Birmingham & Solihull – World Mental Health Day 2019

October 10th is here again and for this years’ World Mental Health Day event we have amassed many of the key wellbeing services from across from the local area to showcase what they do at The Being Well Works Well Emporium.

Organised by ourselves at Common Unity and hosted in partnership with Birmingham City University, this year’s event will also include 4 back-to-back Masterclasses in the amazing Hive Lecture Theatre as well as light refreshments and a superb awareness raising and networking opportunity for professionals and the general public.

The adopted International Theme for World Mental health Day this year is suicide prevention so with a focus on improved quality of life we are looking to ensure this event makes a real positive difference for everyone. Members of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance will also be available on the day.

The Emporium Stalls

As well as loads of information and fantastic advice being available on the day there will also be interactive Health Check opportunities, a community barber, nail art, henna and opportunities for a bit of a pamper.

Stalls include…
Common Unity, Forward for Life, Roshni, Forward Carers, Citizens Advice Witness Service, Birmingham Mind Community Development Worker Service, A Father’s Child Service, The Pamper Zone, Health & Healing Network, Bipolar UK, Papyrus UK, Creative Wellbeing 4U, New Hope Birmingham, Nehemiah UCHA, RSVP, Cruse Bereavement Care Birmingham, Forward Thinking Birmingham, Health Expo, West Midlands Combined Authority, Spring to Life, Birmingham Mind PURE Project, Life Balance Arts, the BCU Wellbeing Service and more.

The Success of The Being Well Works Well Conference 2018

“FANTASTIC CONFERENCE!!” 

October 10th 2018 (World Mental Health Day) saw the “Being Well Works Well” Conference come to fruition through the leadership of Common Unity.

Its aims were to provide networking opportunities locally, regionally and nationally in respect of the wellbeing agenda, highlight upstream services being delivered currently under The Connecting Community Networks programme, present new and innovative approaches that seek to ensure early engagement with wellbeing support opportunities and actively promote the opportunity for improved wellbeing in a range of arenas.

….and we believe it achieved this and more.

With in excess of 150+ delegates, 80 represented organisations, a range of experiential wellbeing stalls and a diverse set of forward-thinking speakers from across the board, The Being Well Works Well achieved way beyond our expectations. 

We are still going through all the evaluations but 80% of the attendees that completed theirs told us the Conference was “excellent.”

To sum it all up!

We will be sending out more information in the next couple of weeks about the day and thanks to all of you who attended and made this day the success it was. It showed us that Birmingham and Solihull have a lot to celebrate about when it comes to Wellbeing services.

A special thank you to all our speakers on the day – Cherry Dale, Councillor Paulette Hamilton, Pete Trainor, Adam Page, Terry Rigby and Tom Howell.

Connecting Community Networks

What is Connecting Community Networks All About?

Life can be hard…but for some, because of particular circumstances, and more often than not, through no fault of their own, life can be much harder still. Connecting Community Networks recognises this and looks to protect and enhance citizen well-being and promote life quality. It oversees the delivery of a number of much needed holistic services that has real, evidenced based wellbeing benefits for some of our most vulnerable members in the community. CCN takes a different approach from many other traditional services by starting from a premise of vulnerability and risk due to life challenges and looking to demonstrate a positive resolution for the individual based on improved wellbeing.

The Organisations Behind CCN

Common Unity is the central driving force behind all of the CCN programmes with external expertise being brought into the process to best deliver all elements of each and every programme. This partnership arrangement means that from conceptualisation right through to the point of evaluation, specialist support is realised to demonstrate the potential for such approaches to improving well-being.

What Programmes Are in Place?

  • Urbrum – web based community centred platform, is all about discovering innovative ways of engaging communities with their own health and wellbeing and the health and well-being of those around them. Its approach to engagement, information and intelligence sees communities as both the recipients and providers of health and well-being intelligence with a view that through such an organic process, services and support will continue to best reflect what communities need and want.
  • ASIST/safeTALK – Delivery of the world renowned suicide prevention programmes across specific Birmingham sectors to best identify and support those who are vulnerable in respect of suicidal ideation and behaviour.
  • ManMade: Through The Gates – Utilising the ManMade Peer Led support approach that enables men to survive in modern day society, ManMade: TTG is an exciting opportunity to test the model and its impact with men at HMP Birmingham who are soon to be released back to the community.
  • ManMade: Cruse – Men often find it difficult to engage regarding their losses in life and thus can play a negative part in men coping with crisis through loss. This programme looks to achieve greater resilience and well-being through providing men with the opportunity to engage with the area of loss and bereavement as part of a Peer Led Support Programme led by specialists in the field of Bereavement.
  • Bloom in Birmingham is a unique project aimed at reducing social isolation and improving the physical and mental well-being of women living in Birmingham and at risk regarding their health utilising a peer led support approach.

