Grow & Connect
The Grow & Connect service
The Grow and Connect Team is the newest team in The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS), emerging to bring together the various streams of green and growing work.
As an organisation, TAWS takes a holistic approach to tackling health inequalities and the barriers to people living happy, healthy, and active lives.
Evidence shows a demonstrable link between access to green space and being physically active. There are wellbeing benefits from simply being outdoors in green space. Unfortunately, people in the most deprived communities, who would most benefit, have the least access. Our work addresses a range of barriers including availability and access to public parks or other natural spaces.
We are supporting communities to take ownership and learn more about their local environments. We have delivered growing workshops to communities in public spaces across the city, including GP practices, community hubs and local growing sites.
“It has definitely encouraged me to grow more. It’s given me more ideas. I thought, ‘oh I didn’t know that, I’ll try that now’.”
Partners and funders
We are working alongside a variety of organisations. Some of our main partners include: Birmingham City Council Public Health, Birmingham and the Black Country Wildlife Trust, Birmingham Friends of the Earth, Birmingham University, City of Nature Alliance, European Regional Development Fund ERDF, Incredible Surplus- Compost Culture, NHS Birmingham and Solihull, Sport England– Commonwealth Active Communities, St Paul’s Trust and local communities.
Green Social Prescribing
Green social prescribing (GSP) is about encouraging people to engage in nature-based interventions and activities, to improve their mental and physical health. The aim is to help people to overcome the barriers to accessing green space and making the most of nature, whilst safeguarding the natural environment.
The Grow and Connect Team have developed accessible training to raise awareness about the value of GSP and share resources with Social Prescribing Link Workers and other frontline staff in primary care across Birmingham. We aim to educate and inspire other teams and professionals to encourage nature-based activities as interventions for patients, and thereby increase the benefits for more people across the city.
In addition to training and support, we have also developed GP-based projects that increase referral options.
Examples of current GSP referral projects:
Iridium Medical Centre
Guided walks from Iridium medical centre to EcoPark.
- Regular patient walking group
- Co-designed with patients and the Wildlife Trust
- Combining physical and social activities with the natural environment.
- Group conservation activities along the route, including litter picks, tree planting and making bird planters.
Victoria Road Medical Centre
Working alongside the staff at Victoria Road Medical Centre, we have established a Grow and Connect project in the garden of the practice, transforming a neglected outdoor space into a useful resource.
- Established patient user group, caring for the space and each other, supported by the Grow and Connect team.
- Accessible raised garden beds and seasonal planting.
- Increased usage of the space by patients and staff.
- Landscaping and site improvement.
The Compost Cultures project involves delivering composting workshops to groups, and training local volunteers and staff to become Compost Champions who can pass on knowledge and skills to others.
Workshops are also delivered at community cafes, schools and allotments!
The project aims to build momentum across the city to move from a culture of throwing away food waste to one where organic matter is seen as a valuable resource.
We have partnered with Incredible Surplus to build links with community gardens and growing projects, supporting them to activate more composting with their local networks.
All Saints Community Garden also became the first demonstration site for our Compost Culture project. All the food waste from our community café is composted and the compost is used to grow more food!
At The Active Wellbeing Society, we support communities to take ownership of green space, particularly the informal, in-between places: the patches of land at the end of the street, the verges and alleyways.
We work with communities and landowners, such as local councils and housing associations, to reimagine what the spaces around them could be like – from residential roads, to patches of disused land, parks to carparking spaces, and community gardens – and we work together to reclaim these spaces for community benefit, making neighbourhoods feel cleaner, greener and safer.
We believe in reclaiming Birmingham’s green spaces – taking back abandoned urban space, overgrown community gardens, and underused parks to turn them into safe green spaces that are inviting, provide a purpose, and can bring the community together.
We support communities with gardening and growing projects across the city. By clearing out wild overgrown space, setting up community gardens, and hosting sessions for the local community. We host weekly growing and gardening sessions using the outdoor space at community cafes.
All Saints Community Café
We run weekly gardening drop-in sessions from our community garden at All Saint’s Church in Small Heath. These sessions started as an offer for the users of our community café to have access to a clean green space to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of working in nature. This is now open to everyone, and we attract volunteers from all over the city.
Hay Hall Community Garden
We are running volunteering gardening sessions at Hay Hall every first Thursday of the month. Come along and join us from 11-12.30pm.
If you’d like to get involved and volunteer with us, find out more here.
All our work is about increasing access and opportunities for more people to benefit from green spaces. We have partnered with Public Health at Birmingham City Council, to promote the use of their Green Ground Map. The map includes parks, open spaces, nature reserves and woods. Showing how they are connected by waterways, canals and walking/cycling routes to promote the use of active travel.
It’s a great tool to identify what is on your doorstep and how to access the spaces by walking/ cycling or local bus routes.