Author: Joanne Harper

Making voices heard: the Maternity Voices Partnership

Since Gateway began in 2006, our tag line has been “Changing Lives, Changing Services”.

To change services, we have to play an influencing and sometimes challenging role, sharing evidence of the need for change. That’s why we have always seen it as part of our responsibility to gather views from service users, ensuring that what they say is heard by decision-makers and other people of influence.

And that’s why we’re delighted to announce that Gateway will be providing Birmingham and Solihull’s Maternity Voices Partnership.

A Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) is a team of people who work together to review and contribute to the development of their Local Maternity System (LMS). Gateway will be bringing together regular panels of service users (people with experience of maternity services, and their families) and service delivery representatives (like commissioners, midwives and doctors) to ensure that a wide range of voices are heard.

Why Gateway? Well, having run the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS) for over a decade, we’re ideally placed to deliver – if you’ll excuse the pun – the Maternity Voices work. We know that there is often a lack of awareness of services in the places where those services are needed the most, so we’re particularly keen to be part of a national programme that wants to build better relationships with hard-to-reach communities, and hear from as many service users, from as many different backgrounds, as possible.

Through POWS, we have already established strong connections within those communities that are known to have a poor take-up of services. We also have strong connections with midwives, Children’s Centres, Social Services, housing providers and other third sector organisations who work with pregnant women – particularly in areas of multiple deprivation. Gateway’s staff are often from these communities themselves, and are experienced in working with and encouraging people who don’t typically come forward.

Gateway’s role will be to form the MVP, finding the right people to be part of it, ensure the quarterly meetings cover topics that are of relevance to service users. Then, we’ll provide the Partnership’s feedback to the LMS Board.

We will soon be advertising for service users to get involved, we’ll be providing training to prepare them for the first meeting in July. If you have recent experience of Birmingham and Solihull’s maternity services, and you’re interested in finding out more, please contact our MVP Co-ordinator Sharon Bartlett at s.bartlett@gatewayfs.org.

This MVP will be part of the new Birmingham and Solihull United Maternity and Newborn Partnership (BUMP), which has been set up as a result of the National Maternity Review (Better Births). We’re very much looking forward to being part of project BUMP, giving as many people as possible a voice, and bringing the ambitions of the National Maternity Review to life.

(The photos on this page were all taken by, or of, our Pregnancy Outreach Workers.)

Co-ordinator Caroline with Gateway's first Peer Educators

Young parents become Peer Educators

Last week, we ran the first session of training for our Peer Educators: young people who will be going into schools to talk about their experiences of parenthood.

We’re delivering this programme in the West Midlands in partnership with Straight Talking, a London charity that employs teenage mothers and young fathers to educate young people about early parenthood, healthy relationships, child sexual exploitation and sexting, enabling them to make responsible life choices.

Gateway was chosen to deliver the programme in the West Midlands because of our proven successes with services like the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS). It’s thanks to networks and experience like this that we’ve been able to recruit young people to the programme very quickly and hit the ground running. You can hear from one of them, Emily, in the video below.

The point of Straight Talking’s Peer Educators scheme is not only to reduce the high rate of teenage pregnancy and child sexual exploitation in the UK, but to support teenage parents themselves to achieve economic wellbeing and quality of life. Because the work is paid, with full training, it offers really good work experience, building confidence and opening the door to potential longer term employment. We love this model of working – employing people with direct, personal knowledge of the issues their clients face, and helping people to help each other – and it fits perfectly with our values, aims and objectives.

Last week’s training was led by representatives from Straight Talking, together with two Peer Educators who have been working with Straight Talking in other areas of the country. It began with some sessions in the training rooms at Gateway, including how to manage a classroom – no easy task! – and how to get pupils talking. The experienced mentors helped the new recruits to learn how to set ground rules and lead ice-breaker activities that will help them to start conversations and debates with pupils.

The next day, the new Peer Educators got to see how it worked for real, as they shadowed their mentors and watched them lead some Straight Talking sessions at Grace Academy in Solihull. Gateway’s Programme Co-ordinator Caroline (pictured at the top of the page with three new recruits) said, “it was really interesting to see how engaged the pupils were and how much they seemed to enjoy learning from the Peer Educators. There were some good debates and the hands-on activities really got the pupils thinking – like deciding how they would prioritise if they were faced with having to budget for a young family. Each session ended with a young person telling their own story of becoming a teen parent, and each time it was really powerful. It clearly makes a big impression on the children.”

In the video below, Emily talks about why she wants to be a Peer Educator, and why going into schools to talk about being a teenage mum is helping her, too.

