Category: Skills & Training

Providing skills and training to increase employment opportunities, health and well-being

New date announced for RSPH Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement course


As an RSPH Approved Centre, we are delivering the L2 Understanding Health Improvement qualification as a one-day course at our premises in Edgbaston. The next course date will be Monday 11th December 2017 Monday 8th January 2018.

If your pharmacy is working towards becoming a Healthy Living Pharmacy, you’ll need to have at least one full-time member of staff who has qualified for a Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Level 2 Award in Understanding Health Improvement.

But the qualification is also suitable for anyone who delivers one-to-one or group health interventions, for example Health Trainers, gym instructors, or Health Champions.

RSPH Understanding Health Improvement, Level 2

Next course date: Monday 11th December 2017 Monday 8th January 2018
Time: 9.30am – 5.00pm
Venue: Gateway Family Services
5th Floor, Chamber of Commerce
Harborne Road
B15 3DH
Cost: £80+VAT
Book now: To book your place, please contact Michelle Smitten on 0121 456 7820, or email

The objective of this qualification is to provide candidates with an understanding of the principles of promoting health and wellbeing, and to enable them to direct individuals towards further practical support in their efforts to attain a healthier lifestyle.

The qualification is for existing or aspiring health champions and volunteers who wish to improve the health and wellbeing of people in their local community by motivating and encouraging them to make positive lifestyle choices.

Community workers, health advisors, pharmacy assistants and anyone in the wider public health workforce will also benefit from this qualification.

This is a one day course with a multiple choice exam at the end.

For more information about this or any of the other courses we run, please contact Michelle Smitten on 0121 456 7820, or email

Grant will help over 100 people improve their wellbeing

Thanks to a Discovery Grant from the Santander Foundation, we will be able to develop and deliver a new course this year – one that will help over 100 people in Birmingham to improve their mental health.

The course is designed around the “Five Ways to Wellbeing“, an evidence-based government strategy that sets out five simple actions a person can take to improve their wellbeing. The grant will allow us not only to develop the content for a five-session course, but to trial its delivery in eight venues around the city.

Mental wellbeing is a vital part of living well. This course is one that we have wanted to pilot for a while, so we’re really pleased to have been chosen to receive a grant that will help us to do this. The grant will help not only with research and development costs, but with practical costs too: things like training materials, room hire and the cost of a facilitator in each venue.

We’re already talking to a number of other local organisations about delivering the course to a range of people. As well as our community sector partners, we’re also speaking to employers because we feel this course could be really valuable in terms of encouraging healthier workforces. One place we’re looking to work is within the NHS; we think this could be a good way for the NHS to support the commitment made in its Five Year Forward View ‘to ensure the NHS as an employer sets a national example in the support it offers its own staff to stay healthy’.

The Gateway Five Ways to Wellbeing course

The course we’re developing will encourage participants to take part in activities based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Like all of Gateway’s work, the content of each session will flexible, allowing participants to lead, and identifying and building on the strengths they already have.

The “five ways” are all simple suggestions – small steps that it will be easy to take – and based around self-awareness. By becoming more mindful of your own wellbeing, you can build confidence and resilience, and so reduce health risks.

“Be active” encourages physical activity because, put simply, exercise makes you feel better! The course will allow each group to tailor this step to their own mobility and fitness levels – so it could be anything from a ten minute stretch, or a walk in the park, to a bike ride or regular swim. As on our Pre-Diabetes courses, we’ll be encouraging people to decide as a group what activities they’d like to do – then we’ll help them to do it.

“Connect” will encourage participants to engage with the people around them. We’ll be looking at relationships and how to build them, whether that’s friends, family or neighbours. Gateway’s own staff and staff at the partner organisations will be able to direct people to activities in the area where they can meet likeminded people, and we’ll also be encouraging the people in the group to connect with each other to take part in future activities, if they want to.

“Give” is another way to create connections. After all, doing something for someone else is really rewarding, and it can be something as small as a smile! We’ll be looking at the ways in which people are already giving (whether they realise it or not) and how making some time to treat yourself can make it easier to do things for others. If people want to give more back to their communities, we may be able to put people in touch with volunteering opportunities, too.

“Keep learning” is all about challenging yourself to learn something new, or reconnecting with an old hobby or interest. Whether people want to learn to cook, learn a practical skill, or take on a new responsibility at home or work, we’ll be there to support them. We’ll be encouraging people to share their own skills and experiences with the others in the group and we’ll also be looking at other local activities and groups where people can try something new.

