There is a lot less money around at the moment, so what little there is needs to be spent wisely. One of the easiest options is to make cuts to preventative services for people who aren’t in the system… yet.
This may be a quick win for the government, but they’re in danger of leaving a much bigger hole than anyone seems to realise. Cuts to support services may provide a small saving in the short term but, long term, the figures just don’t add up.
Take one of Gateway’s recent clients. Sarah* was referred to Gateway when she became pregnant. Given her troubled background, and the lifestyle that she was leading at the time, it was expected that her new baby would have to be taken into care.
For nine months, during and after her pregnancy, a Pregnancy Outreach Worker helped Sarah to access help from a variety of sources. Homeless, with one child already in care, Sarah needed practical and emotional support. Her POW listened without judging, made it easier for her to attend her appointments, and helped her understand what was happening at case conferences.
We helped Sarah apply for crisis loans to get her through the pregnancy and first few months after the birth. She underwent anger management counselling and drug counselling. We helped her to find local authority housing.
Eventually, after a lot of hard work by both Sarah and her POW, she was able to show that she could provide stability and proper care for her own child. And so, when the baby was born, social services came to the decision that mother and baby would be better off staying together.
I’m not telling you this story in the hope of warming your heart. I’m telling you because:
The approximate cost of taking a child into care for 9 months is £28,000
The approximate cost of the combined preventative services that Sarah accessed over 9 months is £6,000
Preventative services have saved our economy over £20,000. And that’s just for one child.
This theory works across all services, not just for Gateway POWs. Fall prevention, for example – everything from installing grab rails to making little lifestyle changes so that someone uses the stairs less – minimises the chance of someone having a fall. The estimated cost for the first time a person falls is about £40,000, but that £40,000 could pay for fall prevention staff to go into around 200 homes. Yes, that’s £40,000 per person vs £200 per person.
Often there is a perception of voluntary/third sector organisations as “do-gooders”, but we’re not just in this to be nice. Of course there is a moral, emotional, argument that says “people need to be helped”, but there’s also a compelling economic argument: people who are better supported, who are cared-for
before their issues escalate into crises, simply don’t cost as much.
*names have been changed
Sources for figures:
Average cost of child in foster care: The Schools and Families Committee – 2008/9. £774 per week, so 9 months = £27,864. Costs of support services are estimated; based on Gateway FS’s POWs service, which is costed at £20 per hour. First falls costs: Birmingham Local Authority Strategic Shift to Prevention 2012.
Photo: Kriss Szkurlatowski, 12frames.eu
Khan came to the UK to live with his wife but he came on as a visitor visa so he had to go back to Pakistan. Eventually he got a spouse visa but it didn’t take him long to realise that job prospects were not what he thought they were. His wife was friends with my wife and she made a referral to me because she knew I was an employment advisor.
Khan has a lot of work experience and qualifications but they are not recognised here, a Masters in Pakistan is the same as an Honours degree in England. He has looked for work outside of his field because he knew that he wouldn’t get the type of work that he has done previously. In Pakistan he was a teacher and here he had been self employed selling sports goods but the competition was too big.
Khan’s wife was working and supporting the family inspite of her health problems. Khan now needed to take over and be the main breadwinner.
Khan did not have a CV or references. I told him that working culture is different in England and we need to start with a CV. Khan was confident that he had all the experience he needed and would not need help with interviews etc.
At the first Interview Skills Workshop Khan’s eyes were opened to the way things are done in this country and afterwards told me that he would never have passed an interview in a hundred years if he hadn’t done the workshop.
To get references he agreed to do some voluntary work at the QE through Gateway and he got all the training that went with the volunteering job. He now has something to put on his CV and he has now got a job in a factory. It is not what he wanted but he is bringing home a wage and supporting his family.
Finding a job at the moment is tough for a lot of people, tougher still if you have few qualifications or are lacking experience in the world of work so we understand that many people need help to overcome the barriers and fears that they may have in stepping into the unknown.
Shamana joined one of our Employability Courses this year when she was struggling to find work. Initially overwhelmed by the thought of going back to training, especially as she thought she was a bit older than the average learner, Shamana tells us how she was made to feel comfortable in her course while being offered the support and guidance to help herself become more ready for work and confident in her own abilities at the same time.
We currently have more courses running that can help you develop your work readiness, CV or even just your confidence. They are free to join and normally in your local area.
If you are aged 24 and under and would like to know more about our courses then please contact Chelsea Gaffey on email@example.com or phone on 0121 456 7820
Colette was supporting a client who was using drugs and alcohol. Her dad had been an alcoholic and her mum left the family when she was very young. She also had a brother who was using drugs.
After her dad died she took over the tenancy of what had been the family home for 30 years. It had never been decorated or had a repair in that time so was in a bit of a state.
Colette visited the client on a weekly basis. She has a lot of issues to deal with so Colette broke them down in to small chunks and dealt with them based on the clients need.
Colette supported her to attend appointments both medical and social, she would meet her at the hospital or at case conferences. When they were at core group meetings the client and her partner would get upset when everyone was talking about their case. They were at risk of Social Services removing the baby at birth.
