Community feel

The heart of the Big Peg, cafe owners and staff.

As you know Spinal Solutions is based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. It is a vibrant and trendy part of town that has its own unique flavour and charm. Its industrial back ground has given way to a host of small local businesses, artists, great bars and independent eateries. Walking on the street you get a real sense of community and belonging, which is great against the back drop of such a vast city. I love working here.

Today however, I pound these familiar and friendly streets with a heavy heart. After decades of great service my local Cafe is closing down. Mark and his lovely staff play a significant role in providing a great space in which many jewellery quarter inhabitants congregate for a cheeky bacon sandwich and cup of tea. It is a warm and friendly cafe, you can’t help but feel at home there, and like the legendary bar in the TV sitcom ‘Cheers’, everybody really does know your name. Having the odd bacon sandwich and warm reception in a comfortable setting is good for my soul.

This led me to question how important it is for our health and well-being to have places and people that you can relate to, that make you feel grounded, happy and part of your environment? It didn’t take me long to reach a conclusion; emotional and social support doesn’t always have to be in a conventional relationship in the home or with friends. I realise a network of social support can be extend into to the community in which we work and live. The simplest of relationships between a shop owner and patron can be rewarding and good for us.

The simple message of my once weekly bacon treat….health care is relative. It isn’t just fixed on strict routines of looking after the body. Our lives are about more than just the physical; the emotional and social aspects contribute to our overall well being too. In short the odd bacon sandwich once a week in exchange for friendship, comfort, warmth and human company could be beneficial.

The World Health Organization actually backs up my thoughts, although leaving out the bacon bit, when it defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being[1]. You don’t have to dig too deeply to find evidence of new research which suggests positive social relationships support healthy lifestyles. These findings are applicable across age groups and show that interactions with family and friends and being involved in several different social networks appear to help people be healthier.

Contemporary epidemiological, social science, and experimental research is also beginning to suggest that initiatives which aim to promote physical wellbeing to the exclusion of mental and social wellbeing may be doomed to failure. Further more several epidemiological studies have shown that social and emotional support can protect against premature mortality, prevent illness, and aid recovery [2].

The body as a functional unit, incorporating both body and mind is one of the underlying principles of osteopathy. The fact that this is slowly but surely being adopted into mainstream medicine is positive and exciting thing, although I doubt you will ever see the NHS advocating an occasional bacon treat.

In conclusion it is clear, we are holistic beings, to be in good health we need to look after our body and mind. Social networks of support and friendship play an important role in this. These networks however don’t only have to be the typical friendship groups we all consider. Reach into your local community and you will find a wealth of easy, no strings social interaction just waiting to make you feel healthier and happier.

Their abscence will be a ‘hole’ in my life , I thank them for the years of lovely tea and aforementioned bacon sandwiches. If you have a cafe that’s ” CAFF” not with respect the European type then enjoy and cherish – Feel the Love !

We would love to hear about your thoughts, do you agree? Do you have any great ideas for getting out and more involved in the local community? Do you know any places to visit with a great community feel?

1-World Health Organisation. The constitution of the World Health Organisation. WHO Chronicle 1947;1. [PubMed]
2-BMJ. Dec 12, 1998; 317(7173): 1608–1609.