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

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

0121 464 4376

07957 678817

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

The Great British Spring Clean 2019

Join the Panel

Active Communities are employing more staff, holding assessment days for Local Community Action Officers for different areas of Birmingham. Potential candidates will have been shortlisted, interviews scheduled and now we need your help!

We want local people play a key role in the process to make sure we get the right person for the job and are looking for local people to join the panel.

One Local Community Action (LCAN) Officer will be working with citizens in the following areas:

  • Kingstanding, Perry Common, Stockland Green, Erdington, & Gravelly Hill
Kingstanding, Perry Common, Stockland Green, Erdington, & Gravelly Hill

The Assessment day for the LCAN officer to work in these areas will be on the 16th May, 9.30am-2.30pm.

Another LCAN officer will work with citizens in the following areas:

  • Billesley, Brandwood & Kings Heath, Druid Heath & Monyhull, Highter’s Heath
Billesley, Brandwood & Kings Heath, Druid Heath & Monyhull, Highter’s Heath

The Assessment Day for the LCAN officer to work in these areas will be on the 30th May, 9.30 am-2.30pm.

We are also still looking for panel members in two more areas of Birmingham.

The roles will revolve around organising and motivating people to get involved with local community activities, including social, civic and physical activities.

We want local volunteers to join community panels to hear pitches from candidates and score them. The day will also include an opportunity take part in a group activity which will be facilitated by the potential candidates. To help you get a better idea of the role requirements we have also included the job pack PDFs below:

We will reimburse any travel expenses on the day – bus tickets/car mileage. If transport is a big barrier for you we can also arrange someone to come and collect you!

If you are interested in getting involved please contact us before 9th May by emailing or calling us on 0121 728 7030. Please leave a name, your location and phone number and we will call you back to confirm!

Once selected you will be sent venue details and agenda for the day.

4th April 2019  |  Marcus Belben

Exciting New Community Action Officer roles at The Active Wellbeing Society

The Active Wellbeing Society are looking for passionate and enthusiastic individuals to help inspire and encourage communities in Birmingham to become more active.

The new roles aim to organise and motivate people to get involved with local community activities, including social, civic and physical activities. As Local Community Action Officer you will be leading on and helping communities bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area.

Four Local Community Action Officer Roles have been created with recruitment deadlines as soon as this Monday! The first two roles with deadlines on 8th April include work in areas such as Sparkbrook, Alum Rock, Bordesley Green, Heartlands, Small Heath, South Yardley, Tysley & Hay Mills, Yardley West & Stetchford, Washwood Heath and Balsall Heath West, Bordesley & Highgate, Ladywood, Nechells, North Edgbaston.

The Active Wellbeing Society are looking for individuals with creative ideas, diverse range of community connections and the ability to motivate and inspire communities.

The roles have been created in order to deliver the ambitions of Sport England’s Active Communities Programme. Birmingham and Solihull are one of 12 Local Delivery Pilots across England that are looking at innovative ways to reduce the levels of inactivity in our most disadvantaged communities.

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

Deadline for receipt of applications is 9am on Monday 8th April for the following two roles:

Local Community Action Officer for Sparkbrook, Alum Rock, Bordesley Green, Heartlands, Small Heath, South Yardley, Tysley & Hay Mills, Yardley West & Stetchford, Washwood Heath. Assessment days and Interviews will be held on 23rd & 24th April.

Local Community Action Officer for Balsall Heath West, Bordesley & Highgate, Ladywood, Nechells, North Edgbaston. Assessment days and Interviews will be held on 2nd & 3rd May.

If you would like to apply, please submit a video (no longer than 3 minutes) to that gives us a flavour of how you would work to improve the happiness of local people and shows how you have the skills and connections to answer the questions below (the more creative the better!)

For any queries please contact or phone 0121 728 7030.

For other roles visit:

3rd April 2019  |  Adeel Khan

Trafalgar Park Active Communities

Trafalgar Pocket Park

At the end of last month on Wednesday the 20th of March; The Active Well-being Society supported The Accord group to host a community sports and natter day at Trafalgar Road, pocket Park in Balsall Heath/Mosley. The event was centered on creating a discussion with residents to hear their priorities and to find out more about Active Communities.

2nd April 2019  |  Marcus Belben

Global Clean Air from Birmingham to Seoul

Bosworth and why our playing fields matter