Ruben from Straight Talking said, “Working with Gateway is going to be important for Straight Talking, simply because they share the same ethos as us, which is working with people to try and get them back into employment, and working with teenage mothers to give them the best health and wellbeing. You can tell straight away with the people that Gateway brought in that it’s going to be a good working relationship.”

We’re really looking forward to finding more young people to become Peer Educators over the next few months. If you became a parent when you were a teenager, you’re still under 25 now, and you’d like to find out more, call Caroline on 0121 456 7820.

Taking a risk to invest in people’s Healthy Futures

Recently, we have decided to take a bit of a risk and relaunch a service, despite a lack of external funding. Using our own reserves, we have relaunched Healthy Futures, a programme supporting socially isolated people. In partnership with MyHealthcare, we are now taking referrals from GPs across South Birmingham.

Why? Because we know this service is desperately needed in Birmingham… and we know it works.

We know that Healthy Futures works because we ran a pilot programme in 2016. GPs and surgeries referred people who were socially isolated – for a variety of reasons – and Gateway’s para-professional staff and volunteer befrienders supported them. It was found to be a cost-effective way to reduce the time people spent with their GP (when a social intervention was more appropriate), as well as significantly increasing people’s self-reliance and self-care.

“The care navigation service is estimated to represent a saving in this scenario of approximately £10 per hour”: read how the pilot of Healthy Futures saved time for GPs and money for the NHS, according to official reports.

Importantly, we learned a number of things from the pilot, which means we know what works and what doesn’t. This has allowed us to design and relaunch a streamlined version of the service, despite limited resources.

For example, we were surprised at the age of many of the people we worked with in the pilot – we had been expecting to see a lot of elderly people, but in fact 70% of the people we saw were under 65. As well as people who wanted support to manage long term conditions, we saw a lot of alcohol dependency, anxiety and depression, accommodation issues and financial hardship.

It meant that every person we worked with initially needed intensive support from a para-professional Practice Navigator, rather than lower-level support from a Volunteer Befriender.

So, to start with, all staff working on Healthy Futures are para-professional Wellbeing Navigators. We hope that once the programme has been running for a while – depending on future income – we can introduce volunteer befrienders again, to allow people who no longer need intensive help to continue receiving a phased-down, lower level of support.

And, of course, we are continuing to apply for funding, so we’ve designed the new Healthy Futures in a way that will allow us to build capacity quickly and efficiently once we secure outside investment. With a little help, we could be supporting hundreds of socially isolated people across a wider area in no time.

“Diane was lonely, anxious and at risk”: read how the Healthy Futures pilot programme helped Diane

Healthy Futures was designed, and is being relaunched, in partnership with MyHealthcare. To find out more, or to refer patients into the service, GPs and Practice Managers should call 0121 456 7820 and ask for Healthy Futures.

Programme Coordinator Vacancy

We are looking for a Programme Coordinator to work on our new Social Prescribing Project based in Birmingham.

Gateway Family Services CIC is a leading provider of services to the health and social care sector. Our aim is to reduce inequalities in learning, employment and health.

We are currently looking for a Programme Coordinator to join our team.  You will be working within our Care Navigator Service which will be based initially within South Birmingham (travel to other areas may be required).  This is a fixed term post to end of April 2018.

The role will involve:

  • Heavily contributing to the successful set up and delivery of Care Navigator contract and providing support to management team
  • Taking responsibility for the line management of support staff
  • Direct support to clients with complex needs
  • Supporting administration of contracts and the meeting of targets.
  • Report writing on a monthly and quarterly basis

Essential requirements include experience of supervising or management staff and delivering outreach/support work.  It is also necessary that candidates have a Level 3 qualification in a health related subject.

Applicants for this post must be willing to work flexible hours that will be set around the needs of the organisation which will at times include evenings and weekends.

This post is subject to DBS disclosure as at times the post holders will come into contact with vulnerable people.

Please take a look at the Job Advert.

Care Coordinator Job Description

Application packs can be obtained by emailing Maxine Brown maxine.brown@gatewayfs.org or by calling 0121 456 7820 quoting ref GW178

Closing date for applications is midnight on Wednesday 1st November 2017.  Completed application forms should be emailed to Joanne Harper on joanne.harper@gatewayfs.org

 

Business Development Manager Vacancy

THE APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR THIS VACANCY HAS PASSED

We are looking for an Experienced Business Development Manager to join our Our Team on a fixed term basis.

Gateway Family Services (GFS) is in its twelfth year and in that time it has grown to be recognised as one of the key providers of health and social care in Birmingham and the surrounding area. It has developed and delivered services, worked independently, collaboratively and in partnership.

