Category : Active Communities

Clean Air – more than a Zone or a Day

Humans on the Heath

It’s the people that make an area – and in Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook there are some wonderful people from all walks of life, who have plenty of stories to share! Inspired by the Social Media phenomenon ‘Humans of New York’, we’ve collated some portraits of people living, loving and working in our neighbourhood – Humans on the Heath from our launch event at City Farm, Balsall Heath:


The difference between a game and a sport

BBC WM wants YOUR business to ‘Get Moving!’

120 Soldiers: Basic Training

Over 100 people link arms in rows in a large dance studio.
120 Soldiers. I’m in there somewhere…

I’ve always enjoyed seeing conductors at work preparing choirs and orchestras for musical performances, but today is I think the first time I’ve seen a choreographer doing their thing and it’s a joy to watch. It’s certainly the first time I’ve been choreographed. Yes, I made it through the rehearsal of the pre-show pop up performance for Tuesday’s world premiere of Rosie Kay’s 10 Soldiers. What a life-enhancing experience! I’m so pleased to have been able to do it and to enjoy it. This may sound odd but I wouldn’t done if I hadn’t had ME/CFS. When I was well it would not have occurred to me to put myself forward for anything like this. I would have thought ‘That’s not for someone like me, it’s for dancers.’ There are so many things I struggle to do now that I’ll consider anything that is possible.
I don’t want to blind anyone with science here, but the way choreography works is that someone tells and shows you how to move and you do your best to move in that way. I know, crazy isn’t it. With Rosie we also had fun and focusing warm up, walking and marching exercises and some readings of World War I poetry that informed the piece, which really helped to set the mood and feeling for the performance. I also enjoyed having some time to talk to Rosie about the days when we were in the early days of our careers and working together regularly, something that I totally took for granted at the time and treasure such a lot in retrospect. Her no-budget dance film ‘The Wild Party’ was one of the first things I edited and is still one of my favorites. Then there was that time I was concussed but hadn’t noticed, Rosie did and drove me to hospital. Great days.
For me, the big question was, could I even get to the end of a day of dance rehearsal? I started by speaking the person responsible looking after us, Liz Leck, another face from my film-making past. Pretty much the last project I did was for Liz and the Hippodrome’s Education department. She had supported me wonderfully through that, and was similarly supportive today. So in a Hippodrome wheelchair I learned all of the choreography and did practically all the warm up. I only switched to standing for the in situ rehearsal in the foyer. I hope I’m not giving too much away by revealing that the performance involves a fair amount of marching. This does put a strain on the legs but I only actually experience symptoms of this when I stop, so it’s the standing still after the marching that is most challenging. The knees do begin to complain and shake. Happily, using the chair for most of the day meant that I was fresh enough to get through two run throughs and even walk to the bus afterwards.
Thanks Rosie, thanks Liz, thanks to all of you who helped me today and everyone with whom I spoke, especially the person who said nice things about my previous blog! I’ll see you all on Tuesday.


HSBC UK Let’s Ride Birmingham is taking place on Sunday 9 June and everyone is invited!

British Cycling and HSBC UK are closing the roads to traffic in 14 city centres throughout Britain this summer and throwing FREE cycling festivals for everyone.

It’s totally free to take part, you get to see your city from the saddle and it’s a fun, active day out for the whole family! Think stunt shows, street food and endless family-friendly activities.

You don’t have to do the full distance – just as much or as little as you want. You don’t need to be an experienced cyclist. There will be no cars on the road, so you can wobble, zig-zag and stop as much as you like. 

You don’t even need a bike as free bike hire is available through The Active Wellbeing Society. For more information on how to hire your bike for the day, please visit …

You can register your free places at

We look forward to seeing you on the day!

14th May 2019  |  Adeel Khan

M.E. One Soldier’s Fight Back

Planning parking and clean air

Dr. Xand with children campaigning for Clean Air on Kings Heath High Street

Juyoung Lee, our intern at The Active Wellbeing Society from Seoul Korea, is studying Social Policy at The University of Birmingham. She joined a meeting at Fletchers Bar near Kings Heath’s High Street on Friday 5th April discussing Clean Air. The meeting was hosted by Kings Heath Business Improvement District (BID) Chair, Brett Rehling.


