Author: michellebluck

Gateway POWS: unique support for mum

When social services become involved to protect an unborn child, who is there for mum?

Gateway Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS) is a unique service in this respect. Because, while social services and midwives – quite rightly – are focusing on the child, our focus is on mum. As far as we know, we’re the only organisation that can provide this intensive level of support to women during and after pregnancy.

The women POWS work with are referred to the service for many reasons. Many have issues with unsuitable accommodation, financial difficulties, problems with substance misuse, or risky relationships. All are vulnerable. Some have had children removed from them in the past, which means that their current pregnancy will be under increased scrutiny, bringing added pressures to an already difficult situation.

While this scrutiny and focus on the unborn child is necessary, it can often leave mum feeling bereft and unsupported, with her original needs unmet. And if she leads a chaotic lifestyle, with intermittent or no support from family or friends, then working on her own to build up the sorts of routines and networks that a parent needs (and that social workers and family courts will approve of) can be virtually impossible.

This is where POWS support is invaluable. Not only does a POW work one-to-one with mum to come up with an action plan, helping her to tackle issues in a methodical way, but she will also liaise with social workers and other services to ensure that they are aware of the changes being made.

Gateway POW, Shazia, who supported Chloe*.
In the video below, you can hear from Chloe*, who tells us about the support her POW Shazia gave to her, and how it changed the outcome of her social services intervention.

Shazia says, “Chloe was proactive – she knew the dangers and wanted to change – but she needed emotional and practical support to actually get stuff done. I was able to be there for her throughout the pregnancy, not just at the end of the phone, but with practical advice – signposting her to other services, going with her to appointments, writing letters on her behalf and making sure social services knew she was making progress.”

Just having someone available to talk to is really important, so POWS work together to make sure all their clients get constant access to support. Shazia works part time, so she introduced Chloe to another POW she could contact, and made sure she had the number for the office too. If anything happened and Shazia wasn’t around, someone else would be.

Shazia continues, “There were times when Chloe doubted herself and times when she struggled to understand what she needed to do, but as time went on she started to believe in herself and that’s when she really started to make changes. She was keen to prove herself – even requesting things like additional drug tests – and just generally needing me to do things for her less and less. A nice example is when I rang her to remind her she needed to register the baby’s birth – and she’d already done it!”

As you’ll see from the video, Chloe is still making progress. She’s a lot happier now, and a lot more confident in herself. In fact, we found out this week that she has been given unsupervised access to her other two children on a regular basis.

Even when a mum doesn’t get the outcome she wishes for, and a child is removed, POWS are able to continue supporting her for up to eight weeks. However, it frustrates us that we can only work with her for such a short time. A mother is extremely vulnerable – and likely to fall into old patterns – during this period, so continued practical and emotional support and guidance is absolutely vital at this time.

Finally: the sort of support offered by POWS isn’t just something that would be “nice to have” for hundreds of families – it also saves a surprising amount of money. The approximate cost of taking a child into care for nine months runs into tens of thousands of pounds, but the approximate cost of the combined preventative services accessed by a vulnerable mum over nine months is less than a quarter of that.

*Name has been changed

POWS dad with baby

Thank you for helping us to help others this Christmas

This week we’ve been giving out Christmas Hampers to some of the most vulnerable people we work with.

Thanks to a record number of donations, we’ve been able to put together more parcels than previous years, including some for the homeless people that we met during the Love Your Neighbour “Week of Kindness” event a few weeks ago, who are sleeping in the streets around our offices.

We’re also passing some of the donations on to other local organisations, such as the hostel we visited during the Week of Kindness, and our friends at SIFA Fireside.

We’ve even been able to save up some food and toiletries so that we can give them to people who need them in the coming months because – as this year has really shown us – people need help all year round, not just at Christmas.

Who do we work with?

Two of our outreach services, Gateway Healthy Futures and the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS), work with people who are in the most “at risk” categories – and each week our staff are seeing more and more people in dire need of basic essentials.

