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

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:

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. 

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.

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.

Connecting Community Networks, the ManMade Programme

As part of the Connecting Community Networks, the ManMade Programme was introduced at Better Pathways in Birmingham. 7 men in total attended the programme which supports men to openly discuss a range of areas that men wouldn’t traditionally feel comfortable discussing.

This peer support programme looks at mental health, wellbeing, physical health, personal identity, grief and loss as well as assisting the life of others. A ManMade programme is also being delivered at Cruse Bereavement Care Birmingham for men who are dealing with loss. For more information about ManMade, email

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.



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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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