“Take notice” is probably the most important step for the people we will be working with. Becoming more aware of the world around you, and giving yourself time to reflect, is vital to your mental wellbeing. We’ll be encouraging people to take a little more notice of the little things, and to take time out for themselves, each day. So many of us complete our daily routines without taking much notice of nature or the changing seasons, but taking some time to reflect on the smallest experiences each day can help you to appreciate what matters to you.

We’re really pleased to have been chosen to receive a Santander Foundation Discovery Grant. Even the smallest funding awards – this one is £5000 – can make a huge difference to our work. We are looking forward to delivering this pilot course to at least 100 people, and hope that it will open the doors to allow us to support many more.

Could we deliver the Five Ways To Wellbeing course at your workplace? For more information, contact Michelle Smitten on 0121 456 7820.

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.”

A bowl of bran cereal

Patients at the Maypole take first steps towards diabetes prevention

This week we delivered the first of our pre-diabetes training sessions.

Susan Hannaby is leading the training sessions
Susan Hannaby is leading the training sessions

The programme has been commissioned by Birmingham South Central Clinical Commissioning Group so the first session was held in one of their surgeries, Maypole surgery in south Birmingham, with the support and help of surgery GPs.

The surgery sent a mailshot out to patients with pre-diabetes, and we were pleased to find it had a good response rate, with 29 patients expressing interest. So a session was held for the first 12 on Wednesday morning, at the surgery.

Pre-diabetes, also referred to as “borderline” diabetes, is when someone’s blood glucose (sugar) levels are above the normal range, but not high enough for them to be diagnosed as having diabetes. If someone’s blood sugar levels are consistently higher than normal then they may be at risk of Type 2 diabetes if they don’t take the preventative steps. It’s an important warning sign that lifestyle changes need to be made. The point of the course is to educate people about their condition and to get people taking steps towards making those changes.

The course is run over 13 sessions and looks at all sorts of preventative action, including healthy eating, physical activity, food preparation, and managing portion sizes. For this first session, Trainer Susan Hannaby (pictured) was joined by Health Trainer Josh and EAST Admin Assistant Jennie, who will be the main point of communication for the group.

The activities and topics covered are based on who is in the group – what their needs are and the issues they would like to focus on – so it’s a flexible format. The sessions will include a lot of group work and include practical, hands-on activities, but also some private one-to-one time for each patient.

A bowl of bran cerealSusan gave an example of the practical activities they did on Wednesday: “This week we looked at portion sizes – we got people to serve a ‘typical’ plate of food, then looked at what a serving actually is. We were all surprised at how small cereal portions are!

“We are also encouraging the group to work together and help each other. For example one woman said she used to walk a lot but had lost confidence after falling over. One of the men in the group had been planning to start walking more, but felt unmotivated on his own. So they have made plans to go walking together.”

The sessions are intensive to start with, with weekly sessions for six weeks, followed by monthly sessions for seven months. But the sessions aren’t necessarily based at the surgery – if the patients want to do a taster session of a physical activity, like yoga or ‘extend’ training, or just to go for a walk, then it’s easy to incorporate that into the timetable.

Susan said, “it was a really good first session and the group were really engaged. Everyone set themselves a goal, whether that was cutting down on sugar in their tea, reducing their alcohol intake or doing a certain amount of walking each week.  We’ve also started planning sessions for a second group at the Maypole.”

Future Sessions

The Maypole sessions are in their infancy, but we are also looking to do similar sessions in other areas, both within GP practices and at community venues, where we hope to complement services already delivered in those venues.

Gateway’s programme is a pilot, but it’s part of the National NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which is a joint initiative between NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Diabetes UK. The cost of Type 2 Diabetes in the UK is huge and the number of people with the disease is growing at a particularly high rate. The national programme aims to significantly reduce the five million people in England otherwise expected to have Type 2 Diabetes by 2025.

Pre-diabetes, and the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, is something that we’ve had on our radar for a long time via our Health Trainer service, and we have been looking for a way to expand on this knowledge and formalise it for a while. We know through our other services that this kind of support – a personalised, intensive lifestyle change intervention – can work really well, so we’re very pleased to have the chance to make a difference, and we hope tow work with more GPs and patients in the near future.