POWS works with pregnant women who usually have a low medical risk and high social risk, dealing with issues including temporary accommodation, homelessness, substance misuse, domestic abuse, offending, newly arrived communities, poor mental health and safeguarding.

Gateway Healthy Futures client The Gateway Healthy Futures service provides a one-stop-shop for people with a wide range of social needs. GPs can refer anyone that needs non-medical help, so that includes people who have issues around things like housing, alcohol, finances, mental health, benefits, social isolation, and much more. Our Practice Navigators provide reassurance and a point of contact for the people they work with, as well as vital practical support.

We’ve also opened up the food and baby bank to our Health Trainers this year, as some of our Health Trainers are working with people who are in need of basic essentials too.

Thank you!

We’re incredibly grateful for everything you’ve sent us. As you’ll see in the video, every available space in the office is now full of donated food and toiletries! Thank you so, so much. (But please don’t send any more tinned peas!)

We’d especially like to thank:

The pupils and teachers of Holte School
Vineyard Network Church
Healthy Minds Northfield
Ambition School Leadership
NHS St Chads (Worcs & B’ham)
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
Staff and friends of Gateway

Need a community interpreter?

As our newest Community Interpreters prepare to receive their qualifications and start work, we’re putting the word out to community organisations in Birmingham: the Gateway Interpreting Agency is here to help!

Does your organisation need interpreting support?

The Gateway Interpreting Agency provides specialist interpreting services to community, voluntary and public sector organisations. We are especially interested to hear from organisations working with hard-to-reach communities in Birmingham, who might need access to qualified community interpreters. Our interpreters are trained to CERTA Level 2, but have also been specially trained in safeguarding, confidentiality and other specialist skills that community work requires.

When our current trainees qualify, it will increase the list of languages we cover to 26:

Amharic Arabic Bengali Creole
Dutch Farsi French Hindi
Hindko Italian Kurdish Lithuanian
Mirpuri Oromo Polish Portuguese
Punjabi Pushtu Romanian Russian
Somali Spanish Sudanese Tigrinya
Urdu Vietnamese    

Our interpreters are already successfully working with a number of organisations, including Refugee Action (in fact, Gateway interpreters welcomed the first Syrian refugees to Birmingham!) and charities like WAITS, who work with victims of domestic abuse:

“Gateway’s interpreting service has been extremely useful to us in helping us to communicate effectively with clients despite the language barriers. Booking has always been efficient, prompt and straightforward. The interpreters are professional, friendly and have always delivered an excellent service. Thank you so much.” — Natalie Clarke, WAITS

If your community organisation needs interpreters and you’d like to find out more about using the Gateway Interpreting Agency, give us a call on 0121 456 7820.

(We are NOT currently taking on more interpreters. However, if you are fluent in Albanian, Tigrinya, Mandarin or Spanish, get in touch; we might be interested in speaking to you about future recruitment.)

What is a community interpreter?

Sarah and Eva
Course tutor Sarah Clay with new interpreter Joanna

All of our interpreters have experience of interpreting in the community and the public sector, including social work, health and education. We’re particularly interested in working with people who have been unemployed for a while and want to get back into work, using the language skills they already have to do something practical and rewarding.

The Gateway Community Interpreting course formalises people’s previous experience, cementing their knowledge, giving them a qualification and a platform to progress with confidence.

All of our recruits complete the CERTA Level 2 Award in Preparation for Work in Community Interpreting. This nationally recognised qualification gives interpreters the knowledge, skills and techniques needed to work in the context of public services, including health, housing, education, welfare and social services.

Sarah and Joanna
Course tutor Sarah Clay with new interpreter Anca

However, the Community Interpreting course we run at Gateway also adds a greater emphasis to the topics of data protection, boundaries and confidentiality, and safeguarding. Because of our extensive experience working with vulnerable people, we know how important it is for an interpreter to have this knowledge and to use these extra skills professionally.

The course is expensive for us to run so, although we heavily subsidise it, each new recruit pays a contribution towards their training. However, as a Community Interest Company (CIC), all of Gateway Interpreting Agency’s profits are directly invested back into our community work and services. The interpreters we’ve taken on so far tell us they like the fact that the agency cut of the money they’re generating goes into serving the community and not into someone’s pocket.

