Author: Joanne Harper

Link Worker Vacancy – Birmingham

Social Prescribing Link Worker

We have rewarding opportunity for a Social Prescribing Link Worker to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. If you feel you could connect to people, community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support, we would love to hear from you!

Position: Social Prescribing Link Worker

Location: Birmingham

Hours: Full time (37 hours) 

Salary: £19,000 – £19,986

Contract: Fixed term to the end of September 2021

Benefits: The provision of workplace wellbeing support and activities, flexible working and a range of family friendly policies and subsidised parking.

Closing Date: Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight)

Interview Dates: 15th and 16th October 2020

Social Prescribing Link Worker will be integrated into the wider multi-disciplinary team of a PCN. This is part of NHS England’s Long Term Plan, which commits to building the infrastructure for Social Prescribing in primary care.

The Role

As Social Prescribing Link Worker, you will provide one-to-one support to people who are referred to you by GPs and the wider PCN team, helping them to increase their active involvement with their local communities. They may have issues such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity, as well as loneliness, isolation and low level mental health concerns which affect their health and wellbeing.

The role will build trusting relationships with people, create a shared personalised care and support plan and connect them to community groups, VCSE organisations and other services. This approach particularly helps people with long term conditions (including poor mental health), people who are lonely or isolated, or who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

About You

The Social Prescribing Link Worker will:

  • Be a good listener, have time for people and be committed to supporting local communities to care for each other.
  • Have experience of working positively with people facing complex social and emotional challenges.
  • Have a good knowledge of the area in which you’ll be based and what groups, activities and services are available there.

Some weekend and evening working may be required.

An interview is guaranteed to suitably qualified and experienced people with disabilities. All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

You may also have experience in areas such as Floating Support, Befriending, Community Family Worker, Social Worker, Community Navigator, Peer Support Worker, Welfare Support, Family Worker, Family Support Worker, Benefit, Care, Therapeutic, Therapy, Advice, Adviser, Health, Wellbeing, Social Care, Social Care Services, Health and Social Care.

Social Prescribing Link Worker Job Description and Person Specification

Application Form (please return to recruitment@gatewayfs.org)

Applications can also be requested by telephone by calling Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820

Senior Link Worker Job Vacancy

Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker

We have rewarding opportunity for a Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. If you feel you could connect to people, community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support, we would love to hear from you!

Position: Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker

Location: Birmingham

Hours: 37 hours per week

Salary: £23400 per annum

Contract: Fixed term to the end of September 2021

Benefits: The provision of workplace wellbeing support and activities, flexible working including home and remote working and a range of family friendly policies and subsidised parking.

Closing Date:  Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight)

Interview Dates: 15th and 16th October 2020

Social Prescribing Link Worker will be integrated into the wider multi-disciplinary team of a PCN. This is part of NHS England’s Long Term Plan, which commits to building the infrastructure for Social Prescribing in primary care.

The Role

The Senior Link Worker will have a dual role, taking responsibility for the line Management of Link Workers and any volunteers linked to the service, providing them with suitable support and supervision and at the same time continuing to provide personalised support to patients through the provision of cover for Link Workers during absences and supporting with more complex patients.

Link Workers provide one-to-one support to people who are referred to them by GPs and the wider PCN team, helping them to increase their active involvement with their local communities. They may have issues such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity, as well as loneliness, isolation and low level mental health concerns which affect their health and wellbeing.

About You

You will need to be able to communicate well, building strong relationships with your team, GP Practice staff and the wider health and social care sector as well as community groups and VCSE organisations. You should have experience of leading a team of staff, providing timely and appropriate support and development and dealing with conduct and performance issues in a consistent and fair manner.  Link Workers are based within GP practices so experience of managing Outreach staff or remote workers would be advantageous.

You will have:

  • Experience of staff supervision, ideally in a health and social care setting or similar
  • Experience of direct delivery of support to individuals with social needs
  • Knowledge of Birmingham and localities therein
  • Experience of partnership working across a range of organisations

The service is delivered flexibly to meet the needs of patients so some evening and weekend work may be required.

An interview is guaranteed to suitably qualified and experienced people with disabilities.

