Starting something new in Birmingham
MeaningFULL March was a pilot programme supported by the Community Catalysts project in Birmingham with some financial help from Birmingham City Council and Preparation for Adulthood. The pilot saw two small community micro-enterprises in Birmingham trial full day accessible sessions for adults with a learning disability and/or autism.
Envolve Wellness ran five full days of activity on Wednesdays throughout March 2022. The sessions were run by enterprise leader Nora Ma and consisted of lots of varied fitness activities.
Russell went along to the sessions with his sister, Charlotte, who supported him to get there and to take part. Russell used to represent the UK in the Special Olympics – doing all kinds of different sports like running, swimming, softball and long jump! That was back in the 1990s and he hadn’t done any exercise for a really long time. It had been difficult to find physically active groups that were suitable and accessible, at a good price and local. Charlotte was really pleased when Nora started these pilot sessions in North Birmingham as they sounded perfect.
Turning up and taking part
Russell was really nervous about going so it was good to have Charlotte there too. Charlotte showed Russell some videos of Nora online so they could get a sense of what it would be like beforehand.
Each week there were lots of different things like boxercise, fitness circuits, lifting heavy ropes and balancing activities. At the end of every session there was a fun drumming activity with sticks on a special soft ball called a Bosu. The group was small which meant Nora could give everyone attention and specialist tips to improve.
I am stronger inside and outside now. It feels really good when I can do things I couldn’t do before, like when I did a push up. Everyone cheered me on and it made me feel happy. I’ve made lots of friends and have invited everyone from the group to my 50th birthday party!
Other family members noticed how much livelier Russell was after taking part in Nora’s sessions. He is more confident and has really enjoyed it. It has been brilliant to get to join in together, I’ve loved taking part too and seeing Russell get better every week. We have a laugh every time!
Finding a place and taking on a new role
Russell has learned so much that he now has a new role with Envolve Wellness – after the adult day-time session finishes, he stays on as a helper at Nora’s Family Boxercise session in Sutton Coldfield. Russell helps Nora by being a partner for other participants, giving them directions and supporting with different tasks before and after.
Russell worked really hard when he was at the sessions – he didn’t give up and kept trying the activities and techniques. I could see early on that he had skills like when he was dribbling the football – it has been brilliant to see those skills come back to the surface.
Having Russell as a helper with the Family session is really good – it’s great to see that his confidence has grown enough to take on this role. His help is really valuable for me!
Nora – Enterprise Leader, Envolve Wellness
All these positive outcomes are because Nora is really skilled – she is flexible, communicates well, is really personalised, understands people. She is gentle with us but also works us hard! I think Nora is amazing, she’s a real superwoman!
More to come
Following the success of the five pilot sessions, Nora is continuing to run these sessions on a Wednesday afternoon.
I was so happy that there were more sessions carrying on – I asked Charlotte to write them in the diary straight away!
Envolve Wellness are just one example of the range of community micro-enterprises being supported by Community Catalysts in Birmingham. They are run by people who are highly skilled, have lots energy and take the time to really understand the people they support. Community micro-enterprises offer something new and can help people like Russell to achieve amazing things.
If you would like to know more about Envolve Wellness, follow Nora on Facebook or Twitter @envolvewellness or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to hear more about Community Catalysts’ work in Birmingham, contact Saber.Ghafoor@communitycatalysts.co.uk or 07776 596395