Easter Activities

HFE and The Active Wellbeing Society working together to make exercise inclusive for everyone

HFE are the UK’s leading provider of personal training courses and a wide range of fitness qualifications including sports massage, GP referral, Pilates and yoga. This year, they have launched a new programme, the much-requested Level 3 Award in Programming and Supervising Exercise with Disabled Clients, or simply Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients. Recognised and supported by the fitness industry’s original awarding body, YMCA Awards, this qualification has the potential to positively impact countless numbers of lives.

12th March 2019  |  Tina Bold

Run Birmingham / Big Run Project receives Cross City Heroes railway station recognition

As you may have already heard – heroic groups from across the West Midlands will be receiving special recognition at local Cross City line stations this summer.

We’re delighted to announce Run Birmingham / Big Run Project has been
given the title of Cross City Heroes, following a competition run by West Midlands Railway and West Midlands Rail Executive.

The awards celebrate 40 years of passenger services on the Cross City line between Lichfield, Birmingham and Redditch/Bromsgrove. The two organisations have been on the lookout for deserving community groups and charities near to every local station along the route – with a final list of 24 being drawn up.

Passengers, residents and railway staff have been submitting nominations for local clubs, charities and other groups that have made a real impact on their local area.

Fay Easton, head of stakeholder and community for West Midlands Railway, said: “We have received a fantastic range of nominations for our Cross City Heroes competition, and the final 24 are a really deserving list of winners. The route is key to connecting people across the city, and there is so much going on around stations on the line. We want to thank everyone who submitted nominations, but more importantly to our winning groups for everything they contribute to their local communities.”

Run Birmingham / Big Run Project will receive a plaque of recognition at Chester Road Railway Station.

A huge well done to Taz, Sally, Clinton and Adam and all the dedicated volunteers who support the programme.

15th May 2019  |  Adeel Khan

Funding secured to help Birmingham children during the school holidays

Happy Healthy Holidays has secured £2million funding to provide free holiday food and fun activities for children across Birmingham during the 2019 summer holidays.

Funded by the Department for Education, Happy Healthy Holidays will be running this summer across all of Birmingham’s ten districts and aims to help 18,000 children have a great summer. The initiative forms the largest of the Department for Education’s Holiday Activity and Food Pilot Programmes this summer, and builds on Accord Housing Association’s experience of taking action in this area over the last six years.

The Accord Housing Association led consortium, strongly committed to community wellbeing and children’s outcomes in Birmingham, includes Birmingham Playcare Network, the Active Wellbeing Society, and Sport Birmingham. Accord is also supported by a wider network of partners including, Fareshare, Brakes Meals & More, Birmingham City Council, Severn Trent, City Serve and the Let’s Cook Project.

Happy Healthy Holidays aims to increase and improve the quality of holiday provision and to help families that find the summer particularly challenging in terms of being able to access affordable nutritious healthy food and fun physical activities.

As part of the programme, a new community funding and training support scheme has been launched to encourage organisations to scale up their delivery and strengthen their capacity to provide good quality holiday activities with fun hands-on cooking opportunities and healthy meals for children and young people.

If your organisation can provide holiday places for children this summer, then we want to hear from you – click here for more information on how to apply. The consortium are looking to work with a range of providers including schools, nurseries, children centres, youth organisations, faith groups, sports clubs, community centres and local businesses.

Sara Woodall, Executive Director of Communities at Accord, said: “We are delighted that Happy Healthy Holidays will be co-ordinating the roll out of this scheme in Birmingham. Helping children to access great activities and tasty meals during the school holidays is something that all members of the Happy Healthy Holidays consortium feel very passionately about.

“During the 2019 summer holidays we will be working with local schools, children’s centres and community groups to support children’s physical and mental wellbeing; helping them to thrive and enjoy, what we hope will be our sunniest months.”

Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, added: “Summer holidays provide a great opportunity to build on the strong foundation of healthy eating and physical activity in schools in a different, fun way. This programme, targeted at those most in need, provides free healthy food, physical activity and educational activities in some of our most challenged communities.”

David Cusack, Chief Executive at the St Paul’s Trust, commented: “St Paul’s is proud to be involved in the Happy Healthy Holidays programme that will work with family’s in Balsall Heath and surrounding areas to ensure children have a well-balanced nutritious diet and stimulating activities during the summer holiday programme. We will be working with families to ensure the impact of the programme has a lasting positive effect on the health of families in the area”

