The Birmingham Post have today published an interview I gave with them as editor of ‘Speak Out’ magazine. Despite writing a monthly column for the Post, they still couldn’t work out that I’m ‘Chris’ rather than ‘Paul’ Allen (see the published article here). Anyway, below is the article/ interview with the name changed accordingly…

The launch of a new Birmingham-based magazine focusing on creating a fairer city was celebrated this weekend at a gig with two Midland ska legends.

Ex-Specials member Neville Staple and singer from The Beat, Ranking Roger, came together for a special gig at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of Birmingham-based equalities and human rights charity BRAP.

BRAP, formerly known as Birmingham Race Action Partnership, last month brought out the first edition of Speak Out, a three-monthly free magazine produced with funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Speak Out editor Chris Allen explained the ethos behind the magazine.

“The aim is really to get the issue of equality out there to everybody. It’s about breaking down barriers and making a fairer city.

“We want to make it a fairer place for everybody, not just a few minority groups and the vision for the magazine is to convey that.”

Originally from London, Mr Allen said Birmingham was an ideal place to launch a magazine focusing on equalities.

“The reason why Birmingham is a great place is people do seem to be prouder of their diversity. I’m not saying it’s perfect and I’m certainly not looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, but there seems to be a coming together of people in a place where they can settle.

“It’s a great place to launch, it’s amazingly diverse and there is a history of people coming to the city.

“Diversity is part of the fabric of Birmingham and people really want to know about the issues we are covering.”

Mr Allen, a former freelance journalist and university lecturer, said the magazine was not aimed at any particular target readership or minority group.

Speak Out features a mixture of content, such as comment pieces, “think pieces” as well as more light-hearted vox pop interviews on subjects such as whether there is a Brummie identity. Content for the magazine is supplied by volunteers. “We’re not excluding anyone,” said Mr Allen. We’re talking about the message and issues of fairness and equality for everyone.

“For example we featured an interview with Ranking Roger who grew up as a black man in Birmingham, challenging stereotypes as a teenager by being a punk and then getting involved in the Two Tone scene.

“Since then he has been involved at being proud to be a Brummie – it’s about putting out a positive message.”

About 5000 copies of Speak Out were produced for the first edition and its publishers are hoping to increase that number to 7,500 for its next edition in November.

Speak Out has agreements in place to give the magazine away in several city locations such as arts centres, pubs and shops but the magazine is looking to increase its number of distribution locations.

Among the distributors are all of Birmingham’s libraries, arts centre The Drum in Aston as well as city centre sandwich and coffee shop EAT.

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