Mental health workshops for hundreds of schoolchildren in deprived areas of Birmingham are among over 30 new innovative projects being delivered by voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector organisations - thanks to small grants totalling over £300,000 from the Fairer Futures Fund.

The small grants were the first round of funding being awarded as part of the £22.2million Fairer Futures Fund, and were allocated by Birmingham Place Committee – a group representing the NHS, Birmingham Voluntary Service Council and Birmingham City Council.

David Melbourne, Chief Executive of NHS Birmingham and Solihull, said: “We are delighted to be able to invest in such a broad range of projects, all designed to improve the way our patients and citizens receive care in their local communities. This has really showcased the high level of innovation and forward thinking locally, as well as the commitment and passion of our staff and professionals. We look forward to seeing how these projects unfold.”

Councillor Mariam Khan, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care in Birmingham, said: “This is a great development for the people of Birmingham, as this funding goes straight into community-based initiatives. The ambition is for these projects to make a real difference to the lives of our local populations, improving health and care and enabling our people to live their best possible life. I look forward to seeing how they progress, as well as for further funding to be distributed across our city.”

Stephen Raybould, Programmes Director for Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, said: “We were delighted with the volume of interest and quality of applications for the small grants, and it was incredibly heartening to see the passion from and for our communities. The successful bids are prime examples of how focused prevention work delivered by VCFSE agencies could work better for citizens, and we’re excited to see how they develop over the coming months.”

Projects funded

Dance to Health is a pioneering falls-prevention dance programme, run by charity and social enterprise Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose (Aesop). By combining the power of falls-prevention exercise and creative dance, delivered by a qualified dance artist, the programme drastically reduces falls in older people, while allowing participants to express themselves and socialise with others. With falls being one of the leading causes of injury and immobility, this can be life changing. The Fairer Futures Fund small grant allows Aesop to continue running Dance to Health groups, specifically with the Birmingham Bangladeshi Women’s Association (BBWA). The BBWA has completed its initial ‘improvement’ of postural stability stage of our programme, and the Fairer Futures Fund allows this to continue through to the vital ‘maintenance’ stage, ensuring the progress made carries on into the future.

The Fairer Futures Fund small grant has allowed charity Anawim to implement a new trial programme providing extended psychotherapy support through a community group.

Anawim’s mission is to help women from all backgrounds and communities in and around Birmingham to get the support they deserve. Anawim was founded in the 1980s by two pioneering nuns, Sister Magdalene Matthews and Sister Maisie Nevin, who moved into a red light district in Balsall Heath – at the time described as ‘Britain’s busiest cul-de-sac’. They decided to open their home as a drop-in centre to women in the local community who were involved in prostitution and vulnerable to exploitation.

The trial community psychotherapy group is specifically designed for individuals who have experienced childhood abuse and/or domestic violence perpetrated by males, and have already completed an initial trauma-focused therapeutic course.

These individuals face challenges accessing similar support elsewhere - primarily due to their internal beliefs surrounding trust and power dynamics within relationships - but remain motivated to receive ongoing psychological assistance.

The prospect of engaging in compassion-based interventions can be unfamiliar and intimidating to these individuals, therefore the purpose of this new group is to deliver an intervention within a community service where participants already feel a sense of psychological safety. Additionally, the presence of extra support for their therapy group in this setting creates an environment that fosters support and significantly contributes to their recovery journey.

Aquarius supports people to overcome harms caused by alcohol, drugs and gambling. The Fairer Futures Fund small grant will help Aquarius to run HYPER (Homeless Young People Experiencing Recovery), delivered from its Evolve @ Adam and Eve social enterprise café in Digbeth.  HYPER will provide drop-in support to young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or vulnerably housed and experiencing substance misuse problems. As well as providing weekly sessions offering a range of high-quality services and social activities, Evolve will be a safe space for young people to reach out for help in crisis, five days a week.

The Black Heritage Support Service is an advocacy service that has been established to support the Black community through crisis.  Established in 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fairer Futures Fund small grant will allow it to embed a long-term operating service model through its community hubs. This model will help to establish a sustainable, autonomous, system within its core institutions; beginning with the church, which is seen as a pillar of support in the African and Caribbean communities.

