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Reform Magazine | June 13, 2024

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Alpacas of hope - Reform Magazine

Alpacas of hope

Things have changed in ‘Benefits Street’ Laurence Wareing reports

‘We wanted Winson Green to be known for something not negative’, says Anji Barker. She’s talking about the alpacas you might well bump into on the pavements of Winson Green, making their way to school.

Chummed along the road by a couple of pygmy goats, the alpacas and other cuddly friends offer calm and comfort to local school children, and encouragement for sharing hidden emotions. This is a world away from the reputation Winson Green gained when Channel 4 launched its controversial series Benefits Street in the area.

Recognised as one of the UK’s most deprived communities, the area is densely populated with a mix of some 25 ethnic groups and even more languages. The alpacas are just one of countless initiatives run under the auspices of the Newbigin Community Trust, all designed to make connections within the neighbourhood and between church and community…

Laurence Wareing is Content Editor for Reform. For more information about the new Newbigin Pioneering Hub, including events and training opportunities, visit


This is an extract from an article published in the June 2022 edition of Reform

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