Supporting people with mental ill-health
What we do:
Better Pathways is a not-for-profit organisation which engages with adults and young people experiencing mental ill-health and poor physical health, on their pathway to recovery. We provide a range of employment, education, training and volunteering services to support clients in our local communities of Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Dudley and Coventry. We use a person-centred approach, so that our clients are equal partners in planning and developing the services that we put in place to support them.
Facts about Better Pathways
We have been providing employment and training services for people with mental ill-health in Birmingham for over 50 years.
You may have heard of us as BITA Pathways; we changed our name in 2017 to Better Pathways, to better reflect the positive role we play in supporting people on their pathway to recovery.
We support more than a thousand people a year within our wide range of employment, education, training and volunteering services.
We run a number of social enterprises ourselves as we understand how important the right type of work is to our clients is.
These are businesses which have a social purpose, to provide a safe and supportive environment to employ and train our clients.
All surplus revenue from our social enterprises is invested back into the Better Pathways charity.
As a registered charity you can be confident that if you are spending money with us by commissioning services, buying our products or donating money, then we will invest it to provide the best service we can for our clients.
Find out how you can support our work here.
Car Parking for our Digbeth site
There is a list of car parks near to our Digbeth site at the bottom of the page.
Latest News & Events
Mental Health Training Courses for All
At Better Pathways we deliver a range of MHFA training courses for businesses and ogranisations across the UK. With our main headquarters based in Digbeth Birmingham, a range of training sessions take place here, but we do travel out to organisations for bespoke packages.
We help organisations of all sizes to create mentally healthy workplaces and deliver high quality mental health training for employers, schools, colleges and oraganisations in any industry that employs or provides services to people.
That is why we believe ‘Better wellbeing, better business’.
Email the team at – email@example.com
Check the range of course dates on our Eventbrite page- https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/better-pathways-17904987668
Youth MHFA Training Course:
We have spaces left for our Youth 2-day training course on Monday 28th – Tuesday 29th January from 9:00am – 5:00pm.
This course is essential for all frontline professionals working with young people under 18.
To book onto this course click the link below:
Better Pathways Members Football Club had a memorable first away day after we were fortunate enough to secure a trip to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London.
The day started very early as the team arrived at Better Pathways HQ under the cover of darkness and in the pouring rain – gladly, things did improve from there. A cup of coffee and a rousing team talk from our CEO later and we were on the road, slowly negotiating Birmingham’s rush hour traffic. Keen to avoid the radio’s coverage of Brexit, we plumped for the only CD in the glovebox, which (un)fortunately was Black Lace’s Greatest Hit(s) – Agadoodoodoo, Wig Wam Bam and the Music Man.
A few hours later and we had arrived at the impressive Emirates Stadium, which was a slight change in scenery to our usual home ground in the Aston Triangle. After a walk around the stadium and some photos next to a 10ft Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, we made our way to Arsenal’s Community Hub where we were given a warm welcome from our host for the day, Luke.
Luke then treated us to a full stadium tour, from the near-Michelin star restaurant in the Directors Box complete with the best seat in the house, to the press box, a tunnel walk to the pitch-side dugouts; before we resisted the temptation of jumping in the hydro-pool in the home dressing room. The tour was a wonderful experience, full of great insight into the club, its history and diversity, as well as providing a window into the life of a professional footballer.
Emirates Stadium Zia takes 5 minutes out…
Toqueer takes on the press!
After the tour, the team got changed into their sparkling new BPMFC kits and commenced a 2-hour football session which was both competitive and challenging; but we are pleased to say the team stood up to the challenge and played some wonderful football. We were all immensely proud – not just of the way the team played – but also the way they conducted themselves throughout the day and represented Better Pathways impeccably.
Arsenal legend Jennis Bergkamp firing a shot at Zia.
The journey home was full of fun, laughter, reminiscing and a few snores. We played Radio 4’s Just A Minute with topics covering Dolphins, veganism, American politics, films and ‘where babies come from’. Just don’t ask Luke about Gloucester Services or Marc to go for a pint.
