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Covid-19 Lockdown Encourages Black Country Residents to be More Active

A new insight report launched today (13th July) by Active Black Country demonstrates how the physical activity habits of Black Country residents have been impacted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following a month-long campaign to engage with residents and groups across the Black Country, evidence shows that lockdown has encouraged previously inactive people to start moving more.

The measures imposed by HM Government to promote social distancing have had an unprecedented impact on the lives of Black Country residents.

The restrictions on movement for non-key workers meant that forms of exercise previously considered normal by many, such as going to a leisure centre, gym or group exercise class became impossible and people had to find new means of staying fit and healthy, including online exercise classes on YouTube, group sessions via Zoom and outdoor exercise in the local vicinity.

Some of the key findings from the research include:

• 53.5% of respondents who had previously self-described as Inactive actually increased their levels to Fairly Active during the lockdown. Additionally, a further 23.3% went the extra mile and were Active.
• One factor that positively impacted on activity levels during lockdown was the reduced number of people in the streets during the early stages, with 60.9% of respondents stating this encouraged them to be more active.
• Of all the new habits that people picked up during lockdown, 23.6% of respondents indicated that they’d like to continue walking in one form or another

Michael Salmon, Head of Insight, Health and Wellbeing for Active Black Country said:

We have witnessed new audiences benefiting from an active lifestyle; when the Prime Minister announced the new measures, they included the caveat that people could leave their residence once-a-day for exercise, prompting some residents to become more active than they’d ever been before. It’s important that we continue to engage with local residents as we transition out of this phase and provide all the support we can to help nurture these new habits.”

The report can be found by clicking here.

If you have any queries regarding the Insight Hub, or would like to find out more about this piece of research, please contact

Source: Active Black Country

Sport England Call for Innovation

Challenges to solve – Many people are facing significant, disproportionate barriers to being active during the coronavirus outbreak.

This open call is aiming to support innovative solutions that respond to these challenges and support those most affected so they can be active at this time.

We’re looking for solutions from individuals and organisations specifically developed to support women, people on low incomes, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, disabled people or people living with long-term health conditions.

What is the open call and what are we trying to achieve?
Our research shows there are major inequalities within society, with too many of us not able to access activity in the same way and missing out on the health benefits.

These inequalities aren’t new, but they are being exacerbated by the pandemic, which is why we want to act now to ensure they don’t get worse.

We believe innovation can play a key role in helping people overcome these challenges so they can lead more active lives, and in turn help tackle the inequalities that exist within society.

Innovation doesn’t have to be complicated for users – brilliant ideas can have a big impact on people’s habits. For example, Google’s feature allowing users to find wheelchair accessible places with just one click.

Innovation doesn’t have to be about technology, either – some of the best ideas are local, simple and start with people at the heart. For example, London’s Library of Things, who are on a mission to make borrowing things better than buying them, thanks to a network of local volunteers.

Our work to support innovation is beginning with this open call for solutions that remove barriers for the communities that are currently least well-served.

We believe now is the time to act, innovate and do things differently to affect positive change and address inequalities.

The open call will initially be open for two weeks, closing on Wednesday 24 June at noon.

To see the full details go to

CCG Patient Experience Survey – COVID-19

Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed all our lives considerably. It has transformed our views of what is important and posed a considerable challenge to our health and care services.

As part of the ongoing work to respond to the pandemic, Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG are asking you to share your experience of the pandemic and the impact it is having on you and your family’s access to health services locally, by completing an online survey. Please note the CCG will not be producing paper copies of this survey due to changes to staff working and limited resources.

The feedback you share via this survey will help the CCG to make decisions and design new ways of working. The survey should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Your feedback is very important.

At the end of the survey, personal details, such as age and gender, will be asked for to help with the analysis. Your postcode and GP practice will be needed to help pinpoint the town or city you live in. Your house number or house name is not asked for.

The information will be kept secure. The CCG will not be able to identify you through your answers and will not share your personal data with anyone else.

The survey will close at 11.59 pm on Tuesday, 23 June 2020.

Mindfulness with Sandwell Adult and Family Learning

“Remember to live in the moment and be thankful for all the positive things in your life.”

Sandwell Adult and Family Learning (SAFL) is the adult education service for Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. As with so many organisations during this period of lockdown SAFL are aware of how isolating it can be when you are unable to visit friends and family, and this can take a toll on us all. That is why they have created a short video encouraging you to be more mindful and focus on the positives in life. Lisa Espinosa, a member of the senior leadership team, reminds us of six areas of our lives where we can focus on wellbeing.

They are:
• Connect
• Notice
• Give
• Move
• Talk
• Learn

You can access the video via YouTube or visit the website.

SAFL offers a variety of accredited and non-accredited courses for adults 19 plus. These courses range from Functional Skills qualifications in English and Maths, to art classes and support for families, with courses like Paediatric First Aid and baby massage.

Invitation to join Sandwell Citizen Forum on-line video Conference

During the coronavirus pandemic, Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been exploring new ways to keep in touch with local people. The regular Citizen Forums – which were previously held as face-to-face meetings – are now being held virtually via live video conferencing.

