Gateway has always been about helping people overcome barriers, whether that is to work, to learning or to good health. We have never been interested in quick fixes for long-term issues. We are interested in looking at issues and problems in a different way and working out how perceived weaknesses can be turned into strengths. Recently, working with Birmingham Community Health Care, we have been able to support people into career opportunities that they wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for us.
Our role is to provide a bridge.
We know there are lots of people in Birmingham with the skills and resources to work in the NHS, but who currently lack the qualifications and work experience required to apply for jobs. We also know that the NHS wants to attract a diverse workforce and widen participation; they want to employ the local population and reflect the community they serve.
So the Train To Care programme is a gateway for people who want a career, offering them the opportunity to get the qualifications and work experience they need in order to apply for NHS jobs.
Turning life experience into employability
Often, people who don’t have formal qualifications or work experience have been busy elsewhere, bringing up families, or caring for relatives. This experience is so valuable and we know it can be put to great effect in caring roles in the NHS.
The sort of people who’ve already applied for the Train To Care programme are people who have a wealth of relevant life experience, and have a lot to give, but who don’t meet the criteria to get an NHS interview at the moment. They understand being on the receiving end of care and they understand why people sometimes don’t engage with care.
They might also have been out of work for a while and be lacking in confidence, or they might require literacy and numeracy support, so we can help with those skills too.
This is why it’s important for us to offer this kind of stepping stone. There are lots of people who have the skills and resources who just need some nurturing – these are the people who will flourish in the sort of supportive work-based training environment we’re offering.
Trainees will work for Gateway in one of 15 bedded units across Birmingham, carrying out assigned tasks involving direct care for patients within a ward environment. They’ll work to support – and be fully supervised by – a qualified nurse or therapist, caring predominantly for older people with a range of medical and nursing needs. There are currently 20 full time/part time posts.
At the end of the year, trainees will be qualified and confident. They’ll be in a position to apply for NHS and other roles and potentially continue with a career in health and social care.