Reflecting on the day, it is clear how much enjoyment everybody took from it. Michael said it was a ‘great day out’ and that ‘everyone did their best and dealt with the new environment well’. On BPMFC, Johnny added ‘I like football, it’s good to have in my life and is helping me make friends’. Zia summed up everyone’s thoughts about the day by saying that he was ‘very proud of everyone’.
Luke from Arsenal added ‘we were delighted to offer this opportunity. For us is it key to both allow others to come and see the support we offer, but also to highlight to those we support the great initiatives going on nationwide. We are constantly meeting new people and it enables us to learn and grow to offer the best possible support. We would love to extend an invite again (maybe on a sunnier day!)’.
We are hopeful that this will be the first trip of many for BPMFC and are extremely grateful to Arsenal and Luke for making it a reality. This was about much more than the football, for many of our team it was their first time to London, and the happiness, confidence, memories and self-esteem this gave them is immeasurable. Thank you to all the staff who made this possible and for all their support with the team.
Next stop ………………?
Drop in sessions through out December 2018. Come along to see a member of our friendly team to discuss how they can support you.
Are you looking for an exciting volunteer opportunity?
Well look no further as we are currently recruiting for enthusiastic volunteers to join our fundraising team at Better Pathways.
This is an opportunity where you can be creative and engage with many different fun filled activities. We will be working on many different campaigns during the year where you will have the chance to share your unique ideas with the team.
This is a great opportunity for students seeking first hand work experience to add to their CV!
For more information go to our ‘Working for us’ page to apply.
Look forward to hearing from you all 🙂💛
What a wonderful Coffee Morning!
On Friday 26th October, our training team held a coffee morning at Better Pathways to involve the local community to learn about the different MHFA training courses we offer. A range of people from different companies/background attended, who were keen to find out how the Mental Health First Aid training courses could benefit their organisation.
Emma and Kay (the trainers) enjoyed networking with new people and improve understanding of mental health and raising awareness within the local community.
A special thanks to Yvette for her fabulous selection of handmade cakes which went down a treat, including a spiced apple cake, with apples from her own garden!
Also, a huge thanks to Michael Rafferty for his amazing artwork on display which everyone loved!
If you missed out on this event don’t worry, we will be hosting another one in early 2019!
Register your interest at – firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info visit our Eventbrite page with the latest course dates available to book online
Action packed day with Lloyds Volunteers!
Last Friday was action packed at Better Pathways, we had the pleasure of welcoming a huge team of 17 Lloyds volunteers from Lloyds Bank Give & Gain scheme, who came from as far as Scotland to help us with a range of fun filled activities! On arrival the volunteers were given a tour of our main Digbeth site and introduced to the Better Pathways team. The group was split as half headed down to the allotment garden accompanied by Jeff Potter our very own horticulturist. The other group stayed at Digbeth headquarters and took on a massive task of painting our service user canteen. This was a huge room to paint but the motivated team pulled together to complete this before the end of the day!
We are very grateful for their hard work and for bringing a warm positive atmosphere to Better Pathways. We received fantastic feedback from volunteers who took part in this special day.
“Better Pathways are an amazing Charity and I thoroughly enjoyed our Day to Make a Difference there. The Staff and Service Users were all full of enthusiasm and happy to talk to us. I was involved in helping at the Allotment- it is a fantastic resource and I think I may have developed my gardening skills too!” (Nicola Urquhart)
“Everyone made us feel so welcome and what they are doing for the people who go there is incredible. You can see how passionate the colleagues who work there are about the charity and the difference they will make people’s lives is invaluable.”