 

ManMade | The Conference

We hope you have your ticket ready for Man Made the Conference June 13th 2016! with just 4 days to go, there are very limited spaces available and now tickets are sold on a first come first serve bases. For those of you who haven’t booked yet, or are maybe new to ManMade…here is a little information for you.

ManMade: The Conference // This is a Man’s World?
We know that suicide does not discriminate. It impacts across the board, on all walks of life at all levels in modern day society. But still… statistically…men account for over 75% of all completed suicides in England.

slidemm1With Keynote Speakers including Jonny Benjamin, Rohan Kallicharan and Chief Inspector Sean Russell as well as a variety of workshops being delivered by leaders in their field, ManMade The Conference is a unique opportunity to consider ways forward to hit the devastating issue of suicide amongst men head on. 

If you have booked your place(s) that’s fantastic! We cant wait to see you at ManMade | The Conference Men Surviving Change in an ever Changing World June 13th 2016 click here to go to manmade.org.uk
However, if you haven’t booked and want to come, please be aware that it’s not long to go and there are verylimited places remaining,

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give Terry Rigby a call on 07585776800 or email him at [email protected]

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Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Every two hours, a man takes his life in the UK.

ManMade | The Conference throws on the table an invitation to meet this challenge head on with personal stories and new approaches being highlighted to help men survive.

ManMade | THE CONFERENCE

“men surviving change in an ever changing world”

Has renowend keynote speakers: Jonny Benjamin, Cadi Lambert, Rohan Kaillicharan, Jamie Harrington and Sean Russell

Manmade.org.uk | twitter: @ukManMade | #ukmanmade

As ManMade was first piloted in Dudley through support of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Councils Office of Public Health, it seems only fitting that the first ManMade conference be set at Himley Hall, a 17th Century Manor House set within 180 acres of parkland within the Borough of Dudley.

ManMade // Pete Trainor

It’s been a week since ManMade | The Conference at Himley Hall nr. Dudley there’s been a lot to think about. I was fortunate enough to spend time with the other speakers on the lead up to the conference and each one them, along with all the organisers, are inspirational, brave and fighting this epidemic in their own way. All of them are helping to make it easier for men to find help without shame or stigma. It feels like we’re just at the tip of the iceberg on this one too.

If over a third of local authorities do not collect information about suicide, and do not have a suicide prevention action plans, or a multi-agency suicide prevention groups, then the issue is going to need to be tackled outside of the system.

As I explained on Monday 13th June to all the delegates, I’m fighting the problem with the gifts that I’ve been given — technology, design, psychology & a passion to disrupt traditional problems with unconventional methods. I’m also a man, so I know full well how tough it can be to carry on in this ever-changing world. I’m a fairly typical bloke about a lot of things and have had many a “crisis of masculinity” in which I failed to seek help even when catastrophic events hit my life. It could have led to tragic consequences for my families and I’m thankful it didn’t. I’m one of the lucky ones.   I’ve worked in technology for 20 years now and have been fortunate enough to work all over the world, with the biggest tech companies on the planet. When we set the business up several years ago, we vowed to use all the technological knowhow we’d accumulated and all the emerging technology we’re exploring with our clients, to actually do some good for society. We could build you a behavioural analytics platform that tracks browsing behaviour to sell people better products, or we could use exactly the same technology and build a platform that helps people with more human issues.

The rising suicide rates among men should be treated as a national public health issue on a par with smoking, obesity or pollution and yet the government does so little to support the amazing organisations tackling the problem. So I figured — maybe we could have a crack at helping there.

A large portion of men never talk to anyone about their problems, variously because they feel ashamed, do not want to discuss feelings or simply don’t “want to make a fuss”. What if we could give these men something they are happy to talk about? There’s a generation of men whose adult lives have been marked by major social changes affecting the workplace and family. They’re in pain.

They don’t have a way of offloading all that stress and inner turmoil that speaking so often releases. Maybe technology can help them to talk?   In the technology world we recently hit an inflection point that’s going to give us a huge opportunity to do what I always dreamed we could do — help vulnerable people, even before they know they need help. Artificial intelligence, which has always been the subject of science fiction, is now mature enough to handle some of the most complex challenges. Perhaps even the kinds of human challenges that traditionally a trained professional would be relied upon to handle. Now, that statement might sound controversial, but I just want to point out that we have to train a machine to learn in much the same way that a human needs to train to be a fully qualified professional.

