West Midlands Fire Service endorses TWR in keeping people Safe and Well 

I know will-power plays a big part but the support we provided via The Waiting Room Resource Key has been priceless for him. Aston Fire Station recently shared TWR keys amongst their team leaders for further distribution across their patches.

One Team Leader told us

“I issued 27 keys in total to managers of the HMO’s owned by Midland Living” – their feedback was excellent.

The HMO’s are occupied by people who have serious support needs for various substance misuses and use of violence.

The managers have stated that the keys have been invaluable for signposting and they will continue to use them.

I have visited the HMO’s myself and chatted with some tenants about the Resource Keys – they tell me that a lot of the time it’s knowing where to get help, which the key has been invaluable for.

I have seen the effects of the key first-hand with a tenant who is now two months clean after using the key to access a range of support.

He is now doing voluntary work at the HMO to keep his mind occupied and maintain his well-being.

I know willpower plays a big part but the support we provided via The Waiting Room Resource Key has been priceless for him.

I truly believe that these keys have helped with the rehabilitation of some of our most vulnerable and will certainly continue using them.”

Click on the picture below to watch one of our TWR videos

For more information about The Waiting Room in Birmingham, or if you are interested in bringing it to your location then please get in touch with us as Common-Unity.

Vanguard

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Welcome to our Common Unity Vanguard! our newsletters that looks to bring you up to speed with the work that Common Unity continues to deliver alongside and on behalf of often seldom heard communities. This first edition of Vanguard looks to provide you with a quick overview of the key areas of work we deliver across a range of settings alongside our Grassroots Associates. I would like to thank our partnering organisations and associates for their support in delivering some excellent projects and services.

Click image to view vanguard issue:

Common Unity Vanguard issue 5

Common Unity Vanguard issue 3

Common Unity Vanguard issue 3

Common Unity Vanguard issue 2

Common Unity Vanguard issue 1

ManMade Family

An Evaluation of the ManMade Family Programme May 2016

 

The ManMade Family programme supported men to be able to talk more openly about their emotions, to build their confidence and self-esteem, to know where to go for help and to support others in the community.

This was achieved through an eight-week workshop programme which included peer discussion, information sharing and self-reflection on a range of health and wellbeing topics, underpinned by person centred facilitation approaches.

This report presents the independent findings from the ManMade Family Programme, delivered in Sandwell from February – March 2016.

ManMade is an eight week programme of workshop sessions designed to support and empower unemployed men to take care of their own mental health and wellbeing.

It was developed by Forward for Life and Common Unity in response to high levels of poor male mental health and suicide, associated with gender identity.

Five men took part in this programme, which was more explicitly focused on supporting men with caring responsibilities.

Download the document here: Man Made Family Evaluation Final 060516

More information about ManMade?

To hear more about this programme and the other work we do then get in touch with us at Common Unity

ManMade: Through The Gates

ARCHIVE POST

ManMade: Through The Gates is coming to HMP Birmingham in June. It’s an opportunity for you to talk with others about stuff that you normally wouldn’t feel able to discuss in the open. Areas discussed will include identity, assisting life in others, mental health, loss, physical health, wellbeing and coping. This programme is looking to help you help yourself when you go back into the community. ManMade: TTG starts on June 23rd and will run over 8 weeks for 2-hours on a Friday morning. If you are interested in being part of the ManMade TTG programme then please complete a general application and submit it to the safer custody team.

Download manmade poster a4 copy

Cruse Birmingham joins ManMade

UPSTREAM SOLUTIONS FOR COMMUNITY WELLBEING

Are you a man struggling to cope because of a recent bereavement in your life or one in your past?

How do you cope and get through this difficult time in your life?

One option is to attend the ManMade Cruse group in Birmingham. It’s for men who have experienced bereavement and feel lost as how to deal with it. The group has a course structure and runs for 6 sessions starting on the 12th of September 2016 – Time 5:30PM – 7:30PM.

Initially, you learn more about grieving and what it actually is. With new understanding of what you are dealing with, you have a greater awareness of what you need to do to get through it. There will be plenty of time and opportunity to talk about your bereavement and what your struggles are. However there is no requirement to divulge if you feel uncomfortable, you can engage as little – or as much as you like.