Meet some of the new recruits

Our latest recruits speak a number of the languages we’ve seen a need for in Birmingham over the last few months – both through our current agency work, and through our other services, including Pregnancy Outreach Workers, Health Trainers and Gateway Healthy Futures.

Polish: Eva and Joanna

Eva has already been working as an interpreter for two and a half years but took the opportunity to gain a certificate in the hope that this will bring more work. She’s primarily worked in health settings but the course has enabled her to broaden her knowledge of the wider public sector. She says, “I like helping people and the feedback you get as an interpreter is very rewarding. I especially like the fact that Gateway works with organisations like Women’s Aid – I’m looking forward to doing more community work.”

Joanna’s background is in Adult Education, but she has found herself interpreting on a casual basis more and more as part of her work in a Further Education college. She says, “I’ve been helping Polish-speaking people to fill in forms for things like housing and benefits for many years now – so I thought I might as well start to use my skills professionally. There’s a big Polish community in Birmingham but people just aren’t aware of the help and support that’s available to them. As a Community Interpreter I’ll be able to help people understand more about living here and how everything works.”

Bengali and the Sylheti dialect: Najma and Nurpashan

Najma has been a social worker in Birmingham for 20 years, so community work is a big part of her life. She wants to move into interpreting so that she can maintain a work/life balance whilst continuing to work in the community. She says, “after doing a few interpreting jobs through another agency, I wanted to do a qualification to consolidate my knowledge – you could say it’s putting my practice into theory! This Gateway course is a great opportunity.”

Nurpashan took a career break from Local Authority work to raise her children, but has been interpreting for family and friends all her life. She says, “interpreting is very rewarding when you can help someone to access the support they need. But when you’re interpreting for family it’s easy to go into advice mode! This course has helped me to stay impartial, keeping my opinions out of it and just concentrating on the words.”

Anca: Romanian

Anca has worked in the health sector for three years but has found herself acting as interpreter many times. Now she’s formalising that experience with a qualification. She says, “although I work in health, I’ve been helping people with all sorts of issues, including housing and even law. When you’re new to the country and don’t speak the language you don’t always understand the systems and it’s easy to find yourself in trouble with fines or even court. Becoming a qualified interpreter will give me more opportunities to help people.”

Paul: Creole, Dutch, French, Hindi, Italian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Spanish…

Paul is a language sponge! He loves learning about new cultures and admits he seems to have a gift for learning new languages. He says, “I’d done some interpreting work in-house in previous roles, and translated for friends and family, but I recently decided to get some formal qualifications. I’ve already done an Introduction to a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI), but the community aspect of the Gateway course appealed to me. I enjoy broadening my knowledge and look forward to working in more community settings.”

Stocking up on emergency supplies

Every day, our outreach workers visit clients all over Birmingham who are in need. Could you help us to help them?

Two of our outreach services, Gateway Healthy Futures and the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS), work with people who are in the most “at risk” categories – and each week our staff are seeing more people in dire need of basic essentials from our food and baby bank. Could you help us to stock up?

Who we are working with

The Gateway Healthy Futures service provides a one-stop-shop for people with a wide range of social needs. GPs can refer anyone that needs non-medical help, so that includes people who have issues around things like housing, alcohol, finances, benefits, social isolation, and much more. Our Practice Navigators provide reassurance and a point of contact for the people they work with, as well as vital practical support.

One of the people recently referred to us by her GP is Angie*, who’s in her 50s and lives in Kings Norton. One of our Practice Navigators, Lindsey, visited Angie on a Monday morning a few weeks ago – and it’s a good job she did, as you’ll hear in the video:

We don’t normally start asking for donations until we are planning our Christmas Hampers, but we’d like to be able to stock up on more emergency essentials, so that we can offer practical help to people like Angie all year round. (Of course, this will be as well as the help we give them to access all the support they’re entitled to, and signposting them to other agencies for support.)

How can you help?