So we can really get a machine on par, if not smarter than a human on any given subject. The real challenge comes with empathy  — because surely that’s a trait that only humans can learn, right? To a degree yes, but we now have such sophisticated emotional and sentiment analytics software at our disposal, that we can generate dialogues between a human and a machine that are so intelligent and delivered in such an elegant style, that they become almost as good, if not better than the real thing. It’s worth also keeping in mind that artificial intelligence doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t eat, it can’t make mistakes or have a bad day and it can service tens, hundreds, thousands, even unlimited numbers of people simultaneously.

The implications, although uncomfortable to some, are profound and game changing for others.

In my talk at ManMade I covered the three types of artificial intelligence, from narrow (basic decision support tools) to general (services like Siri) through to super intelligence (cognitive intelligence) which is already used by a lot of companies to sell us more products or monitor our patterns in order to market to us in a more tailored way and all this is going on while suicide, like a virus we don’t fully understand, is killing men in record numbers. It kills three times as many British men as women, although nothing has ever adequately explained why. While almost all other leading causes of death are being slowly eroded by medical and social progress, deaths caused by suicide are at their highest for decades.

So it seems such an incredible waste not to use these wonderful, powerful technological advancements on tackling the bigger issues, rather than trying to sell more shiny things to people.   Let’s just imagine a man who is lonely, introverted with difficulties expressing his feelings. He’s unhappy because of his impending divorce from his childhood sweetheart. He’s connected to his phone almost constantly because the void created by his loneliness is filled with hours browsing the internet, reading news (which is usually contributing to the unhappiness!) being on social media and so on.

What if I could give that man a talking operating system with artificial intelligence, designed to adapt and evolve like a human being. He can choose the gender and personality of this operating system and it will adapt very quickly to the individual just by listening to his voice bio-metrics, by reading all the environmental and other data factors from that smart phone. It can’t judge him because it’s not programmed to judge — just support. The artificial intelligence has the ability to learn and grow psychologically, and bond with the man over discussions about past times, life events and maybe even eventually learn to talk to the man about the factors that make him so lonely and unhappy. It’s Socratic, so it asks a lot of questions and he’s happy to talk, because he knows he’s not being judged. It’s literally ‘artificial’ and ‘intelligent’.

It might sound like science fiction, it might also sound a little sad to some people who think our reliance on technology is already eroding some of our humanity, but I see the opposite — an opportunity to give some vulnerable people back something missing.

I get the impression that we still think that the type of men who will die by suicide are the unwell, the disturbed, the unlucky; the ones who stumble at life’s biggest hurdles and are too weak to get back up. But in reality 75 per cent of people who take their own lives have either never been diagnosed with a mental health problem or been in touch with mental health services in the previous year and only five per cent of people who do suffer from depression go on to take their own lives — they’re what society would deem to be normal. But they still need someone to ask them how they are everyday. Someone to talk with, someone to analyse behaviour in intimate detail and provide help, wisdom, and guidance and potentially even warn a family member, friend or professional if it is felt that the man is a danger to himself.

When asked what counts as emotional support, many men do not describe relationships based primarily on ‘talking about feelings.’ What we count as support is ‘being there’, ‘being alongside’ and understanding based on personal experience, or knowledge of the person, and being reachable if needed. We can do that with technology in so many ways.

Let start to conclude by telling you about an experiment we recently conducted with 200 male volunteers who were studied using a chatbot we’d built that asked men questions about how they felt about life. On the back of the chatbot was a powerful sentiment analysis tool to track how the men responded. We told half of them the chatbot was being controlled by a person (“like a puppet”), while the other half were told it was computer-controlled (“fully-automated”) and there was no human on the other end.

The volunteers who thought they were talking to a computer tended to engage in less “impression management” and also displayed emotions like sadness more intensely they also said they felt less afraid to disclose personal details about themselves than those who talked with the supposedly human-controlled program. Who says the machines aren’t as valuable as people?   At Nexus we want to build a future where stretched, professional people are augmented by smart, accessible, beautiful technology. We believe the future of supporting men of all ages, in an ever changing world, is predictive, reactive, artificial intelligent support and lies between two important things: anonymity and rapport.

We’re not trying to diminish the role of the professional in this battle against suicide; we’re trying to take up some of the slack. If this kind of approach, using technology like artificial intelligence, is enough to keep somebody vulnerable talking in the black spot between an alert and a response from a community mental health team or the police? Is that itself not worth exploring? I vote yes.