“It was a pleasure to come and help out and a massive thank you to Geoff for telling us what we needed to do and also for getting us equipped to help out as much as we could when we were there – and for letting us in his shed when it got too cold/wet J!” (Lucy Isham)
“It was a great day, I really enjoyed meeting everyone and seeing first-hand the efforts the charity has gone to in order to help others by providing such an extensive variety of support and skills.” (Margaret Buchanan)
“Great to see the invaluable work that Better Pathways is doing within the community, for some of the most vulnerable people, giving them a purpose and making them feel that they can contribute to society. By painting the canteen that the service users, use, thus giving people a safe and comfortable environment to work and learn in, is the very least that we as a team could do.” (Angela Diamond)
“It was a pleasure working with Better Pathways painting the canteen for the service users. It was also lovely to be able to meet lots of your service users and have a chat to them about what they do when they are with you. I came away feeling that we had made a difference to these guys not just by doing the painting but by taking time to have a conversation with them too. It’s a great service you provide.” (Angela MacFarlane)
A huge thanks once again, all the efforts from the Lloyds volunteers were truly appreciated 😊
Join Better Pathways Football Team ⚽
Support from Wesleyan & Heart of England Community Foundation
We are delighted to receive funding from Wesleyan Foundation, a fund which provides financial support for great causes within the community to make a positive difference. A total of £8,000 has been awarded to us!
Our aim was to raise funds for the service user Minibus at Better Pathways we have been working towards. We want to give our service users the best experience and social impact, having a Minibus would allow us to take them on day trips, to visit our Allotment Garden, take part in outdoor permaculture activities, grow fruit and veg and learn more about healthy eating process in social eating activities. It would be a chance for them to socialize and do more great things to impact their wellbeing.
Our service users are so pleased and can’t wait for a Mini Bus to arrive. They have already started planning things they want to do! This will make a real positive difference in their lives.
As a charity we are grateful for the support we have recieved from the Wesleyan Foundation grant award, which is managed by the Heart of England Community Foundation. We thank both organizations for giving Better Pathways the opportunity to take part and for the amazing work and support they carry out.
More support from Lloyds Bank Volunteers!
We have recieved a tremendous amount of support from Lloyds Bank, Give & Gain scheme. This programme enables colleagues from Lloyds Banking Group to spend a day volunteering for a charity or community project of their choice and we are so grateful to be chosen as part of this experience.
Last week another group of volunteers helped out with a range of tasks which included painting an office room at our main Digbeth site and a range of outdoor activities at our Allotment Garden, near Cannon Hill Park.
Bill from the group commented, ‘I volunteered by offering to provide whatever I could in support of this very worthwhile charity. I found the whole day was so worthwhile as I had little knowledge of the great work that goes on ‘behind the scenes’ to help the less able achieve their potential and ultimately get back to what we would describe as meaningful employment. I observed a caring dedicated team of volunteers that enjoying what they do – making a meaningful difference to the society to which we all belong. It’s a reality check that I would encourage everyone to experience.’
As much as we gain out of this, we are pleased the volunteers do too. It is amazing to hear positive feedback from the volunteers and we thank them all for supporting Better Pathways.
Community Coffee Morning
We are holding our very first Community Coffee Morning
Mental health awareness training at Better Pathways
Come and join us for coffee cake and a chat
When- Friday 26th October 2018 from 10:30am – 12:30pm
Where- Better Pathways 201-206 Alcester Street, Digbeth B12 0NQ
What – We are passionate about involving the local community to learn about the different mental health first aid training courses available for your organisation and discuss mental health in a friendly positive environment with our qualified instructors.
What better way to do this than over coffee and cake and a chat!
Why- To raise awareness about mental health, break the stigma around it and improve the understanding for people within the local community and Birmingham area.
Register for FREE- https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/community-coffee-morning-tickets-50848353795
Lloyds Bank Volunteers - Give & Gain project
On Wednesday the 26th of September Lloyds Bank Volunteers part of the Give and Gain project, kindly came and helped out at Better Pathways with a variety of tasks. They have given some lovely comments about the day which we would like to share with everyone as we all enjoyed the day as much as they did! They will be back very soon to help with more exciting projects so watch this space…
Comments from Lloyds Bank Volunteers:
“The staff were all so genuinely passionate about their work & it was a real pleasure to do something for them to make even a tiny difference.”
“It was an amazing day on a lot of levels and I’m sure we all slept well last night!”
“A humbling but fulfilling experience. It was great to walk into the factory and see those smiling faces, feel the passion the staff had for the cause and feel that we were making a difference ( however small ).”
“It really was fantastic to meet both the people running the charity as well as those benefitting from the services it provides.”
“A really inspirational & thought provoking experience and thanks to the rest of my team for making the gardening & the painting a really fun time too!”