Download the ccn flyer cruse updated

ManMade Through The Gates

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Suicide and Criminal Justice
Prison suicides in England and Wales have risen to the highest level for seven years with 82 prisoners taking their own lives last year, according to new figures.

For the year 2016/2017, The NHS Joint Commissioning Team for Mental Health in Birmingham has invested in a number of one-year pilot programmes that aim to promote wellbeing, improve quality of life and life opportunities for those most vulnerable in Birmingham. This work, being managed as a whole by Common Unity, comes under the umbrella name of Connecting Community Networks being an accepted, locally designed framework that oversees the delivery of much needed holistic services that has real, evidenced based wellbeing benefits to the most vulnerable sectors within our city.

Funding for the delivery of a 6-week Peer Support Based ManMade Programme within the criminal justice sector has been realised with HMP Birmingham being the focus for such a pilot using key elements of the tested and evaluated ManMade Programme implemented to date in Sandwell and Dudley. The ManMade Programme for Criminal Justice, utilising Associates who have delivered ManMade to date and a Community Development Worker, will look to work closely alongside existent service provision within HMP Birmingham including HealthCare and CRC delivery agents, to best support prisoners who are soon to be released back into the community. The proposed cohort is a maximum of 15 participants with anticipated delivery being November – December 2016 for a period of 6 weeks (2 hours per session).

Overarching Aims:

  • Increase resilience and wellbeing over the period of implementation.
  • Reduce the suicide risk on release from prison.

The programme will look to achieve this through:

  • Providing a safe and supportive space for delegates to express feelings and learn about mental health and wellbeing
  • Empowering men to better understand themselves and their own mental health and wellbeing.
  • Equipping men with the skills, tools, information and options to manage their mental health and wellbeing.
  • A dedicated community based professional support assisting each delegate to view wider opportunities for enhanced wellbeing in the community alongside the existent support opportunities currently in place through CRC.

Target Group:
Prisoners who are soon expected to be released back into the community with one or more of the following criteria:

  • History of self-harm
  • History of relationship issues
  • History of substance misuse (but have effective support in place)
  • Prisoners who will be on a ‘Licensed Recall.’

ManMade Cruse

Are you a man struggling to cope because of a recent bereavement in your life or one in your past?

How do you cope and get through this difficult time in your life?


One option is to attend the ManMade Cruse group in Birmingham. It’s for men who have experienced bereavement and feel lost as how to deal with it. The group has a course structure and runs for 6 sessions starting on the 12th of September 2016 – Time 5:30PM – 7:30PM. Initially you learn more about grieving and what it actually is. With new understanding of what you are dealing with, you have a greater awareness of what you need to do to get through it. There will be plenty of time and opportunity to talk about your bereavement and what your struggles are.

However there is no requirement to divulge if you feel uncomfortable, you can engage as little – or as much as you like.

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Life can be hard…but for some, because of particular circumstances, and more often than not, through no fault of their own, life can be much harder still. Connecting Community Networks recognises this and looks to protect and enhance citizen well-being and promote life quality. It oversees the delivery of a number of much needed holistic services that has real, evidenced based wellbeing benefits for some of our most vulnerable members in the community. CCN takes a different approach from many other traditional services by starting from a premise of vulnerability and risk due to life challenges and looking to demonstrate a positive resolution for the individual based on improved wellbeing.

Cruse Birmingham reserves the right to refer an individual to another one of our,  or a local service, if the group in question is not in the client’s best interest.

The death of a loved one is devastating and the emotional roller-coaster that follows can impact hard on your mental, social and emotional well being. Also there is something about being a man that probably makes this world of emotion feel alien to you.

website: crusebirmingham.co.uk

email: enquiries@crusebirmingham.co.uk

telephone:  0121 687 8011

Download a copy of the ManMade Cruse Birmingham Flyer

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So let’s face the facts as we know them….

3 out of every 4 deaths by suicide in England are by men.