Students learn the Five Ways To Wellbeing

Following a successful Health Action Project, we were recently invited back to Hodge Hill College to deliver a health workshop to Years 7 and 8.

Five ways to wellbeingGateway’s workshop, along with sport, art and sex education workshops from other organisations, was organised as part of the school’s “Safe Day” programme.

Safe Day is designed to raise awareness and equip students with strategies to discourage them from entering into risky behaviours. This is particularly important during the school holidays, when their routine is different from the norm.

Our team delivered an interactive workshop covering health and wellbeing – in particular, stress management. It was designed around an evidence based government strategy, “Five Ways to Wellbeing“, which aims to improve mental wellbeing. We adapted the strategy to tailor it for 11 and 12 year olds and get them thinking about their stress levels and emotional wellbeing.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing that we worked through with the students were:


We talked about networks and supportive relationships. We asked: “who are the people you can rely on?” We asked pupils to think about who they go to for support in different areas of their life – for example, parents, teachers and peer groups.

Be Active

We asked students to think about what they can do every day to be more active. We shared facts about activity; for example did you know that ten minutes of exercise each day makes you more alert? This can help with your mental wellbeing and lower your stress levels.

Take Notice

We talked about the importance of taking more notice of yourself (some people call this mindfulness). We asked pupils to think about what happens when they feel stressed – not just physically, but how it makes you feel. We worked together to come up with strategies for dealing with stress.


Evidence says that doing something for someone else, with no expectation of anything in return, impacts on the parts of the brain that release “happy” chemicals. We asked students to think about how they could do something for someone else and so improve their own wellbeing.

Keep Learning

Learning makes you more aware of your surroundings, builds confidence, and so improves mental health. We held a Mental Health Quiz for the students, with some fun “True or False” questions to get them thinking.

We held two lots of five one-hour sessions each day for two days, and each group included 25 pupils. So across the two days we worked with around 500 students!

Mrs Susan Dancer, the Deputy Head Teacher, said: “Thank you so much for coming in and supporting Hodge Hill College during our end of term Safe Day programme. We know the students enjoyed the opportunity of working with people from outside of school. […] Whenever I popped in, the sessions seemed to be going well and all the students were engaged with the activities.”

Work experience for a Gateway volunteer

Michelle, Susan and Sarah, who delivered the workshops, were ably supported by a Gateway Volunteer.

GodloveGodlove (left), who has been volunteering for the last six months as a Befriender, is currently completing a City & Guilds employability qualification with Gateway and needed some extra work experience as part of the qualification. So we asked if he would like to come along to the school and support the workshop delivery. This gave him a full day’s work and made up his required hours of experience.

He said, “I’ve been volunteering at Gateway to gain experience for future employment and so far I’ve met many people and made lots of friends. I really enjoyed the experience at Hodge Hill last week. The children I worked with were happy and worked well with me.”

Susan was impressed with Godlove’s professionalism. “Working with years 7 and 8 presented a lot of challenges, but Godlove was positive and professional at all times. He organised himself excellently and approached everything with a smile.”

Stepping onto the career ladder with an apprenticeship

One of the initial and key concepts of Gateway was to provide a supported step into work, and one of the first steps we offer is an apprenticeship placement.

We have a long history with apprenticeships. Some years ago we ran a large apprenticeship programme providing apprentices to a number of PCTs. Unfortunately, due to the way funding has changed, it’s now difficult to offer the qualification element unless you’re a larger provider. More recently we’ve been involved as the work placement provider and over the past three years we’ve benefited from six apprentices.

Our culture at Gateway is to offer a nurturing, supportive atmosphere for people to work and learn, and we feel that apprenticeships offer people a good start – a practical introduction to a career, giving people experience, pay and opportunity.

For people on placement, we offer a realistic view of the world of work, but we also recognise people’s potential and work with them to identify opportunities. We provide a supported work experience, to build confidence and resilience, and eventually give apprentices the reins to do as much as they can on their own.

During their work placement at Gateway, apprentices become part of the staff team. Some go on elsewhere, with work experience and references under their belts, but many go on to become full time employees with Gateway. Currently our staff includes a number of recent apprentices – Beckie and Shah work full time in our Lighten Up team and Sajida has become a full time Office Administrator, which includes the role of Interpreters Agency Administrator.