BID Services is a charity which specialises in enabling and empowering those with sensory impairments to live the lives they choose and achieve their goals through provision of information, advice, support and activities. The Fairer Futures Fund small grant will enable the charity to raise awareness amongst those who are deaf or hard of hearing around the menopause. BID Services will be working in partnership with My Menopause Centre to deliver a series of accessible, interactive workshops around the menopause which will focus on breaking down myths, increasing understanding and supporting those who are deaf or hard of hearing to make informed choices about their care and treatment.

The Fairer Futures Fund small grant will enable the community development team at The Birmingham Hospice to co-design and deliver bereavement awareness training sessions for key workers and volunteers who support people who are experiencing homelessness within the city.  Too often people avoid speaking with those who are dealing with a bereavement, out of the fear of saying something wrong.  This project will enable workers and volunteers to approach and immediately support those from the homeless community who are dealing with loss and grief, removing some of the existing barriers that currently exist for these individuals accessing bereavement support.

Birmingham LGBT delivers a range of services to the LGBT community in Birmingham and the wider West Midlands. The funding will be used to develop and deliver two Wellbeing Support programmes to the LGBTQ+ community. one aimed at trans young people and one at LGBTQ+ people to provide a safe space where a voluntary, self-determining but guided group of attendees will be able to share ideas and provide mutual support to improve personal self-care, while also developing techniques that will help to manage their own mental health

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid have been delivering a range of services to women and children affected by DA for nearly 40 years. Their specialist NRPF project focuses on the rounded wellbeing of migrant women with NRPF, offering support, advice and onwards referral to address both their immediate needs around safety, housing and finances as well as support to stabilise their immigration status. The grant will build capacity to focus on addressing the physical and mental health needs women with NRPF present with, enabling better access to services as well as intervention and support at the earliest point possible.

Central England Law Centre provides free specialist legal advice to those most in need and use legal processes to fight inequality. They advocate for people, challenge unfair decisions, take cases to the highest courts and work in partnerships with other support services.

Everyday legal matters in key areas of clients’ lives threaten their health and stability. These problems often have a solution that, with the right professional support, can be resolved. For example, both mental and physical health can be improved by ensuring someone has the right benefits, securing their immigration status or allowing someone to live independently of a previous abuser. Their legal case worker will support clients to ensure that they receive their benefit entitlements and feel secure in their immigration status which will contribute to improvements in their health and wellbeing.

Change Birmingham Brief Therapy (CBBT) is a registered charity, which has been providing Solution Focussed Brief Therapy to the citizens of Birmingham aged 11 years plus, free at the point of access since 1994, in partnership with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Mind, The Living Well Consortium and other Third Sector and Community Agencies.

CBBT is aware that the mental health crisis in younger people has been exacerbated by the disrupted education and social isolation brought about by Covid. The Fairer Future’s Grant will enable CBBT to use their well established and proven service delivery model, to deliver a programme of 60 Mental Health Resilience Building Workshops to 300 young people in schools in the most deprived areas of the city, helping students to find effective solutions to better manage current and future adversity, supporting their future mental health development and wellbeing.

Children's Quarter (CQ) is a cooperative bringing together seventy-five organisations committed to expanding and supporting inclusive services for vulnerable children, young people, and their families. Members include special schools, charities, sports, arts, and community groups. CQ has established itself as a one member one vote cooperative able to share ideas, training, human and physical resources to successfully deliver projects with tangible impact. It aims to inform integrated care systems of the benefits of using adventure play to reduce future health and care inequalities and act as a catalyst for the development of inclusive adventure play facilities in Birmingham.

Birmingham Disability Resource Centre (DRC) is a user led charity run by disabled people, for disabled to support and enable them to fully participate in society.

With the funding, they will be working with people with learning disabilities to ensure they have access to health information and are aware of health services available to them (such as screening, vaccinations etc). They will also be working with people with learning disabilities and their GPs so they are aware of any additional access or communication needs their patients might have.

Chinese Community Centre-Birmingham is a community development organisation that has supported Birmingham’s Chinese citizens to access and navigate systems for over 40 years. Covid amplified the language and cultural barriers that hinder our older members in their everyday lives.

The grant will be used to create a network of Chinese Health Champions. The Health Champions will share health information and public health messages with their friends and family networks, achieving greater reach than CCC-B can achieve and improving health outcomes as a result.

Edward's Trust has long been recognised as a lifeline for bereaved families, offering essential support during their most challenging times. This charity has provided invaluable assistance to numerous individuals and continues to make a profound impact in the West Midlands community. 