Men are struggling. They find it hard to engage with existent mainstream health and social care services and often would prefer to suffer in silence than seek help. So it stands to reason, there is a need to ensure that where services make a greater impact through being man focussed in respect of suicide prevention, then such preventative services and awareness raising opportunities should be developed; and they are; Targeted approaches to preventing suicide amongst men are hot on the agenda across Health and Social Care as rightly they should be…right? But let’s look again because there is something being missed here… or not being highlighted…

If we look at the most recent suicide data for England supplied in September 2016, with a little bit of investigation, there appears to be a clear yet understated fact – the number of women attempting and dying by suicide in England is increasing and nobody seems to be really saying why that might be or what can be done, but it is there – in your face.

So what’s going on?

There are a number of potential reasons why this shift may be occurring, but whilst the time passes for the ‘facts’ to be outed further, we need action and maybe there is a simple way forward for this action. Whilst I accept that there is a need for targeted approaches in respect of suicide prevention for specific groups (such as ManMade), the fact that suicide knows no boundaries in respect of who it affects means that suicide prevention should hold no boundaries as to who engages with it.

Suicide is not an illness and it is not only people with a mental health need that are at risk; It’s not about age, class, gender or sex – but it is about crisis, it is about hopelessness and the person at risk not feeling able to find a way out of the situation other than by suicide. Suicide behaviour effects all walks of life and has a huge negative ripple effect across communities and it is only through a concerted effort across all sectors of our communities and all professions at all levels that we can start to make some headway in reducing the number of people that die by suicide.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide please call Samaritans free on 116 123

If you live in the Birmingham area and want to know what local support services are out there then why not check out The Waiting Room

HUMANS OF THE WEST MIDLANDS – The Human Library

#MyRecovery Campaign launched

The Mental Health Stakeholder Group in Birmingham asked Common Unity through URBRUM to support them in developing a social media campaign based on the concept of ‘recovery’ with the hashtag #MyRecovery. We jumped at the chance as Recovery means different things to different people. Check out our dedicated Youtube page to hear what people think recovery means to them.

representing worldwide cultures, click here to see the latest additions to HUMANS OF THE WEST MIDLANDS

Being Well Works Well

Our approach to improving wellbeing recognises that short term investment in individual wellbeing has huge benefits in the long term. That’s why people are at the heart of everything we do. So, all our programmes don’t start with illness, they start with building health and wellbeing – Through programmes that Educate, Protect, Intervene and Champion we support people to know what needs to be done to keep themselves as well as they can be.

Educate
Knowledge is power, and if people are educated to understand what makes them function in a healthy way, then people have the power to look after themselves.

Protect
Life often throws us a curveball. Our programmes support people to know what tools they can utilise to best cope with the challenges we often unexpectedly face.

Intervene
Everyone needs someone to lean on from time to time. Much of the learning we promote is one that helps people help others. Being able to recognise and support others when they are struggling
has benefits for all.

Champion
To improve wellbeing, we must promote wellbeing through recognising and highlighting that wellbeing is not fixed, but is ever-changing and seen differently from one person to the next.

URBRUM Resource Key & The Waiting Room Directory

What is Urbrum?
Urbrum, as a web-based community centred platform, is all about discovering innovative ways of engaging communities with their own health and wellbeing and the health and well-being of those around them. Its approach to engagement, information and intelligence sees communities as both the recipients and providers of health and well-being intelligence with a view that through such an organic process, services and support will continue to best reflect what communities need and want.

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What is the URBRUM Key About?

The Urbrum Resource Key provides an alternative approach to taking control of our own health and well-being – it is a virtual bridge across “The Information Chasm” that connects support services to the recipient almost instantly – the Urbrum Resource Key by engaging citizens with sources of support directly and seamlessly is, in its own right an intervention, taking away the often wearisome process of finding the right place to get help – an online resource library of information and support that can be navigated with minimum difficulty. In addition, the ongoing management of the process is relatively small but engagement can be realised at high levels and monitored effectively.

The resource key does all this through adhering to a few simple principles:

1) To be innovative in technology we don’t have to invent – we just need to redefine or refine existent technologies that are relatively inexpensive, or better still, free and serve a useful purpose.
2) Make access to this technology easy and discreet through a convenient access route housed within a long-lasting product.
3) Don’t waste time and resources building new data from scratch – use existent web based data and from this framework develop the portfolio over time to best target communities and meet local need.
4) Recognise that informed choice is paramount for citizens in realising their own health and well-being – the resource key is all about informed choice.