To help us stock up, we’ve expanded our donations list to include things that our Gateway Healthy Futures clients might need, as well as our POWS clients. If you’re able to donate any of the below items, they would be gratefully accepted at our offices: Floor 5, Chamber of Commerce, 75 Harborne Road, B15 3DH. Alternatively give us a ring on 0121 456 7820 and we can arrange pickup. We’d also love it if you could share this list with your contacts.

Imperishable food (unopened):
Tins – beans, soup, custard, peas, beans, fish (tuna, mackerel, pilchards) etc.
Rice
Flour
Herbs and spices
Lentils
Pasta
Pasta sauces/jars of sauce
Biscuits
Some sweets and chocolate would be nice

Toiletries (unopened) for men and women:
Toilet rolls
Toothpaste/toothbrushes
Shampoo/soap/shower gel
Body lotion/moisturiser/hand cream

Other useful items for men and women:
Packs of underwear, socks (these need to be new)
Woolly hats, gloves, blankets (second hand is fine if clean and in good condition)
Slippers – with backs, not slip-on (these need to be new)

Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS)
POWS works with pregnant women who have a low medical risk and high social risk, dealing with issues including temporary accommodation, homelessness, substance misuse, domestic abuse, offending, newly arrived communities, poor mental health and safeguarding. So our donations list for POWS clients includes some extras that will be especially helpful to new mums and mums-to-be.

Toiletries (unopened) for POWS clients, including:
Sanitary towels – the larger “maxi pad” type is better for new mums
Newborn nappies
Baby wipes
Cotton wool
Baby bath wash
Baby lotion
Baby clothes – up to twelve months as we have little space to store them (second hand is fine if clean and in good condition)
Books and toys for mums who may also have older children (second hand is fine if clean and in good condition)

We’ve also updated our Amazon wishlist, where you can buy items and choose to have them sent directly to our office.

Thank you very much.

Fun for all the family at our Community Fun Day

Maxine and sisterLast Saturday, we held our Community Fun Day: a day for all the family in Cannon Hill Park.

And what a lovely day it was! The weather was great (especially compared to the last time we held the Fun Run) and the extra activities meant that everyone could join in, whatever their age or ability.

The main event was our regular Fun Run (or “fun walk”, for those who preferred it), a 5K circuit around the park.

warming upGlenn, one of our Health Trainers, led the warm-up, which included stretching exercises and tips, and then everyone set off around the circuit, which is the same one used by the Cannon Hill Parkrun.

As well as the 5K challenge, we held lots of activities for the children, including egg-and-spoon and sack races, face painting and storytelling.

Adults, too, found the Community Fun Day a good opportunity to get out and socialise in the sunshine.

egg and spoon raceThere were healthy snacks available for people to have as a picnic, and some more games for the big kids amongst us. How many people can say they made new friends over a game of giant Connect 4?!

Staff members who volunteered on the day included Caroline, who said, “this was the first time I’d been to a Gateway Fun Day and it was great! There was a real sense of community as so many staff and clients brought their families along.

connect 4“Overall it was a good way to make physical activity more fun. Especially for those who had been working up to doing the 5K – there was a real sense of achievement.”

Mary’s story

Mary came along to the Community Fun Day after hearing about it through the Gateway Pre-Diabetes group that she’s been attending for the last few weeks.

Before starting Pre-Diabetes course, Mary did no exercise at all and her diet included lots of sugary snacks.

Mary, on the left in this photo, came to the Fun Day after hearing about it on the Pre-Diabetes course.
Mary, left, came to the Fun Day after hearing about it on the Pre-Diabetes course.
However, after hearing about the Fun Day, she decided to use the 5km walk as something to aim for, and started building up to it with short walks near her home. By week three of the Pre-Diabetes course, she was walking short distances on a regular basis and swimming twice a week.

On Saturday, Mary completed the walk with no problems at all. Because she’d started walking regularly anyway, she found the Cannon Hill Park course a doddle.

