Category : Active Streets

Induction Week at Birmingham City Council’s Wellbeing Service

As part of ‘Project Brum’, we are working alongside staff at Birmingham City Council’s Wellbeing Service – a department which is continually striving to create new and exciting activities to improve the health and social lives of Birmingham residents.

I’m Rebecca, a 22 year old Politics and International Studies graduate from The University of Warwick! I’ve had a really insightful and eye-opening first week on ‘Project Brum’, which is a new summer work placement opportunity for students and young people living in/near Birmingham.

As a Politics graduate, I’ve really enjoyed seeing how the Council works to promote active living through free and accessible activities. In an era of austerity and wage cuts, it is more important than ever to widen the opportunities that residents have to access free and inclusive offers – such as Active Streets, Park Lives, Big Birmingham Bikes, Run Birmingham, and much more. I’ve been so impressed at how much the Council is doing to promote, run, and fund these activities: activities which are changing lives.

We’ve heard stories of women going from ‘Couch to 5k’, having never taken part in a running group before yet going on to run in marathons – which is absolutely phenomenal and inspirational. Also, we’ve heard how the Wellbeing Service is working with the BME community through community-led initiatives, and is promoting accessible and inclusive activites – such as adapted cycling for people with mental or physical disabilities. This work is invaluable to a diverse city such as Birmingham.

All in all, I’ve been inspired by the work that the Wellbeing Service does in our communities, parks, leisure centres, and streets. I’m thoroughly lucky to be a part of it!


6th July 2017  |  Rebecca Fletcher

I made it through induction!

No more power points and talks, this time we got a taster of what its like to be an Activator. It was a positive induction experience because we learnt a lot in two weeks, we where not thrown in the deep end, we had been given the necessary knowledge needed to be an activator and how to utilise the equipment in order to bring the community together so that they can enjoy their time.

The induction weeks enabled me to know the group a little better and build a social relationship which allowed me to seek advice and help if I needed it. However, I think that we needed to go out more to different parks and wellbeing centres’ around Birmingham, so that we can familiarise ourselves with the parks/centres, this could have been done by arranging a visit which allowed us to see a ‘wellbeing activator’ lead a session in the park and how they interact with the public, this would give us a visual experience on how we should carry out the sessions we go to.

We could have also been given our actual timetable which would have allowed us to continue the following week knowing what we had to do instead of being confused.

However, the event at Maypole Ln ‘Happy Valley Family Fun Day’ with Active Streets allowed me to interact with the public and play games with children at the event such as helping out with the ‘Bow and Arrow’ as well as signing people up with leisure cards, this was surprising because it was my first time at an event and I managed to sign up to 6 people which was great fun because it enabled me to build a strong relationship with the community living around the park.

4th July 2017  |  Mohammed Usman

Welcome to ProjectBrum

19030507_1349067165142464_6740059808244143987_nFor a project that is still in its pioneering days, ProjectBrum has already proven itself as a well organised scheme with a bright future and endless possibilities over the next few years.
Although it’s hard to gauge people’s true feelings towards the project, an overall positive attitude coming from those working with us this summer can definitely be felt. People were engaging and chatting through the ice-breaker activities and teamwork tasks given to us by Karen and Emma, and managing to stay concentrated and attentive or at least appearing so through the less exciting segments.
Overall I think the initial couple of weeks are going to be the hardest, as with anything new there are periods of awkwardness and lessons to be but as we progress through the weeks and start experiencing what the Wellbeing Service provides and gives to the residents of Birmingham on a personal level then people will find their places and settle into a comfortable routine and by September won’t want to leave.

3rd July 2017  |  Sam Humphries

Canalside walk for Heritage

Canal walk signpost

Walking along Birmingham Canals, of which they’re really are more than Venice, you might question how and why these canals got built and who did it.  Well, it probably won’t come as a surprise that the Canals have a rich history and Birmingham Historical Theatre Group plan to bring to life the history of a small stretch from Bournville Train Station to Lifford Reservoir this weekend. (more…)

21st June 2017  |  Marcus Belben

With RoSPA 100 years on

On a dusty sunny day we entered in through that front gate of Buckingham Palace.  We were ushered across the gravel, under the famous balcony and through an archway into a large closed courtyard. The way then led through a gallery and onto the lawn for RoSPA’s Garden Party with Prince Andrew and some 3,500 other RoSPA guests.

I was with Nazan Fennell, Guardian and now Archangel for RoSPA and fellow Archangel Cynthia from Road Peace.  Nazan has campaigned locally, nationally and across Europe for greater road safety on a range of issues. Nazan’s approach and campaigning has been inspirational – It has fed my enthusiasm to see different use for our streets, not just for drivers, working with others leading to ‘playing out‘ and now ‘Active Streets‘.

RoSPA campaign poster from 1969 – anyone know more about this campaign?

