Four weeks ago, we wrote about the latest group of volunteers to start at Gateway under the EAST (Employment Access Skills and Training) programme. Now, having completed their volunteer training, our newcomers are starting to get out and about, working with people in the community who are isolated and need a friend.
One of the new volunteers is Corinne Gooden. She already works full time at a library – and it was here that she saw a poster for the befriender programme.
“I’ve been working towards a new career path for a while,” she explains. “I graduated in Communications in 2008, but it was the sociology and psychology parts of the course that really interested me. So that’s the direction I’m taking now.
“I recently completed a counselling course and I saw Gateway’s volunteering scheme as the ideal opportunity to back it up with some work experience.”
All 20 EAST volunteers started their placement with a week’s induction, followed by volunteer training, and are now working on their accredited Employability course. The course continues whilst they are out supporting clients so they can provide evidence-based work to support their portfolio.
But for Gateway’s volunteers, it’s about gaining more than just certificates.
“Gateway’s training prepares you for this type of work practically, but also emotionally,” says Corinne. “We’ve covered things like confidentiality, equality and diversity, but also how to prepare ourselves mentally for this type of work. We’ve learned how to step back and think about why a client might be acting in a particular way. And we’ve done a lot of work on boundaries; how to listen and empathise whilst maintaining a professional distance.”
Last week, Corinne spent a day shadowing one of the Pregnancy Outreach Workers. They visited a young mother living in a hostel with her six week old baby – a situation that might be quite emotionally charged for someone that wasn’t ready. But Corinne felt prepared and found the visit very positive as it was clear the woman was getting good support.
“I am feeling more and more confident about this sort of work now,” says Corinne. “I’ve already learnt a lot in the short time I’ve been with Gateway, and the practical experience is invaluable.”
Yasmin has been doing some work experience with us at Gateway Family Services. Here is what she had to say in her own words.
‘My name is Yasmin Rai. I am 17 years old and I am an A-level student. At my school it is encouraged to complete a work experience placement in order to gain knowledge and understanding of the working world. Therefore I decided to look for a work placement in an office based environment. During my research I came across a company, Gateway, and I was both interested and intrigued with the services they provide. After contacting Gateway they kindly offered me a two week work placement in their office.
During my two weeks at Gateway I took on the role as receptionist. I felt this provided me with many responsibilities within the company. I was able to answer phones, sort post, pass on messages and welcome guests. I was also lucky enough to gain an insight into all the services at Gateway. I was invited to one of the Health Trainer’s team meetings, which gave me an understanding of the work of the Health Trainers. I also spent some time with Lighten Up, where I was given an in depth explanation about how their service works to help people lose weight.
I completed various administration jobs for the Pregnancy Outreach Workers. Some tasks required me to read through files to gather information on clients; this showed me the amazing work the POWs carry out for many vulnerable pregnant women. I also worked with the EAST department completing evaluations with previous clients and then adding feedback to the database. Additionally I was lucky enough to attend a training course about Equality and Diversity, which I found thoroughly interesting.
The work experience has developed my communication skills, especially over the phone, organisational skills and has given me a very in depth experience of administration work. All the tasks I have carried out have been enjoyable and a great learning opportunity. The experience has also made me acknowledge the great work that Gateway Family Services does.’
After five years of working on a project funded through The Big Lottery we wanted to share our headlines.
“July 2012 was the final month for The Big Lottery – Family Supporters contract. Although it is sad to see a contract end it certainly should be a time to celebrate the wonderful outcomes that have been achieved. The Project began by building on existing training and employment programmes which were designed to support families. When the economic downturn hit Birmingham there was a shift in focus – to tackle some of the barriers facing those that were unemployed. After five years we supported hundreds of clients with varied needs. Our aim was to reduce the inequalities in health, employment and training by supporting those most in need especially those lost in the system.
In the past five years we have worked with 532 people on this contract, all in difficult circumstances and all wanting to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
128 found long-term paid employment
219 joined a training programme
95 became volunteers
213 reported the support helped them with being more involved with community services
165 gained new skills and qualifications
160 said they were more likely to progress independently after being in the programme
The Keyworker team here at Gateway deserve a ”huge congratulations’ for not only achieving ALL the set outcomes by the commissioner but also to have achieved some wonderful outcomes that have really changed people’s lives.
W e are hoping that a recent funding application for an extension to the contract may be successful, watch out for an update ……
Gateway Family Services are offering support to young people between the ages of 16 – 24 years who are not in education, employment or training.
We will be offering courses in Employability and Personal Development, Customer Service and Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care.
We have a key worker service that can offer one to one support with CV building, looking for jobs and finding the right training.
If you are aged 16 – 24 years and live in the Birmingham and Solihull area please call Chelsea Gaffey on 0121 456 7820 for more information.
Our new out-patient service offers cardio out-patients and their families the chance to work with a “befriender” to progress their recovery plan.
The befriender will be a first contact point for any aspects of the recovery programme and could assist with going to the shops, getting to the planned dance classes.
Part of Strictly is an invitation to attend a weekly dance class – whether to improve your dancing skills (!), meet with other patients or one of our team, or simply socialise.
The Strictly dance session will be held weekly, at Selly Oak Methodist Church in Langleys Road . At this class the patients and their partner/friend, if you choose to bring one, will be invited to get up and dance. Dances will be available that don’t need a partner. Professional instruction will be provided! If people don’t want to dance and just prefer to just sit it out that’s fine too. The idea is to have fun!
The programme is free and will last 12 weeks during which you will be asked to complete questionnaires so we can get an idea of how the programme is doing.
Here, one of our volunteers, Jim, explains why he has decided to give up some of his time to volunteer within his local community after being made redundant
We work in areas where unemployment is well over 10%. There are over 1.2 million unemployed young people aged between 16 and 24 in the country as a whole and in our region there are 178,000 workless people, and 208,000 working age people with no qualifications at all. For people without qualifications or experience, finding work is more than tough. Training and employment opportunities are really important, and we work to provide them.
Some of the people who’ve tried our courses talk about their experience.
We help give local people the skills they need to find work, and whenever we can we recruit local people to work in their local area. They help others to live healthy lives, at the same time they have the chance to work. Training in skills for employment and apprenticeship schemes provide more opportunities to overcome barriers to employment.