And thanks to the walking bug, and a healthier diet, she’s started to lose weight too. She’s been telling everyone at the Pre-Diabetes group how great she feels, and we’re confident Mary’s blood sugar levels will have dropped by the time she is tested again in September. Well done Mary!

Gateway Healthy Futures: making a difference

The Gateway Healthy Futures service helps patients who need social support, and we’re keen to take more referrals from GPs to show the benefits of this pilot work.

What is Gateway Healthy Futures?

Gateway Healthy Futures is here to support people with a broad range of social needs. GPs can refer anyone that needs non-medical help, so that includes people who have issues around housing, alcohol, finances, benefits, social isolation, and much more.

Our Practice Navigators support people from the age of 18 upwards, working alongside other services and organisations across the city to provide patients with one-to-one tailored support.

Whether someone just needs a cup of tea and a friendly chat to get through the day, or whether they have complex needs that will require a range of specialist help, Gateway Healthy Futures provides a one-stop-shop into which GPs can refer patients for a range of support.

As part of the Gateway family, our Practice Navigators are skilled para-professionals with a huge network at their fingertips – so if they can’t help, they will know someone who can.

Gateway Healthy Futures was designed, and is being piloted, in partnership with MyHealthcare. To find out more, or to refer patients into the service, GPs and Practice Managers should call 0121 456 7820 and ask for Gateway Healthy Futures.

Read on to find out how the service helped Diane who, without the support of a Practice Navigator, might otherwise have fallen through the net.

Diane’s story

Diane’s GP referred her into the Gateway Healthy Futures service in October last year and she was assigned to Judith, a Practice Navigator.

DianeAt their first meeting Judith and Diane discussed how Diane’s ill health and learning difficulties have knock-on effects for her everyday life. For example, cooking is hard work: she can’t stand for long, finds it hard to grip a knife, and sometimes forgets when things are in the oven.

She finds using the telephone really stressful and struggles with reading due to her dyslexia, so she finds it difficult to manage her paperwork, including bills. She told Judith she was concerned about money, and would like more people to talk to.

The little things

Diane was anxious, lonely and at risk, but it was clear that some help with the little things could set her on the road to a happier, more independent lifestyle.

One of the first things Judith did was to phone the DWP on Diane’s behalf to begin the process of claiming for PIP (Personal Independence Payments; the successor to Disability Living Allowance) in order to help ease Diane’s financial pressures. Diane had also heard about a class she wanted to attend, so they worked out which buses she could take to get there. And they talked about ways in which she could save money, perhaps by changing energy suppliers.

Judith helped Diane set up a filing system, and phoned banks and utility companies to set up new arrangements. She helped her to fill in the application forms for PIP, and then to understand the many letters she received relating to the application.

Financial hardship

We often find that it takes some time before the people we work with feel able to be completely honest about financial hardship and, indeed, it was a couple of months before Judith found out just how little Diane was living on. She was going days without food and had stopped going out because she couldn’t afford bus fare. PIP money would give her a lifeline.

However, after being assessed in December, Diane’s PIP application was declined.

Judith was able to give Diane emergency help over Christmas by giving her bus money from our Hardship Fund, and food parcels from our food bank, including a Christmas hamper, but it was obvious that she would need a longer term solution. With Diane’s need for it increasing all the time, Judith stepped up the pressure to approve the PIP payment.

She got in touch with other services in Birmingham for advice, and wrote a letter to the DWP asking them to reconsider Diane’s circumstances, giving them some extra information that hadn’t come to light as part of the application process and assessment. However, the application was refused a second and third time.

A positive outcome

Finally, Diane’s appeal for PIP went to court.

With the help of an adviser from Freshwinds, Judith and Diane gathered as much evidence as they could to support Diane’s appeal. In May, some four months after Judith’s first phonecall to the DWP, Diane attended a tribunal, accompanied by Judith, and was awarded a “daily living” payment at the standard rate.

Diane’s support from Judith has now ended, but she will still see a Gateway Befriender every now and again to carry on with some phased-down support. Thanks to Judith pushing for a positive outcome, she can now afford food and bus fare, so she’s started going regularly to classes and clubs, where she meets people for coffee and the occasional dance. Her paperwork still causes her some anxiety, but she is much more organised and feels much more able to cope with everyday life.