However the business environment that GFS is currently operating in has changed markedly from that which existed when the C.I.C was established. There is intense financial pressure on the sector leading to many services disappearing or drastically reducing. Those weathering the storm best are those who have been able to compete, adapt and diversity which is why we are seeking to appoint this role to help us identify wider opportunities, engage in new networks and ultimately secure new work.

Interested?  Please take a look at the Job Advert  for more information and details of how to apply. PLEASE NOTE: THE APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR THIS VACANCY HAS PASSED

Business Development Job Description

If you’d like an informal chat about the role please contact Katherine Hewitt on 0121 456 7820/07584 682307 or via email; katherine.hewitt@gatewayfs.org

Applications can be requested from Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820 or via email; maxine.brown@gatewayfs.org

Fun for all the family at our Health and Wellbeing Day

Medals for those who completed the 5K!

Thanks to everyone who came to our Family Health and Wellbeing Day in Cannon Hill Park on Saturday. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

This annual event has grown, in the last few years, from a simple Fun Run into a community event for all the family. This year’s Family Health and Wellbeing Day included health checks, parenting information, dance lessons, Tai Chi classes, games and activities for children, and two “fun run” courses – long and short – for people to run or walk.

Health Trainer Wayne carrying out a Health Check

The idea is for everyone to be able to take part in a healthy activity, no matter what their age, mobility or current physical activity levels.

Our services, including Health Trainers, Pregnancy Outreach Workers and Pre-Diabetes courses, work with people of all abilities and we’re keen for everyone to be able to get involved.

Getting some baby bath tips from POWS

We know that mental wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing, and the two are closely linked. So we wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to socialise and meet new friends, as well as taking the opportunity to get moving!

Saturday morning started off a bit damp, but the sun soon came out, turning it into a fabulous day for a picnic in the park. Gateway Health Trainers and Pregnancy Outreach Workers were on hand to give out health advice, carrying out health checks and parenting classes. Around 15 people entered our Fun Run, including Raymond (featured in the video below) who completed both the short course AND the full 5K with his Health Trainer Beckie!

Reza DanceFitness got us dancing

Steve from Painting the Rainbow did two Tai Chi sessions which were the perfect foil to the run – a relaxing work out for everyone. And Teresa from Reza Dance got people moving with some lively dance fitness sessions.

The kids had a great time doing a range of activities, from storytelling on the bandstand to giant Jenga and Connect 4 games, and some races especially for them.

Children enjoyed some games in the sunshine

And of course, the whole thing was topped off by a lovely picnic lunch. Everyone who registered got a goodie bag which included some healthy snacks and refreshments.

Thanks again to everyone who got involved, including Gateway staff and our friends at partner organisations who led the sessions and spread the word. Some of you may even spot yourselves in the video below…

See you again next year!

Get the whole family active at our Health and Wellbeing Day!

Click on the picture to download the full-size poster (PDF)

Looking for some easy ways to get happier and healthier? Join us for our free Family Health and Wellbeing Day on Saturday 1st July in Cannon Hill Park from 10am until 1pm. (Meet you by the bandstand!)

Building on the success of last year’s Community Fun Day, and the Fun Runs from previous years, the Family Health and Wellbeing Day is open to everyone and will include loads of fun activities for all the family, plus a free* picnic lunch, including healthy recipes to take away.

Physical activity will still be a big part of the day – we’ll still be holding the 5K Fun Run (or walk, if you prefer!) – but we wanted to make the day even more inclusive, so we’ll be putting on a range of health and wellbeing activities for all ages and abilities.

That includes some healthy picnic food, with free advice about healthy cooking and eating for those who want it… and the chance to meet new people. After all, we know that being sociable is really good for your mental health!

Our health teams will be on hand throughout the day to offer motivation and advice about all aspects of health and wellbeing, including one-to-one health checks and information about what other activities are available in your area.

We’d love to get you moving!

We know lots of people like to do the 5K Fun Run around the park, so there will be warm-up exercises and support from our Health Trainers for anyone who wants to give that a go this year. Perhaps you can beat your time from last year!

We also recognise that many people don’t want, or aren’t able, to do the 5k route, but we’d love to get everyone moving, even if it’s just a little bit. So there will be plenty of other opportunities to get active. You could join the beginners’ Tai Chi class, run by our friends at Painting the Rainbow, or perhaps a dance class led by Reza DanceFitness, who some of you might know through Solihull Lighten Up. (Make sure you wear suitable clothing.)

We’ll also be putting on more activities for children, as we saw how much fun they had last time. The kids really enjoyed the impromptu races last year, so we’ll make sure they get to run about even more this year with a range of races and silly games. There will also be storytelling sessions to feed the little ones’ growing imaginations and, of course, some facepainting fun.

