Aside from our well-being work, Spring to Life has been busy over the last few months building its network and making links with a range of organisations doing great work in the West Midlands. As part of this we have attended different networking events where we have exhibited our services and built new connections.
On the 10th of October (World Mental Health Day) Spring to Life attended the “Being Well Works Well” Conference organised by Common Unity. It’s aims were to “provide networking opportunities locally, regionally and nationally in respect of the well-being agenda, highlight upstream services being delivered currently under The Connecting Community Networks programme, present new and innovative approaches that seek to ensure early engagement with wellbeing support opportunities and actively promote the opportunity for improved well-being in a range of arenas”.
On the 12th of October we were invited to attend the launch of a major Social Prescribing initiative by the Witton Lodge Community Association. This provided insight into the immense possibilities of this growing trend in social prescribing. Spring to Life has previously provided well-being programmes at Witton Lodge Community Association, and is part of its vast network of groups and people doing work in the local community. Social prescribing is the practice of GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals, of referring people with physical or mental health needs to projects and activities out in the community. This may include activities such as gardening, cooking, sports or arts.
In November we attended the the iSE (Institute of Social Enterprise) launch of ‘Birmingham Social Enterprise City’ event. This was held on the 15th of November in order to coincide with national social enterprise day. Birmingham has the largest number of social enterprises in the UK outside of London, and is now officially a Social Enterprise City, being part of a national network of cities.
Finally, in November members of Food Forest Brum/Fruit and Nut Village Stirchley attended a mini-conference at Birmingham City University (BCU) concerning the vision to create the West-Midlands National park. This is a pioneering vision held and developed by Kathryn Moore, professor at BCU in Landscape Design to develop West-Midlands including its urban areas into a national park, connecting parks, allotments, other green spaces as well as the general urban environment into a National park. As part of this there would also be the involvement of local groups and communities working on themes such as mental well-being to be part of the network that support this vision. Check out Kathryn Moore’s article about the idea: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jun/20/welcome-to-brumbria-should-the-west-midlands-become-a-national-park.
A common theme running through these events seemed to be on exploring how we connect the individual to their wider community. The growth of the social prescribing approach, illustrates the increasing awareness of the value that being part of our community and environment has on our psycho-emotional health – and which in turn has a positive impact on their community and environment. Its been inspiring too see recently, even in just Birmingham alone, the number of people and groups with this goal in mind.