There are over 200 different languages spoken in Birmingham, so many of our client visits require interpreters. Our staff already speak a range of languages including Punjabi and Urdu; however, the clients who are really in need of our services are those who have recently arrived in the country. They bring new language needs and, generally, interpreting services are not geared up for that.
For a while now we’ve been using translation agencies but we find that it doesn’t allow us to deliver as flexible a service as we’d like. We occasionally need to access interpreters with short notice; POWs need to spend time before an appointment giving an interpreter background information and explaining what they are trying to get out of the visit.
Luckily, we are often able to interpret for clients using the skills of our own staff and volunteers. For example, a client who was recently referred to our POWs service is from Democratic Republic of Congo and speaks French. Although none of our POWs speak French, one of the Gateway volunteers is from Madagascar, so it’s her first language. With help from the volunteer, our POW was able to introduce herself and Gateway to the client. Between them, they were able to start giving the client the support she needs.
In this video, Pregnancy Outreach Worker Shazia explains how, by offering her skills as an interpreter, she can persuade women to attend important appointments that they wouldn’t otherwise have the confidence to.
So we’ve decided to fill the gap – and formalise things – by setting up a training scheme for interpreters.
The training will lead to a formal qualification – an
OCN Level 2 in “community interpreting”. But, like the training we give our volunteers, it will also include things like confidentiality, safeguarding, and work on boundaries. As well as giving us more control, this will give trainees a load of extra transferable skills that we hope will be useful to other organisations, leading to further interpreting work for them.
Many of the trainees already signed up are former clients themselves, so they are very well placed to understand how the service works, as well as a natural empathy for the client. As well as providing a translation service, they will be able to act as an assistant to the POW.
We’re hoping the course will open up work opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise have them. The opportunity to gain a formal qualification, and to start earning money by working for us and other organisations could be the beginning of a new career.
Want to find out more?
Our first group of interpreters will start on Thursday 16th May 2013, but there are still some places available.
You don’t need any prior qualifications – just a willingness to learn! However, although English will probably be your second language, you need to be able to speak English well.
So if you speak French, Somali, Arabic, Bengali, Romanian, or any other language that is spoken in Birmingham, and think you could benefit from our scheme,
get in touch.
We’re only a couple of months into our latest volunteers programme, but already it’s clear to see that it’s good for everyone involved. Each of the volunteer befrienders is matched with a client (someone who needs that bit of extra support) and, as you’ll see from the examples below, they’re getting the help they need.
Also, though, the volunteers themselves are benefiting – as, not only does volunteering make you feel good, it’s now proven to improve your health! A recently-published study has found that people who volunteer enjoy healthier hearts. That’s right -
doing good is good for you! Making a difference – the story so far…
So how does the volunteers programme work?
Clients are referred from other departments within Gateway – POWs, Health Trainers and Lighten Up – and via other routes, like partner organisations or GPs. Then Chelsea Gaffey, the administrator for EAST (Employment Access, Skills and Training), carefully matches volunteers with clients based on practical considerations like where they live and their availability, as well as interests and relevant experience.
“Some people are volunteering as part of their university course and using it as their placement, so if they have other skills to offer we try to take these into account too,” says Chelsea. “Some clients have specific needs, so we look for volunteers that might have dealt with similar issues previously.”
“We’re really happy with how it’s going so far,” Chelsea continues. “Our first group of volunteers are settling in really well – and we’re preparing to interview the next batch in the coming week.”
Practical and emotional support
Eleven volunteers already have at least one client of their own and are supporting them in all sorts of ways.
Lorraine has been attending slimming classes with a client who didn’t feel confident going on her own. As well as providing some moral support she’s also helped her to start managing her finances a bit better. Just having someone who’s available to help with a little practical and emotional support can be a big boost.
Tareena helped her client to find alternative housing, as the conditions he was living in were very poor and he was being threatened by his neighbours. Together, they’ve visited Shelter, who found him a new place to live. Now he’s very happy – his new accommodation is warm and clean and he’s able to cook his own meals. This client has many health issues and, without support from people like Tareena, he might not have been able to set the wheels in motion to get the support he needed.
One of our partners is the
Thomas Pocklington Trust, who specialises in providing housing and support for people with sight loss. Social isolation and lack of interaction can be major problems for people with sight loss, so our befrienders have again been able to help. Volunteers Lorraine, Hannah, and Stephenhave all supported people with visual impairment over the last few weeks. The help they’ve been able to give has been varied; accompanying their clients to the shops or to medical appointments, going for walks and even helping with IT problems.
There are still a few places available, so if you’re thinking that you’d like to give this type of volunteering a try, why not
get in touch?
Gateway’s volunteers programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
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.”