Announcing the National Diabetes Prevention Programme

In a few weeks we’ll be launching a new programme aimed at reducing the prevalence of diabetes in Birmingham.

fruit and veg dietPre-diabetes, and the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, is something that we’ve had on our radar for a long time.

As we wrote in June (see Pre-diabetes: preventing diabetes with a healthy diet) our Health Trainers are already helping people to reduce the likelihood of a diabetes diagnosis by providing the skills and support to make lifestyle changes, and we have been looking for a way to expand on this knowledge and formalise it for a while.

So from October we’ll be working alongside Birmingham South and Central CCG and their GPs to help deliver the National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

The national programme, which is a joint initiative between NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK, aims to significantly reduce the four million people in England otherwise expected to have Type 2 diabetes by 2025.

How will it work?

The diagnosis for Type 2 Diabetes is life changing. For those who are at risk, the diagnosis of Pre Diabetes is a warning sign, and from now on when GPs make this diagnosis, they will be able to refer patients to the new service. We will be sharing this work with Health Exchange so some practices will work with us and some with them.

hula hooping

So this is how we plan for it to work.  Patients will be invited to attend a course, it will start intensively, so meeting every week for the first six weeks, then there will be monthly monitoring.  All in all there will be support for at least 9 months.

The sessions will be interactive, practical and we hope fun. The facilitators will be skilled, experienced, friendly and enthusiastic which we think is the formula we need to encourage and motivate attendees.

Attendees will be equipped with skills, information and tools that can help delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

We’re really pleased to have this opportunity to run this programme in South Birmingham. We already work closely with South Birmingham GP’s via our Health Trainer Services. And we know that this kind of support – a personalised, intensive lifestyle change intervention can work really well.

We are looking forward to helping even more people across the city to improve their health.  For more details contact Michelle Bluck michelle.bluck@gatewayfs.org or telephone 0121 456 7820.

More interpreters and more languages means more support

2014-interpretersOur interpreting agency is going from strength to strength, taking on new interpreters, covering more and more languages, and starting to work with other organisations to provide interpreting support.

Since we last wrote about the interpreting agency, we’ve had a new round of recruitment and training and some of our newest recruits are pictured on the right.

Trainees have been specifically recruited to cover languages that Gateway’s services had identified a need for, as well as other languages that are being spoken in Birmingham at the moment.

The number of interpreters has now gone from 17 to 28 and the number of languages we now cover has gone up from 12 languages to 22!

Blue means at least one person from Gateway speaks the language of that country
Blue means at least one person from Gateway speaks the language of that country

Each trainee completed a Level 2 qualification with CERTA, Community Interpreting, as part of our tailored course. The course covers the more sensitive issues that may come up in community work, as well as the more standard interpretation skills, and enables interpreters to be employed as part of our Community Interpreters Pool.

We have found this a great way to engage former clients and volunteers. Knowing the range of people we do through our other work has made it easier to find people who speak some of the less easy to access, or emerging, languages.

We are not currently taking on any more new recruits (but any future roles will be advertised on our website). Instead, we are focusing on moving the service externally, to support other organisations in the community.

Does your organisation need interpreting support?

We are keen to work with other organisations who might need access to interpreters. We’re especially interested to hear from organisations who are working with hard-to-reach communities in Birmingham.

As a CIC, our profits are directly invested back into our work and services. The interpreters we’ve taken on tell us they like the fact that the agency cut of the money they’re generating goes into serving the community and not into someone’s pocket.

In October Gateway secured £5000 from the Victims Capacity Building Fund, which helps build the capacity and capability of providers of services for victims from the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors in Birmingham. It means that those organisations who are part of the fund (which includes Women’s Aid, Victim Support and Crimestoppers) are able to access our interpreting services for free.

