Birmingham Active Neighbourhoods

Birmingham Active Neighbourhoods is a Big Lottery Funded, partnership project exploring how increased participation in housing green space can contribute to improved health outcomes for local people.

About the project

The project is focusing on four housing association managed estates across the Birmigham area to develop new ways for:

  • Residents in priority neighbourhoods to access and enjoy their local green spaces
  • Community members to participate in physical activity
  • Boosting self esteem, confidence and mental well being via involvement in healthy lifestyle activities
  • Increasing the skills and capacity of resident communities to identify and deliver green space activities locally through the provision of training and volunteering opportunities

The project partners hope to develop a coordinated approach to improving the health of those most at risk by engaging people in activities that promote health and well being using the green spaces on their door steps.

This could be through providing estates based sports, social and physical activities such as tai-chi, food growing opportunities, green gyms, training and skill development opportunities, tree planting and walking groups.

Neighbourhoods Green is particularly interested not just in how these improvements are made but what the demonstrable impact of the project will be and how this can benefit other housing associations and social landlords.

The project will run from summer 2014 to summer 2016.

What problems is the project trying to address?

Health inequality

Birmingham’s citizens have worse health than the average for England. People living in Birmingham’s inner city areas can expect to live up to 10 years less than those in the more affluent suburbs (Unequal Lives, Human City Institute, 2010).

Access to quality green space

People living in deprived areas are more likely to have a poorer quality local environment with less access to attractive green space. Where communities are over 40% BME, there is 11 times less access to green Space (Community Green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health, CABE Space, 2010)

Where people have good access to formal green space, they are 24% more likely to be physically active, those who live furthest away from parks and green spaces are 27% more likely to be overweight or obese.

Evidence for the benefits of the active neighbourhoods

We think that this project can make a real difference for social landlords and their residents but we want to be able to prove it. In order to ensure the project truly is impactful we will be conducting a robust assessment of its health and social outcomes.

Who is involved?

Be Active is run by Birmingham City Council with funding from the Primary Care Trusts. It aims to improve people’s health by offering residents of Birmingham free swimming, exercise classes and gym sessions. The scheme currently has over 300,000 members from Birmingham, which represents about 1 in 3 of the entire population.

Birmingham City Council whose Housing department provides decent homes for 65,000 households and Parks Service which provide and maintain 600 parks and open spaces, 200 play areas and 115 allotments sites.

Birmingham Open Spaces Forum (BOSF) is a network organisation that aims to bring together all the people in Birmingham with an interest in our open spaces.

Birmingham Primary Care Trusts who are responsible for providing a range of healthcare services to communities in Birmingham.

Birmingham Social Housing Partnership (BSHP) is the representative organisation for housing providers in Birmingham, working in partnership with the National Housing Federation

WM Housing Association owns and manage around 30,000 homes across Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham, Coventry and the wider West Midlands

Groundwork West Midlands works alongside local communities, public bodies, private companies and other voluntary sector organisations to support communities by delivering bespoke projects that use the environment as a catalyst for building a more sustainable future.

Midland Heart own and manage over 32,000 properties across the Midlands. They are working with Groundwork to deliver an employment initiative on the Homes Estate which tackles worklessness and builds skills in grounds maintenance and horticulture.

Neighbourhoods Green is a national partnership to promote the importance of green space for residents of social housing. The partnership supports housing providers, community groups, tenants and residents to raise the quality of their design, management and safe use of green space.

Sanctuary Housing manage around 100,000 properties in England and Scotland. The Horticultural apprenticeships programme in partnership with Pershore College has been rolled out as part of their Estates Servcies to create opportunities for young people. 

Affinity Sutton manage 57,000 properties across England. They are committed to investing in their communities to empower residents to play an active role in their neighbourhoods.

Find out more

Visit the Groundwork West Midland website to find out more about the project, or email Lucy Kenny, the project's coordinator.

Keep up to date with the project and find out what activities and events are being run by following @ActiveNhoods on twitter.