Sajida’s story

sajidaSajida did a 12 month apprenticeship with St Paul’s Community Development Trust, which gave her an NVQ Level 2 in Business Admin and included a work placement at Gateway. She worked in the Gateway office as an admin assistant, receiving full training and the opportunity to work in different areas of the business over the year.

Sajida says, “I wanted to do an apprenticeship because it gives you an immediate opportunity to work your way up. It’s a small step that can lead to a bigger step. You get paid while you’re doing it and you gain experience and confidence as you go along. It also means you’re in a good position when new job opportunities come up.

“The placement at Gateway gave me experience in many areas – not just in office admin and HR, but also interpreting – and it really built my confidence, which had been a bit knocked in previous jobs.”

After the apprenticeship, Sajida applied for the job of Office Administrator at Gateway, which includes the admin for our Interpreting Agency. Michelle Bluck, who recruited for the role, says:

“We had quite a few applications but Sajida’s application form was of a very high standard – it was clear she’d really thought about the role and how she would tackle it. She gave a flawless interview, with good examples of different work scenarios to show how adaptable she can be. Now she’s in the role, she’s definitely living up to that potential. She’s got good work ethics; she’s reliable, adaptable and sets a good standard. And the client feedback we get from the interpreters service is very positive – clients praise the efficient service, smooth booking process and professional admin support – and that’s all down to Sajida.”

Watch Sajida talk about her apprenticeship and how she’s getting on at Gateway:

Volunteers’ Week: celebrating our befrienders

volunteers weekThe first week in June is Volunteers’ Week, so we’ve been busy putting in our nominations for BVSC’s Volunteers of the Year from our pool of wonderful Volunteer Befrienders.

The befrienders service funded through Big Lottery Reaching Communities has been running at Gateway for a number of years now and we’re always looking for new volunteers and new clients.

Our befrienders visit people who, for whatever reason, want a bit of extra support and companionship. There are no set criteria – anyone can ask for a befriender.

Our volunteers come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some are volunteering as part of a university course while others simply want to do something in their spare time that allows them to meet people and benefit their local community.

Most befrienders work one-to-one, but some, like Stephen, who works with the Shenley Green walking group we wrote about recently, are involved with community groups and social activities.

Everybody benefits

For the client, having a befriender can be a way of reducing social isolation and building resilience. Many people talk about feeling more confident thanks to the support of a volunteer – being able to get on and do things they wouldn’t have done before. Being part of Gateway also gives clients access to a wider network of support – our experienced staff across all our departments have a broad knowledge of the help that’s available to people in Birmingham, and are experts in helping people to access it.

For the volunteers, befriending is a great way of getting work experience and preparing for employment. Volunteers can take a number of qualifications as part of their training, including Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) awards, which are nationally recognised. Volunteers are supported by Gateway’s Employment Access Skills and Training (EAST) team who can also help with CV writing and job references. All training costs and expenses for volunteers are met by Gateway.

Jean and Arlene’s story

Jean, who’s in her late 70s, got in touch with Gateway herself after hearing about the befrienders service from her GP. She lives on her own and felt that she might benefit from having a befriender.

arleneArlene (pictured) originally joined Gateway as a volunteer because she wanted to find out more about working with the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS). There weren’t any opportunities to work with POWS clients at that time, so Arlene was paired with Jean as a befriender and began visiting her at home.

Arlene admits that she hadn’t originally thought about working with older people, but she says, “it’s been a learning experience for me working with Jean. It’s opened up a door of opportunity to another career path.

“I call Jean a ‘young lady’ because she has the spirit of a 17 year old. What a pleasure it is to work with her – she is an inspiration and a trooper. Even with her health issues, she remains active and independent. I thoroughly enjoy supporting her and we have a great laugh together.”

Jean is happy to have Arlene’s support. She says, “Arlene is very good to talk to. She helps me to do what I’ve got to do by talking to me and encouraging me; she bucks me up and is friendly and easy to get on with. I’m very glad that I’m working with her.”

Over the last few months, Jean has opened up to Arlene about her need for a bit of extra support. She says, “I’ve had a few falls recently and I lost a bit of confidence in myself. But going out with Arlene makes it easier for me and I feel a lot more confident.”

