Author: gatewayteam

Mental health care: helping prevent a crisis for those in crisis

Although we are commissioned to support people who want to improve their physical health, it’s inevitable that staff across all of our services will also support people with mental health issues. As the Mental Health Foundation explains on their website, the two are inextricably linked:

Poor mental health is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes, while good mental health is a known protective factor. Poor physical health also increases the risk of people developing mental health problems.

However, as we are seeing more and more, services across the city are being squeezed as never before – and that includes mental health services, which have waiting lists of weeks, or even months, just to see patients.

This situation isn’t OK. It’s distressing that people can’t get the help they need when they need it and in some cases – as you’ll see below – there are real dangers. However the reality is that resources are thin on the ground so, as responsiveness is so essential, we have been thinking about ways in which Gateway can help. As an organisation we are looking at things like the provision of mental health awareness courses and qualifications through our EAST department, and the development of our Volunteer Befrienders service.

And, as Health Trainer Manager, I know it’s more important than ever for staff on the front line not just to be aware of the links between mental and physical health, but to be able to spot potential issues, and advise and signpost clients who need extra mental health support.

Alan’s story

By Danny Dhadda, Health Trainer Manager.

Health Trainer Richard

Alan (not his real name) was referred to Gateway’s Health Trainer service last summer by his doctor, and began working with Richard (pictured, right). Alan’s main reason for referral was because he needs an operation and his doctor had advised him to lose some weight before it could go ahead.

Unfortunately, the worry of needing to lose weight, together with some other issues, culminated in him having a mental health crisis, which he’s given us permission to write about here.

Alan said, “I recognised the feelings I was getting because I’ve experienced them before. When I get like this, the worries go round and round in my head and I can’t stop them. It builds up and becomes really stressful. That’s what it was like on that night – I couldn’t sleep for the stress. I had tablets in the house, so I threw them out of the window because I was worried about what I might do.

“I didn’t know who to contact or how to deal with it, so in the end I went onto the computer. I’ve been teaching myself how to use email and I decided to email all the people I’d got in my address book. I wrote that I needed help, and that I didn’t know what else to do.”

The seven people he emailed that night were all people he’d had contact with through various health organisations and community services.

One of them was me.

I received Alan’s email first thing on Monday morning. It worried me, so I asked Richard to get in touch with him as soon as he could.

Richard says, “I called Alan straight away and left a message. I guessed he was at home so I left a number of answerphone messages, hoping he’d hear them, then decided just to go to his house.”

Alan says, “I couldn’t bring myself to answer the phone but I was listening. Richard let me know on the messages that I wasn’t alone. He said he was going to come over and help me, so when the door went, a bit later on, I let him in.”

Richard cancelled the rest of his appointments that day and sat with Alan to talk through what was happening. It was clear that Alan needed emergency help so he called local mental health resource centres. One had a very long waiting list and wasn’t able to see him, but another said they should be able to see him that day, if they didn’t mind waiting.

Alan says, “Richard called a taxi and came with me to the centre, but when we got there we had to wait a long time. After three hours I had an emergency appointment with a Duty Psychiatrist, but I think I was lucky to see anyone at all as they were so busy. I was given a home treatment team – a Care Manager and a designated CPN – and I now have regular appointments, although they’re not as frequent as I would like. They also suggested I put together an emergency plan in case I need it in the future. So now I’ve got a list of contact numbers on the fridge, and an emergency £10 ready in case I need to get a taxi to the centre again. Having these to hand means I won’t worry so much.”

Alan is still using the Health Trainer service, so Richard has stayed in touch, and as part of his Health Trainer support they have regular contact via phone and at appointments. Alan has also got access to a befriender through our Volunteer Befrienders Service.

Alan’s latest entry on our Impact Assessment App, taken after an appointment with Richard last week, says:

Since our last appointment I have managed to stay positive, your early call on Monday really helped. I went along to the centre and joined the computer course like you suggested. This has helped tremendously. Thank you for patience and concerns. I have done a lot of walking this week, too. Feeling back to normal now.

Finally, we thought you’d like to see this video that one of our Health Trainers, Chris, made of his client Karen. We think this is a great example of how improving your physical health can lead to improvements in mental health too.

Yasmin’s Work Experience

Yasmin has been doing some work experience with us at Gateway Family Services.  Here is what she had to say in her own words.

‘My name is Yasmin Rai.  I am 17 years old and I am an A-level student.  At my school it is encouraged to complete a work experience placement in order to gain knowledge and understanding of the working world.  Therefore I decided to look for a work placement in an office based environment.  During my research I came across a company, Gateway, and I was both interested and intrigued with the services they provide.  After contacting Gateway they kindly offered me a two week work placement in their office.

