Tag: selly oak

Life in the time of Corona…

Hello, Selly Family.

How are you all faring in these strange strange times?

Has lock down got you stir crazy?

Photoshop image of a character from The Sound of Music being taken by two male police officers

Have you abandoned all areas of personal hygiene, and are currently having to answer all video calls sans camera?!

We very much hope that you are doing as well as you can. We realise that, whilst the Corona Lock Down is spawning some of the best memes that we’ve seen in a long time, it’s no joke to be separated from the people that you love.

Corona is proving challenging in many areas of our lives, and the impact on our mental health and wellbeing can have a cumulative effect. I (Claire) read a really interesting comment yesterday from a probation officer who dealt with those on house arrest. They said that: in week one of confinement, there was a novelty to it – people enjoyed the space and freedom from normal routine; in week two, the need to be a bit more productive set in – people did DIY projects and tackled jobs that had been left ‘for a rainy day’; in week three a genuine malaise and sense of depression and anxiety set in as the reality of the ‘new normal’ became apparent.

We’re currently in Week Three of Lock Down (or longer for those who are in vulnerable groups and have been self isolating), and so we’re in a really tricky time. We’re watching the news and daily events unfolding, and there are very few ways in which we can escape the reality of our current situation.

We’re not Mental Health professionals, and we realise that everyone’s experience of this season will differ – some vastly. We are aware that for those who live with chronic illness, for example, this sense of disappointment – plans being cancelled, hope being deferred, the unknown – is a daily lived reality. We are also aware, as Emily Maitlis so saliently commented yesterday, that the ability to positively exploit any aspect of life under lock down is one that comes from a privileged position.

Notwithstanding the above, and speaking only from personal experience – if you have the mental and emotional space and energy to consider it – I’d like to put it out there that this time of lock down might allow the space for creativity and re-connection – with ourselves, and others.

So, what can we do to stay well – emotionally, physically, socially? The New Economics Foundation have set out the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing in a Time of Social Distancing’. We highly recommend reading the whole article, but the headline ideas behind the ‘Five Ways’ are:


Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.


Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.


Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.


Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. As well as being fun, learning new things will make you more confident.


Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

The good news?

That Probation Officer that I mentioned earlier? Well, they said that by the end of week three of confinement, a new sense of possibility could open up – people would be open to trying new things as much as they could, to learning and connecting and developing.

Here’s hoping…

As ever, we’re here for you if we can do anything to help.


Claire, Jackie and the Community Living Team

Sling your hook for the canals

On Thursday 20th June, the Canal and River Trust organised a volunteering day to tidy up the canal running past the University and Selly Oak. Around 30 people from across the community, including University staff, Guild of Students staff, and private accommodation provider Unite Students staff, volunteered their time to what we assumed would be a few hours of litter picking. How wrong we were.

It turns out that litter picking when you’re by the canal is quite the adventure. There were the litter picking grabbers and black bin bags that you might expect, but upon arrival (and after slipping into some very fashionable high visibility vests and protective gloves), we were handed metal grappling hooks on lengths of rope. What ensued was four hours of hurling the hooks into the canal and pulling up all sorts of strange treasures from the depths.

The first person to pull out a car tyre was hailed as Master of the Canal, which was sort-lived as several other tyres soon followed. By throwing the hook into the water and securing the end of the rope under your foot, and then dragging the hook back to the bank along the bottom of the canal, you were able to hook all sorts of things out of the mud.

A cry went up when somebody hooked our first bike – rusty and clearly submerged for months, if not years, the twisted metal was pulled out of the canal and taken away to be suitably disposed of. Then we found another, and another.

Once the muddy treasures started to be unearthed, the mood shifted to one of competition. Everybody wanted to find something they could be proud of, and we threw in our hooks over and over again hoping to find the jackpot.

By the end of the session we had found car tyres, trolleys, fences, goalposts, multiple bikes, a van bumper, and a car door. All of this was sitting below the surface of a mile of canal and would no longer pollute the waterway, no longer damaging animals and narrow boats. Knowing that we had pulled out all we could for the day, and smelling slightly of canal water, we headed back to work or back home.

With one of the most intricate networks in the world, it’s clear that Birmingham’s canals need a bit of looking after from time to time. To make a safe and clean environment for people and wildlife, regular volunteering opportunities to ‘sling your hook’ and get involved in the treasure hunt will be taking place on a regular basis. Keep an eye out and get involved with your community…even if it’s just to compete with your mates as to who can find the most amazing junk.

These are a few of my favourite things ????

As the hope and warmth of Summer approaches, now is as good a time as any to reflect on the best things about Selly Oak. Whether you live or work here, Selly is a diamond in the rough…and here’s why we love it.

There’s always somebody around to have a chat with. The Selly Oak community is a vibrant one, with families, young professionals, retirees, students, business owners, and more calling this place home. When the sun and the BBQs come out, this is even more apparent – lazy afternoon parties across multiple back gardens and people walking down to Aldi to get more ice or extra burger buns!

There’s everything you could need. Your weekly shop is covered with a whole choice of stores including Aldi, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and a handful of independent supermarkets. There’s a few pharmacies, a vintage shop, a hardware store plus a Homebase if you really need to grab something in a hurry. There are countless takeaways and restaurants, including the beloved Nandos on the new shopping park. Don’t even get us started on the TK Maxx, the great (and cheap) pubs, and of course the convenience stores (Campus Wines for the win!). Oh, and there’s our very own train station.

It’s easy to get into town or out to the countryside. Between the train station and numerous bus routes, getting into Birmingham city centre is really easy. You can also go in the other direction towards Longbridge and Reddich, with the Lickey Hills not far away by train. Birmingham is one of the greenest cities, but it’s also one of the youngest, and getting to events on Broad Street, Digbeth, and the Jewellery Quarter costs £2.80 on a railcard and takes about 15 minutes tops. We prefer a picnic in Lickey Hills Country Park to dancing the night away at Lab11 but there’s nothing in your way…even if you want to do both!

We could keep writing for weeks, but we want to hear what’s your favourite thing about Selly Oak. Comment below or on social media!