Category : Activities



FREE CYCLING FESTIVAL IN BIRMINGHAM

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 letsride.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you on the day!

14th May 2019  |  Adeel Khan




My Run Birmingham experience & tips [Guest Blog by Sabrina]

My name is Sabrina. I have always been interested in sport but due to my social anxiety I haven’t been as a active as I would have liked. Until recently, I didn’t participate in any organised physical activity.

I began running in March 2017 on International Women’s Day. Shortly afterwards I joined Run Birmingham to learn how to improve my running. Running within the company and safety of a group allowed me to continue running by keeping me motivated and providing me accountability. I also learnt technical things like how to maintain a steady pace, warm-up and cool down properly and control my breathing.

I began running because at work I was involved in delivering some sporting events as part of the Sport England’s hugely successful ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. Being involved in physical activity again re-ignited my childhood passion and joy in sport. It reminded me how naturally- talented I was at sport. Seeing many people who were like me and were also interested in sport and having fun inspired me to sign up to the 5km run on International Women’s Day. When organising and delivering the ‘This Girl Can’ events I realised people don’t judge you as much as you judge yourself and most, if not all people, are very supportive.

After running my first ever run I discovered many other people who were just like me; from an Asian background, Muslim and women with similar body types as me who loved and could run! Some women who were larger than me finished before I did, as did some older women. They weren’t super-fit, super-competitive, super-models but normal, average-sized women who had similar fitness levels as I did. Which proves that anyone can be a runner or an active person.

I thought it would be hard as an adult, especially as a woman, to find people to exercise with, but Run Birmingham provided me with my network of women who became my family and who I exercise and have fun with.

I like that the sessions are structured but also uncompetitive. They fill a gap for those like me who aren’t ready to run alone but find running clubs too intimidating and pressurising to join.

The run leader is very knowledgeable, inspiring and tailors the runs to the individuals within the group keeping the runs exciting and different.

The social element of being part of a community is also very important. The running is even sometimes secondary to the social aspect of meeting friends for a catch-up.

I am now one of the stronger runners and can easily manage running 5k but I still enjoy running the C25K programme with the group. The Run Leader accommodates faster runners as well as those who prefer to walk. They aren’t pressured into running or jogging until they are ready.

The Run Leader is so supportive he ran alongside me at a race and I managed to improve my PB time.

Since starting running I have overcome my fear of trying new things and running has greatly improved my social anxiety and negative thinking. I feel able to communicate with others more openly and effectively.

If you are looking to start your well-being journey I would advise you to;

  1.  Find a group or persuade your family or friends to join you. I find it’s easier to accomplish something together as a group rather than on your own.
  2. Stick to it, as it gets better, I promise you. It took me 7 runs to start enjoying it.
  3. Don’t push yourself too hard at the beginning of your well-being journey as you won’t enjoy your running as much, as when you move at your own pace ( as I started doing from run 8 onwards!)
  4. Be flexible in your approach, don’t kick yourself if you miss a run or two or three! Run Birmingham run leaders are very accommodating and understanding – you don’t need to attend every session if you’re unable to. Same with any other activities you do, if life gets in the way of your workouts, let it but don’t give up. Get back on track as soon as you are able.

Enjoy the journey towards a healthy lifestyle don’t become fixated on a target whether that be a personal best or a weight loss goal. Well-being is more than a number, it’s a feeling, a family and connection and a movement.

13th May 2019  |  Adeel Khan




M.E. One Soldier’s Fight Back





Brum residents who break cyclist mould gearing up for gruelling 100-mile challenge

  • 25 community club cyclists offered free Vélo Birmingham & Midlands places
  • Women from Saheli Hub are also set to ride ten-mile stretch during Ramadan
  • Vélo B&M has teamed up with The Active Wellbeing Society and Cycling UK
  • Organisers committed to making sportive one of Europe’s most inclusive events


A diverse group of Birmingham residents, many of whom break the cyclist mould, will attempt to complete Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, a 100-mile closed-road sportive, thanks to a partnership with The Active Wellbeing Society and Cycling UK.

Twenty-five members of community cycling clubs, set up around the Second City by The Active Wellbeing Society and national cycling charity Cycling UK to get more people on bikes, have been offered free entries by the organisers of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, the UK’s second-biggest closed-road event taking place on Sunday, May 12.

In addition, 18 members of the Saheli Hub, formerly known as the Saheli Women’s Group, have been given the green light to ride ten miles of the route, which starts and finishes in Birmingham City Centre, as the event coincides with Ramadan.

The organisers of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands’ commitment to making the sportive one of Europe’s biggest and most inclusive cycling events is reinforced by its partnership with The Active Wellbeing Society and Birmingham City Council, which offers community cycling club members access to free bikes through its Big Birmingham Bikes scheme.

The new-and-improved route will take cyclists on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Coventry, the 2021 Capital of Culture, plus Solihull, Warwickshire, Dudley and Sandwell, where they will encounter stunning countryside, panoramic views, picturesque villages, iconic climbs and tens of thousands of residents lining the streets to cheer them on.

