Common Unity were approached by the Royal Society for Public Health to be highlighted as a best practice example of an organisation that empowers communities through Healthy Conversation. Common Unity have a longstanding trusted relationship with communities across Birmingham and wider, engaging effectively through a variety of innovative means with communities that are often viewed as hard to reach. One of the ways in which Common Unity do this is by engaging and training community facing professions to pass on positive health messages and signpost post people to services that can best meet need – One such profession is hairdressing, or more specifically, the Barbershop.
This ground breaking work, originally conceptualised in Preston, has recognised that for many African Caribbean Men, one of the only places they would truly talk about their feelings and concerns was whilst sitting at the Barbers’ Chair. Barbershops for the African Caribbean Community are seen as welcoming, safe, social hubs for opening up – Recognising this Common Unity adopted the Barbershop approach in Birmingham through the Barbershop Magazine – written by members of the African Caribbean Community for the African Caribbean Community on topics that were relevant to them.
This Birmingham Joint Commissioning Team NHS funded service has gone from strength to strength since it began in 2007 developing into the City Wide URBRUM Project that through magazines and varied Social Media avenues engages diverse communities across Birmingham on areas of life that impacts on their health and wellbeing. Alongside their Grassroots Associates specialising in supporting communities to support themselves, Common Unity continues to gain a reputation in Birmingham and wider for developing, designing and delivering forward thinking innovative programmes that have the benefit of the community at its heart.