As part of this fund, we are currently working alongside WAITS, a women’s charity that works with victims of domestic abuse. Natalie Clarke from WAITS says, “Gateway’s interpreting service has extremely useful to us, in helping us to communicate effectively with clients despite the language barriers. Booking has always been efficient, prompt and straightforward. The interpreters are professional, friendly and have always delivered an excellent service. Thank you so much.”

We are also hoping to work with Drake Hall Prison in Staffordshire again, to offer another Community Interpreting qualification to women in prison.

If your community organisation needs interpreters and you’d like to find out more about working with Gateway’s Interpreting Agency, give us a call on 0121 456 7820.

New jobs and a bright future for our Trainees

Our Training To Care trainees are coming to the end of their 12 month placements now – and we’re really happy to report that some are already starting to apply for – and get! – permanent jobs in the sector.

Training To Care offers people with little or no work experience the chance to earn money and gain experience as they train towards a formal qualification in Health and Social Care.

RozaThe scheme benefits everyone involved, as trainees get the qualifications and experience they need for a career in care, and employers get a pool of cost-effective, skilled, reliable staff.

Out of the 20 trainees that started, 14 (70%) will complete the programme. Three of these have already completed their Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care, and the others are on target to complete theirs by the end of their placements. All have either secured employment already, or are lined up with interviews.

Roza’s story

Roza (above right) had previously worked in hospitality and came to Gateway some time ago to work as an interpreter before applying for the Training To Care programme. Although she didn’t have formal care experience, she has cared for her sister, who has Down’s Syndrome.

Roza was accepted onto the Training To Care scheme and placed at Moseley Hall Hospital. There, she’s been earning a wage as she works on the Ward, gaining first hand experience in a caring role whilst she completes her training.

Twelve months on, as well as receiving bespoke NHS training, she’s achieved her all-important Health and Social Care qualification and can also add a year of direct, hands-on experience to her CV.

At the start of this month, she applied for a job at Solihull Hospital as a Level 2 HCA ( Health Care Assistant) and – we’re pleased and proud to say – she got it!

Moving on

Roza isn’t the only trainee to have secured a job already. You might also remember Judith, who was featured with Roza in our last Training To Care feature. We’re very pleased to tell you that Judith will also be working at Solihull Hospital as a Level 2 HCA.

Both Roza and Judith have been able to choose the wards they will be working on; Judith will be working with stroke patients and Roza on the respiratory ward.

All the remaining trainees have got interviews lined up, either for permanent roles in the NHS or private care roles (eg nursing homes), or to become NHS bank staff, which is great news.

Of the 14 trainees, ten were previously unemployed (six long term unemployed), so for them all to be in a position where they are qualified, experienced, and getting interviews is something we’re very proud of.

Moseley Hall staff have expressed their good wishes for all the trainees who will be moving on after their placements.

Clinical Lead at Moseley Hall, Nelson Amao said, “The trainees have worked hard over the last 12 months to gain their qualification and experience on the Ward. They will be sadly missed and wish them all the best.”

Kim, a nurse on the Ward, said, “The trainees came to the role with no experience – just the passion and dedication to complete their 12 month placement. It was great to have new, dedicated staff that we could train and supervise in a practical way.

“All of the trainees have worked hard and fitted into the hospital team well. It was great to be able to assist them into making them excellent Health Care Assistants.”

Watch the video below to hear Roza’s news in her own words – and share her happiness!

Training To Care: saving the NHS money with local employment

Our Training To Care programme, which we launched in October in partnership with Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust, is continuing to provide benefits for everyone involved.

The aim of the course is to offer people the qualifications and experience they need in order to apply for NHS jobs – and to offer employers a pool of cost-effective, skilled, reliable staff.

Trainees are happy

The benefits to trainees are pretty straightforward. They’re offered the chance to get work experience in a caring role and train for a Level 2 City & Guilds Diploma in Health and Social Care, together with bespoke NHS training. Importantly, though, they earn a wage for the duration of the course. Gaining qualifications usually means a financial cost to the trainee, so this – unfortunately for the thousands of unqualified, unemployed people who would love a career in care – is a rare opportunity.

