Spring to Life serves people who want to grow in emotional well-being

Covid 19 support

April 25th, 2020
We live in the day and age of constant change. The last few months have been quite testing for people with the uncertainty of what might happen to them and their families due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Spring to Life have come on board to provide support to people affected by Covid-19. Whether your mental health is affected by self-isolation or work in extremely difficult and stressful conditions.
Thanks to the NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, that provided the funding for this work, we have teamed up with other organisations- The Living Well Consortium (Living Well UK), Birmingham Mind and others to provide support to people, who live in Birmingham and Solihull. Two helplines have been set up for people to call:
0121 262 3555 – mental health support
0121 633 1217 – mental health support for key workers.
All associates of Spring to Life acknowledge that extra help is required for our community and we are prepared to work hard to support people during this time. Now is the time to come together and feel united. Community and individual wellbeing has been our priority and if you require any more information or need some further advice then please feel free to contact us directly on info@springtolife.org or call 07856277028.

Fruit and Nut Village Bulletin February 2020

February 20th, 2020

Fruit & Nut Village Stirchley

Bulletin – February 2020

Upcoming Events

15th February 2020 – Planting and Tree Care Day

We will continue our cooking apple tree care and additional planting at Cookers Corner, after a very productive session there in November.

10am – 1pm – Cookers Corner, Hazelwell Park, meet opposite 103 Newlands Road

22nd February 2020 – Selly Park Secret Garden Work and Planting Day

A Fruit & Nut Village supported sub-project. We are developing this site, slightly further north from our usual patch.

10am – 1pm – meet at the bottom of Second Avenue near the bridge

27th February 2020 – Pebble Mill Forest Garden Planning Evening

Please join us for an informal chat to plan and prepare for the development of the forest garden at Pebble Mill Playing Fields

7pm – 8.30pm – Selly Park Tavern, Pershore Road, B29 7HQ

29th February 2020 – Nut Grove Planting

Details TBC

1st March 2020 – Orchard Care Day

We will give some winter care to the trees we planted on this site in early 2019 – this may include a little pruning and planting work.

10 am – 1 pm – meet at Broadmeadow Orchard – Ten Acres – north from Cartland Road on the River Rea cycle path

7th March 2020 – Forest Garden Development Day – Day 1 of 2

We will be planting some trees on the site and working at expanding the range of plants present in the space.

10 am – 2 pm – Pebble Mill Playing Fields – entrance off Kitchener Road

8th March 2020 – Orchard Development Day

We will be expanding the orchard here, increasing the range of fruits on our “Pearthorn” and working with the foraging hedge

10 am – 3 pm – The New Old Orchard, Stirchley Park

14th March 2020 – Forest Garden Development Day – Day 2 of 2

We will be working at expanding the range of plants present in the emerging Forest Garden space

10 am – 2 pm – Pebble Mill Playing Fields – entrance off Kitchener Road

21st March 2020 – Bench Grafting Workshop

Learn the skills to graft and grow your own heritage fruit tree. If you would like to take a tree away for your garden you may buy one (cheaply) at the event.

10am – 3pm – Umberslade Nurseries

28th March 2020 – Field Grafting

Help us to introduce new varieties of fruit to Stirchley Park through grafting.

10am – 2pm – Meet at the Cartland Road entrance to the cycle path on Cartland Road

18th April 2020 – Stirchley Snake Ride

Pedal along the River Rea and to our other Fruit & Nut Village sites…then picnic!

Times and meeting point TBC


We have been busy this winter – even visiting our orchards on 4th January to carry out a pruning session before the year had barely dawned.

Wassail went very well this year. We paraded and processed and made noise and listened to stories and ate food courtesy of The Real Junk Food Project…and some spent time together in a local pub afterwards. We are certain that we drove every evil spirit from our trees and from Stirchley Park itself.

Every Saturday we have been out working to care for established, establishing and new trees as well as preparing ground and planting new trees in Newlands Run and in the new orchard behind Beilby Road – what is this orchard called? We need some suggestions.

The January day in Umberslade Nurseries was very successful and varied. We cared for the trellis of cordon trees, worked hard at a variety of jobs with our adopted orchard there and also potted up trees we had grafted last year. The young grafted trees are a very useful resource for the project and the area and we plan to distribute these to new homes in coming winters.

Get Involved

We have a wide range of activities taking place through the next few weeks, as winter turns to spring. There are trees still needing planting, fruit trees to graft indoors for planting out in years to come, field grafting on site to further expand the range of fruits we are growing in Stirchley, forest garden development and plenty more. We are still running a weekly session every Saturday and some events on days outside of that pattern.