*The Family Health and Wellbeing Day is totally free and you can turn up on the day – we’ll be by the bandstand – but if you want to receive a free picnic, you must register first by emailing your name, number of guests and any special dietary requirements to info@gatewayfs.org. You can also register by phone on 0121 456 7820, or even on Twitter by using the hashtag #GatewayFun (please ensure we send a confirmation reply, though!)

We look forward to seeing you there!

Health Trainer group at the Signing Tree

Positive partnerships: strength in numbers!

Forming strong partnerships with other local organisations is a very important part of Gateway’s work.

By sharing resources we are able to provide a more cost-effective, joined-up service – both as an individual organisation and as a sector. In an environment where budgets are shrinking, effective partnerships mean less duplication of work, which saves vital resources. It also means less “pushing from pillar to post” for clients, easier access to services and one point of contact to help someone navigate through services.

People rarely have one issue they need support with, so all our services have always worked in partnership with other organisations, either formally or informally. Over the last couple of years, however, partnership work has become even more important to the Health Trainer service as they have started working with broader groups of people, reaching out to communities who might not otherwise be able to access the service.

Health Trainers at The Signing Tree

One partnership that we’ve set up relatively recently is with BID Services, a charity supporting people who are deaf, hard of hearing, visually impaired or have a dual sensory loss. BID Services runs a social enterprise called the Signing Tree, based at the Deaf Cultural Centre in Ladywood – and it’s here we now run a Health Trainer service with interpreters (one provided by Gateway, and the other by BID).

Gateway Health Trainer Richard, pictured, says, “I visit the Signing Tree once a month, where I set up a classroom together with two interpreters. If it wasn’t for them, the communication barrier would definitely be a sticking point – I don’t think many of the people I see at the Signing Tree would contact the Health Trainer service otherwise. The interpreters are brilliant – they actually get involved and help me to provide an informative yet fun session each month. We have 15 clients per session and it’s very popular – in fact last time, I had to turn four people away.”

Bhavana Jamin, Specialist Enablement Co-ordinator at BID, says, “This has been a positive experience for all the deaf people involved. The trainers make the pace of the sessions meet the clients’ needs and by this the clients became confident to participate and engage with the sessions. They gain access to information about their health and wellbeing that they may not be able to access from other areas, so they now have some knowledge of healthy food choices, and the information is presented visually.

“Word of mouth has been used to promote these sessions within the community and I now have a waiting list of people who would also like training in the future. So I look forward to working with Gateway again in the future.”

Strong partnerships allow us to do several things, especially when clients have more complex needs. They enable us to have an up-to-date knowledge of the issues that people in Birmingham are facing, so we can adapt the services we offer and respond to need as quickly and usefully as possible. It means more opportunity to help clients prioritise their needs, and to deal with issues in a way that suits the individual, by taking the services to them.

As well as the Signing Tree, we now also deliver services in partnership with a number of other organisations, including Jobcentres in South Birmingham, and Cerebral Palsy Midlands, based in Harborne.

If you would like to know more about working with Gateway, whether that’s to work with our Health Trainer service, or any other Gateway services, for example the Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service, do contact us – we’d be very pleased to hear from you.

Gateway POWS: unique support for mum

When social services become involved to protect an unborn child, who is there for mum?

Gateway Pregnancy Outreach Workers Service (POWS) is a unique service in this respect. Because, while social services and midwives – quite rightly – are focusing on the child, our focus is on mum. As far as we know, we’re the only organisation that can provide this intensive level of support to women during and after pregnancy.

The women POWS work with are referred to the service for many reasons. Many have issues with unsuitable accommodation, financial difficulties, problems with substance misuse, or risky relationships. All are vulnerable. Some have had children removed from them in the past, which means that their current pregnancy will be under increased scrutiny, bringing added pressures to an already difficult situation.

While this scrutiny and focus on the unborn child is necessary, it can often leave mum feeling bereft and unsupported, with her original needs unmet. And if she leads a chaotic lifestyle, with intermittent or no support from family or friends, then working on her own to build up the sorts of routines and networks that a parent needs (and that social workers and family courts will approve of) can be virtually impossible.

This is where POWS support is invaluable. Not only does a POW work one-to-one with mum to come up with an action plan, helping her to tackle issues in a methodical way, but she will also liaise with social workers and other services to ensure that they are aware of the changes being made.

Gateway POW, Shazia, who supported Chloe*.
In the video below, you can hear from Chloe*, who tells us about the support her POW Shazia gave to her, and how it changed the outcome of her social services intervention.