Sarah Hibberd, Gateway’s Volunteers Co-ordinator, says, “Arlene and Jean’s relationship is one that is very common between a befriender and a client; they speak very fondly of each other. They both enjoy each other’s company and Arlene is helping Jean to find the confidence to do things she needs to do but otherwise would put off. There is a good level of trust between them and that was shown when Jean was able to disclose to Arlene that she needed additional support.

“And for Arlene, working with someone from a different client group to those she’s previously worked with has enabled her to develop her skills and knowledge.”

Arlene added, “It really helps having Sarah’s support. I can phone her up, email, or text, for advice or just to chat about how I’m getting on. It gives my role great validation.

“I truly enjoy this work.”

Dementia Awareness: preparing for the future

handsAs the UK’s population gets older, it’s inevitable that the number of people living with dementia and Alzheimers disease will go up. At the moment, 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia and this is expected to rise to over a million by 2025. Next week is Dementia Awareness Week, and the Alzheimers Society is encouraging people to find out more about the condition, as the number of people living with it increases.

Our Assessor Susan Hannaby was already very interested in the condition – she volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Society – so it seemed like an ideal opportunity for us to train her up to become an accredited Dementia Trainer. From June, she will be delivering courses in Dementia Awareness at Gateway.

Susan said, “because of the increase in the number of people with dementia, increasing people’s awareness and understanding of the disease is becoming more and more important.

Susan Hannaby
Gateway’s Assessor Susan Hannaby
“Dementia care is really about supporting people to maintain a good quality of life. Dementia has a rather negative image and, sadly, it’s been shown that people with dementia are particularly vulnerable to poor care. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we can share awareness and offer positive influences, we can help people with dementia to live well.”

Gateway will be the first RSPH accredited training centre for dementia awareness in Birmingham. As part of a range of carefully curated accredited Health and Wellbeing courses, we will be delivering the Level 2 Award in Understanding Dementia, which was developed by the RSPH in association with the Alzheimer’s Society.

It’s a one day course, open to any organisations looking to upskill their workforce.

Susan said, “Day centre staff, community centre workers, care home staff… this course is for anyone who might come into contact with people with dementia. You don’t even necessarily have to work in Health and Social Care; you might have a family member who has been diagnosed with dementia and you want to find out more.”

At the end of the course, participants receive an accredited RSPH Level 2 qualification.

If you’d like to find out more, visit our Employment Access Skills and Training pages, or just contact us on 0121 456 7820. We’ll work with your organisation to deliver the course in a way that will benefit you and your workforce the most.

Dementia Friends

Outside of her work with Gateway, Susan is committed to dementia awareness, volunteering with various Alzheimer’s Society groups, including Singing for the Brain and the Dementia Cafe.

She’s also a Dementia Friend, part of a national initiative to spread awareness. Dementia Friends register with the Alzheimer’s Society to commit to one action that promotes “living well with dementia” – and this action can be as simple as wearing a badge and telling one person what the badge is for! Dementia Friends can then choose to become a Dementia Champion; someone who decides to be trained to deliver information sessions and recruit more Friends. Susan has been fully trained as a Dementia Champion, delivering one information session for staff here at Gateway already and with another planned for 27th May.

Watch Susan talk about becoming a Dementia Friend, and about delivering the accredited RSPH Dementia Awareness training at Gateway, in this short video:

Meet the new Health Trainers

(L-R) Tina, Sharon and Josh
(L-R) New Health Trainers Tina, Sharon and Josh
We have recently recruited three new Health Trainers, all of whom are bringing important skills from their work in other areas of Gateway.

Sharon, Tina and Josh are currently in training and will be working permanently as Health Trainers from 1st June.

Tina’s background is in sports coaching and fitness training, but more recently she’s been working as a Health Promotions Champion for Gateway, going out to GP surgeries, health centres and local events to promote the Health Trainers service. As part of her previous roles she’s already made lots of links with the community and met a lot of the people she will be working with as a Health Trainer.

Sharon comes to the Health Trainers service from our Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS), so she has an invaluable background in community work and a large network of useful contacts. Before this she worked for weight management groups Size Down and Weight Watchers.

Josh has been working with the Making Health Work team as a Health Ambassador, supporting young people to have “healthy conversations” and to make lifestyle changes, via group work and one-to-one coaching. Before this, he was at University where he gained a Psychology degree.

All three are completing a five week training programme to become Health Trainers. As well as working with NHS assessors and completing a number of RSPH qualifications (including the Level 2 Awards in Encouraging Healthy Weight and Healthy Eating, and Supporting Smoking Cessation) they will be shadowing our other Health Trainers to learn about the different ways in which they work.