“Seeing people laughing, smiling and enjoying their work is certainly food for thought.”
“Full of admiration for all of the staff, they provide an amazing service”
“Really happy that we could just give a little something to such a worth-while charity.”
“To see their clients all so desperate to work and do something worthwhile, and to see them cheery and happy in doing these tasks, is also a great point to reflect on.”
Lloyds Volunteers Day
28th September 2018
We had the pleasure of recieving support from Lloyds Volunteers again!
The Lloyds group of 9 hard working volunteers was led by by Sue Pillinger. Coming from all across the country each member in the team had chosen Better Pathways as the charity that they wanted to support through their Give and Gain scheme.
The volunteers were split into two groups to help us with a range of fun tasks. One team worked at our Allotment Garden at Cannon Hill Park. The Allotment Group did an amazing job they dug over a large piece of the garden and also dug out the foundations for the new pond; it was a stunningly beautiful day and we were able to show off our great City at its best.
Whilst the second group stayed in Digbeth head office to paint the BAS Manager’s office, they got right into it so managed to paint that room and one of the meeting rooms as well!
All the Lloyds volunteers met up for lunch in the Digbeth Canteen and got stuck into sandwiches and chips prepared by none other than our resident cook – Yvette Glenn who cooks mean chips.
Overall it was a fantastic productive day and they got lots done. A huge thank you to Sue and her team for their hard work and efforts, they also donated £50 to Better Pathways we look forward to seeing you again soon.
WE DID IT!
| 26th September 2018
Wesleyan Foundation funds for Better Pathways Minibus Appeal
We are delighted to announce that funding from Wesleyan Foundation will be used for a service user mini bus!
At the beginning of September, we were included in the Wesleyan Foundation Vote. The Wesleyan Foundation is a fund designed to provide financial support for great causes. Each quarter they invite customers and supporters of chosen causes to vote for the cause they would most like to support. Our aim was to raise funds to reach our overall target for the service user Minibus at Better Pathways.
Thanks to everyone support by voting for us and sharing the voting page we managed to secure the full £8,000! This is a great achievement and the service users and volunteers are absolutely thrilled with this good news.
A huge thanks to the Wesleyan team for including Better Pathways in their charity vote and for their incredible support.
But, the biggest thanks goes to our supporters and all those who voted for us; having a mini bus to take our service users on outings to widen their individual learning and social circles is absolutely pivotal to their recovery so thank you all very much!
Mental Health First Aid Training at Better Pathways
We have some more new dates for our Mental Health First Aid training sessions. Get booked in now before spaces get filled! If you or employees in your organisation haven’t been on one of these training courses, then now is the time.
We have a range of dates available which will be held from our head office in Digbeth, Birmingham. If you are interested in any of the dates get in touch with one of our qualified instructors today.
Mental Health First aid is just as important as Physical First Aid. It is important to understand mental health and learn how to spot the signs and symptoms so you can support someone experiencing it.
2 day course price is £175pp + VAT – (MHFA England have a RRP £300+VAT pp however as a mental health charity we subsidise this rate and offer the training at a cost of £175+VAT pp).
Half day course price is £95pp + VAT- (MHFA England have a RRP £125+VAT pp however as a mental health charity we subsidise this rate and offer the training at a cost of £95+VAT pp).
Better Pathways Announce New Structure
AUGUST 2018 |
Better Pathways has announced a new organisational structure, which is to provide greater stability for employees and more employment opportunities for service users. Due to reductions in funding the charity is having to close two of its five social enterprises.
The organisation is to continue its focus on the delivery of core employability programmes and complementary services including mental health first aid training to local businesses.
The decision is part of a strategic plan that has seen Better Pathways awarded the prestigious title of IPS Centre of Excellence and secure several new contracts including Mental Health Recovery and Employment in partnership with the NHS.
As part of the new structure, Better Pathways will close two social enterprises – St. Anne’s Soft Furnishings and Better Garden Services – which have traditionally offered work experience and volunteering opportunities to service users.
Better Pathways Chief Executive, Liz Armstrong, said:
“We’re very excited by what the future holds and have absolute conviction in our decision as a management team and Board of Trustees to focus on employability services for people with severe and enduring mental health needs.