Around two thirds of our trainees were previously unemployed; some of them long term. Some had come from our volunteer programmes, working their way up the Skills Escalator. Most had some previous caring experience, but it wasn’t in a paid capacity, so it often didn’t count when it came to job applications and formal interviews. We counted it.

We believe that this combination of work experience, qualifications and payment gives the trainees everything they need to move forward and get a career in healthcare.

But there are many vital benefits to Birmingham Community Healthcare, and wider employers, as well.

Employers are happy too

Our aim is to provide healthcare employers with a valuable resource of reliable, enthusiastic, hard working and, ultimately, qualified staff who will save them money.

The pre-employment training that Gateway and the Healthcare trust offers is specially tailored to the roles offered – so this, in addition to the previous experience of caring for family that many trainees have, enables them to hit the ground running when they arrive on site. Several supervisors of the bedded units who have offered placements to Gateway trainees have mentioned that the ability to “mould” trainees into a role has been useful.

Clare Gadd, Clinical Team Leader at The Sheldon Unit, says “it makes a real difference to have two more members of the team who were able to join us and get up and running quickly, and of course, it has the added financial benefit of removing the cost burden of using agency staff.”

Gateway’s specialist support also helps to give a smooth transition for the long-term unemployed people who are returning to work. This extra support and employability training means that the retention rate – in an industry that has a traditionally high turnover – is much better (80% in this programme to date). The process also means that employers have additional administrative help, as Gateway managers are on hand to provide extra support to trainees during their placement.

Trainees’ stories

Roza, Charlotte and Judith
Trainees (L-R: Roza, Charlotte and Judith)
Trainees Roza, Charlotte and Judith are working at Moseley Hall Hospital, a specialist stroke and brain injury rehabilitation centre.

Roza

Roza had been working in hospitality and came to Gateway some time ago to work as an interpreter before applying for the Training To Care programme. Although she didn’t have formal care experience, she has cared for her sister, who has Down’s Syndrome.

Roza says: “I was very happy with the support and training that Gateway offered me as an interpreter, so when I saw the opportunity to move into care work with the same level of support, I jumped at the chance.

“The work is very rewarding. It’s nice when you go onto the ward and people are pleased to see you. Watching people recover and helping them learn to walk again is really satisfying. Every day I feel better and get more confident about work.”

Charlotte

Charlotte had done a few different jobs – in hotels, bars, shops and warehouses – but always wanted a career in care. Her mum is ill so she has some informal experience, but it never seemed to be enough to get a foot in the door. She said, “I’d been trying for years to get into care work, but you can’t just walk into it. Even if an advert says ‘no experience required’, you’ll lose out if someone with any experience at all applies. Some jobs even require payment up front for checks before you can start. It’s not easy.

“In the past I’ve done lots of jobs but working in a caring role like this just feels really natural to me. The supervisors give me lots of praise, which is really encouraging. I’m getting loads of experience and learning something new every day.”

Charlotte’s supervisor, Annmarie Rumble, says: “Charlotte was quite quiet at the start but it feels like she’s really blossomed. She’s grown in confidence and is now able to work under her own steam. She’s really good with the patients; she has a caring and calm nature which is just what they need. She’s particularly good at calming them if they get upset.

“Sometimes when younger people come to us to start work they can be a bit unprepared for the sorts of tasks they may have to do. Charlotte was prepared prior to starting placement and adapted very quickly to what she was expected to do. She is a highly valued member of the team.”

Judith

Judith started with Gateway as a volunteer befriender. “I like to help people, which is why I was a befriender, and later an interpreter, with Gateway. I really enjoy this work. I’m not always comfortable with new people but here we see new people every day, so it’s given me a lot more confidence. As trainees, we are paired with a nurse, but I’m finding that I can do more and more on my own.

“It’s not so much the medical side of the job that appeals to me; it’s everything around it. My mum and dad passed away in hospital and I wasn’t able to be with them, so I see this as paying something back. If I can be there for someone who doesn’t have anyone and who’d otherwise be isolated – if I can have a chat with them, and cheer them up – then I know that I have done a good job.”