Friends of Witton Lakes Park

Overcoming Challenges: The Head Game! By Run Birmingham Activator Sally

I ran Solihull Half Marathon on Sunday and for those that asked how it went you would probably have received the response “My head wasn’t in it”. Like many I have a lot going on at the moment and have been struggling to stay on an even keel. Running is usually a good leveler for me but my running mojo also appears to have taken a holiday (hopefully just a mini break), so I’ve been feeling very low.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling knackered and not wanting to run. I felt off as the previous night I hadn’t even set my kit out with my race number so didn’t feel particularly prepared. I usually do this so that 1. I don’t forget anything in the morning (have a picture as my checklist), and 2. it helps mentally prepare me for the race ahead. Usually I am nervous and excited. I felt a lot of nothing on Sunday but running usually helps so got up and went anyway.

So I ran (asthma triggered at around 8k which didn’t help), got to about 11k then just wanted to be done. It then felt like the longest 10k of my life to finish that race! I walked loads, totally lost my head over it. Music wasn’t helping, I felt pretty miserable, everything started hurting and all of my stresses seemed to flood in and fog up my mind and my run. Didn’t think I had it in me to finish, couldn’t really chat to anyone else either as I was struggling to breathe. Had a high five from a spectator which spurred me on for about 600m, but the will soon dissipated. With 2k to go a fellow runner said to me as he ran past whilst I was walking (again!), you’re doing great keep going. Really needed that lift. So I picked my sorry butt up and ran. Didn’t feel like I was moving at all but I did it and I finished. Didn’t feel particularly elated at the end other than the fact that it was actually over.

Luckily for me, I was sent a link to check my happiness pulse by a colleague on the Friday relating to another piece of work. It’s a great tool to check in with yourself on different aspects of your life that can affect your happiness. By doing the survey it helped me to realise that not everything in my life was rubbish but a certain area could do with some (a lot of) work. In many ways it lessened the load somewhat. When it felt like everything was awful, I was quite overwhelmed. Recognising that the issues were in one particular area of my life helped. It didn’t feel then like the sky was falling in. Some massive rainclouds maybe but lucky enough to have some people and things around me to provide little pockets of cover. I’ve found that part of being able to move forward and out of the fog has been to recognise and then accept what’s really going on rather than lumping everything all in together and feeling like it’s all rubbish. It helps to recognise those little bits of sparkle and hopefully they will start to shine into other parts of your life.

So, for me, yes I struggled on my run on Sunday and didn’t really enjoy the majority of it. However:

1. I completed it, I didn’t call an uber to take me home (I did consider this). I ran/walked the whole way so earned that medal and t-shirt.
2. I did notice some pretty things whilst running along the country lanes, explored a new area and both received and gave support along the way.
3. On Wednesday an old injury flared up in my hip so at that point I didn’t know if I would be able to run. So to then go and run/walk a half marathon, that’s good going by anyone’s standards.
4. It may not have been my fastest half marathon but it certainly wasn’t my slowest so I actually did better than I perceived, even with so much walking. Stronger than I realised.

It’s been good to look back and reflect on this and find the positives even though it didn’t feel great at the time. I think having done the happiness pulse and being shown that it wasn’t everything that was horrible and there were positives, it helped gain some sort of balance and perspective. I know that in reality I am tired and have achieved some great running goals this year already and it’s hard to sustain a high. So for me, stepping back from races for a while and changing my focus will be beneficial. Although tough at the time, I am glad I ran. Lots of lessons learnt and I know I’d have regretted it if I stayed home.

I am sharing this to show that we all have “bad” runs sometimes, often pictures don’t show the real story, but it’s better to be out there giving it a go than sitting on the sofa. It’s probably not as bad as you think so it can be good to take a step back and check out our happiness health. Hopefully it will lessen the overwhelming feeling of sadness and help identify areas that may need more attention so we can find tools to help make them feel better.

If you want to check your happiness pulse you can do so here: . It will not only help you (hopefully) but will also help The Active Wellbeing Society check out the happiness health of the city so that we can ensure the services that we offer will continue to support both physical and mental health.

Congratulations if you got to the end… I hope that by sharing this may help at least 1 person. We often see the phrase “it’s okay to not be okay” but then folk don’t talk about it, so I have.

By Sally, Run Activator

If you are interested in joining Sally or any other of our Activators and Volunteers check out our activities page at

11th April 2019  |  Adeel Khan