Amidst the backdrop of challenging economic conditions and reduced funding, we’ve collectively had to ask ourselves some tough questions as to how to provide the best platform for future growth and stability.
Closing two of our social enterprises is regrettable but it does mean that we can now place more time and resources on the needs of the core charity, in bidding for and winning employability contracts that we know will allow a greater number of disadvantaged jobseekers to secure employment opportunities.”
It is believed that interested parties have approached Better Pathways about assuming responsibility for the social enterprises concerned.
AUGUST 2018 |
The Unspoken Production
Bravo 22 Company, a recovery through the arts programme by The Royal British Legion and The Drive Project, invites you to join the “Unspoken”
Production will be performed at Birmingham Hippodrome on the 8th and 9th October 2018.
The play, performed by ex-Service personnel, brings to light the lives interrupted and changed forever by war, in a heart-wrenching and hilarious story of love, loss, loneliness and hope. Alongside the performances, Bravo 22 Company is also running a theatre workshop on 9th October for up to 30 local participants from the wounded, injured and sick (WIS) and veteran communities, including family members.
The workshop provides an opportunity for participants to meet and talk with Unspoken cast members, chat with the Production Team about how using their own story can help benefit their recovery and wellbeing, watch some cast members perform short monologues from the play, and take part in some games and exercises straight from the professional rehearsal room, to help with confidence and to have a bit of fun.
They are now recruiting for the workshop, so if you are a wounded, injured or sick Service man or woman, a veteran or family member living in Birmingham or the West Midlands, and would like to get involved in the Birmingham Bravo 22 Company Theatre Project in 2019 – then come along to a FREE taster workshop and receive 1 free ticket to the Unspoken Performance at 7:45pm !
Tuesday 9th October 2018 @ 4pm Birmingham Hippodrome
To confirm your attendance email email@example.com
England Blind star Brandon Coleman delighted by Better Pathways funding success!
England Blind footballer Brandon Coleman has praised Grow the Game and Better Pathways Members Football Club following the award of a £3000 grant from The FA.
Grow the Game scheme has supported 2,047 new teams in the last year, now Better Pathways is one of its newest members!
The grant, which will provide a boost to grassroots disability football in Birmingham, has paved the way for BPMFC to set up two ‘open-to-everyone’ football teams over the next couple of years, as well as providing opportunities for its members to obtain FA coaching qualifications.
Brandon said: “I am delighted that Better Pathways Members Football Club has been awarded a Grow the Game grant. The club has worked extremely hard with the Birmingham FA and the Football Foundation to give more local players living with a disability the opportunity to get involved in the game.”
“Playing disability football from a young age not only provides a number of physical, mental and social benefits, but gives players the best chance to develop skills and achieve their potential. It is fantastic to see this money flowing down to the grassroots of the game and I wish BPMFC the very best of luck for next season!”
Grow the Game is a programme funded by The FA and delivered by the Football Foundation. It awards grants to grassroots football clubs that wish to create new teams, especially amongst under-represented groups.
This year, £1,500 was made available for clubs looking to create new female and disability football teams to help towards the costs of FA coaching courses; FA league affiliation costs; referees’ fees; first aid kits; football kit and equipment.
Club Chairman Luke Coad said, “this is a great opportunity for our members to play recreational football for an organised club, something that has not been available to many of them in the past. Thank you to the Football Foundation & the Birmingham FA for making it happen. We can’t wait to get started, once we’ve agreed on what colour kit we should wear!”
For more information, call Luke Coad on 0121 296 5946 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Birmingham Pride 2018 – Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th May
The IPS Better Pathways Team attended Birmingham Pride 2018 to promote the new Mental Health Recovery and Employment contract to the LGBTQ Community and to engage with local employers who were attending the event.
Creative Support were also at the event to promote their recovery programme, aswell as refer interested clients over to us to discuss employment support.
The team had two very successful days engaging with the local community and promoting the fantastic work we do at Better Pathways. We were even live on local radio!
Thank you to the Lloyds Bank volunteers for helping us get our allotment ready for the summer.
