Witton Lakes – Public Park, Perry Common, Birmingham. B23 7XA
The FPA Health and Wellbeing pilot is being delivered by Witton Lodge Community Association. The pilot has tested a range of activities to improve health and wellbeing of local residents.
Health & Wellbeing Pilot Objectives:
- Health and Wellbeing Activities – Increase activities in the park to enable greater participation and connection to nature, working with residents to understand needs and priorities of the local community.
- Participation in the community – Encourage community groups to lead and share on activities through volunteering and community ownership.
- Provide greater education & training – Provide training to Healthcare Professionals (including those in GP practices), groups and individuals to ensure they understand the importance of greenspaces and the activities that are available.
- Joining forces – Work with others to join up work, build on the amazing community activity and events that already take place, support further improvements and group action into the future.
Delivering the Naturally Birmingham Health & Wellbeing Pilot
During lockdown, Witton Lodge Community Association has run nature based’ virtual sessions using social media platforms such as Zoom have taken place, covering a range of issues and topics related to green spaces. These sessions have included mindfulness, physiotherapy and seeing family. These sessions have been very popular with local residents in supported living sites who haven’t been able to go out during the pandemic as it has brought nature into their living rooms.
Our ‘Parks At Home’ scheme has helped vulnerable residents stay busy in their homes, working with three supported living sites and several residents in their own homes to help them to grow their own plants and brighten up their living space. This has included a winter planting activity to keep people busy as days get shorter. Greenery has also been spread to homes and neighbourhoods that don’t have much access to green space.
Local Perry Common voluntary group Red Hot Chilli Steppers’ Walk Leader has received training to deliver ‘Sensory Walks’ at Witton Lakes, and we are looking to train more volunteers over the forthcoming year. We will be supporting other established walking groups to increase walks at Witton Lakes and monitor people’s wellbeing. Volunteer befrienders have helped to build confidence and help vulnerable adults overcome fears preventing them from using green spaces. During 2021, we will be running a ‘Walking Buddies’ scheme to encourage people who have been shielding to embrace and enjoy the fresh air and natural environment at Witton Lakes.
Green spaces have brought residents together to participate in community activities including building the World’s Largest Christmas Wreath. These activities have been successful in getting people outside and enjoying green spaces together, using them to come together, share and have fun.
Local people have been involved in the initial landscape design at the Eco Hub at Witton Lakes so they can contribute to the final layout and have ownership over this community space. We are planning cycle routes, and a bike lending scheme from the Eco Hub, plus a programme of outdoor activities including running and other sports. For anyone who is ‘green fingered’ and likes the outdoor environment, we are always looking for volunteers who enjoy gardening to help us at the Eco Hub.
Partnerships have been crucial to improving wellbeing for older adults. We have worked closely with community groups such as Friends of Witton Lakes, Red Chilli Steppers and supported living sites such as the Perry Tree Centre and Sycamore Court to involve residents, as well as sharing learning and opportunities through Social Prescribing Link Workers and Social Workers in our region.
“Firstly, I go there as that is the most beautiful place for views and walks nearest to my house. Also, it gives me a chance to be close to nature, to have some fresh air, vitamin D and exercise which my body so badly needs. It is also an opportunity to look at some beautiful sights including various types of birds, squirrels etc and there is also a chance to say hello to some passer byes or to have a little chat. All these things are missing when you are stuck at home on your own. It is easy to forget what life should be like”.
Let’s Be Friends – of Witton Lakes
The Friends of Witton Lakes (FOWL) was established in 2009. Founded by local people with a passion for community and nature the group works to maintain and improve the former drinking water reservoirs between Perry Common and Erdington.
Working in partnership with Birmingham City Council, FOWL has helped to establish Witton Lakes as one of the region’s foremost leisure amenities with the conservation of wildlife and the local landscape a persistent driving force.
A enterprising duckling watch activity first announced the group to local residents and its responsibilities and output has grown markedly sine then with regular patrols of the lakes, litter picking and projects with local schools which examine the environmental benefits and potential of the stunning natural amphitheatre.
Year on year the group has swelled its numbers with more volunteers joining to assist the productivity of FOWL’s commitment, Whether it’s cutting grass, cleaning the lakes, nurturing and protecting the site’s wildlife or improving the quality of the water, Witton Lakes has been transformed.
The group also manages the Community Orchard which nestles at the heart of Witton Lakes. The Orchard Tearoom gives people a place to meet over a drink while allotments offer the chance to grow fruit and vegetables. This is just one of the ways FOWL is helping to tackle food poverty
The group has hosted regular activities on Witton Lakes such as tree planting sessions where organisations enjoy team-building tasks in a beautiful open space; getting people to appreciate the importance and benefits of such a natural resource. In addition, tours of the lakes encourage local schoolchildren to take an active interest in the site while furtehring their environmental education.
FOWL currently has around 40 volunteers who, prior to the lockdown, organised regular full day clean-up operations on both the land and water at Witton lakes; planting lots of wildflowers and removing invasive species.
Partners like Severn Trent Water have got their hands dirty on such projects as have members of the Keep Britain Tidy ‘Waterside Care’ team.
While nobody could have predicted the COVID19 pandemic and the impact its had on all of us, the optimists at FOWL are looking forward to a bright, happy future
Government guidelines restricted activities during 2020 but dedicated volunteers and an active park keeper made sure the Lakes looked their best. In addition, work took place to wood preserve the raised beds in The Orchard while the area to the North of the Lake was used to grow fruit and vegetables including peppers, tomatoes and herbs.
For details of all future activities please visit the group’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/FriendsofWittonLakes
Transforming Community Life
Exciting plans to transform the former park-keepers cottage at Witton Lakes into a multi-functional Environmental, Education and Community facility are edging nearer.
Witton Lodge Community Association is aiming to create a venue which supports, educates and promotes sustainable for everyone living in our local communities and across North Birmingham.
The primary objective of this new Eco Hub is to enhance and encourage the potential for environmentally sustainable lifestyles. This will include a major drive to reduce fuel poverty through greater awareness of energy consumption and savings.
It will also include the creation of a hydro-power facility on the lakes, sustainable food growing, healthy eating, environmental management responsibility and a range of linked, sustainable living options addressed through community engagement, advice, and practical projects.
The Eco Hub will provide a significant catalyst for tackling deep-seated inequality and deprivation while creating and retaining wealth in the local community. It will also promote social cohesion and provide residents with a platform to influence, shape and manage local services.
This new centre will also pursue significant social impact through job creation and volunteering, education and training, the supply of well-being services and support, community engagement and participation and delivering education around energy saving.
The venue will showcase and promote energy generation and efficiency, cultivating home-produce and the pursuit of outdoor activities.
Planning permission has been granted and we are currently looking to appoint developers to begin construction work on the site. Watch this space!
For more information about this pilot and the work being done at Witton Lodge please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org