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23 Sep 2021

Moving Lives, Healthy Minds project update - September 2021


Moving Lives, Healthy Minds is a sport-based social recovery project for over 25s in Birmingham who access Community Mental Health Services and are diagnosed with severe and enduring mental illness.

The project is a three-year piece of work that Sport Birmingham are delivering in partnership with the Birmingham Solihull and Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) and Newman University. The project is funded by Comic Relief and will enable the organisations to work in partnership to bring about changes across people, organisations and local services that will impact local communities and inform a future ‘model’ of working.


A sustainable local network of activity providers has been sourced to deliver 24 weeks of safe, appealing, high quality community sessions that will be used as part of a recovery pathway to improve mental wellbeing. We are also working very closely with Newman University who are our evaluation partner on the project and will be providing valuable insight.

We reached out to several clubs and organisations in the south of Birmingham, predominantly focusing on Longbridge and the immediate surrounding areas. As the first phase of delivery is centered around service users of the Longbridge Community Mental Health Team (LCMHT), it was imperative that any sessions that were to take place were as close as possible to the LCMHT. We were fortunate to have concrete interest from several providers, all varying in size and activities on offer:

  • Birmingham City Football Club Community Trust – Football
  • Mytime Active – Golf
  • Matt Hillman Tennis/Kings Norton Tennis Club – Tennis
  • Painting the Rainbow – Tai Chi
  • Pete James Angling – Fishing
  • EcoBirmingham/Cycle South Brum – Cycling
  • System Fitness – Over 50’s Fitness
  • Jax Yoga – Yoga
  • Mindful Moves Nordic Walking – Nordic Walking

Workforce Development

We used April and May as an opportunity for us to upskill the coaches and volunteers involved in the project to ensure that they have the confidence and the skills to deliver mental health specific sessions. This is crucial to the success of the project as it enables service users attending the sessions to feel safe and confident, knowing that the workforce delivering the various activities have the necessary skills and tools in place to support them fully.

All of the lead coaches involved in session delivery have completed Adult Mental Health First Aid and all coaches and volunteers (including lead coaches) have also completed the UK Coaching/Mind Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity+ training, Zero Suicide Alliance Training and The Birmingham Way training, which supports clubs and organisations to develop the skills of their workforce to ensure an excellent customer experience.

Delivering sessions

Once all of the training had been completed, clubs/organisations then took part in an open week of sessions at the end of June. This was an opportunity for service users to meet all of the coaches and instructors (and vice versa), and for them to take part in any activities that they wish to pursue moving forward. The open week was very successful and we were encouraged to see lots of service user engagement and interaction.

The start of July saw the official beginning of session delivery and we are now approaching our 11th week of activities. We are pleased to report that participant numbers have steadily grown during this time and that other organisations/activities (Yoga and Nordic Walking) have expressed an interest in being part of the project. They will both be coming on board in the coming weeks.

Future Development

We will soon begin phase 2 of the project which will see us move over to Erdington in the north of the city and just like Longbridge, we will identify local clubs and organisations and upskill them with a free mental health training package. This will then lead to another 24 weeks of session delivery.

After the challenges of Covid-19 and the subsequent knock on effects on mental health and wellbeing, it’s been incredibly positive to get session delivery underway and really showcase the benefits that sport and physical activity bring.

For more information on the project please contact us.