This is the second year in a row they have helped out and we couldn’t be more grateful for their support. They worked hard and we thanked them with curry!
Alistair Mackie, Senior Manager for Private Banking Lending Managers at Lloyds Bank Group said “today was a great day for two reasons. One is the team-building element, and the other is doing work for the community. We were literally digging deep to help them! The most important aspect is working together and making a difference to the community.”
Mental health charities awarded contract to support Birmingham people with their recovery and into employment
Three of the region’s leading mental health charities have come together in a unique partnership which is set to support thousands of local people with their recovery and a move into meaningful employment; Better Pathways, Birmingham Mind and Creative Support will work together to deliver the three-year NHS contract.
The newly-designed mental health recovery and employment services contract was awarded to the charities by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Birmingham, following a public consultation and procurement process last year. Starting in April 2018, these specialist services will be available to more than 2,500 local people with serious mental illness.
Lead provider, Better Pathways, has been providing employment and training services to people with mental ill-health in the West Midlands for more than 50 years.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been awarded this new contract on behalf of the Birmingham Joint Commissioning Team,” said Liz Armstrong, Better Pathways Chief Executive.
“This contract gives us an exciting platform to integrate the services offered by Better Pathways, Birmingham Mind and Creative Support, leveraging the expertise of three charities with a proven track record of supporting those with the most complex needs in our communities.
“We look forward to working closely together with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and Forward Thinking Birmingham in supporting people on their journey of recovery.”
The new contract will see mental health recovery and employment services integrated and delivered under one banner, providing a seamless service for users.
Birmingham Mind and Creative Support will deliver the recovery elements of the programme, with Better Pathways delivering employment services through the individual placement and support model.
This new service will strongly recognise that recovery from a mental health issue is different for everyone. Some individuals will be keen to get into employment, whilst others will benefit from socialising with peers, developing new interests and taking a roll in actually running the centres; one size does not fit all when it comes to recovery.
Local GP and NHS Birmingham CrossCity CCG’s lead for mental health, Dr Aqil Chaudary, added: “The specialist support provided by this service will offer a range of practical assistance to individuals with serious mental illness and will be invaluable in helping local people, who have struggled with mental ill health, back into employment.”
Better Pathways is delighted to welcome Dr Martin Commander to our Board of Directors. Martin is a Consultant Psychiatrist and has significant experience of supporting people with mental health problems within our local community.
You can read more about him on our ‘Board of Directors’ page by clicking here
Better Pathways is looking for some sponsorship that will allow us purchase a new minibus for our members. So we decided to sit a few of them down to ask them where they like to go, and what it would mean for them…
Better Pathways towards employment
At Better Pathways, we know the value of good employment to mental well-being. And we make sure that our clients have access to all the education, training and volunteering opportunities they need in order to prepare themselves for the world of work.
Over 50 years ago the Birmingham Industrial Therapy Association (BITA) was founded to provide what used to be called “industrial Therapy” for people with mental health problems. Today the focus has changed a little; Better Pathways still provides a great range of employment opportunities within our social enterprises but we also know that this isn’t the right answer for everyone.
Most people want a job that is local to them, where they are valued and where they can use their skills and knowledge. To provide this type of opportunity for all our clients we need to work with a wide range of employers, make sure that our clients have the right skills and qualifications in place and have opportunities to test and develop those skills in an unpressured environment..
“work has an important role in promoting mental wellbeing. It is an important determinant of self-esteem and identity. It can provide a sense of fulfilment and opportunities for social interaction.”
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence ‘Mental Wellbeing at Work’ 2009.
2012 - 2013
2013 - 2014
2014 - 2015
2015 - 2016
There are a few car parks near to our Digbeth site which you can use.
Digbeth Court Car Park
Digbeth High Street (Entrance)
2 minute walk from Better Pathways
Cost: £3.00 all day
Trinity Street Car Park
Heath Mill Lane (Entrance)
off Birchall Street
4 minute walk from Better Pathways
Cost £6.00 all day
Bradford Street Car park (next to Coach Station)
Green Street (entrance)
10 minute walk from Better Pathways
Cost: £3.50 all day