A Birmingham eco campaigner is breaking down barriers in the fight for climate change in the city.
Toqueer Ahmed Quyyam, 38, from Hockley, who volunteers with organisations including Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust and Birmingham Friends of the Earth, has been engaging communities with the EcoPark in Small Heath.
Among those who regularly visit the EcoPark and its facilities are a scout troop from al-Hijrah Mosque in Bordesley Green. And, Toqueer was the one who connected the trust with the mosque.
The mosque scout troop had been travelling really far for activities and it had been a barrier for them. Now they are regularly using the EcoPark, and there are discussions about holding an overnight camp as well.
For his work, Toqueer won the Breaking Down Barriers Action prize at the Climate Coalition’s Green Heart Hero awards earlier this year.
Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips, who was at the award ceremony in February 2023, said: “Often climate activism is seen as a middle-class concern. We won’t tackle the issue and get people to change, until it’s people like Toqueer coming to tackle it.”
We met with Toqueer at Small Heath EcoPark - which is run by Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust - and he walked us through the work he has been doing.
Toqueer said that he was nominated by Holly the community engagement manager at the Wildlife Trust. He added: “She told me they were really grateful for my help and support, and wouldn’t have been able to connect with the nearby al-Hijrah mosque without me.”
“I was invited to join the EcoPark Steering Group. We have a hybrid meeting once every three months - I normally go in person as it’s great to meet other members face to face. One of the things we’re talking about is children with disabilities. There’s space around the new Eco Centre where a sensory garden could be planted, with audio technology describing the surroundings, so people with sensory needs can learn and get enjoyment from the park.”
About his visit to the Parliament for the award ceremony, he said: “It was an amazing feeling to be asked to Westminster! I had only been to Parliament before on a group visit - to be going for a special event made me feel really humbled. It was an exciting evening, meeting senior people in environment organisations, Jess Phillips MP and celebrities like Chris Packham.
“Kay Burley presented the awards and chair of the Climate Change Commission Lord Deben - who I had met in Birmingham last year - made a speech. I had no idea or expectation I had won when they read my name out.”
Toqueer, who visits the EcoPark often, has become an ambassador for it. He added: “I love the tranquility and peace of the EcoPark. I really enjoy watching the butterflies fly up in their freedom.
“I’m fascinated by the variety of the insect population and also the wonderful ponds they’ve got, with tadpoles and frogs. It reminds me of my favourite book, The Wind of the Willows: a place of intriguing characters and adventure, where dreams and imagination come to life.”