Sports Editor Lucy Blitz visits Selly Oak wellness hub ‘grounded.’ a month after opening and reports on the reception from students in the local area.

Sports Editor and Writer. Mainly talking about the WSL, the Premier League, and all things cricket.

Selly Oak’s new wellness café ‘grounded.’ has been met with positive feedback from residents and students since it opened its doors last month. The cafe, formerly a local GP surgery, has been offering support to new students across the community, and provides locals with a ‘space to relax, recover or recoup’.

Set up by mental health organisations Living Well Consortium and Birmingham Mind, ‘grounded.’ was funded with £450,000 from NHS England and brings a range of services together in one space. The popular spot in Selly Oak offers therapy sessions, workshops, and other events, with mental health organisation ‘Mind’  using the space to hold evening Crisis Intervention sessions. Sessions are free, and while the café caters for students, the ‘community-centred’ coffee shop is open to all.

The first of its kind in the West Midlands, plans are for more wellness cafes like ‘grounded.’ to open across the area. With a current strain on mental health services throughout the UK due to poor funding and a lack of precedent, ‘grounded.’ marks a step forward in community access to nearby support – through a therapy session or simply a relaxed environment to have a coffee.

The café has had an overwhelming response from students – they not only come to the coffee shop during the day, but are also taking advantage of classes offered in huge numbers.

Nightline, the student support helpline, reported a 51.4% increase in calls since 2020, demonstrating an urgent need for greater investment into mental health support and services. General manager of Living Well UK, Leila Zafar, hopes that ‘in three years, five years, ten years, the number of people presenting in A&E in crisis is significantly lowered’ because of support offered by the local café.

Open from 8.30am to 5.30pm through Monday to Friday, ‘grounded.’ is a crucial location for Selly Oak, a town home to over 25,000 residents. Of the population, nearly a third are students at the University of Birmingham. 

Alex DaSilva, manager of ‘grounded.’, explains that the café has had an overwhelming response from students, as they not only come to the coffee shop during the day, but are taking advantage of classes offered in huge numbers. Evening workshops often are fully booked, indicating the success of the project, says DaSilva. She points to the feel of the place, and notices that some students are ‘choosing to come here compared to the library’ due to its relaxing environment.

University of Birmingham student Becky Hyde agrees with DaSilva and explains that the main University library can sometimes feel quite stressful compared to the calm space at ‘grounded.’. Hyde, who was visiting ‘grounded.’ for the first time, said it was ‘certainly a space she would come back to’, with the aesthetic atmosphere, as well as a student discount on offer acting as key incentives for young people nearby.

DaSilva hopes that ‘grounded.’ will become a brand, and spoke of Living Well Consortium’s plans to open identical locations in Hallgreen and in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. With the huge demand clear across Selly Oak, it is believed to be almost certain that cafes elsewhere will be greeted by the same positive reception.


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