Booming in the Midlands

We caught up with Mieks from Brum Bi Group at Birmingham BiFest in November.

Brum BiFest feels big!
It’s huge – we didn’t expect it to be as big as its turned out. We tried making it a bit bigger and it has basically just taken off, people have come from all over the place – Edinburgh, Holland – people have even flown in to get here.  Which has been lovely.  That said if you believed the facebook event there were about 200 people attending!

Did you do anything differently?
I think there was so much social networking going on and having gone to EuroBiCon and BiCon and personal networking, telling people it was going on.

So do you know who’s come along: is it people who know bi spaces or new people?
A bit of both. At Brum Bi Group we were plugging away, giving out leaflets and it’s nice to see so many new members of Brum Bi Group coming along. And hopefully some people who came today will be back for the regular meetings.

Speaking of which, how is the Birmingham group?  Or groups – the community centre meet and the coffee meet.
Brum Bi Group has been running for about a decade, first at the HGL centre and now at the new LGBT Centre. I’m quite new and have been here for two years and as a coordinator just six months but I’ve loved doing it, it’s like having another job: getting people together. A few days ago we had some people who had come over as asylum seekers and they were like: “there is a space for me here”. And that’s really rewarding to see with so many people.

We started a meetup.com which was a great success – in two weeks we had 100 members. It’s not been that successful elsewhere – I think Birmingham is very into Meetup.  I went to Toronto last summer and it was very big there and here as well.  So many very similar Meetups there, overlapping interests so we get them from LGBT meetups.

Attendance at the group is blooming – in the past some months it would be me sitting in a coffee shop waiting for people and no-one would turn up. But the last one there were 32 people and as Yorks Cafe said, they’re going to need a bigger basement!  I think it’s social media and that we have been using Hootsuite to queue up lots of reminders rather than just on-the-day.

We’ve also started to make bi merchandise, which we’ve made ourselves as contributions from our own pockets, so we’ve not been spending group money – hopefully as that brings money in though the work becomes self sustaining.

Beyond the current group and coffee meets we are looking at what people are interested in – we have found lots of people are interested in having bi boardgames, something which Leeds and Manchester have been doing and is popular in the evenings at BiCon.  We want to have a bi pizza party too – pizza meets a lot of dietary needs.

And we’re looking at getting outdoors; three miles from Birmingham you’re in the countryside.  Let’s climb a mountain!  (As long as you’re not scared of heights).

We’re in the process of making a new website too as the wix one we have is a bit old and hard to change, and our email address is about to change too – so keep an eye on BCN’s listings pages for updates.

BCN features a different bi group each issue: whether it’s brand new or twenty years young, tell us how your bi group is going!