What Are the Opportunities for This Approach?

The opportunities for Urbrum Resource key are many but will only be realised with investment both in respect of time, development opportunities and close partnership working.

Key priority opportunities for development as we see it are as follows:

1) The well-being agenda:
The resource key as a front-virtual intervention has great possibilities. Public Health would be in the position of targeting information to specific vulnerable communities providing them with instant access through the Waiting Room to vital local and national information that can support their needs and raise awareness.

2) Diversity in approach:

Through targeted marketing in a range of geographical settings, cost effective advertising of The Waiting Room can be realised – Examples include Beer Mats in pubs, on clothing, on bus shelters, on bill-boards, in A&E Departments, GP Practices, The Courts, Prisons, Police Stations, in taxis, on taxis, on Buses, on email signatures, pharmacy bags – basically wherever there is a space etc.

3) To be the Birmingham Virtual One Stop Shop for Well-Being

The Health and Social Care sector is being crippled by demands placed upon it. The Resource Key is a cost effective way of enabling people to engage with their own health and well-being on their terms at the earliest juncture possible. Through empowering citizens to look after their own health and well-being through utilising existent, often previously unknown resources, the demand on front line health and social care should reduce and the opportunity for front line services in health and social care to signpost citizens to such health and well-being opportunities has to be beneficial for all. It also means that people are enabled to access the right services and the right time to best meet their needs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Connecting Community Networks

What is CCN all about?

ccn-logo-whitebackground

Life can be hard…but for some, because of particular circumstances, and more often than not, through no fault of their own, life can be much harder still. Connecting Community Networks recognises this and looks to protect and enhance citizen well-being and promote life quality. It oversees the delivery of a number of much needed holistic services that has real, evidenced based wellbeing benefits for some of our most vulnerable members in the community. CCN takes a different approach from many other traditional services by starting from a premise of vulnerability and risk due to life challenges and looking to demonstrate a positive resolution for the individual based on improved wellbeing.

The Organisations Behind CCN

Common Unity is the central driving force behind all of the CCN programmes with external expertise being brought into the process to best deliver all elements of each and every programme. This partnership arrangement means that from conceptualisation right through to the point of evaluation, specialist support is realised to demonstrate the potential for such approaches to improving well-being.

 What Programmes Are in Place?

  • Urbrum – web based community centred platform, is all about discovering innovative ways of engaging communities with their own health and wellbeing and the health and well-being of those around them. Its approach to engagement, information and intelligence sees communities as both the recipients and providers of health and well-being intelligence with a view that through such an organic process, services and support will continue to best reflect what communities need and want.
  • Tailored Suicide Prevention Training – Delivery of the highly respected one day suicide prevention programme known as SCHEMA.  This training is delivered across Birmingham and Solihull to best identify and support those who are vulnerable in respect of suicidal ideation and behaviour.
  • ManMade Communities – Utilising the ManMade Peer Led support approach that enables men to survive in modern day society.
  • ManMade Cruse – Men often find it difficult to engage regarding their losses in life and thus can play a negative part in men coping with crisis through loss. This programme looks to achieve greater resilience and well-being through providing men with the opportunity to engage with the area of loss and bereavement as part of a Peer Led Support Programme led by specialists in the field of Bereavement.
  • The Waiting Room – Now developed as an App, this online directory of services and support opportunities for Birmingham and Solihull residents is recognised as the go to place to find the right service for you.

Want to know more?

For more information contact the developers of CCN at Common Unity

ManMade

Because there’s no strength in silence

manmade

Man Made is a forward-thinking programme that supports men between the ages of 20 and 60 to realise their full potential – a tailored 8-week programme providing participants with the skills and knowledge to support their own health and well-being. 

Despite the general public perception, the suicide rate of men in mid-life has been comparable to younger men. In the last eight years though suicides in younger men have reduced whilst for men in their mid-years there has been an increase. But this is not just a challenge of age – when it comes to suicide there are a range of associated inter-related factors that can bring an individual to feel in such a state of despair that they literally believe they would be better off dead.

Associated factors for men, and women, include social inequality, deprivation, health inequalities and financial inequality as well as, in the case of many men particularly, an underlying ongoing challenge of male identity – this is where we need to consider what characteristics are deemed important when a man compares himself to his peers and how can we tackle those characteristics which prevent men from seeking help?

With the recession having hit hard across the UK and no less hard in the West Midlands in the last few years, the effect of unemployment experienced by many men twinned with a range of other associated factors that often follow on, means that despair for many individuals in this situation can result, in the most tragic of cases, in death by suicide.

The ManMade Dudley Programme was established in February 2015 as a pilot programme that engages unemployed men from the area to best support them emotionally and practically in taking best care of their own mental health and well-being. This evaluation looks to cover all the aspects of ManMade, both its successes and challenges, in the hope that firstly, the learning from the programme can be cascaded to best realise a greater understanding of the complexities of men as well as secondly, providing a knowledge platform where this programme or future off-shot programmes be developed further for the benefit of the wider cohort.

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Making Well-Being A reality In Birmingham

cohesion-picture

Community Cohesion is what should happen in all communities to enable different groups of people to get on well together.A key contributor to community cohesion is integration which is what must happen to enable new residents and existing residents to adjust to one another. The City Wide Community Cohesion Programme is an innovative and flexible service that through its accessibility for everyone means that integration is possible throughout the city.

The programme is run by the Community Development Workers (CDWs) and it focuses on working with all vulnerable communities and with front-line staff who may be providing support to vulnerable community members. The CDWs work to increase knowledge of mental health and wellbeing, to encourage greater self-awareness and self-management, and to stimulate community engagement; all geared at improving the lives of Birmingham’s residents.

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The silent infection

Chlamydia is known as the silent infection. 1 in 14 people in Birmingham and Solihull, aged 15-24, who were tested for Chlamydia…have Chlamydia. There are NO Symptoms it is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the UK. Left untreated, Chlamydia can stop you from having children, however, if detected you can get treatment early.

I’m Gurpreet. I have been working for Besure for 3 years now and work with communities and community services offering free confidential advice and testing to anyone between the ages of 15-24. The test: It’s a free, simple and painless urine test for the men and a simple self taken vaginal swab for the women and we send you your results through confidential e-mail, text message or letter.

In fact, ALL of the advice and testing we offer is completely CONFIDENTIAL. We also have a mobile clinic called the Besure Bus which we take events around Birmingham and Solihull. Providing Chlamydia advise is challenging but enjoyable – I usually get mixed reactions from the young people though mostly people appreciate the advice and free testing we providing.

Most young people tell us ‘that they are glad we approached them as they were planning on getting themselves tested’ or ‘they never thought to take a test even though they are sexually active.’ A few negative comments I get from the young people with Chlamydia testing is ‘I ain’t dirty’ or ‘I use protection’ or ‘I’ve only been with only one partner’ unfortunately there is still stigma around Chlamydia testing, which we are trying to break down. My advice to them would be that having a test for Chlamydia does not make you dirty, Chlamydia has no signs or symptoms and most people do not know they have it – you don’t have to sleep around to catch it and it can be passed on through different partners. Most people don’t know that you can get Chlamydia from oral sex and foreplay, so protection should be used at all times. The best advice I would give is to take a Chlamydia test every time you put yourself at risk, which can be when: You’ve changed your partner you’ve had unprotected sex, you’ve had oral sex, if the condom has split during sex, if you have shared sex toys.

Basic take home tips; Always use a condom and check the expiry date! Make sure the condom package is undamaged and displays the Kitemark standards There are different variations of condoms you can get, as well as sizes and flavours e.g. Male condoms, Femidoms (Female Condom) and Dental Dams (thin square piece of latex used for oral sex) You can order a free Chlamydia test from our website www.besure.org.uk Chlamydia is treatable with Antibiotics and is free for anyone under the age of 25 who gets tested for Chlamydia and is positive. If positive, their partners, who can be of any age, can also be tested and treated for Chlamydia for free through us. www.besure.org.uk – Text Be sure to 80010 – Call 0800 953 3399

Youth Roots – Youth service concept

Tackling self-harm with young people.