Colette worked hard to get the housing to fix the repairs such as, fitting a new kitchen, installing a new boiler and getting the steps at the front of the house repaired.
Once the repairs had been done the couple started to redecorate and this is when Colette started to see a change taking place. The client’s partner went into rehab and she stopped using drugs and alcohol. They have kept their baby and would not have achieved this without Colette’s help.
To celebrate International Women’s Day,
Pregnancy Outreach Worker, Jacque James, tells us how she is able to support women in all areas of their health and wellbeing during their pregnancy, from housing to diet.
Sometimes, just being there to offer some support is enough….
Volunteers are making a real difference to how well heart patients stick with their recovery programmes. In a new initiative, Gateway volunteers have joined up with the cardio team at University Hospital Birmingham to support patients as they get well. Kate Gee, a nurse consultant for coronary heart disease at University Hospital Birmingham, describes how volunteering helps the patients – and the volunteers.
Kalvinder talks about the support she got from Gateway.
Being pregnant is supposed to be a happy time, but it can be very difficult. We help mums deal with practical and emotional problems so they can concentrate on keeping healthy – and having healthy babies. After she found she was pregnant Kalvinder came to Birmingham from Southampton to be near her family, but there were problems. We helped her sort out a complicated benefit situation, helped her find somewhere suitable to live - and every problem solved meant there was something less for Kalvinder to worry about – and that’s what our job is all about.
19 year old Francis from Northfield in Birmingham has founded his own charity with the help of Susan Bernard from
Gateway Family Services.
One in five young people is now without a job. So it’s tough to find work or even work-experience. It’s especially tough to find work you really want to do, but with the help of Gateway Family Services one young man is beginning to make a dream come true – a dream he didn’t even know he had. Six months ago he didn’t have a job – now he’s started his own charity.
Last summer Francis left University without knowing what to do next. He was struggling to find full time work and couldn’t see much hope for the future.
He heard about one of our ‘Back to Work’ events, he wasn’t sure it was for him, but went along anyway and met Susan Bernard. Susan is a Gateway Family Services Key Worker, funded by the
Big Lottery. Her role is to advise and support people to get the skills they need to find work – and that’s what she did for Francis.
He’d got some ideas about voluntary work with young people and children; he loved football, and he’d heard about a charity in the Cameroon that was helping young people through the sport. He wanted to get involved, he wanted to help. Then he had an idea of setting up his own charity to work with the one in Cameroon – but didn’t know where to start.
But Susan did. With her local knowledge and contacts, Francis found the right people to talk to; he got the right experience and the right help. From first aid qualifications to business advice. So, with Susan’s encouragement and support he set up his own charity. Based on the principles of ‘Football4Action’ it’s called ‘Rural Development Centre UK’ or
RUDEC UK, and it aims to equip young people in Cameroon with the skills to make a difference to their local community and a difference to their own future.
Francis has found more support, from two other charities –
Edward’s Trust and Acorns, and from Waitrose in Harborne – and Susan is still supporting him too. In June he will be making his first trip to Cameroon to see at first hand the challenge for his charity.
So – in a few short months, a young man who didn’t know what to do has found the direction he wants to take with the help of Susan and Gateway Family Services.
It has been reported across the media this week, there is a
shortage of houses across the country and an even bigger shortage of affordable houses which impacts on a large part of society, mainly those with little other choice. With homeless figures in Birmingham increasing by almost 20% in recent months, and winter upon us, it is imperative that people can access good quality, safe and affordable housing when they need it most.
Many of our clients are referred with housing issues, in fact over the last year over 40% of our pregnant women have came to us needing help with their housing situation and this number looks set to grow further.
Natsenet, a client originally from East Africa came to
Gateway as she needed support with her English skills and was referred to ESOL classes in the local area. What soon became apparent however was how desperate Natsenet’s living situation was. Although she was lucky enough to have a one bedroom place of her own, the flat was full of mildew and damp and completely unsuitable for a mum to be as can be seen in the below pictures.
Natsanet’s problem with damp was so bad, paint and plaster (and the dust) were peeling from the wall
After contacting her housing officer, Natsanet was told that they were unable to help, with them blaming her for somehow causing the damp (!). Despite continually trying to get the help she needed, Natsanet was still no closer to getting the repairs she needed. After more continuous effort and rejection, trying to get some support through her housing officer, Natsanet turned to her
Pregnancy Outreach Worker, Maria Hesson who called and called on her behalf, making the most of her experience in dealing with these organisations and trying to take some of the pressure off Natsetnet at such an important time in her pregnancy.
After many, many phone calls and lots of excuses, Maria managed to get hold of someone at the housing association and was able to tell them all about the situation, even showing them the pictures of the squalid conditions that this vulnerable lady was living in. Thankfully, they were happy to help, following the intervention from Maria, and they agreed to repair Natsanet’s house and remove the damp and mildew, even paying for Natsenet to stop in a hotel whilst the work was being carried out.
Natsanet, who has now given birth to a beautiful baby is delighted with her home now and feels that she can begin a new life with her child, something that she puts down to the help given to her from Maria, who received a text message from Natsanet a few weeks later, thanking her for all of her help.