Dr Ian Sykes, the CCG’s clinical chair, has been leading these monthly virtual briefing sessions to provide local people with an update on the CCG’s work, including updates on primary care (GP practices) and other local healthcare. These sessions also provide participants an opportunity to submit questions before and during the session to be answered by Dr Sykes and other CCG staff.

The next online Citizen Forum will take place on Thursday 18 June, 2 pm to 3 pm.

Patients, Citizen Forum members and other stakeholders are welcome to join these sessions to get an update on the CCG’s work in Sandwell.  Agendas for the sessions will be available soon.

To find out more and to sign up to join one of the online forums, please call 0121 612 1447 or email  Please give your email or postal address and you will sent joining instructions nearer the date.

Active Black Country would like your help…

Active Black Country have launched a survey with the aim of better understanding the changes in activity habits of Black Country residents of all ages over the course of the last 3 months, with a view to developing insight across 5 main areas;

  1. To understand how, if at all, habits have changed, for the better or worse in relation to activity
  2. To understand the extent to changes to levels of physical and mental health
  3. To understand the extent of any behaviour change
  4. To understand, in relation to ‘already actives’, how did they maintain activity levels and what had to change
  5. How will people build any new habits into a post-Covid lifestyle, such as active travel

Following analysis, a Black Country wide report will be developed that collates all the main findings. In addition, if response rates allow, Local Authority-level summary papers will also be produced.

The survey takes around 15-20 minutes to complete and one respondent will be selected at random to receive £200 in vouchers towards physical activity equipment.

You can access the survey by following the link below.

Share your experience of Health and Social Care Services during Covid-19

Healthwatch Sandwell would like to invite adult carers (unpaid) to a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, 2nd June, at 2.00 pm. The purpose of the meeting is to find out how things are for you and your experience of health and social care services during Covid-19.

If you are interested in joining Anita Andrews, Engagement and Information Lead, click this link to register. Once you have registered, you will be sent joining details.

If you do not have access to a computer or smart phone, Anita would still like to hear from you and is happy to call you. Please contact Anita directly on 07885 214421 (after 1st June 2020). You may also email at or at

Mental Health Awareness Week: 18th – 24th May 2020

This week, 18th – 24th May, is Mental Health Awareness week, and Kooth has highlighted how Covid-19 has affected the mental health of children and young people in the UK.

Kooth has made available a suite of resources available, which can be uploaded to your website, social media or be sent out to young people.

There are nine PDF e-Posters addressing relevant themes pertinent to the lockdown, i.e. isolation, lack of routine and concern around returning to school.

Please also see link to a Kooth data release infographic, which contains information around how COVID-19 has affected the mental health of children and young people in the UK.

For more information email Jennifer Shergill at

Befriending Service for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

There are lots of Deaf or Hard of Hearing people who are currently struggling with isolation due to communication barriers and/or living on their own. This in turn can affect their mental health and wellbeing.

So, to try and reduce this, Zebra Access are now offering a remote befriending scheme, via FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom or Skype to provide people with some company and ensure their social needs are being met.

Zebra Access have created a BSL video to inform deaf people of this service. To arrange a befriending appointment and to find more information please visit the website.

This service is being offered nationally during the lockdown as volunteers can work remotely. Once the lockdown has been lifted, volunteers will be able to visit clients. The visiting befriending service is limited to the Black Country area, including Sandwell.

Zebra Access can offer a wide range of services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This can vary from free BSL session/s for non-profit organisations and families to Deaf awareness sessions, advocacy support, coffee mornings and community events.

Spotlight on Tough Enough to Care

A mental health charity is encouraging men to get together and talk about mental health, demonstrating that there is no shame in being ‘Tough Enough to Care’.

The aim of Tough Enough to Care is for men of all ages to feel comfortable talking and opening up about their emotions to those close to them, instead of bottling them up until they reach breaking point. They also want men to be able to spot when others around them may be struggling and need support.

There is an online peer-to-peer support group and regular meetings at Haden Cross Fire Station Halesowen Road, Cradley Heath B64 7JU, on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, 7 pm – 9 pm. The charity is launching a new twice-monthly meeting at Northfield Fire Station, South Road, Northfield B31 2RB, on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month, 7 pm to 9 pm. Please note that during the current lock down period, support groups are temporarily closed.

In addition to public platforms, you can also message Tough Enough to Care’s main charity Facebook page. Messages are read by and replied to in the strictest confidence by a team of mental health first aiders. They are not professionals, but can often talk you through a dark time and help to signpost you to the best available help to suit your needs if required.

Tough Enough to Care (TETC) is run by volunteers and was set up in 2019 by ex-RAF Armourer Stuart Bratt from Dudley.

Now working as an industrial engineer, and a keen rugby player for 25 years, Stuart has spent much of his adult life in predominantly male working environments. He has seen first-hand how men find it hard to open up about how their emotions and wanted to help men recognise that talking about how they are feeling doesn’t make you ‘less of a man’.

Visit the website

Online peer to peer group

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