CAN (Community Anchoring Networks) has recently been launched as a way to connect vulnerable people needing support during the Covid 19 crisis, to community projects and other services. It is being funded by the Living Well Consortium (Living Well UK).
CAN as a model was initially being developed as Spring to Life’s social prescribing initiative, connecting people to activities, services and projects in the city. We are now adapting this to link people to services and initiatives emerging as Coronavirus response work.
We have always been struck by the wealth of projects happening in Birmingham aimed to support people’s well-being in a myriad of ways. Yet alongside this we have also seen the issue of many people not knowing what is available. As a well-being organisation working across the city and in different settings Spring to Life has links with GP and mental health services, and with many vulnerable groups themselves through our therapeutic programmes. We are also part of a wide network of groups offering different therapies, and activities. In this position we are now pleased to have received funding from the Living Well Consortium to carry out this connecting work.
The current crisis is presenting a host of issues for people, specific to the conditions of this historic time. Some of these include: difficulties accessing food, domestic violence, stress around reduced income and loss of job as well as accessing benefits, loneliness, and an increase in mental health problems. We are developing a directory listing services supporting people with these issues, while also making use of other directories and portals offered by other organisations. Information from this will be made available to our clients and to other professionals.
To find out more, and to self refer or refer others to the project please contact us on 07856277028, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please get in touch also if you have a project or group you wish to promote through our directory.
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
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.
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.
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