In 2013, Birmingham City Council published a document entitled “Distinctly Birmingham-A European and International Strategy for Birmingham 2013-2016”. The document, 16 pages long, had a forward written by the cities then leader, Councillor Sir Albert Bore commencing “history, diversity and openness to the rest of the world are what makes us Distinctly Birmingham”. The document sort to achieve the delivery of the strategy through the setting up of four area focused associations which would provide the practical and operational drive for the strategies implementation. One of these associations was the Commonwealth and countries of origin.
An invitation was sent out to circa 200 people/organisations in the city to attend a launch of the strategy late 2013. Those attending were invited to indicate which of the four associations they would be interested in supporting. Those indicating the commonwealth met in March 2014. It was at this meeting that a founding Chair for the association was sought and when Keith Stokes-Smith, the current Chair, was appointed. The new body was to be called the Birmingham Commonwealth Association (BCA).In subsequent discussions with the Councils European and International Affairs team, it was agreed that given the priorities identified in the Distinctly Birmingham document, the association set up three ‘Focus Groups’ being Trade and Business, Education and Communities and that three Chairs be sought to head up these three groups to be supported by their own respective ‘Committees’. Over the months that followed this was put in place.
The BCA subsequently became a branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society based in London and a ‘not for profit’ company. The association is supported by the cities International Affairs team who are responsible for the overall day to day governance of the associations strategy and for providing secretariat support.