About Pete Trainor & Nexus   Pete Trainor is a behavioural designer, mental health campaigner, accidental polymath and founder of Nexus, The Human Centred Design Company. He talks all over the world on creative & social technologies & the physiological & psychological effects on their audiences. Pete regularly appears in UK national and international press as an analyst on mental health, digital media, creative industries, emergent technologies, and tech markets. He has a very simple mantra for the business: Don’t do things better, do better things.   @petetrainor / @nexushcd / www.nexus.design


ManMade|The Conference was organised by Midlands-based social enterprises Forward for Life and Common Unity. Together, they conceptualised, designed and delivered ManMade, an innovative peer-led support service aimed at reducing male suicide. Initially piloted and recommissioned in the Midlands, the developers of ManMade are looking to establish it as an approach further afield. Terry Rigby – Co-Founder of ManMade @ukManMade // @forwardFORlife  // www.manmade.org.uk e. [email protected] t. 07585776800


If you are having thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone else please go to The Urbrum Waiting Room Or contact – Samaritans // Listening service – 24 hours a day, any day – CALL 116 123 (UK, ROI) // EMAIL [email protected] CALM // Suicide Prevention support for Men (5pm – Midnight) CALL 0800 58 58 58 // SMS (text messsage) 07537 404717

BBC One Healthy Conversations

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.

The Pamper Zone by Common Unity

The Pamper Zone // Pampering Zone

Face painting // Barbers and Hair Styling // Hair Braiding // Nail Art // Head and Shoulder Massage // Mehndi / Henna

The Pamper Zone is a great way for you to look and feel refreshed. Why not relax, enjoy and revitalise the inner you?

The Pamper Zone was established to aid the well-being of communities through using a range of therapists and skilled entrepreneurs. The Pamper Zone was created by Common Unity to offer the citizens of Birmingham an opportunity to engage with their own selfcare and improve their well-being.

Community Events//School Fetes//Organisation Away Days//Promotional Stalls//Grand Openings//Festivals//Themed Events and more

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CDW Journey – Testimonies

A handful of testimonies that talk about first hand experience of the CDW service and how it has benefited there communities and them selfs.

Working on our own skills, and those of the partners, individuals and communities we come into contact with. This is done directly by ourselves or through linking to training providers. It is about ensuring quality, and about fulfilling potential through the building of confidence and a sense of agency.

To learn more about the CDW Service: click here

The videos explain the partnership of Common Unity and Birmingham Mind for the development of the Community Development workers (CDWs) , How the CDWs work, the Assets and community relations, Targeting all audiences and all communities around Birmingham.

The 5th anniversary of Common Unity

Caron Thompson of Common Unity Giving an overview of the last 5 years of being established. This includes aims, achievements, projects partners and future plans.

Common Unity Social Enterprise is a Health and Social Care organisation specialising in working on mental health and wellbeing with ‘hard to reach’ communities. It was established in 2009 by community activists from BME communities who were also mental health professionals, and who had grown up in the inner city areas of the West Midlands. Our personal and professional experiences have formed our instincts about, and specific insights into, what works in communication with a wide range of audiences. We help individuals, communities and service providers to overcome barriers to communication and the fulfilment of potential, ensuring that services are both accessible and relevant. Common Unity has been commissioned by the Local Authority, NHS Primary Care Trust, and a number of Third Sector organisations in Birmingham and Sandwell, to support them in research and consultation with specific communities.

BBC – Your Voice! in Birmingham

Your Voice!  BBC FREE SPEECH IS COMING TO… Birmingham!

We are a youth debate show looking for over 100 people to join our live studio audience & share their views on BBC Three If you would like to be sent more details then get in touch We will be broadcasting live on BBC THREE on WEDNESDAY 12TH MARCH 2014 You will need to be available between 5:30 and 9:00pm BBC Free Speech is presented by Rick Edwards with social media jockey Tina Daheley.

BBC3’s Free Speech is back, and looking to meet young people who want their voices to be heard. This live political debate show, aims to give young people aged 16-34 a platform to voice their opinions to the people who can help make a difference. The first episode is on the 12th March in Birmingham Central Mosque and will be focusing on the issues that young people want to talk about.

If you’re aged 16-34 and are interested in being part of the interactive audience, you can fill in this short application form (Download Here)
You’ll need to be free from 5.30-9pm on the day. You can check out the show here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s4sk3

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