As 2015 draws to a close, we’re very pleased to announce a new project for Gateway that will be starting in the new year: a weight management programme commissioned by Solihull Council.
The service will be very similar to the Gateway Lighten Up service that we run in Birmingham, with a call centre to triage people and provide regular support phonecalls, but it will have a bigger focus on behaviour change interventions with face to face and phone support on offer.
Why Solihull? Well, we know obesity is an issue nationwide, and affects people across the country. In Solihull, the north of the Borough has a particularly high prevalence of obesity, at around 31.4% compared to 23% in England and 23.7% in the remainder of Solihull, so we’ll be working with people in the north Solihull areas – Fordbridge, Kingshurst, Chelmsley Wood, Bickenhill and Smith’s Wood – to reduce obesity rates.
We’ll be working predominantly with people who have a BMI of over 30, with a particular focus on people with learning disabilities, disabled people and their carers, people with mental health issues, people over 40 and recent ex smokers.
Thanks to our years of experience in Birmingham, we already have a good knowledge of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to weight management. Our experienced call centre staff are set up and ready to go – they have already undertaken Behaviour Change training in order to promote weight loss and retention in weight management services.
For each client in the new programme, we’ll look at the many options that are available locally, and work with them to provide tailored options that meet their specific needs. As well as offering access to weight loss groups, we will be aiming to improve people’s overall wellbeing, and our staff will be working with their clients to find ways in which the whole family can get involved.
And, of course, each person will get “wraparound support” via regular phonecalls from our dedicated staff, as well as face to face behaviour change support.
Working in partnership with established organisations in the Solihull area, we’ll be able to offer people a range of physical activities (including EXTEND, Tai Chi and walking groups) that are accessible to everyone and easy to sustain. And there will be a strong emphasis on getting other family members involved, with activities like “cook and taste” sessions and dance classes.
For those people with more complex needs there will be specialist support on hand, including one to one support from a dietician.
We especially like the focus on using local providers, as this mirrors our social value principles of recruiting from local communities and providing sustainable opportunities that people can keep up, long after contracts have ceased.
One of Gateway’s key areas of expertise is working with vulnerable groups, and this contract will be focusing on the most vulnerable groups in the Solihull Borough, so we are pleased to have the opportunity to roll out and demonstrate our way of working outside of Birmingham.
We recognise that Local Authorities and Public Health Services will be facing greater financial pressures in coming years, and moving into a new geographical area allows us to show that our approach can work in a variety of different area types, allowing the most vulnerable or in-need communities to access services wherever they live. We’re very much looking forward to working in Solihull.