Sparkbrook - The Parish
Sparkbrook in Birmingham, is "one of the most deprived areas in Western Europe "(Ladypool Road School Ofsted Report 1999). Male life expectancy is 57 years.
Crime is twice the city average. 53% of children receive free school meals. 65% of the population (86% of school) Asian Muslim, half of whom are under 20 years of age.
Having said all that - the area is very vibrant and includes the famous Ladypool Road - possibly the original home of the Balti. The City Council did attempt to remarket the area as Apna Town - somehow this name doesn't seem to have caught on, but the subcontinental lampposts and other street furniture remain giving the area a unique feel.
Sparkbrook continues to become more Islamic - almost every pub has closed (including The Angel and The Lamb and Flag), usually to be replaced by plush steak houses. The church's neighbour is now a 24-hour asian supermarket; there can't be many churches in Britain where on leaving midnight mass the worshipper sees piled up fruit and vegetables on display on the pavement outside the shop - the shop almost never closes.
Both Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath were the real locations for 'Sparkhill' in the BBC1 comedy series 'Citizen Khan' with our own Father John Herve making an unplanned cameo appearance: