As part of World Mental Health Day and the Big Inclusive Get Together, Common UnityForward For Life & Community Flow are working in partnership to celebrate the wellbeing of our local communities.

This is a free event and everyone is welcome, so why not come along and join us on the day. For more information please visit Common unity : Link

Fantastic experiences you will find on the day:


Date and Time
FRI 8th OCT 2021 – 11 AM – 6 PM

The Midlands Greek & Cypriot Association
Magnet Centre
Park Approach
B23 7SJ

For more information on the Big Inclusive Get Together Festival

For Information stalls please contact

Caron Thompson
07901 705 801

For food stalls please contact

Sonia Parnell

Happy Birthday to us!

At Common Unity & Forward For Life we are celebrating the 6th Birthday of The Waiting Room (TWR). Tailored for Birmingham and Solihull citizens and providing links to over 1000 services both locally and nationally, The Waiting Room has been a huge success.

Thank you for your support

Adopted and supported by Public Health, the Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Network, Birmingham City University, Birmingham and Solihull NHS CCG, the emergency services as well as key organisations in the third sector, TWR continues to grow with new services being added and existent services being updated regularly.

Keep up to date with us

As part of our Birthday celebration we are launching a TWR Updates page that keeps you up to speed with new TWR developments and other related stories.

WISE STEPS – Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training (online)

WISE STEPS is an online ‘gatekeeper’ training workshop built on years of experience and best evidenced based approaches in the field of suicide prevention.

Designed, developed and delivered by Forward For Life and Common Unity, WISE STEPS provides a strong foundation for those seeking the tools needed to support people who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Course Info

Facilitators: 2
Maximum Delegate Number: 14
Duration: 3 Hours

Who is this course for:

WISE STEPS training aims to support organisations and communities to be better prepared to identify and support those at risk of suicide.

How you benefit from WISE STEPS:

  • Understand the impact of suicide and the stigma surrounding suicide.
  • Gain knowledge of the common myths and misconceptions.
  • Have a strong base line knowledge of how to identify those at risk.
  • Gain skills in open and direct dialogue on suicide.
  • Direct those at risk to appropriate support organisations.
  • Knowledge of local and national support resources.
  • Increased confidence in supporting a person who may be at risk of suicide.
  • Understand the vital importance of self-care and personal support opportunities.

Next level online learning:

WISE STEPS PLUS has been developed specifically for delegates who have already attended the WISE STEPS Gatekeeper online Training.

It provides online enhanced training opportunities to further support those who are having suicidal thoughts.

Course Info

Facilitators: 2
Maximum delegate Number: 12
Duration: 3 Hours

Who is this course for:

WISE STEPS PLUS is specifically for community members/organisations who have attended the WISE STEPS online Gatekeeper training who wish to develop their skill base further when directly supporting a person with thoughts of suicide to stay safe.

How you benefit from WISE STEPS PLUS:

  • Enhanced skills in open and direct dialogue
  • Skills in developing tailored Life Plans and assessing risk concerns.
  • Understanding and utilisation of ‘exploring safety’ techniques
  • Increased knowledge of CARE prioritisation model
  • Development of both implementation skills and observation skills through role simulation/case studies

Quality assurance

Forward For Life and Common Unity have specialised in the fields of mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention for a combined period of more than 50 years. They have designed, developed and delivered a range of training programmes across the UK to communities, the public sector and private sector. The training is delivered by Master Trainers in the internationally recognised ASIST and safeTALK suicide prevention programmes.

Our Face to Face suicide prevention training

SCHEMA is our one day course that further supports delegates with skills in developing individual Life Plans for people with thoughts of suicide. SCHEMA is delivered currently as part of the Birmingham and Solihull suicide prevention NHS programme and has been successfully delivered to as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Partnership Trusts programme for reducing suicide. By attending the SCHEMA course which is our face to face eqivilent to attending our online Wise Steps Plus Suicide Prevention Training.

For more information on SCHEMA please click here.

Have any questions?

Why not get in touch with us so we can help with any inquiries you may have.

CLICK HERE to go to our contact page or call us on 07585776800

Expression of interest link

Getting the message out in many different ways

Covid 19: Stay safe in your community. The videos below have been translated into English, Punjabi, Polish, Somali, Arabic, Chinese, Romanian, Urdu, French, Portuguese.

Getting the message out in many different ways has always been a core message from Common Unity in respect of the importance of good health and wellbeing across communities. However, with the devastating impact of Coronavirus, the importance of getting the messages out there to help people keep themselves and their loved ones around them safe takes on ever greater gravitas. Charities have highlighted the concern that the core messages regarding this deadly virus are often going unheard by communities whose preferred written language is not English and it is clear that certain BAME communities are over-represented in respect of the number of deaths from Covid 19.

It is therefore imperative that we recognise the importance of getting Health Information responsive to the needs of vulnerable communities. This is of huge significance in the City of Birmingham where there exists 108 different languages spoken across 87 different ethnic groups. At the point of producing this post, Birmingham has been highlighted as being on the Government’s Covid-19 watch list as a designated “Area of Enhanced Support” meaning the potential for further lock-down in Birmingham and surrounding areas at some point in the future is a very real prospect unless we can get the message out their to all communities.

The Birmingham Public Health team, supported by sector experts and local partners, have stepped up to this challenge with running a series of COVID-19 related webinars for leaders and professionals who have a direct reach into communities and have an established, trusted relationship with them, for example: community leaders, social prescribing link workers and faith leaders. The webinars, and additional information, can be found on the Birmingham City Council website here:… We at Common Unity have also been doing our bit to get the simple messages out. First through further rolling out Healthy Brums recommendations on wearing face masks in 12 languages (…) and now through the key information being translated and dispersed through social media through short videos. Just remember we are all in this together for the bigger community known as Birmingham. Stay well and stay safe. Help and support networks can be found on : This video is brought to you by:

Reaching a milestone

The Waiting Room (TWR) Team are proud to present a milestone in community engagement.

In the last twelve months TWR have had over 100,000 visits to the website by Birmingham and Solihull communities. The smart online directory has offered support to professionals and the citizens within our communities across Birmingham and Solihull. It has played an especially important role since the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown in March.

TWR has continued to roll out the information in as many ways as possible to ensure accessibility to support services at such a crucial time. This includes:

  • The Waiting Room Apps being launched and promoted since September 2019 on Google Play and Apple App Store
  • More than 20,000 instant access key fobs across all GP practices in Birmingham and Solihull
  • 7,500 key fobs rolled out through Birmingham Public Health within the emergency packs
  • 400 scannable posters for public areas.

Alongside this we have promoted the importance of accessing support utilising key Public Health messages related to the pandemic both through short information videos and the development of the Covid-19 Support Section at TWR.

This achievement would not have been possible without the ongoing collaboration and support of our wider partners including Birmingham City Council Public Health and Adult Safeguarding Team, Birmingham and Solihull NHS CCG,  our GP’s, Universities, locals schools and our third sector colleagues to name a few.

Birmingham Online Directory for Vulnerable Communities Launched

Introducing BARMS

The Birmingham Asylum Refugee and Migrant Support directory (BARMS) provides links to support for some of our most vulnerable communities.

BARMS is an online directory of organisations, services and groups that are committed to welcoming, supporting and resettling asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Birmingham.

Birmingham City Council has worked in partnership with Common Unity, who are the developers of Urbrum and The Waiting Room,  to develop the website.

The directory is a direct response to meeting the needs and wishes of our partners in the Birmingham Migration Forum.

A diverse city

Birmingham is a friendly, cosmopolitan city which is proud of the warm welcome it extends to people from all corners of the globe, regardless of their situation.

Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety & Equalities at Birmingham City Council, said: “This is a fantastic resource which shows the wealth of support available from organisations who are working together to help asylum seekers, refugees and migrants arriving in our city.

The thinking behind BARMS

BARMS is a one stop directory to access information and services specific to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

It facilitates communication between organisations and supports better collaboration and partnership working.

BARMS also underpins the council’s commitment to Birmingham being a City of Sanctuary and reflects the emerging Resettlement and Integration Strategy for the city. You can find out more by visiting

Get involved

If you want your organisation listed on the BARMS website there is a PDF form available to submit. LINK TO ADD A SERVICE

Working in partnership

  • The content on this website will also automatically appear on the public facing “The Waiting Room”, which is a citywide directory of services for all communities in the city.
  • The Waiting Room also provides a useful free text search function which can help people find things according to key words or a service for instance. So please make sure you reference terms like “asylum seeker”“refugee”“migrant”“immigration”, as well as the place or postcode you deliver from in the description of what you do.

Advice on face masks – Translated

The challenge for communities

Image Source

Birmingham is a beautifully diverse city with communities representing all corners of the globe. With this diversity in culture and background comes a diversity in languages spoken.

As the Coronavirus pandemic has swept across the city it has been recognised that many communities are more able to engage with guidelines when the information is available in their preferred language. It is important that all our communities are aware of the recommendations when it comes to wearing face masks.

A community response

With the input of Healthy Brum (Public Health Birmingham) here is the most up to date information on wearing face masks in 12 different languages.

Please find below translations in 12 languages, on where and how to wear a face covering.

  • Arabic
  • English
  • French
  • Kurdish (Sorani)
  • Lithuanian
  • Pashto
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Tigrinya

To download these guidelines, go to our link at Common Unity

TWR is provided in Birmingham Emergency Packs

Caron Thompson handing over TWR keys for Emergency Packs

Collaboration is key in beating this pandemic

Isolation and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic has made life incredibly difficult for all of us. But for those most vulnerable to the Coronavirus, these pressures and challenges are greater still.

People from all walks of life are finding it harder to get the best support. They are finding it as hard to even best support themselves. It’s no surprise, none of us have experienced anything like this before and the unknown is a huge cause of fear.

But at Common Unity, we believe the key to beating this pandemic is to be there for each-other, as difficult as that may be.

Supporting those most at risk

Thousands of our community members have been shielded. So, we have been working hard in collaboration with Public Health Birmingham to provide support to those most vulnerable across our communities. During the lock-down period Common Unity and partners have ensured that 7,500 key fobs linking communities to The Waiting Room Directory (TWR) have been distributed. These fobs went out with the Birmingham Emergency Packs to best enable communities to link with the right support.

Making TWR fit for purpose

We have also made sure that TWR is as bang up to date as possible. We have developed a whole new area in TWR being dedicated solely to information and support related to Covid-19. The information covers local services and support opportunities as well as national ones.

Stepping up a gear

During this pandemic we have also received many calls from people in the community who had received the key fobs but weren’t very confident using the internet. We have provided advice on a range of services. This has included counselling services, welfare benefits support services, self-help services, helplines support services, mental health support services, domestic abuse services to name but a few. It has been a real challenge but one we feel could be taken taking on fully and conquered.


Through hard work and close collaboration, we believe Birmingham has gone some distance in effectively keeping some of our most vulnerable citizens safe and well during this difficult period.

We would like to thank our associates and our partners across the NHS and the charity sector for their amazing work.


The Waiting Room >>

Tel: 05785776800


Life is the AIM – Suicide prevention gatekeeper training

The developers

LITA was developed by Forward For Life and Common Unity.

We recognise that in today’s uncertain times there is a clear need to provide people from all walks of life with gatekeeper skills training in suicide prevention. But we cannot rely only on face to face training so LITA utilises online training as its approach.

What you will learn:

LITA is a 2-hour online gatekeeper training supports recipients to:

• Understand the impact of suicide
• Have knowledge of how to identify those at risk
• Recognise the value of listening
• Direct those at risk to appropriate support opportunities.

Who is it for?

This online introductory support course is being offered out to organisations and communities across the UK. It provides people with a knowledge base of how to start to support people who may be thinking of suicide. The aim of LITA is to maintain life as an outcome.

Our training is useful for all organisations, big and small. It further supports those organisations where some employees may have attended our SCHEMA or ASIST courses. This means that we can provide organisations with the opportunity for enhanced internal support through a wider skilled workforce.

More information

For further information about LITA or any of our face to face training options please contact Terry Rigby 07585776800 or email

Our flyer

You can download a copy of the flyer in PDF format by clicking here. 

URBRUM Magazine issue 2

Welcome to URBRUM issue 2, Birmingham’s own community Mag.

Read the Magazine here

This issue is packed with a wide range of topics and also features the URBRUM games review and tasty recipes. URBRUM links up with ex Birmingham city player Duane Courtney who gives us a glimpse in to his life and upbringing in the article Diamond in the Rough.

Junior James who was once an international drugs smuggler tells us about his life and how he has turned it around and written a very interesting book. Steroids have long been linked to the idea of the athlete striving to reach the utmost peak of performance, and with us just coming out of an Olympic year they were very much in the news. Are steroids becoming a fashion trend? One of our readers shares his personal experience.
Local and national jazz saxophonist Andy Gayle talks openly to URBRUM about his battle with depression. Reach the charity, took a few guys from their young people’s services down to MTV in Camden Town to help plan the EMAs (Europe Music Awards), which were hosted in Festhalle, Frankfurt Germany.

Read all the above and much more.


Download issue 2 here:

URBRUM Magazine issue 3

So it’s that time, URBRUM is back with its third issue of the MAGAZINE!

Welcome to the third issue of URBRUM, your community magazine. This issue is packed full of inspiring articles. As we know Brum has many talented young people who are trying to fulfil their dreams, in this issue we hear from a promoter, hairdresser, clothing designer and youth workers as to how dreams can become reality.

URBRUM held its first young people’s event at the Lighthouse, if you couldn’t make it you can catch up with the days goings on inside. Chlamydia is known as the silent infection; read about the reasons why in our article on the subject.

NHS manager by day, fitness instructor by night, Khurram Khan has changed his life and is working with others to do the same, read his story on page 21.

Is it me, or were things really different back in the days? why not check out Deborah Courtney’s article on page 22 and see whether you think so.

We’ve all heard about getting our five a day, which should make us a healthier nation but what about our overall well-being, check out the Five Ways App on page 27 which claims to do the same for our mind. Why not download it and give it a try? See if it works for you. Read about this and much more.

Download URBRUM Issue 3 here:

Challenging times require a proactive approach.

We are in unprecedented times and facing uncertainty as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our daily lives. We want to assure you that Common Unity is fully committed to the safety and health of our communities.

During this period we all need to be there for each other even more so than usual. This is difficult as the lock-down means that for many people they are finding the experience of life with little or no contact a real challenge to cope with.

But there are opportunities especially through the links we have online.

The Waiting Room Online Directory

For overall Health and Wellbeing service information there is The Waiting Room (TWR) . Although many of the services are struggling regarding staffing numbers available and the amount of support they can practically put in place they are still providing as much support as they can personally, online, via text and the telephone. 

TWR also provides you with links to Birmingham and Solihull’s local NHS website. These links gives advice to the public around this challenge as well as links to all the national websites provided by the NHS and the Government. TWR also provides you with directories to all GP surgeries across Birmingham and Solihull.

Dealing with loss

We are conscious that even after this situation has subsided, the longer term impact and issue of loss will remain with many of us for years to come. That’s why TWR has also included within its listed services access to the national Cruse Bereavement website. This provides crucial advice as to how best be supported through these difficult times.

Our mental health

Another key thing to look after is our own wellbeing. The NHS backed Every Mind Matters website provides loads of tips to improve your mental wellbeing. Looking after yourself is priority during these challenging times, after all, we need to be as well as we can so we can continue to help and support those around us that we love. We have added this link to TWR but you can also read it HERE

Domestic Violence

During this period of lock-down there are also rising concerns in respect of domestic abuse. We have added the Governments advice and guidance page to TWR but there are a number of superb services in Birmingham and Solihull that support people at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse. Such services include RSVP and Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid. There are also a range of Helplines listed in TWR because as we all should know, it’s good to talk. Organisations include Samaritans, Calm and for those under 25, The Mix helpline. 


We also have listed Food-banks in Birmingham and Solihull as currently there are many who are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. We have also provided the National Debtline link that many community members might find useful which includes a Web-chat option.

Don’t forget, there are loads of other areas including Mental Health, Virtual Support, Therapeutic Support and more besides that you can tap into from home.

Keep in touch

If there are any services that you are aware of that have recently popped up to support Birmingham and Solihull citizens and it is not on TWR, please do not hesitate in letting us know either by clicking on ‘add a service’ at TWR or emailing us directly at

Common Unity and the Waiting Room team will be highlighting other relevant and useful services over the coming weeks that may be able to support you, your family and friends. In the meantime, look after your wellbeing and please keep yourself safe.

Best Caron x

Sean Russell Director of West Midlands Mental Health Commission

Sean Russell Director of West Midlands Mental Health Commission. #MyRecovery

What does recovery mean to you?

Many people will experience poor mental health at some point in their life.

For some people this will last only a short time, others may live with poor mental health their whole life.

Regardless of its length or severity gaining ‘recovery’ from poor mental health is important to the person themselves and their family and friends.

Recovery will mean different things to different people.

Some people might experience recovery as a sense of feeling more positive and enjoying things that they had stopped getting pleasure from. For another person recovery might mean getting back to work while for someone else it might be about becoming more independent, getting out of the house more or giving something back to their local community.

Seeking support

The NHS, Birmingham City Council and many community and charitable organisations in Birmingham offer help and support to people who experience poor mental health.

Working together we want to make sure that people don’t just ‘survive’ mental illness but thrive, getting the most out of life. We want to make sure that all services put helping people recover at the heart of what they do.

Understanding what recovery means to people will help us change the way that we support people and families to do this.

More information

You can find out more about recovery and support services by visiting The Waiting Room

What coping mechanisms do you have in place to look after your self? #VOXPOPS #BCU #CCN

Vox Pops from Connecting Community Networks (CCN) we asked a few students questions regarding there mental health and wellbeing. This is what they told us. What coping mechanisms do you have in place to look after your self? For more information Common Unity #Birmingham #BCU #CCN

What coping mechanisms do you have in place to look after your self? #VOXPOPS #BCU #CCN

Vox Pops from Connecting Community Networks (CCN) we asked a few students questions regarding there mental health and wellbeing. This is what they told us. What coping mechanisms do you have in place to look after your self? For more information Common Unity #Birmingham #BCU #CCN

Bethel Health & Healing Network

Bethel service showcased

Common Unity as part of the Connecting Community Networks interviewed Bethel Healing & Health Network. This video was showcased at the Being Well Works Well Conference 2018 in Birmingham. #BWWW18

Bethel Health and Healing Network provides health and well-being services to some of Birmingham’s most vulnerable people in supporting them to improve their physical, emotional and spiritual health.

“The service makes a real difference to families by affording them time and kindness when they most need it, ensuring that they are empowered to make choices that are right for them about their care. Many families leave the service having had a positive experience and with a network of peer support benefiting them for years to come.”

Contact details

Tel: 0121 661 4276


About Common Unity

Find out more about Common Unity and our work with communities.

twitter: @common_unity_



 Common Unity joined forces with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust over the summer to support their community engagement events. The Pamper Zone was out and about in various locations offering a range of therapy treatments and haircuts to the local people of Birmingham.

These events were successful in highlighting the continuous work of the Trust and also raised awareness of the Time to Change de-stigmatising mental health campaigns. Beresford Dawkins, the Community Engagement Manager from the Trust did a brilliant job of bringing communities and partners together to promote and celebrate the mental health outreach work.

Healthy Conversations

We were approached by the Royal Society for Public Health to be highlighted as a best practice example of an organisation that empowers communities through Healthy Conversation.

We have a longstanding trusted relationship with communities across Birmingham and wider, engaging effectively through a variety of innovative means with communities that are often viewed as hard to reach. One of the ways in which we do this is by engaging and training community facing professions to pass on positive health messages and signposting to services that can best meet the need – One such profession is hairdressing, or more specifically, the Barbershop.

This ground-breaking work, originally piloted in Preston, has recognised that for many African-Caribbean Men, one of the only places they would truly open up about their feelings and concerns was whilst sitting at the Barbers’ Chair. Barbershops for the African Caribbean Community(ACC) are seen as welcoming, safe, social hubs for engagement – Recognising this we adopted the Barbershop approach in Birmingham through the BarbershopMagazine – written by members of the ACC for the ACC on topics that were relevant to them.

No News is Good News? Not at URBRUM.

The news these days always seems to be bad news. Headlines talk of recession, poverty, crumbling NHS and Social Care services, homelessness, violence, abuse, drugs, mental health problems, fragmented communities and the list goes on.

At Urbrum we love to recognise that across Birmingham and Solihull there are organisations working tirelessly to help the most vulnerable people out there, organisations and projects that want to make a real difference, offer hope and possibility. If your organisation or project is making a difference in our communities we want to hear about it – we want to shout out about it. All you have to do is get in touch with us and we can make the arrangements with you to highlight your organisation through the Urbrum website.

We can do this in loads of different ways. It can be written with photographs, or an audio recording or even come in and film your organisation/project so that people out there know all about what you do to support communities across Birmingham and Solihull. Recently Urbrum were invited to the Bethel Health and Healing Network to highlight the fantastic work they do to support communities. You can check out the film HERE.

Got a service you want to share through Urbrum? You can email us at so that we can start to look at highlighting the amazing work you do.

The Citizen’s Voice

Birmingham is the most diverse city in the UK – a great cause for celebration, but with this diversity comes the challenge of ensuring all sectors of Birmingham have an equal level of valued input into the City’s future.

Common Unity is recognised as a local leader when it comes down to engaging diverse communities on often difficult subjects through utilising social media platforms. Subject areas covered through URBRUM have included gender, race, age, stereotypes, prejudice, mental health, well-being, recovery and suicide, as well as wider general health topics.
Birmingham City Council’s Safeguarding Board (BSAB) has high priorities in respect of its responsibilities regarding community engagement on the matter of safeguarding. With the recognition that safeguarding is everybody’s business, yet not all communities understand their responsibilities, there is a clear need to realise an effective, community focussed approach in ensuring the issues of safeguarding are addressed effectively alongside communities as partners in this process.

The Safeguarding Team partnered up with Common Unity to develop a range of Vox Pop videos. The Vox Pop approach provided a platform by which the subject matter of safeguarding could be entered into in a way that enabled the voice of the people to become a key aspect of the decision-making process as well as an opportunity for community empowerment. Through careful and sensitive design, the development of ‘The Citizen’s Voice’ clearly went a long way in starting to meet the BSAB priorities in respect of hearing the voice of communities, promoting safer communities through debate and learning, empowering communities to contribute to safeguarding as everybody’s business and providing service provider agencies with assurances regarding services provided.

SCHEMA: An Approach to Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a taboo word in most communities. It’s something we don’t discuss. This is maybe because we are scared that talking about it might put it in someone’s head or maybe because our communities see it as a sinful thing to do bringing shame on the family or the wider community, or maybe because if we tell someone we are thinking about suicide they may think we need to be hospitalised because our mental health isn’t good. There are loads of reasons given for not talking about suicide by the people we work with, but the truth is very different.

By not talking openly about our mental health, our worries, our concerns and even our suicidal thoughts or concerns about others and what they might be thinking we are actually making things worse. We are human beings and are social beings who need to connect – if we don’t connect then we struggle to survive. There is more strength in asking for help than in staying silent; by watching each-others backs we can save lives.

As part of the CCN programme – SCHEMA: An approach to suicide prevention has been designed, developed and delivered locally in Birmingham with very encouraging feedback from participants. Over the space of just one day, delegates learn a six-stage approach to best support a person with suicidal thoughts to stay alive.

SCHEMA has been delivered to NHS employees, front line social care workers, community members, commissioners, bereavement support service providers, faith leaders, counsellors and most recently alongside the Housing Sector working with employees of Trident Group.
Here’s what we are being told about SCHEMA by the delegates….

“All the steps were easy to follow and I’m confident that I can take it and apply it to real life.”

“The training was very informative. I feel so much more confident now regarding suicide.”

“The trainers were very knowledgeable and had a good understanding. I would recommend this training to anyone.”

“Really good training, handouts were brilliant.”

“Great training…Much needed!”

If you want to receive more information on SCHEMA then why not sign up to our mailing list or email us at

Being Well, Works Well…“The Best Conference I have Ever Attended!”

Unless you are living in a cave with no access to social media, newspapers, Blogs, Vlogs etc etc…. then you will know that the NHS is struggling to cope with demand. In fact – every part of every health and social care service is struggling. Demand is increasing but money is scarce to meet the increasing demand. Something somewhere has got to give at some point. Or maybe not. Maybe there is another way to look at health, and more specifically “mental health and wellbeing.” Maybe we need to stop looking so much for answers from the big old service providers out there and start to look at solutions in our own backyard – even in ourselves.

The Connecting Community Networks Programme is all about workingupstream – meaning we need to recognise that before crisis kicks in, there areoften many things we can do to look after our own mental health and wellbeingand even be better prepared for when “stuff” hits the fan. So, the Being Well Works Well Conference in October 2018 was an opportunity for us all to discuss what we already have in Birmingham and Solihull and how to better take care of ourselves by knowing as much as possible about where to go, what to do and best take control of our own lives. 

With over 150 delegates, 80 represented organisations, a range of experiential wellbeing stalls and a diverse set of forward-thinking speakers from across the board, The Being Well Works Well achieved way beyond all our expectations. It successfully turned on its head the notion that World Mental Health Day was all about Mental Illness support by instead, focussing on what we can all be aware of in respect of our own wellbeing and owning it.

Presentations were heard from Artificial Intelligence guru Pete Trainor, Suicide Prevention and ManMade Founder Terry Rigby, Adults Safeguarding Lead and Workplace Wellbeing Specialist Cherry Dale, Loss and Bereavement Counsellor and Trainer Adam Page, Health and Wellbeing Champion Councillor Paulette Hamilton and the ever-awesome Mental Health Commissioning Lead, Tom Howell.   

….and all of it was free.

If you want to see the full report on the Being Well Works Well Conference, then you can download from this link

If you want to keep up to speed with future events being hosted through the CCN programme then signup to our mailing list HERE.

Who says men don’t care?

Learning from each other

ManMade in Birmingham, is a six-week peer support programme.

It brings men together under one roof to discuss stuff that affects them. It gives them the chance to understand why they are the way they are and what changes they could make in their lives to make it better for them.

Some of what is learnt comes from the information provided by the facilitators. However, most of the learning comes from the men themselves. This is because they have the opportunity to discuss their own lives. A time to talk about a range of challenges including identity, mental health, physical health, wellbeing, loss and even death.

Which men?

ManMade leaders have worked with a range of organisations to work with men most vulnerable when it comes to mental health and poor wellbeing. This has included unemployed men, men in recovery, men experiencing loss, men in prison and most recently, men who are carers.

Working with men who care

Caring is often seen by many in society as a ‘female’ issue but it is something that affects a large number of men too, in fact, the last census in 2011 found that in England and Wales nearly 2.5 million men were providing unpaid care for a friend or family member due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction.

A more recent study by the Carers trust highlighted that 56% of the Carers they talked to provided 60 plus hours of care per week.

So, in 2018, ManMade facilitators teamed up with Home Group in Birmingham to work with some of the male carers who receive support from this specialist organisation supporting carers across the UK.

Of the 10 men that attended throughout the programme, it was clear that male Carers definitely felt benefit from the ManMade approach in discussing subjects often avoided by men.

This is what some of the chaps told us about their ManMade experience:

“I enjoyed the course, it was easy to keep up with and was really interesting.”

“This is a great programme. A real eye opener into men’s lives and mental health.”

“A good experience. Very positive. A variety of subjects covered in a relaxed manner.”

“The ManMade approach allows conversations to flow without strictly sticking to an agenda.”

“I found listening to the point of views and different perspectives on such sensitive topics that do relate to me very useful.”

“We weren’t talked down to or just handed a lot of written material. Instead we were encouraged to talk and share our opinions on these topics.”



Get In touch

If you want to hear more about our work at Common Unity then please get in touch with us >>>>

Suicide – More Harm Done Through Silence

There are a range of commonly held myths about suicide, but one of the most challenging myths is the idea that by openly asking a vulnerable person if they are thinking of suicide might actually encourage suicidal behaviour, or even put the thought into their head.