Organisers are also aiming to make the event one of the UK’s most female friendly sportives, setting the ambitious target of increasing the number of women taking part to 50 per cent by the time Birmingham hosts the Commonwealth Games in 2022. More information on the campaign can be found here.

While all 17,000 places for the 100-mile event have sold out, spaces still remain for a shorter 42-mile route which starts in Birmingham City Centre and finishes in the shadow of the historic Coventry Cathedral, on University Square.

The Saheli Hub runs female-only cycling activities, for women of all ages and backgrounds, in Balsall Heath, Ward End Park, Saltley and Handsworth. Some cyclists have progressed from complete novices into committed riders who are keen to tackle the full 100- or shorter 42-mile routes. But as many will be fasting for Ramadan when Vélo Birmingham & Midlands gets underway, event organisers have granted them special dispensation to cycle a ten-mile stretch.

The Saheli Hub encourages women to cycle in outfits that make them feel comfortable and several of their Muslim members will be riding the event in hijabs and jilbabs.

Seven community clubs that service Small Heath, Longbridge, Cannon Hill Park, Nechells, Ladywood, Kings Norton, Sheldon and Bromford will be represented among the 25 free entrants. Many of the riders derive from BAME communities while the Small Heath-based Leisure Forum Club provides cycling opportunities for people with mental health issues.

Vanessa Morris, Cycling UK Community Clubs Development Officer in Birmingham, said: “It’s an amazing achievement for our community club cyclists to even consider tackling a 100-mile ride, especially as some of them hadn’t even ridden a bike before they joined.

“It just goes to show that anything’s possible and sends out a really clear message that anyone can do it, and that you don’t need an expensive bike or be dressed head-to-toe in Lycra. 

“That’s not to say our members, who come from a diverse range of age groups, backgrounds and cultures, haven’t been training hard. Many of them have joined our clubs because they love cycling, others because they want to cycle but don’t have access to a bike and others who have never even ridden a bike before and want to try it.”

Naseem Akhtar, Saheli Hub Project Manager, said: “We’re really pleased the organisers are letting us cycle part of the route – we’re calling it the Ramadan special!

“We’ve got a real mix of abilities. Some only learned to cycle this year. Others are keen to do the full event but can’t due to the timing. This will give us a taster and we’ll then have plenty of time to train and hopefully do the full 100 miles next year.

“We’ve been pioneering women-only cycling for ten years now. From learn-to-ride sessions to 25-miles rides, we run weekend sessions for all abilities in Ward End.”

Vélo Birmingham & Midlands also provides an important charity fundraising platform. In 2017, Vélo Birmingham participants raised a staggering £2million for several charities, including Cure Leukaemia, NSPCC, Alzheimers Society and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, all of whom remain as headline charity partners in 2019.

Vélo Birmingham & Midlands will also once again feature the Business 100 corporate challenge, which will aim to attract 100 Midland based companies to sign up teams of four and enjoy an unrivalled VIP participation experience.

25th April 2019  |  Adeel Khan




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.

(more…)




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: https://app.happinesspulse.org/pulse/1da17410/birmingham . 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
https://theaws.co.uk/activities/

11th April 2019  |  Adeel Khan




New Partnership Gives Hope to City Farm

St Paul’s Community Development Trust are happy to announce that following lengthy discussions with a number of organisations agreement has been reached with The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWs) that will secure the long term viability of the Balsall Heath City Farm.

Threatened with closure since December 2018 St Paul’s have been working with a number of organisations to try to secure the long-term viability of the City Farm. Now agreement has been reached with TAWs which means that the farm which has operated in Balsall Heath for over 40 years will remain open.

Working with St Paul’s TAWs want to create new opportunities for people to become active and engaged in society and there will be a focus on using the farm as a place to bring people together.

Chief Executive of St Paul’s David Cusack said “We are delighted that we have agreed a partnership with The Active Wellbeing Society that keeps our farm open and will allow both children and adults to use the facilities as a place to learn, volunteer, develop new skills and to just enjoy the facility. I’d like to thank TAWs but also the many people who have rallied around to look at ways to secure the farm’s future, we will continue to raise money through the newly established “Friends of the Farm” to improve the facilities at the farm”

The Active Wellbeing Chief Executive Karen Creavin said “ The City Farm is a vital space for children and families in Birmingham. We are really pleased to be able to work collaboratively with St Pauls to ensure that this project has a future and can contribute to the increased wellbeing of our citizens. We are working with Sport England and Birmingham City Council on an initiative called Active Communities. The city farm, and the ongoing partnership with St Pauls, will both be a key element of how Active Communities comes to life in this part of the city”.

The Active Wellbeing Society are working together with The Real Junk Food Project to bring a community kitchen to the Farm, offering meals on a Pay as you Feel able basis. The kitchen will be up and running in time for the summer holidays and will play a vital role tackling food poverty over the summer.

For more information about Balsall Heath City Farm please contact:

Chief Executive David Cusack

David.cusack@stpaulstrust.org.uk.

0121 464 4376

07957 678817





On Yer Bike, Global Warming…(Guest Blog by John Nightingale)





The Great British Spring Clean 2019