It costs over £600,000 for Edward's Trust to provide bereavement services to the thousands of families they support each year.

Edward’s Trust was founded by Peter and Hilary Dent in 1989 in memory of their son, Edward, who died of cancer when he was 7 years old. Over the past 33 years Edward’s Trust has evolved from an organisation providing home from home accommodation in Birmingham, for families who had a seriously ill child in hospital, to what it is today – a holistic bereavement support service for bereaved parents, children and carers across the West Midlands. The Trust offers support through counselling, play therapy and a ‘Wellbeing in Bereavement’ service that includes complementary therapies. Edward’s Trust also provides telephone support, specialist support groups and social activities as part of its holistic bereavement support service.

Maternity Engagement Action CIC is an organisation providing perinatal support to Black and Black mixed heritage in Birmingham, throughout their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey.

This grant will help them increase their engagement programme, and through events, sessions and activities, support their mission to empower Black perinatal women to understand that they can have more positive birth experiences, and that they are entitled to culturally safe, compassionate, and equitable maternity care.

The Moseley Exchange project will work with people who have recently arrived from Ukraine, focussed particularly on Moseley and surrounding areas, to support with access appropriate healthcare in the UK. The project aims to build trust and understanding of the healthcare system whilst also delivering more preventative wellbeing activities. Specific activities we will deliver include specialist English lessons for healthcare, specialist subject sessions delivered jointly by Ukrainian and UK health professionals and translation support for those who require it.

The Muscular Dystrophy Support Centre enables adults with Muscular Dystrophy (MD) to live well, by providing physiotherapy, other physical therapies and support to exercise safely. MD is a degenerative muscle-wasting disease, with no cure. Their support improves people’s physical and emotional wellbeing by helping them manage symptoms like pain, slowing down muscle loss, and retaining mobility.They support people with MD on a long-term basis, improving their independence and quality of life. 

Funding from the Fairer Futures Fund will enable the Support Centre to continue providing free online exercise and wellbeing “drop-in” and pre-recorded classes, which are regularly utilised by service users to stay active and mobile, reduce stress and improve their wellbeing. The classes also provide a crucial social connection for people isolated due to their symptoms and for those whose travel options are limited because they require accessible facilities.

At Northfield Arts Forum, they emphasise access and inclusion. There are SEND specialists present during workshops and events, and everyone is welcome at the weekly food and arts service (NAF Caf). They pride ourselves on supporting community members struggling with isolation and poverty, as well as more complex and individual needs, through creative and sociable activities. The ‘Carry on Growing’ project will sustain and improve the Friday Gardening Group at Northfield Community Garden. Northfield Community Garden was created in 2016 on the land of a disused car park bringing greater biodiversity to the area as well as giving NAF and the local community a space to plant, grow and learn.

With the help of the paid practitioners, the community gardening group can expand in numbers and tackle a part of the garden they’re most passionate about - accessibility. By designing and implementing a different layout of the garden’s planters, the group will create a working/crafting area with seating allowing the group to be closer to the entrance and able to have new conversations with community members.

They will host ‘Summer Strolls’ leading walks in local green spaces and run well-being workshops in yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, introducing a new set of community members to the benefits of the garden.

Northfield Community Partnership are launching ‘Bridge Builders’, which will help young adults (aged 18-49) in the Northfield area experiencing poor mental health and high social isolation, through befriending, to build confidence, positive wellbeing and self-esteem. It will also seek to build bridges to the local community by volunteer befrienders working with those referred to get out of the house and support them to access the local community offer. Befrienders will positively reinforce the benefits of engagement with health services, supporting their ‘friends’ on their clinical recovery journeys.

The Refugee and Migrant Centre (RMC) is an award-winning charity founded in 1999. It has offices in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Birmingham and works with clients from across the Black Country and Birmingham. RMC has high levels of engagement with those communities whom the statutory sector finds ‘hard to reach’ and because the majority of staff and nearly all volunteers have lived experience of migration, including seeking asylum.

This project will be delivered by RMC’s experienced, well qualified Health Worker assisted by trained volunteers selected from the target group communities. We will promote the project among recent arrivals (up to 24 months) using SMS texting, emails, phone calls and face-to-face engagement with clients accessing our routine casework. The work will also be publicised on their website, via social media platforms and within our office.