We’d really like to welcome anybody over 50 to join us on our Stirchley Baths and Library garden project. Behind these buildings we are creating a formal forest garden…with different types of bed,fan-trained fruit, a story-telling corner, an archway, an allium collection, unusual fruits and plenty more. We meet at 1 PM every Monday. Anyone wishing to join us can just turn up – no skills, knowledge or tools needed.

We are planning the further development of the site at Pebble Mill. We will have a meeting to discuss this before the planting sessions take place in March. If you are local to the Pebble Mill site off Kitchener Road then we would really like to join us to discuss and plan – please do EMAIL US to express your interest!

Volunteer Profile: Helen

I spend far too much of my time stuck indoors, whether it’s at work, doing household chores or overseeing kids’ homework, so the chance to get out into the fresh air, in all weathers, doing something physically active, with a sense of purpose is very valuable to me. The contact with the elements, with the natural world and with other friendly, sociable people brings me happiness, it’s no more complicated than that.

I love that the work that we do will still be making a contribution for years to come; that other people will still be enjoying the trees and picking fruit. And I love that there is such variety, of tasks, events, locations and, of course, plants, because you learn a great deal, often in a very incidental way, with so much shared knowledge on hand.

The rewards of this work change with the seasons, pruning apple trees on a sunny winter’s morning is a gentle, contemplative pleasure, but equally, digging holes and planting trees in muddy ground in the wind and rain is, for me at least, an invigorating experience once in a while! The virtuous feeling that follows makes returning home, eating a hot meal together and settling down on the sofa, all the more enjoyable!

Then there are the warm Autumn days, watching the children lying on the mulch pile in the sunshine, smiling and happy, or pushing the wheelbarrow through orchards and parks, chatting with friends and meeting new people.

Whenever I describe Fruit and Nut Village to people they always think it sounds like a great idea, but it isn’t until you actually get involved that you can really appreciate it. The feeling that you are making a lasting, positive difference and enjoying every minute of it is a rare experience and one to be cherished.

Fruit Corner: George Fox

We have been planting the George Fox apple across our local area as part of Fruit & Nut Village’s work. This tree has perhaps the strongest connection to Stirchley, originating in the local suburb of Bournville!

We were tipped off about the existence of this apple variety in 2018 and we managed to locate and buy some trees.

From the descriptions of the apple variety it looks to be a great selection. The apple is partially-fertile and has a late picking time, but the fruits keep until May! The flavour is supposed to be very good. We have found the trees to be large, robust and quick growing.

The man, George Fox, established the Religious Society of Friends, or, Quaker movement, hence the naming of this apple variety.

Caring For YOUR Orchard

Winter is a busy time in the orchard. There’s still plenty of time to prune and inspect apple and pear trees for canker. Young trees need their branching framework to be developed, and this is a winter job.

Grafting work takes place at the beginning of spring so it is a great time to select and collect scion wood to create copies of your favourite trees in a few weeks time. Bag up the scion wood and store it in the fridge until you want to graft it. Scion should be from one-year old growth and disease-free. Select pieces around the width and length of a pencil.

If you need any ideas, help or advice about winter fruit tree care then do join us on one of our work days.

Fruit & Nut Village Stirchley is supported by the National Lottery through the 

 Heritage Lottery Fund

Bereavement Cafe launch

February 19th, 2020

Spring to Life is soon launching two bereavement café’s in north Birmingham. We are providing welcoming spaces for people who have suffered losses of loved ones, to come and drop in for a chat, a coffee, as well as the chance to engage in creative therapeutic activities. They are relaxed and informal sessions, with a chance to socialise. Yet they are facilitated by trained and experienced therapists in case people need extra support.

We will be running one bereavement café in Great Barr (St Paul’s Church), funded by Perry Barr Neighbourhood Network Scheme. The other will be in Perry Common, near Erdington. This one is in partnership with Witton Lodge Community Association, and funded by Erdington Neighbourhood Network Scheme. See posters below for full details and locations


Pop-up well-being space

February 11th, 2020

For the whole of February the Living Well Consortium is running a pop-up space in Birmingham City Centre to offer a wide range of therapies and well-being activities. During the different days of the week, many of the well-being organisations that form part of the consortium will hold the space, delivering their own therapeutic programmes throughout the day, and welcoming people into the space to talk about well-being and sign-post to other projects.

Spring to Life will be part of this, offering therapies every Thursday, running groups on writing for well-being, art sessions, relaxation groups, touch for well-being and reading for well-being.

The pop-up is being held at the Good Intent, a non-profit bar which raises money for charities and good causes via Love Brum.

See details below of full programme and address.

Spring to Life improved IAPT counselling results

January 23rd, 2020

During 2019 Spring to Life again topped its rates of mental health recovery through our counselling service. During this year we conducted a study to explore our outcomes with counselling clients in Stirchley and Kings Norton. Our service here is done primarily in partnership with Kings Norton Surgery, where our counsellors are based and where referrals come through to Spring to Life. In these communities we have had a regular presence over the years, providing both counselling and community projects. In Kings Norton, the core focus has been particularly on the Three Estates area.