All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced DBS check

You may also have experience in areas such as Floating Support, Befriending, Community Family Worker, Social Worker, Community Navigator, Peer Support Worker, Welfare Support, Family Worker, Family Support Worker, Benefit, Care, Therapeutic, Therapy, Advice, Adviser, Health, Wellbeing, Social Care, Social Care Services, Health and Social Care.

Senior Link Worker June 2020 Job Description

Application Form (please return to recruitment@gatewayfs.org)

Applications can also be requested by telephone by calling Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820

Community Connector – Job Vacancies

Community Connector

We are currently seeing to employ a number of Community Connector’ roles to map voluntary and community organisations within the Edgbaston Locality and to share information about organisations across a range of services.

Position: Community Connector

Location: Birmingham (Edgbaston locality)

Hours: Full time (37 hours) 

Salary: £18393 to £19986 dependant on experience

Contract: Fixed term for 6 months (with possibility of extended funding beyond this point)

Benefits: The provision of workplace wellbeing support and activities, flexible working and a range of family friendly policies and subsidised parking.

Closing Date: Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight)

Interview Dates: 15th and 16th October 2020

The Role

Birmingham is a youthful diverse and creative city currently delivering a programme of early help support for the young people (0-25) and families across health, education, vocational training and social care. This new ‘Early Help’ programme is being established across the 10 localities, led in part by the voluntary sector – helping to create local networks of support for families where it can be most effective.

The Community Connector will play an exciting role in helping to re-engineer a step-change in community and family-focused support for children and families. As Community Connector you will need to demonstrate a wide understanding of the diversity of the city and an ability to work with all communities.

The organisation’s vision is one where families, whether they are asking for early help support or are in specialist services, can get support or help in their neighbourhood, and where they can be connected to all the wider opportunities that are available in the city, arts, leisure, sport, recreation.

About You

We are looking for dynamic and energetic communicators, capable of engaging with key stakeholder organisations as well as vulnerable individuals across defined locality regions. You will need to be digitally literate; with a deep understanding of the importance of inclusivity, equality and diversity, able to clearly articulate the delivery of network training to a wide range of stakeholder organisations and positive about change.

An interview is guaranteed to suitably qualified and experienced people with disabilities. All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

Please note due to current circumstances you will be required to do some work from home.

You may also have experience in areas such as Community Development Worker, Social Service, Support Worker, Care Worker, Networking, Asset Development, Neighbourhood Work, Early Help, Community Support.

Social Prescribing Link Worker Job Description and Person Specification

JD Community Connector Early Help v2

Application Form (please return to recruitment@gatewayfs.org)

Applications can also be requested by telephone by calling Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820

Bringing people together at Christmas: the Patient Health Forum

Last week the Patient Health Forum held their Christmas party, with singing, dancing… and a special visit from a certain Mr Claus!

The Gateway team was on hand to help, as ever, booking transport and making endless cups of tea, but for the party we made sure to include some special extras for this month’s event, including a Christmas quiz and some luxury Christmas cakes and treats. Forum favourite Reza entertained everyone with a selection of Christmas songs and dances that everyone could join in with, and even Father Christmas popped in with some presents.

The monthly meetings for the Patient Health Forum (also known as the Long Term Conditions Group) are a much-loved social event for many of the forum members, but we know that the Christmas party is especially important. Some people told us on Thursday that this would be the only social event they’d be going to over the festive season, and a couple of people told us they will be spending Christmas day on their own.

Experiences and expertise

As well as being a social group, the forum is actually an important part of the local NHS’s patient participation strategy. The group, which meets in Stirchley, is funded by NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG, which uses the group to directly capture views and opinions from people with long term health conditions. This feedback is then used to improve local services, as the CCG explains on its website:

“By talking directly to patients with long-term conditions, we are able to ask them to help us with the design, improvement and review of health services, enabling them to draw upon their own experiences and expertise.” –NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG

If you’d like to get involved with the long term conditions group, or you know someone in South Birmingham who might benefit from coming along, call the team on 0121 456 7820 and ask to speak to someone about the Patient Health Forum.

Meet our MVP Chair: Chloe

In the summer, we welcomed a new Chair for our Maternity Voices Partnership: Chloe Cadby.

The role of Chair is a busy one, and we’re happy to say Chloe has thrown herself into it over the last four months!