Saathi House is a community-led organisation based in Aston, Birmingham that is focused on supporting local women and young people to reach their potential and achieve their ambitions by providing activities and services that open up their experiences and opportunities through personal development, arts and creativity, and physical and mental health and well being.

This project will build on the physical and mental health and well being work delivered to date, by enabling volunteers to become local ‘health’ champions, who will inform and support other women and young people across the community and their families with accurate information on health-related matters in English and other locally spoken languages. The focus is to improve local health literacy, self-care practices, and awareness of health inequalities.

ense is committed to person centred approaches and practices that enable everyone to have healthy and meaningful lifestyles This grant will enable them to develop drama workshops with people with complex disabilities so that they are able to develop safe personal relationships, recognising that everybody has the same fundamental human rights as everybody else

At Servol Community Services, their vision is to help people who are living with serious mental illness on their journey to wellness, purpose, and independence. A report from Public Health England dated found that poor physical health is common in people with SMI with many experiencing one or more physical health conditions alongside their mental illness.

The grant funding will enable them to undertake targeted work to improve health literacy and promote self-care.

Sport 4 Life UK will deliver tailored mentoring support to young people with Birmingham's secondary schools. Their qualified mentors will provide one-to-one support to help with any difficulties they are experiencing with academic attainment, as well as any challenges they are experiencing with their personal wellbeing. Sport 4 Life will create a tailored action plan for each young person engaged, using this to support each individual to break down any barriers to achievement they are currently facing.

St Germain’s Emotional Wellbeing Service is a small charity based at St Germain’s Church in North Edgbaston.They provide free, short term, community based mental and emotional wellbeing support to people who need it, regardless of their faith.

This Fairer Futures Fund grant will enable them to reach out to the homeless community in the local area, working with them to co-design a series of wellbeing workshops and practical activities that will sit alongside the community café, helping provide coping skills for common mental health difficulties.

The Children’s Society are a national charity working to transform the hopes and happiness of young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect. They support them through their most serious life challenges and campaign tirelessly for the big social changes that will improve the lives of those who need hope most. 

In Birmingham, they run play sessions with families who are seeking asylum in the UK, these sessions are based out of hotel accommodation. Families have experienced trauma and live with the difficult emotional consequences of this. With this funding they will pay for an emotional wellbeing worker to support families to build emotional regulation skills, and with families create practical early intervention tools and resources to support their mental health, and reduce the risk of mental health crisis, as well as meeting families where they are and making emotional wellbeing support more accessible to them.

The Delicate Mind C.I.C iwill create a culturally competent mental health literacy magazine which will be translated into a number of languages to be disseminated across the West Midlands. From this magazine they will be delivering mental health workshops across Birmingham and creating an online directory of long-term support that can be accessed at any time. 

The Recovery Foundation is a Birmingham based charity with a focus on mental wellbeing. They offer peer support through groups, workshops and courses alongside training for organisations on mental health topics. 

They will mean they can provide our Rainbow Minds Matter group (a Hope Group for the LGBTQIA+ Community) to 80 individuals in Birmingham.

Menopause Knowledge CIC empowers women to thrive and to stay at the top of their game during their menopause journey. They work with communities, the healthcare system, and employers.

Knowledge is Power. And Prevention is so much Better than Cure!

Information and education about menopause, a natural stage in life, are essential to embrace menopause positively and holistically. Their work, including community awareness events, support groups and one-to-one support helps to deliver this information at the heart of communities, in a way that works best for them.

Ways for Wellbeing UK CIC will be delivering Health and Wellbeing Coaching sessions to citizens in Small Heath. They are providing up to 12 sessions per person and will be delivering these sessions through group work as well as being able to provide 1 to 1 support if this is required. Health and Wellbeing Coaching supports citizens with low level mental health support for things such as anxiety, depression, low mood, social isolation and we provide tips and tools to enable preventative self-care.

Best Start in Life Health Hack programme focuses on the helping to reduce risk of maternal poor health and higher infant mortality. Birmingham currently has higher than average rates of infant mortality. This programme is part of a wider strategy to address this public health concern.

All secondary schools across the city have the opportunity to book a free educational BSiL Health Hack workshop. One of the main aims of the workshop is to increase awareness and knowledge around health attitudes and behaviour choices and how they can have an impact on health, in particular reproductive health.