Shazia says, “Chloe was proactive – she knew the dangers and wanted to change – but she needed emotional and practical support to actually get stuff done. I was able to be there for her throughout the pregnancy, not just at the end of the phone, but with practical advice – signposting her to other services, going with her to appointments, writing letters on her behalf and making sure social services knew she was making progress.”

Just having someone available to talk to is really important, so POWS work together to make sure all their clients get constant access to support. Shazia works part time, so she introduced Chloe to another POW she could contact, and made sure she had the number for the office too. If anything happened and Shazia wasn’t around, someone else would be.

Shazia continues, “There were times when Chloe doubted herself and times when she struggled to understand what she needed to do, but as time went on she started to believe in herself and that’s when she really started to make changes. She was keen to prove herself – even requesting things like additional drug tests – and just generally needing me to do things for her less and less. A nice example is when I rang her to remind her she needed to register the baby’s birth – and she’d already done it!”

As you’ll see from the video, Chloe is still making progress. She’s a lot happier now, and a lot more confident in herself. In fact, we found out this week that she has been given unsupervised access to her other two children on a regular basis.

Even when a mum doesn’t get the outcome she wishes for, and a child is removed, POWS are able to continue supporting her for up to eight weeks. However, it frustrates us that we can only work with her for such a short time. A mother is extremely vulnerable – and likely to fall into old patterns – during this period, so continued practical and emotional support and guidance is absolutely vital at this time.

Finally: the sort of support offered by POWS isn’t just something that would be “nice to have” for hundreds of families – it also saves a surprising amount of money. The approximate cost of taking a child into care for nine months runs into tens of thousands of pounds, but the approximate cost of the combined preventative services accessed by a vulnerable mum over nine months is less than a quarter of that.

*Name has been changed

Richard, Health Trainer

Health Trainers service at risk: please help

If you value the Health Trainers service, then we want to hear from you.

The latest round of cuts to services in Birmingham is being discussed as part of the Birmingham City Council’s budget consultation, and one of the services highlighted as being at risk is the Health Trainers service.

Health Trainers are one of the few discretionary services provided by Public Health (ie they are not statutory services), which means they are most susceptible to cuts. It’s possible that funding to the Health Trainers service will be cut dramatically, if not completely, later this year. We are currently putting together a response to the consultation to explain why Health Trainers are important to the city, and to thousands of people who receive their support.

One of the letters we’ve already received is from a woman explaining how her mother was helped by Beckie, a Gateway Health Trainer.
If you have benefited from a working with a Health Trainer, please let us know how they helped. What was your experience? What would your situation be like now if it wasn’t for your Health Trainer?

If you haven’t been supported directly, but you understand the value of the service, maybe as a partner or referrer, we’d still be very grateful for your feedback.

You can send comments to us via email at MichelleS@gatewayfs.org, or write to us at: Gateway Family Services, 5th Floor, Chamber of Commerce House, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 3DH, and we’ll include your comments in the response we give to the consultation next week.

Alternatively, you can respond to the consultation directly by filling out the Council survey before next Wednesday, 18th January.

And if you’d like some inspiration, read on to hear why we think this service is so important…

Health Trainers: we give you extra!

The Health Trainer service isn’t just about weight management; it’s a long term, preventative service. Health Trainers help people to make lifestyle changes that have far-reaching consequences and so reduce the impact on other services.

Health Trainer Wayne visiting a local homeless hostel last month
In the last year, our Health Trainers have supported more than 2,000 people to increase their physical activity and to eat more healthily. But they’ve also helped hundreds of people to learn how to budget and to learn how to cook. They’ve helped people who were at risk of diabetes, or high blood pressure, to reduce their risk in the long term. They’ve set up group activities – which increase physical activity and reduce social isolation – and signposted people to many more. They’ve even helped people with housing issues, benefits claims and access to food parcels; issues that aren’t medical but nevertheless have a big impact on health.

Like all of Gateway’s services, our Health Trainers are an adaptable, flexible team. They offer home visits and phone support as well as community consultations. They respond to need as it happens and they put their wide network of contacts and skills to good use. They offer practical advice, but they also offer time, and someone to talk to.

More than 40% of the people Gateway Health Trainers have supported in the last year are from vulnerable groups, such as older people, people with mental health issues, and people who have an issue with substance misuse. And around 65% of Health Trainer clients are from deprived areas of the city. We know that people in these groups are much less likely to access resources on their own, which is why access to a Health Trainer is so vital: many of the people we work with would not otherwise receive any ongoing support at all.

Please help us to show why the service should stay.