Last week, a team from the MVP visited Solihull Maternity Unit to take the “15 Steps” challenge and feed back with their first impressions

The Maternity Voices Partnership is made up of maternity professionals (like midwives and doctors), and service users (women who have been pregnant and given birth and their family members) and it’s Chloe’s job to speak on behalf of services users in these external meetings.

So as well as attending the regular MVP sessions, which are once a quarter, she has also been attending focus groups, quarterly meetings with Bump, meetings with us here at Gateway, and other events like the “15 Steps for Maternity” walks we’ve organised.

As a mum of two children, who each had very different births, Chloe has had experience of the local maternity services herself. She’s also experienced in helping new mums, thanks to her work in Children’s Centres over the last few years. But she’s also very interested in making things better for others, as she tells us here.

“I love anything maternity. A few years ago I started volunteering in my local Children’s Centre and as part of that I’ve done lots of training, including a 12 week breastfeeding course, which means I can give new moms really useful, practical, help.

 

 

“When my baby was about four months old, I found out about the MVP meetings. At first, I wasn’t really sure what it was all about but I went along anyway because it sounded interesting and I could take him along with me.

 

 

“I continued going, and found myself reading up on everything we talked about, and learning more and more. So when the chair position came up, I went for it.

 

 

“I really like the idea of being able to feed back into the system through the MVP. I love hearing people’s birth stories, and at the MVP meetings we don’t just get to talk about our maternity experiences, we can share important opinions with maternity professionals, and they listen. We’re working together to make things better for other women and families.

 

 

“Eventually, I want to go back to work, and I’d love to work in this area if I can, so working with the MVP is a good foot in the door. Having children, you sometimes feel like your brain has gone to mush, but this is helping me to stay challenged and feel like I’m really using my brain. I love listening to others, learning more, reading up on what we talk about at each meeting. It’s a chance to really be me, not just a mom!”

 

Want to get involved?

If you have personal experience of local maternity services, we welcome all “service user” voices and we aim to make all meetings accessible and child-friendly. Call Reshma at Gateway on 0121 456 7820 to find out about the next MVP event.

“I love that it’s giving women a voice!”

Hear from Chloe in her own words in this short video.

Solihull Stop Smoking service

Want to quit smoking? Introducing the Solihull Stop Smoking Service

Did you know you’re three times more likely to quit with the help of a Stop Smoking service?

The Solihull Stop Smoking service is now part of the Solihull Lifestyle Service, so it’s FREE and easy to access if you live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP.

How does it work?

Call free on 0800 599 9880
If you’d like to stop smoking, call the Solihull Lifestyle Service on 0800 599 9880, or ask your GP or pharmacist about stop smoking support. After a brief initial assessment, you’ll be put in touch with an NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioner who will start working with you as soon as you’re ready.

At your regular one-to-one appointments, held at convenient times and locations, you and your Practitioner will create a tailored action plan together. You will be provided with information and access to stop smoking medications (prescription costs when applicable) and your Stop Smoking Practitioner will provide advice, support and encouragement.

What to expect

Vicky Masters is the Senior Practitioner for the Solihull Stop Smoking Service. Here, she explains what to expect when you start working with a Stop Smoking Practitioner.

Vicky Masters, Senior Stop Smoking Practitioner, Solihull Lifestyle Service

“Often people are quite nervous when they come to their first appointment, but they soon find we are friendly and helpful and they start to relax. It’s really important to be completely honest with your Stop Smoking Practitioner at the first session, as that is how we create your tailored plan.

“It’s a 12 week course and over those 12 weeks your Stop Smoking Practitioner will help you in sticking to your plan and keeping smokefree. Even if something doesn’t go quite to plan we will help you get back on track. The best way to quit smoking is with support and medication, and the Solihull Stop Smoking service can provide you with both!

“If you don’t know what medication you want to use, your Stop Smoking Practitioner will assist you and go through all the nicotine replacement products, such gum and patches, and also prescription-only medication such as Champix. You will have expert guidance on how to get the best out of your chosen medication.

“At each session you will have your carbon monoxide reading taken, which is a quick and simple breath test, and shows how much carbon monoxide is in your system. It’s really great when it goes to a ‘non-smoker’ reading and people tell us how much better they feel – sometimes physically, other times financially and also mentally.