Self-Harm

The phrase ‘self-harm’ is used to describe a wide range of behaviours. Self-harm is often understood to be a physical response to an emotional pain of some kind, and can be very addictive. Some of the things people do are quite well known, such as cutting or burning or pinching, but there are many, many ways to hurt yourself, including abusing drugs and alcohol or having an eating disorder. Sometimes, it’s more important to focus on how someone is feeling rather than what they do to themselves. Quite often, people find that more helpful.

The UK has one of the highest rates of self-harm in Europe, at 400 per 100,000 population and there is a high correlation between self-harming behaviour and mental health problems. In 2014, figures were published suggesting a 70% increase in 10-14 year olds attending A&E for self-harm related reasons over the preceding 2 years.

Girls are thought to be more likely to self-harm than boys, but this could be because boys are more likely to engage in behaviours such as punching a wall, which isn’t always recognised as self-harm or doesn’t come to the attention of hospitals. In reality self-harm doesn’t happen to one type of person, it can’t be predicted and scarily, we don’t really know how many people are going through it.

 

Youth Roots – Youth service concept created by Common unity and Black Country Partnership

“So Let’s Talk About Recovery! ”

What is Recovery? When anyone mentions ‘recovery’, most people’s first thought is ‘from what?’ This is because recovery is usually about regaining something we have lost or our need to do so. Recovery, for us, could mean something physical such as recovering from a cold, virus or broken leg; or something emotional like a traumatic event, a relationship breakdown or the stress of moving house or changing jobs.

What we seem to find most difficult during the recovery process is accepting, at times, we can’t regain what we have lost in the full sense of the word and we have to find an alternative way of living without, or with a slightly different version of what we had before. For example, after a relationship breakdown, we may not be able to rebuild that relationship – but accepting that it is over; taking some responsibility for it and appreciating the positive aspects of being single may be a good way to move forward.

So Why Talk about Recovery? Each and every one of us will experience hardship during our lives and this is one thing that binds us together as a community. We will all struggle to find ways to manage life’s challenges and for each of us, this journey is unique.

For most, however, one thing that is most helpful is having a support network. Everyone needs someone to help them through tough times. Sharing stories of hardship and the recovery process can be helpful for the person that has been through difficult times.

recovery

It can be a great way to reflect on what helped and what didn’t which can be useful for the future. It can also be therapeutic. As readers, it can help us to realise we are not alone in our troubles and give us ideas for how we might better deal with the difficulties we face. So let’s celebrate the hard times we have had because what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger! How you can help? Help yourself and others by sharing your story. If you have fallen on hard times and thought the difficulties you faced were almost too much to bear – what helped?

What advice would you give to others to get through difficult times? If you have a story to share email stephen@urbrum.org You can either email your story or we can arrange an interview that could see your story featured in the recovery page in the next issue of URBRUM. If you run or work for a community based local service that supports people in Birmingham, get in touch by telling us how you support recovery. Your experiences and tips could be valuable to the readers of URBRUM across the city.

BACK IN THE DAYS

When we were young,
Things differed from the life we live today,
There was a better feel of communities,
As in the front or backyard we’d play.

We knew most of the families,
That lived within our street,
In and out each others houses,
Our life then was really sweet.

We’d play a game of baseball,
The girls against the boys,
In those days of our childhood,
No one really missed having toys.

No Nintendo DS, No play station,
We were a lot fitter than the kids now,
If we disagreed with one another,
All we’d mumble was ‘you stupid cow’.

On Sundays we’d attend Sunday school,
We’d be picked up in the van,
All smelling sweet of ponds cream,
With our church offering in our hand.

The life today is sure different,
Society has changed by far,
They invent these games and gadgets,
Then wonder why the kids are as they are.

If you pass them on the street,
And look at them too hard,
They ask who you think you’re looking at,
So it’s best to stay in your yard!

Image source: Birmingham Mail 

Poem by : Deborah Courtney – Community Member

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