During my two weeks at Gateway I took on the role as receptionist.  I felt this provided me with many responsibilities within the company.  I was able to answer phones, sort post, pass on messages and welcome guests.  I was also lucky enough to gain an insight into all the services at Gateway.  I was invited to one of the Health Trainer’s team meetings, which gave me an understanding of the work of the Health Trainers.  I also spent some time with Lighten Up, where I was given an in depth explanation about how their service works to help people lose weight.

I completed various administration jobs for the Pregnancy Outreach Workers.  Some tasks required me to read through files to gather information on clients; this showed me the amazing work the POWs carry out for many vulnerable pregnant women.  I also worked with the EAST department completing evaluations with previous clients and then adding feedback to the database.  Additionally I was lucky enough to attend a training course about Equality and Diversity, which I found thoroughly interesting.

The work experience has developed my communication skills, especially over the phone, organisational skills and has given me a very in depth experience of administration work.  All the tasks I have carried out have been enjoyable and a great learning opportunity.  The experience has also made me acknowledge the great work that Gateway Family Services does.’

Learning and training for young people.

This the group of young learners who did employability and personal development with us.

I have just spent the last two weeks delivering a training course to 16 and 17 year old people.  The course was Employability and Personal Development and though it was tiring it was a couple of the most rewarding two weeks that I have had in a long time.

Young people receive bad press all the time.  People view them as lazy or trouble causers.  This group of young people were neither of those.  Some days they were hard work but other days we had such good fun together.  They were never rude or disrespectful to me or to the other members of the group.  They supported each other to get through the course and gave each other advice. At the start of the two weeks some learners were quiet and found it difficult to join in by the end of the two weeks I could hardly get a word in edgeways and that is exactly what I wanted.  Whilst it wasn’t a long course I know that they got loads out of it and have definitely increased their confidence.

These young people had ambitions and aspirations, one wanted to be a doctor, another a dentist.  Most of them knew exactly what they need to do in order to reach their goals.  They had great personalities, they were funny, kind, considerate and were even concerned that I had not eaten any lunch and they were fasting at the time!

One of the learners was already getting support from one of our key workers.  The key worker told him about an apprenticeship opportunity and gave him some interview support.  This included doing a mock interview and going through likely questions.  The learner went for an interview and got the job.  He’s the one in the suit.

Good luck to them all.

Volunteering for heart health in Birmingham

In this clip one of our volunteers, Donna, talks about how she became involved with volunteering after being made redundant, as well as helping people recover from a heart attack, Donna has got some qualifications, increased confidence, new friends and even learned to foxtrot! the Cardio Rehab Volunteer programme was funded by the Sandwell, Solihull and Birmingham Workforce Locality Board more details about the project can be found here


Drop in Sessions in Northfield, Sparkhill and Small Heath in Birmingham for Volunteer’s Week 2012

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.

Not in Education, Employment or Training?

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.

Key Workers Help with Training and Volunteering.

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.

Key Workers Support Client to Find a Course

Jennifer* had been receiving support from another service in Gateway when she was referred to the Key Workers.  Jennifer wanted a change in direction from the work she usually did.  She wanted to work in Primary Education as the hours would fit in with her family life.

Susan, a key worker,  supported Jennifer to write a new CV and covering letter.  She helped Jennifer to look for colleges that offered teaching courses.  Jennifer didn’t have an email account so Susan encouraged her to set one up and to also look for courses in her local area.

Jennifer found a course at Birmingham Metropolitan College in Supporting Teaching and Learning.  Jennifer needed a placement and because she was growing in confidence she was able to approach two local schools who agreed that she could do a twelve hour placement with them as long as she had a clear CRB.

Jennifer continues to do the course and will hopefully go on to university later this year.

*Names have been changed.

Adult Learner’s Week 14th – 18th May

Gateway To Your Future

Are you looking for work, a course or training?

Would you like advice on housing or benefits?

Do you just want to know what is available in your community?

We will be offering workshops in CV building, employment support, volunteering and benefits advice.

Come join us for FREE advice at the following venues:

Monday 14th May  Northfield Library 11am – 1pm

Tuesday 15th May  Ward End Library 3pm – 5pm

Thursday 17th May  Small Heath Library 12pm – 2pm AND Weoley Castle Library 12pm – 2pm

Friday 18th May  Shard End Library 12pm – 2pm

For further information please contact:

Chelsea Gaffey 0121 456 7820




Khan Thought He Had All The Experience and Qualifications Needed to get a Job in England

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.