“Stopping smoking isn’t an easy thing to do, but when people quit with support and motivation from the team it is so fantastic!”

Think you might be ready to make the change? Call 0800 599 9880 free or fill in a referral form and start your quit journey today!

10 self-help tips to stop smoking

from the NHS Live Well website

Think positive
You might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don’t let that put you off. Look back at the things your experience has taught you and think about how you’re really going to do it this time.

Make a plan to quit smoking
Make a promise, set a date and stick to it. Sticking to the “not a drag” rule can really help. Whenever you find yourself in difficulty, say to yourself, “I won’t even have a single drag”, and stick with this until the cravings pass. Think ahead to times where it might be difficult (a party, for instance), and plan your actions and escape routes in advance.

Consider your diet
Is your after-dinner cigarette your favourite? A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, make cigarettes taste terrible. So swap your usual steak or burger for a veggie pizza instead. You may also want to change your routine at or after mealtimes. Getting up and doing the dishes straight away or settling down in a room where you don’t smoke may help.

Change your drink
The same US study as above also looked at drinks. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, cola, tea and coffee all make cigarettes taste better. So when you’re out, drink more water and juice. Some people find simply changing their drink (for example, switching from wine to a vodka and tomato juice) affects their need to reach for a cigarette.

Identify when you crave cigarettes
A craving can last 5 minutes. Before you give up, make a list of 5-minute strategies. For example, you could leave the party for a minute, dance or go to the bar. And think about this: the combination of smoking and drinking raises your risk of mouth cancer by 38 times.

Get some stop smoking support
If friends or family members want to give up, too, suggest to them that you give up together. There’s also support available from your local stop smoking service. Did you know that you’re up to 4 times more likely to quit successfully with their expert help and advice? You can also call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.

Get moving
A review of scientific studies has proved exercise, even a 5-minute walk or stretch, cuts cravings and may help your brain produce anti-craving chemicals.

Make non-smoking friends
When you’re at a party, stick with the non-smokers. “When you look at the smokers, don’t envy them,” says Louise, 52, an ex-smoker. “Think of what they’re doing as a bit strange – lighting a small white tube and breathing in smoke.”

Keep your hands and mouth busy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success. As well as patches, there are tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray. And if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the inhalator or e-cigarettes. When you’re out, try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds a cigarette, or drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy.

Make a list of reasons to quit
Keep reminding yourself why you made the decision to give up. Make a list of the reasons and read it when you need support. Ex-smoker Chris, 28, says: “I used to take a picture of my baby daughter with me when I went out. If I was tempted, I’d look at that.”

Straight Talking Peer Educators

Straight Talking Peer Educators are in youth clubs this summer

You might have thought that our Straight Talking Peer Educators would be having a break over the summer, but they’re busier than ever!

Peer Educator Cherelle talks to pupils in Coventry

That’s because the Straight Talking programme isn’t just for schools — our Peer Educators also deliver to any youth groups or clubs where young people get together.

Our Peer Educators are young people who became parents as teenagers themselves. They are fully trained to work with children and young people, and they draw upon their personal experiences to raise awareness of things like child sexual exploitation (CSE), healthy and unhealthy relationships and the realities and implications of early parenthood.

The aim is to reduce teenage parenthood and sexual exploitation by allowing young people the opportunity to make better informed life choices. Overall, children and young people find the sessions great fun, but they also learn about the consequences of things like sexting, and about the difficulties of young parenthood, including the difficult practical and financial choices that parents need to make.

Think your youth group would benefit from some Straight Talking?

Schools, clubs and youth groups can book sessions and find out more about the programme by calling 0121 456 7820 and asking for Peer Educators Che or Casey, or Straight Talking Co-ordinator Marc.

Find out more

Watch Peer Educators Che and Natasha talking about what happened when they delivered the Straight Talking programme in a youth group recently…

Dennis chatting with Leslie and Keith

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this group”: Dennis’s story

We’re pleased to say the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group, which we started supporting in 2014, is still going strong.

carer picking up leaflets
The meetings include an opportunity to share information and find out what support is available
The meetings, facilitated by Gateway and funded by the NHS South Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have gone from being every three months to every month. Gateway supports the group committee to host a range of speakers, health and wellbeing activity sessions, entertainment and social activities.

