Our Purpose

Narthex Sparkhill is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) Registered Number 1100358, working to promote inter-cultural harmony. We aim to do this by bringing together local people, voluntary and other organisations in an effort to advance education and to provide facilities in the interest of social welfare, recreation and leisure. The purpose of this is to improve the conditions and quality of life of the people of Sparkhill and neighbouring areas in south-east Birmingham.

With the help of volunteers, Narthex manages some of the community facilities at St John’s Church and runs a number of activities. These mostly fall into broad categories of:

  1. meeting physical needs though provision of food, clothing and resources.
  2. providing financial advice from trained and accredited advisers to help to address financial distress.
  3. running relational support activities, especially for seniors.

Many of the activities of Narthex are operated with substantial grant aid and through working in partnership with other local caring agencies. The partnership of individuals and churches through volunteering and through giving, forms the backbone of the charity’s work.

Sparkhill Foodbank

The Foodbank is the largest and most well-known foodbank in Birmingham, covering 6000 sq ft. Piloted for eight weeks in St John’s Church, Sparkhill, it opened in December 2011 in near-by premises in Bard Street. This move was made possible by grant funding from the Big Lottery. The work grew so rapidly because of growing poverty and destitution that in 2018 it was necessary to move again to a large warehouse in Tyseley. The Foodbank is affiliated to the Trussell Trust national association of foodbanks. Narthex Sparkhill also runs six satellite foodbanks around the south-east of Birmingham including an emergency one in the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital. These satellites are supplied from the Tyseley warehouse and are based in Sparkhill, Balsall Heath, Stechford, Hall Green, Highgate Fire Station and the QE Hospital.

History Highlights

1998 – Begun by the Rev’d John Self and his wife Frances in the narthex of St John’s Church, Sparkhill.

2000 – Incorporated as a charitable company.

2005 – Appointed first full-time staff.

2010 – Appointed Refugee and Asylum Seeker worker.

2011 – Lottery funding enabled the Foodbank to expand into nearby Bard Street.

2016 – Awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service; Anne Hollinghurst, Bishop of Aston – Patron

2018 – Moved from Bard Street to substantial new premises at the old Rovex site in Tyseley.

2019 – Converted to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

2020 – Took an extra 1000 sq ft of space as the Tyseley centre is outgrown due to pandemic related needs.