Nearly 3 out of every 4 respondents show low optimism about the future of Birmingham.
- The BPR examined Pakistanis’ sense of identity by giving them multiple options to identify themselves. Most chose British out of their possible choices (81%)
- 82% of respondents said that they would like to take part in more sports/physical activities. When asked about barriers preventing participation, 41% said cost was a barrier.
- The BPR asked about library usage, 28% of respondents have never used the Birmingham Public Library.
- The BPR asked Pakistanis how important religion is to them. 86% of respondents answered very important and 11% chose quite important, even compared to other aspects of life such as work, study, family, friends, leisure and politics.
- Respondents were asked if they voted in the May 2022 elections. 40% did not and the top reason is that some respondents feel all political parties are the same.
- 55% said they have witnessed or experienced crime in the last year. Those who experienced racism in the last 12 months were asked to name the various forms of racism they experienced. Racist name calling including insults, jokes/banter remains the top form of racism experienced by Pakistanis in Birmingham.
- Nearly 80% of respondents displayed pride in being British and pride in being a “Brummie”.
The report can be downloaded on the Birmingham Pakistani Report website.