Members of the group – which is also known as the Patient Health Forum or the Personal Health Forum – are living with, or caring for people who live with, a range of long term health conditions.

The forum provides an opportunity for people to meet others with similar issues, but it also gives them a voice and the chance to influence services by giving their local CCG insights and feedback about the health services they all use.

Last week we spoke to some of the group members to find out a bit more about them, and how they feel they benefit from going to the meetings.

Meet Dennis

Dennis started coming to the Long Term Conditions Group after what he refers to as a “mental breakdown”. Now, he’s a key member of the group – a committee member with a strong social network.

Four years ago, Dennis’s GP referred him to a Gateway Health Trainer for help with weight management. However, at this point in his life Dennis was also quite mentally unwell. He’d been isolating himself at home, and worrying, to the point where he was having suicidal thoughts.

Dennis’s stress and worry problems came to a head one night and he emailed several people to ask for help. First thing next morning, his Health Trainer Richard visited him at home and arranged crisis support, including an emergency psychiatric appointment and ongoing help from a home treatment team. And later, Richard also introduced Dennis to the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group.

Dennis says, “I hadn’t been out for years and years. My flat was my comfort zone. But Richard explained what the group was like and what it was for. He gave me the names of the people who ran it, and I went along.

“When I first started coming, it was difficult to speak to people. I was so nervous, I would just stay quiet. Then the committee gave me a job as a ‘meet and greet’ person. The first time I did that, I remember my hands shaking so much I spilled the tea.

“But over the next couple of years my confidence really built up. Now, I can stand up at the front of the group and make announcements, introduce people and thank the speakers.” He seems surprised at himself. “I even tell jokes!”

Dennis says he likes the group because although people have health issues and can talk about them if they want to, it’s not the focus of the meetings. He says, “We all know everyone has a reason to be here. We’ve all been through something, but you don’t have to talk about it. You can concentrate on the entertainment and the discussion.”

As Dennis is talking, the meeting is finishing and a stream of friends stops by to remind him to call them or meet up later in the week.

He says, “I don’t want to be dramatic but I really believe I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this group. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts in ages. It’s a stepping stone, if you like, from having an illness to having something to look forward to.”

Membership of the Long Term Conditions Group is open to anyone who lives in South Birmingham, or is registered with a South Birmingham GP, and lives with a long term health condition. If you’d like to get involved, give us a call on 0121 456 7820 and ask to speak to someone about the Patient Health Forum.

What do you think of local maternity services?

Join our Maternity Voices Partnership and have your say

Our MVP (Maternity Voices Partnership) is still going strong, with the next meeting coming up on Wednesday 1st May 2019 at Stirchley Baths.

Some of the MVP taking their "Fifteen Steps For Maternity" at Heartlands Hospital
Some of the MVP taking their “Fifteen Steps For Maternity” at Heartlands Hospital

The MVP is a team of people who meet to discuss issues related to maternity services in Birmingham and Solihull, based on their own experiences. It includes maternity professionals (like midwives and doctors) and people with direct personal experience of the service, including women who have been pregnant and given birth, and their family members.

The MVP provides feedback to help make the local systems work as well as they possibly can for everyone involved.

The Birmingham and Solihull MVP is very keen to get more people involved to give feedback from a service users’ perspective, so if you or your immediate family have had experience of the maternity system in the last couple of years, we’d love to hear from you. Mums, dads, partners and grandparents are all welcome and you can bring children to the events, too.

If you’d like to tell your maternity story and help us to give feedback that makes a difference, come along and have your voices heard!

Next meeting

The next meeting will be on Wednesday 1st May, 10.30am-12.30pm, at Stirchley Baths on Bournville Lane in Stirchley. Children are welcome and we can even pay travel and parking expenses.

Birmingham and Solihull MVP logoAs well as chatting about people’s experiences, and hearing from our colleagues at Bump (Birmingham & Solihull United Maternity and Newborn Partnership), we’ll have a feedback presentation from midwives at Heartlands Hospital, where we had a “Fifteen Steps For Maternity Challenge” a few weeks ago.