The clinical effectiveness outcomes were measured through the GAD5 and PHQ7 questionnaires, which look at anxiety and depression (respectively). Scores from these before and after therapy will provide a ‘Move to Recovery’ rating. Which means people following completion of therapy will score significantly lower for these than before therapy (below a threshold of 7 points for GAD5 and 9 for PHQ7).

Upon completion of treatment, 67% of all respondents showed a significant reduction in PHQ levels   and 71% of all clients showed a major reduction in GAD scores. The combined scores revealed that 62% of all respondents reached Move to Recovery exceeding the national average of 52.1%.

We believe that several factors have supported the excellent rate of improved recovery rates for clients. These include: therapists being value-based, experienced, committed and adaptive to client need. In addition to this, the excellent working alliance between the doctors surgeries and Spring to Life, seems to also help improve client experience.

Themes that arose for clients included: gaining insights, making positive changes in  their lives, having an increased capacity to cope with things, being better able to manage self, being more able to manage feelings, being able to cope with stress and anxiety, reduced panic attacks, and improved emotional health. Many clients reported having life changing experiences during therapy.

Our counselling service is delivered through support from the Living Well Consortium, and funded by IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies).

The Living Well Consortium is a West-Midlands consortium of organisations that support  individuals and groups to improve their mental health and psychological well-being through personal and community friendly interventions.



Fruit and Nut Village upcoming activities

November 20th, 2019

Journeyman live: Folk music fundraiser for Spring to Life

October 22nd, 2019

Tree of Life Programme with Refugees and Asylum seekers

October 22nd, 2019

Working in collaboration with Migrant Help, Spring to Life ran a Tree of Life programme with newly arrived young refugees and asylum seekers. It took place during June and September of this year, and was  funded by Swan Mountain Trust.

Tree of Life is a ‘narrative psychology’ approach originally developed in Africa for traumatised young people and children. It involves giving participants an opportunity to explore their lives (including their traumas) and their sense of selves from a position of strength and empowerment. This is done creatively with participants depicting their lives as a tree with different parts of the tree representing different aspects of their lives. While exploring their tree of life  participants to connect with other people through sharing experiences and gifting comments on other people’s sharing, with the process culminating in  people’s individual trees coming together to make up a Tree of Life. We had participants from Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and Afghanistan.

We held the first part of the programme at the beautiful Martineau Gardens, where as well as people taking part in the day long session they also got to enjoy the beauty, peace and friendly atmosphere of this community garden. The intention of this aspect is to encourage participants to return to visit Martineau Gardens independently in their own time, as a way to promote integration and connection between refugee and migrant communities with local projects.

The second part of the programme involed getting the same participants to take part in actual planting trees themselves in a community space, or to care for fruit trees at a community orchard. This follow up section of the programme worked with the Fruit and Nut Village Stirchley project to support the ‘edible park’ initiative at Hazewell Park.


Here are some testimonials from participants:

“The course was so helpful and made me feel very happy”

“Learnt more about how to deal with difficulties”

“Learnt to be patient when facing calamity”

“Talk together and get help from

others about life”














Community Conversations in the Three Estates

September 7th, 2019

During the summer, Spring to Life began a ‘Needs assessment’ initiative in the Three Estates – South Kings Norton. Funded by the Big Lottery Community fund, we have been speaking to a wide range of people in different settings in order to capture a sense of what the concerns and visions are for their community, and what are the priorities for developing positive mental health and well-being. We have taken on people living locally to help with this. So far we have had a couple of ‘Vox Pops’ in Hawkesley Square. We also plan to speak to people in GP practices, sheltered housing sites, door to door visits, as well as for our new local members to carry out these conversations with their own friends and neighbours.

The long term aim is for the results of this Needs Assessment to set the basis for developing a long term well-being programme in the area, supporting different social groups using different approaches, and working in partnership with other organisations operating in the area.

A key component of this current project is also for Spring to Life to continue to develop its local networks. There are many local projects and groups doing amazing work in the community. During our Vox Pops and other community conversations we have been sign-posting people to these existing projects.

From these conversations we are also developing a core group of local people that we come across that are interested in seeing their community improve and grow. This group will get to meet once in a while and advise on the long term development of the Spring to Life programme.

Some of the things these conversations are showing us are the huge assets that this community has. These include an incredible sense of community where people know each other and look out for one another, the many green spaces in the area, and other spaces such as the Hawkesley Community Centre and as well as other facilities. Spring to Life will aim to make use of these assets in order to maximise the impact made.

July 15th, 2019

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