Josh said, “I’m really looking forward to seeing the different styles that each Health Trainer has. This is our first opportunity to start learning from the experienced Health Trainers and to begin forging our own style of support.”

Transferable skills add value

It’s important to us at Gateway that, in whatever role someone is working, the skills they gain have a much wider value. Important talents such as empathy, an ability to quickly make connections and form meaningful relationships with people, the ability to listen and assess someone’s needs without judgement, and a knowledge of the wider health and wellbeing networks in the city are vital across all roles.

In the video, Sharon and Josh talk how their previous experience at Gateway will inform their Health Trainer work.

Making Health Work ends on a high

Last week saw the end of our Big Lottery-funded programme, Making Health Work. And we’re very pleased to say it’s going out on a high, having exceeded its targets and created many new opportunities for the young people involved.

What was Making Health Work?

on-stageWe’ve been running Making Health Work in partnership with the Foyer Federation. The idea was to get young people thinking about the ways in which work impacts on health – and health impacts on work.

We ran a number of Health Action Projects and Health Taster Days with local schools and organisations, and our volunteer Health Ambassadors were on hand throughout, creating some really interesting conversations about the health and lifestyle issues that sometimes create barriers for young jobseekers.

Exceeding our expectations

We’re really pleased to be able to tell you that the outcomes for the Health Action Projects were met, and often exceeded, for every project.

football activitiesFor example, one of our targets was for the young people involved in the projects to reach 50 wider beneficiaries. However, we found that the work they did actually enabled them to reach over 400 people – over eight times as many as we’d hoped! – whilst becoming more employable, confident individuals themselves.

The final Health Action Projects

On 9th and 10th April we worked with Street League again, this time as part of an Easter fitness camp for 6 to 14 year olds run by FITCAP (Fitness In The Community and Active Play).

Some of the young people we’d worked with on the previous Street League project came back to work as coaches and Health Ambassadors, having completed an RSPH Level 2 in Understanding Behavioural Change qualification with Gateway that helped them to support new people with one-to-one coaching.

FITCAP and Street League staff and volunteers
FITCAP and Street League staff with some of the young volunteers who led on the project
Together we delivered a series of football activities that encouraged young people to think about not only the physical, but the mental and emotional benefits to exercise. Nithee Kotecha, Street League Birmingham Operations Manager said: “Many of the participants aspire to become football coaches in the future, or at least use sport as positive motivation. The Health Action Project gave them a chance to learn skills such as leadership, team work, communication and cooperation. Afterwards, they commented on how it was the highlight of their entire 10 week academy with Street League.”

Julie Taylor, FITCAP Project co-ordinator said: “The main focus of the activity camp was to have fun whilst exercising, playing sports outdoors and keeping fit. FITCAP hope to promote long term health and fitness to local young people.”

Wodensborough Health Action Project LaunchOn Friday Year 11 students at Wodensborough Ormiston Academy launched their Health Action Project, ‘Fruity Friday’, which will give all staff and students weekly access to healthy smoothies and fresh juices, as well as an iPad with various apps that provide useful information on maintaining physical and mental wellbeing.

Over 200 students attended the launch, taste-testing the variety of fruits on offer and working hard on the smoothie bikes to make their own pedal-powered smoothies!

The Making Health Work legacy

As well as smashing through our targets and creating innumerable benefits for children and young people through the programme, we’ve also made some invaluable links with other organisations who share our aims and ethos.

Many of the young people who have been involved with the Health Action Projects have completed training with Gateway, giving them qualifications that they can take forward, and all have gained valuable experience which has helped them to become more employable. Many have gone on to do more voluntary work, including as part of the Gateway Volunteer Befrienders programme.

And, in one case, we are delighted to say it has led directly to employment: Health Ambassador Josh has recently been recruited as a Gateway Health Trainer! We hope to feature his journey from volunteer to full time employment in a future blog post, so watch this space.

Finally, one of the schoolchildren who participated in ‘Fruity Friday’ said something that we think sums up the whole idea of Making Health Work: “I’ve learnt that health is about your mental and physical health – both need to be balanced to be healthy. I’ve also learnt that I should share my ideas because they can be developed, and I’ve improved my confidence by joining the project.”