The Fifteen Steps challenge is a great way to give immediate feedback so that midwives and hospital staff can make simple changes to help others in the future. On March 7th a small group of us went to Heartlands Hospital to give them our first impressions (the experiences that we gathered on our first “fifteen steps” onto each ward). Since then, the hospital has been able to make some immediate changes based on our comments, and will be making further changes in the longer term. We’ll be really interested to hear how we’ve made a difference!

The Birmingham and Solihull MVP is part of a network of MVPs around the country, working together to achieve positive change, with women and their families at the heart of maternity service development.

If you’d like to join the MVP at the next meeting, or just to find out more, please give our Co-ordinator Reshma a call on 0121 456 7820.

Social Prescribing Day banner

Happier, healthier, and housed: Alia’s story

To celebrate the first Social Prescribing Day, we wanted to share a recent story from Healthy Futures, our social prescribing service.

Social Prescribing Day aims to highlight the importance and significance of social prescribing within healthcare. Created by the Social Prescribing Network, a collaboration of doctors, colleges and the NHS, it’s a chance for services like ours to share stories about a way of working that has become a social movement.

In just over two years, our Healthy Futures “Wellbeing Navigators” have worked with over 200 people in Birmingham to support them with social and other non-medical issues. People are usually referred into the service by their GP, and then we work with them to provide a range of tailored interventions.

Those interventions might be as simple as a cup of tea and a chat, or — more often — help applying for the benefits people are entitled to, help bidding for social housing, understanding and filling in forms, calling the utilities to sort out bills, travelling with people to appointments, finding social groups people might enjoy (and going with them, if needed), and signposting to other organisations and agencies. Sometimes, as Alia’s story below illustrates, our staff are the only support workers available to listen at a time of crisis.

How Ralph helped Alia and her son to put down roots

Ralph, Wellbeing Navigator
Ralph, Alia’s Wellbeing Navigator
When Wellbeing Navigator Ralph first met Alia* last summer, she and her young disabled son were living in a homeless centre after moving away from her abusive partner. Socially, they were very isolated, with no local family and few friends. Alia cared for her son 24/7 with very little respite, and told Ralph she was suffering from depression and anxiety.

Alia’s risks were recorded as:

  • unsuitable accommodation
  • social isolation
  • caring responsibilities (disabled son)
  • low wellbeing
  • domestic abuse

Alia told Ralph she was looking for social activities so that she and her son, nearly two, could make some friends – important not just for her, but for her son’s development. And of course, she was keen to move out of the homeless centre. With support from Shelter, she had applied to move into social housing and was waiting for a decision.

Ralph was in the office one evening when he received a frantic call from Alia: her housing application had been rejected. Extremely upset, she hadn’t been able to speak to anyone. They talked and Ralph changed his plans so he could meet her the next day.

The following day, Ralph found Alia feeling very low. He explained that the next step would be to appeal against the decision, then called Shelter to arrange a visit from her support worker for the following week. Worried about her mental and physical health, he asked her to consider going to her GP. When he left, he told the Centre staff his concerns and told Alia that he would be available over the weekend if she needed him. (Later, Alia admitted to Ralph just how ill she’d felt that day, and that she had been considering self-harm, but that his friendly advice encouraged her to seek help.)

Since then, things have started to look up. Alia’s Shelter support worker and their legal team made the appeal against the social housing decision, and Ralph helped to arrange an Occupational Therapy assessment for her son as part of that appeal.

Ralph also found lots of activities for them to get out and meet people. Alia’s son likes animals, so he told them about the local nature centre and farms, which they have since enjoyed visiting. He referred them to their local Children’s Centre, and a support team helped them access free nursery care and activities. Alia’s GP surgery offered her a stress management course which she took up and really enjoyed. And, although Alia had originally refused Home-Start support, she changed her mind and began to receive support from volunteers providing temporary at-home respite.

Three months on, Ralph was overjoyed when Alia called to say the appeal had been successful. Now, they live in their own temporary accommodation. Alia’s making new friends and her son’s doing really well at nursery. They still have a long road ahead, but they’re happier and healthier – thanks to Ralph, Shelter, and her new support networks.

*Alia’s name has been changed