One of the hot topics at the moment is The Big Society, it is widely associated with volunteering and opinion is divided about the ethics of volunteering and concerns that paid jobs will be replaced with volunteers. We want to share with you some positive aspects of volunteering and some of the hidden benefits.
For the last year we have run a Volunteer Programme in partnership with University Hospital Birmingham, linking volunteers with Heart Patients.
The Community Volunteers in Rehabilitation programme or ‘Strictly not Rehab’ as it became affectionately known had obvious benefits to the patients in increasing activity with a view to reducing risk of further heart problems.
We recruited 30 volunteers, of those 25 were unemployed many of these haven’t worked for over 3 years. Today, 14 of these are in paid work.
All 30 got a Level 1 or 2 qualification. Indeed, 21 of the 30 reported feeling their confidence had improved since taking part in volunteering and 17 said they felt more employable as a result of volunteering.
A surprising benefit is that 21 of the volunteers have said they have improved their own lifestyle to a more healthy one since joining the programme, because of learning more about heart health.
What did they do?
Volunteers were matched with a patient recovering from a heart attack. They learnt about healthy hearts, lifestyle, wellbeing and rehabilitation and put this knowledge to good use by supporting patients through their rehab programmes. A big part of this was informal dance sessions in a bid to get them more active and to help them feel less isolated by making friends and building peer support networks of people who had been through a similar thing.
This programme showed us that in the current climate volunteering provides an opportunity to get recognised qualifications, improve confidence and get jobs. All this, while helping to improve the lives of people in local communities.
Gateway is enhancing its services through the use of volunteers and providing opportunities for people at the same time – we are always recruiting volunteers, in particular around befriending, social inclusion and community links – there are opportunities throughout Birmingham.
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 ……
Last Friday we celebrated the achievements of staff and clients at our Annual Gala at the beautiful Fazeley Studios. Over 140 people shared some of our clients’ amazing life-changing experiences. Friends of Gateway gathered together and congratulated everyone on being ‘High Achievers’
Guests were treated to a video, showing the journeys of just a handful of our clients. After which we came to the highlight of the evening, the Achievement presentations to our Stars. A host of Gateway achievers and learners were presented with their awards including Health Trainer clients, POWS passing BA Hons qualifications and GPs, providers and partners.
To all of you who nominated a client for an achievement award, a big Thank you. Their presence and stories of achievement really made the night an uplifting and inspiring event.
Celebrations were rounded off by dancing and merry making well into the night with attendees saying how much they had enjoyed seeing the achievements of all and being part of recognising these.
Do you want to become a volunteer? Or even want some help in finding paid work or training?
Well, key workers will be at your disposal this week with drop in advice sessions being held in the following venues:
Thursday 7th June: 12pm-2pm SMALL HEATH LIBRARY Muntz St, Small Heath, B10 9RX
Thursday 7th June: 2pm-4pm SCACA 174-176 Stratford Rd, Sparkhill, B11 1AG
Friday 8th June: 11am-1pm NORTHFIELD LIBRARY Church Rd, Northfield, B31 2LB
Do come along for some informal advice.
We look forward to seeing you all.
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.
Karen had been a victim of domestic abuse and as a result had been living in women’s refuges in and around Birmingham. Now that she was settled she wanted to carry on with a job in the care industry as this is what she used to do.
Key Worker Rachel, supported Karen to create a CV and an email address. Karen wanted to do a counselling course and an NVQ in Advice and Guidance as she already had an NVQ in Care. Karen knew that she would need to do some voluntary work to gain more experience. Rachel gave Karen some ideas of organisations that she may be able to volunteer with. Karen made contact with them and one organisation invited her to an interview. Rachel downloaded the company’s volunteer handbook and worked with Karen on her interview skills and techniques.
Karen attended the interview and found out that she was successful four days later.
This is a great opportunity for Karen as she will receive training and gain valuable experience as well as getting a reference for any future applications she makes.
*Names have been changed.
Diane*, a university graduate, registered with the key worker service in November 2011. She was interested in becoming a cardiac volunteer, and following interview she was accepted for the role.
Gateway Family Services offered all the volunteers a training package and Diane also attended training provided by University Hospital Birmingham.
Diane was still getting support from the key worker service while she was volunteering. During her one to one sessions Diane updated her CV and was given tips to help her with her job search. As it had been a while since she had a job interview she was also given support with her interview skills. Diane and her key worker did mock interviews and the key worker gave her some frequently asked interview questions. Diane was able to go away and think about how she would answer those questions.
Within weeks Diane had secured an interview within the Audiology Department of a hospital in Oxford. Diane was successful and is now working in her new job.
*Names have been changed.