Evidence has shown though that this couldn’t be further from the truth – In Preventing Suicides: A Global Imperative, The World Health Organisation stated that “Rather than encouraging suicidal behaviour, talking openly gives an individual other options or the time to rethink his/her decision, thereby preventing suicide.” So talking about suicide, be it in a professional or personal setting doesn’t make people think about it as a new option for consideration nor does it encourage a suicidal act and could actually save a life… Infact, one could even argue that not talking about suicide and suicidal thoughts when it presents itself as a possibility means we are less likely to have a reductive impact on the number of suicides across the UK.

So why don’t we talk about it more? We know about the risk of injury and death in road accidents and invest heavily in road safety yet suicides per year outnumber deaths in road accidents by 300% Suicide takes over 6000 lives per year in the UK and the silence that surrounds it because of the stigma associated with it means that suicide and suicidal acts will continue to happen. Thankfully, people are starting to take notice of this devastating issue. Many much needed organisations are being established that provide a range of approaches to breaking the silence around suicide and assisting opportunities for living life.

Common Unity and Forward For Life have recently had the pleasure of working alongside one of these newly established organisations known as The Ollie Foundation. The OLLIE Foundation is a charity set up by three parents who lost their children to suicide. OLLIE stands for One Life Lost Is Enough. OLLIE’s key mission is to ensure the rolling out of both safeTALK and ASIST courses across Hertfordshire, especially targetting professionals and carers who work alongside young people.

As recognised Master Trainers, having trained over 1400 people in the last 3 years, OLLIE approached Forward For Life and Common Unity to provide guidance, support them with their initial set up and provide the high quality suicide prevention training needed until a time when OLLIE have their own licensed trainers in suicide prevention.

Tackling Suicide on the front line in Birmingham

The need to train front line professionals

Over 6000 people die in the UK by suicide each year. So, it’s crucial that frontline professionals and communities are trained in suicide prevention skills.

As part of the Connecting Community Networks Programme in Birmingham, delegates from the Police, Probation and the Fire-Service recently took part in the two day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)

This was delivered by Common Unity and Forward For Life.

The Waiting Room

As part of the suicide prevention training programme in Birmingham, The Waiting Room Resource (TWR) keys were distributed. These keys have been a fantastic success across health and social care services with endorsements from The West Midlands Fire Service.

More information

To talk to one of our staff at Common Unity about the training we provide then please get in touch through the following link >>>>

TWR Resource Key – A Road To Somewhere

It’s a clever way of linking people with local support with the least amount of stress, hassle or disappointment

Back in the 80’s, there was a song called “Road To Nowhere” – pretty good as well – but when I think of online resource directories, or worse still, paper directories for health and social care services, they are often just like this song. They are, too often, a Road To Nowhere.

The telephone numbers are often wrong or discontinued; the organisation you are searching for has either moved, closed or changed the services they provide; the website links don’t work or the pages you are looking for don’t exist anymore – so we designed The Waiting Room in Birmingham (known as TWR) and the TWR Resource Key.

It’s a clever way of linking people with local support with the least amount of stress, hassle or disappointment – access to information is instant, information is current and making contact is do-able for both professionals and the public.

In 2016 we started testing the TWR Resource Key with 25 GP Surgeries to see how it went down with their staff and their patients. The results are astounding and demand for TWR both in Birmingham and wider is growing fast with both Professionals and the public realising that access to local services can be up-to-date and are quite literally at their finger-tips.

Please check out our Pilot Overview document by clicking on TWR below and tell us what you think of it.

We think it’s a road to somewhere.

Connecting Community Networks

ccn-logo-whitebackgroundWhat is Connecting Community Networks All About?

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 have 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.
  • ASIST/safeTALK – Delivery of the world renowned suicide prevention programmes across specific Birmingham sectors to best identify and support those who are vulnerable in respect of suicidal ideation and behaviour.
  • ManMade: Through The Gates – Utilising the ManMade Peer-Led support approach that enables men to survive in modern day society, ManMade: TTG is an exciting opportunity to test the model and its impact with men at HMP Birmingham who are soon to be released back to the community.
  • 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 the 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.
  • Bloom in Birmingham is a unique project aimed at reducing social isolation and improving the physical and mental well-being of women living in Birmingham and at risk regarding their health utilising a peer-led support approach.

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