RoSPA have their headquarters in Birmingham, and Birmingham Archives holds its Archives, including this rather interesting image of an unknown ‘Play Street’ from 1969, used on the last page of the brochure for the Garden party.  Interesting the concept keeps popping up  – I’d love to find the street this is based on, or any other street with those ‘Play Street’ signs.

Royal Cake just inside the ‘Diplomatic tent’ enclosure

Back to the party – it was fantastic to see Prince Andrew’s support for RoSPA, and I was pleased the work of our West Midlands Police for road safety was also recognised (and they got to meet Prince Andrew).  The bands played throughout the day and the cucumber sandwiches were fantastic, as was all the food.  I couldn’t help imagining Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant hiding by the lake.

Christine, Cynthia and Nazan at Buckingham Palace

On our way back we stopped at Camden, Cynthia’s home and one of the early Council CLOCs champions.  Following a series of cyclist deaths after truck collisions in London 2012, the CLOCs report offers some simple measures which Councils like Birmingham could enforce to reduce danger, as well as mud and rubble on the roads, and reducing disruption across the city.

Attending an event like this it does make you realise how much support there is to make our roads safer for all it’s users, not just the drivers.  Active Streets in Birmingham, working with partners like RoSPA, Live in Hope and Road Peace, can change attitudes further to make safer and better streets for residents and traffic.

26th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Interview with John Hill-Daniel, from Playing Out to Active Streets

Playing Out began in Birmingham 2013. Here’s an interview with John Hill-Daniel who helped coordinate in those early years.

How did you find out about Playing out?

I first heard about Playing Out in Bristol online, on Facebook I think. I was already running the Space Explorers community project with funding from Near Neighbours, but struggling to find ways to engage people in exploring and improving their local area. Around that time I attended a memorial march for Hope Fennell on Kings Heath High Street and it was there, while talking to Marcus Belben about the idea of a project with local schools to engage pupils, parents and local residents in discussions around road use and safety, (which became ‘Car Culture‘) that we first discussed the idea of bringing Playing Out to Birmingham.


26th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Playing out spreading out

It’s great to be a part of the larger playing out community – in the UK, Leeds, Bristol, Hackney and a few other places are all working with their councils to make playing happen on streets.  Even though Birmingham is implementing a slightly different model from the way street play and others are organised, it’s great to learn from their example:

Playing Out is a not-for-profit national organisation providing free resources and advice for residents about enabling street play. As well as instructional videos and a step-by-step ‘manual for organisers’, you can download template posters and other materials or contact them directly for advice.

They provide a free source of inspiration and advice for residents who want to close their streets and also have a national (closed) Facebook group for residents to discuss issues and to inspire each other.  We also encourage Birmingham folk to join our Facebook groups, or start your own for mutual support – KHMPlayingOut for Kings Heath & Moseley and Active Streets for all of Birmingham.

Daniella Radice from Playing out

Daniella Radice from Playing out

There’s a mailing list for officers setting up play streets or thinking about setting up play streets across the UK, and Active Streets will be sending to Birmingham Street Organisers a newsletter from other street organisers across the UK.  We’re also supported by Daniella Radice, whose role is to grow the street play movement across the UK over the next two years and is keen to find as many ways as she can to support people who are implementing it.

“I am looking forward to working with existing activators and residents as well as enthusing lots of new people to join our movement. I will be working with local authorities to help them make street play possible in their areas, and am keen to talk to any particularly helpful council officers that you might know. I would also love to talk to you about your experiences, and hear your ideas.”

Website: email: Tel: 0117 9537167

17th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Co-constructors of healthy habits

Obesity in the UK govt statistics 2015

Obesity in young people and children is on the rise – it’s widespread, growing and the consequences are costly.  The solutions themselves are pretty straight forward (improved diet, exercise etc) so why is it health professionals seem powerless to get their message through, and could social media help?


12th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Reasons to stop idling

Schools in America have partnered with Kern Green for the Just Say No to Idling Campaign.

Our car breakdown cover provided us with a nice new car for a few days which had an ‘automatic start-stop‘ after our old car died (thank you LV=).  It’s a nifty bit of technology which helps reduce car emissions, but you don’t have to buy a new car to stop idling; The first UK Clean Air Day (15th June) is the best possible time to change idle habits. (more…)

10th May 2017  |  Marcus Belben

Four Years of Playing Out in Birmingham

Olga from ActiveStreets with Councillor Tony Kennedy and support from WM Police setting up on Main Street, Sparkbrook

Olga from ActiveStreets with Councillor Tony Kennedy and support from KIKIT & WM Police setting up on Main Street, Sparkbrook

When a new street becomes an ActiveStreet, Playing Out for the first time like Main Street in Sparkbrook, it’s hard not to get excited.   (more…)

20th April 2017  |  Marcus Belben