Find out more about Happy Healthy Holidays at www.sportbirmingham.org/HHH

15th May 2019  |  Adeel Khan


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

They say that when trying to make changes in life, personal goals are a must. Those on a diet have a target weight, runners train for a target distance and I, along with 119 other members of the public, have a dance performance in 36 days time.
I have to ask myself why I volunteered for this. Over the last six months ago I have begun a very tentative return to work after six years with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or M.E. One of the conditions’ central symptoms is overwhelming tiredness not relieved by sleep or rest. At it’s worst I had been spending days on end in bed. The shift from a healthy, active, working life to living with this major disability was a huge and painful adjustment, a year of gradually reducing and finally giving up work and responsibilities. By the time I had reduced my working and household activities to the absolute minimum I was far worse than I had been when I had first fallen ill.
In order to adapt to my symptoms I had first to accept them. There is no cure for CFS, some people recover fully, some partially and some never. In order to give my body the best chance of healing itself, I had to stop thinking in terms of ‘when I get better’ and live with the condition as an ongoing reality. So, as hard as falling ill was, recovery has been no easier. As I regained the ability to do a small amount of exercise such as a walk around the block, I veered erratically from sitting, bored and isolated wondering if I should be doing more to lying in bed feeling like I’d been climbing a hard day’s mountain and knowing I’d done too much.
Of course I know exactly what I need to do. I need to draw up an exercise routine with regular, short periods of activity throughout the day so that I can start to rebuild the muscle I have lost over years of inactivity. I need to gently but surely increase the amount of exercise I’m doing, always ready to pull back if my condition begins to deteriorate. The trouble is, I’m not very good at routine. I soon get restless and need change. It’s projects that focus my mind, not routines, hence the dance performance in 22 days time.
Before I fell ill I was working as a film-maker and I’m now returning to this work. Camera operation is too physical for me to take on professionally as yet but editing is great for engaging the mind and gives me something I can usefully do either as employment or for love, working free of charge on projects that I want to support. Despite these advantages, editing doesn’t offer much in the way of physical exercise, so I needed to take on some leisure time projects too, like a dance performance in 17 days time.
My first was scuba diving. Doing the weekly classroom and swimming pool sessions was a great learning experience and though exhausting, was manageable. Two days of open water drysuit diving was, by comparison, a huge strain on the system. You need to carry a lot of weight to keep a drysuit full of air underwater, and lugging that weight on land when you haven’t carried more than a plate of food for years was a real challenge. My back took weeks to recover and in retrospect, I should have asked the dive school to organise my training as they would do for a wheelchair reliant person. Hindsight, as ever, so very useful.
It seems like ages ago that I responded to a call out for volunteers ‘Aged 16 or over regardless of their background or abilities’ to appear in Rosie Kay’s ‘120 Soldiers’ at Birmingham Hippodrome and now the performance is just 12 days away. I have worked with Rosie before, my first substantial edit job was her short dance film ‘The Wild Party‘, and I also filmed a number of her early performances. It gave me a window into the fascinating world of dance that I had previously seen very little of. Collaborating with Rosie and seeing her projects growing in confidence, ambition and scale was a real privilege and this is an opportunity to reconnect with that world, but this time as a performer!
I had intended to write a weekly article about my preparation for the show but, my goodness; performance in eight days time…

13th May 2019  |  John Hill-Daniel

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.


Immediate Start Jobs at The Active Wellbeing Society

Due to recent funding and significant team expansion, The Active Wellbeing Society are looking for a team of short term interim colleagues to enable us to launch new and exciting initiatives.  Due to the nature of these projects, you need to be able to start immediately.

We are on the lookout for:

  • 4 Project Managers
  • 1 Community Development Worker
  • 2 Administration Support

Some of these opportunities may lead to further employment

Within any of these roles, you’ll be tasked with playing a key role in the delivery of large scale community programmes supporting citizens to bring wellbeing activities into our communities. We have part-time and full-time roles available. Hours can vary depending on the applicant’s availability. The ability to be flexible and responsive is preferred.

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) is an independent community benefit society which works with some of the poorest communities in Birmingham to improve people’s health and wellbeing through physical activity.

Its mission is to: Use physical activity, guided by innovation, collaboration and insight, to do the collaborating and development required to create stronger and more resilient communities

How to apply

If you have experience of working in similar roles, these are prime opportunities to advance your career, deliver vital programmes and make a real difference to peoples’ lives.

We’re looking for people who are passionate about community, thrive on being given responsibility and ready to be part of a strong and dedicated team. In return we offer competitive salary and benefits package alongside a rewarding role that you won’t find anywhere else!

To apply for any of the above roles, please send your CV and covering letter by return to jobs@theaws.org or if you have a specific enquiry please call 0121 728 7030.

About The Active Wellbeing Society

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) is a charitable Community Benefit Society, which means that it is owned by its members and established for the benefit of the community. It has charitable purposes and is treated as a charity by HMRC. All assets are “locked” for the benefit of the communities that TAWS serves.  This ensures that our investment and services are maintained and cannot be for private benefit.

The model enables us to work in a way which is collaborative with our communities, providing a one member one vote model to make decisions democratically and ensure that what we offer is always of the time, inclusive and relevant. 

The Society was developed out of the successful Wellbeing Service set up by Birmingham City Council in June 2015. It has an outstanding track record of innovation, collaboration, citizen engagement and successful delivery, within the Council, and by going independent in 2018, TAWS was able to build on this foundation and unlock new sources of funding to support its further growth and development. 

15th April 2019  |  Adeel Khan

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

11th April 2019  |  Adeel Khan