Happy birthday, Gateway!

It’s Gateway’s 8th birthday on Monday so we thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look at what we do – and how the different departments within our organisation fit together.

What does Gateway do?

We say that people are best helped by those who are two steps ahead – in other words, people who have experienced problems but have made progress. So we employ people with direct, personal knowledge of the issues our clients face. Often, they’ve overcome similar problems themselves. The people they are supporting will relate to them and their achievements don’t seem too far out of reach.

Our departments cover pregnancy outreach, weight loss and employment training. The common thread is “people who need help” and all of the areas we cover have a direct impact on health and wellbeing, as you can see from our company structure:

Gateway-structure

Who does Gateway help?

We help anyone with barriers to equality, or who are experiencing marginalisation. The people we help are from some of the most socially deprived communities. Many are undergoing major change and just need a bit of support and extra confidence while that happens.

Think about a time when you’ve had to deal with major change; we’re talking about the type of upheaval that – if you’re lucky – will only happen a couple of times in your life. What support did you have? Who did you call upon for help? For people who can’t rely on friends and family – who perhaps don’t know what support they’re entitled to, or lack the confidence or ability to push for it – we aim to be the next best thing.

The women our Pregnancy Outreach team work with need some extra help to prepare for the birth – not just emotionally or physically, but practically, by supporting them as they tackle external barriers to health – things like debt management, homelessness or domestic abuse.

Other clients across the Gateway spectrum are ready to make other types of major changes in their life – losing weight, recovering from illness, or getting back into employment – and need some extra support to make it happen.

So Health Trainers work within communities, giving people one-to-one motivational support and developing group activities like walking groups. The Lighten Up team supports people through weight loss with telephone support. The Training to Care scheme takes people who have the skills and resources to work in the NHS, and gives them the qualifications and work experience required to apply for jobs. The Gateway Interpreting Agency gives community interpreters professional training and a recognised qualification so that they have a much better chance of employment. Pop Up Talent works with young people to create new ways of working between young people and employers.

All of our clients are on the track to a better life. The link between economic health and physical health and wellbeing are inescapable, so we aim to change lives by improving health, life skills and economic prospects at the same time.

We don’t just “fix it” for people, though; in every corner of our work, our aim is to help communities to support themselves.

How does Gateway do it?

We’re so proud of our eight year history and, although we are responsive to external changes and local government strategies, our core values haven’t changed. We have been doing the same thing for eight years and there’s a reason for that: it works.

Six months ago, in a blog post called Focusing more on people and less on strategy, I wrote about the ways in which governments constantly announce new strategies and “innovative approaches”, only to end up with the same objectives. Gateway, however, has remained consistent.

We haven’t changed – even though strategies have changed – and this means that we can focus on people who need us. Consistency counts. We use our skills and experience to spend our time supporting people. We are lean and efficient; our data is clear and links to outcomes.

In this video, our Chair, Ann Forletta, explains why she joined Gateway last year and how she feels Gateway’s connected way of working really makes a difference.

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