Since Early Help Edgbaston started in May 2020, our team has directly supported 340 families to access services, receive emergency funds and get back on their feet during the pandemic. This didn’t stop over the Christmas period, when our Early Help team worked hard to make sure that Edgbaston families facing the added strains of winter were supported.
The team coordinated with InUnity, Birmingham Forward Steps and our local Tesco, to try to ease some of the families’ winter anxieties with a Christmas campaign that we nicknamed #EdgbastonElves.
On 16th December two of our Community Connectors, Justin Hinton and Deborah Ufton, worked with Lorraine Lane from Birmingham Forward Steps Edgbaston, and Hannah Brooman at InUnity, to deliver gifts from the Birmingham Forward Steps shoebox appeal. They delivered 190 toys to children staying in temporary accommodation on the Hagley Road, making sure that each child who asked for a toy got one.
Later in December, Gateway’s Early Help Co-ordinator Marc Baggott collaborated with Tesco Hagley Road to put together 35 Christmas hampers to be delivered to families. Together they assembled 15 hampers full of Christmas dinner and all the trimmings, as well as 20 grocery hampers of non-perishable goods, so that even those without cooking facilities would have enough food over the festive period.
Gateway staff from across our services — Jemma Abbott, Adwoa Owusu-Barnieh, Justin Hinton, Abeda Begum and Anita Ward — all helped to deliver the hampers to Edgbaston families.
The families receiving these gifts seemed very grateful, with one mother saying “Thank you so much. You don’t know what this means to me and my kids”. The Early Help Edgbaston team were able to provide practical support to families by listening to their needs and collaborating with others.
Stoptober is a 28-day stop smoking challenge. The app allows you to:
track your progress
see how much you’re saving
get daily support
If you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you’re five times more likely to quit for good!
Find your local Stop Smoking service
You are also three times more likely to quit when you get support from a Stop Smoking service, so ask your GP or local pharmacy what’s available locally. A Stop Smoking adviser will be able to give you access to ‘stop smoking’ medications and tell you what strategies and products will work best for you.
In Solihull, the Stop Smoking service is provided by the Solihull Lifestyle Service. Our NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioners will work one-to-one with people to help them through Stoptober and beyond. They’ll provide information and access to medications, as well as advice, support and encouragement during regular phone consultations and text messages.
If you live in Solihull or have a Solihull GP, speak to your GP or call 0800 599 9880 to refer yourself to the Solihull Stop Smoking Service. You can also refer yourself using the Solihull Lifestyle Service referral form.
Resources for Solihull GPs
If you represent a Solihull GP practice and you’d like to promote Stoptober at your surgery, the following co-branded Stoptober / Solihull Lifestyle Service resources are available:
At the start of this year, Gateway and Age UK Birmingham were appointed to lead the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme (NNS). We were about to start planning our launch event when Covid-19 hit and the country went into lockdown.
Rather than holding an event to launch the new scheme, we dived straight into supporting community groups in the area. Our Asset Development Worker Sam, and seconded Early Help co-ordinator Marc, began co-ordinating the delivery of food parcels and other vital support to the local communities — and this is how the scheme has been running for the last four months.
Now, however, we are starting to move forward again and on 23rd June, we held the official launch of the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme — albeit as an online meeting rather than the physical event we had originally planned.
Around 25 people came together via Zoom to discusss the original aims of the ENNS: the ways in which we can help local community, activity and social groups to sustain themselves and, if they wish to, develop further. We also talked about how things have changed since March and how we can support groups to adapt to a post coronavirus landscape.
The event was attended by representatives from Gateway, Age UK Birmingham, the Adult Social Work team, Birmingham City Council, BVSC and other agencies, but also by a mix of community groups (also known as “assets”).
After introductions and some information about the ENNS and how it can help community groups, attendees split into three “breakout rooms” to discuss issues in more detail: funding, the “three conversations” social work model, and lessons learned from Covid-19.
Natalie Tichareva, from Age UK Birmingham, said, “I think it is safe to say we were all slightly nervous about how a digital launch event would go, but in the end I do not think it could have gone better! Thank you to everyone who attended and took part in our breakout room discussions following the presentation. We have made some great links through our launch event which will be able to strengthen our work in Edgbaston going forward.”
We understand that many people weren’t able to attend, and that some of those who did attend would like the opportunity to reconvene so that they can attend the other breakout meetings, so we’ll be planning more digital get-togethers in the near future.
In the meantime, click here to download the ENNS Welcome Pack PDF, which you should be able to print as a booklet. If you don’t have access to a printer and would like a copy of this, please email email@example.com and we’ll send you a copy.
Advisers from the Solihull Lifestyle Service are offering FREE health checks and advice at Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre all this week.
The team will be on the first floor, at the top of the escalator near Asda, until Sunday 19th Jan. They can offer all sorts of health and wellbeing advice, including blood pressure checks, BMI checks, advice for people who want to cut down on drinking and smoking, healthy eating tips and information about physical activity, including contact information for exercise groups and other activity sessions in the area.
First Floor, Chelmsley Wood Shopping Centre (top of the escalator, opposite Solihull Connect)
Monday 13th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Tuesday 14th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Wednesday 15th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Thursday 16th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Friday 17th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturday 18th January
9.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday 19th January
10.00am – 4.00pm
The Community Wellbeing Advisers will also be registering people for the Solihull Lifestyle Service, which offers ongoing one-to-one support for all your health and wellbeing needs, including help to stop smoking. To register, you must live in Solihull or have a Solihull GP, but the service is completely free and you’ll get a personalised action plan to help you work towards your goals.
Are you an expectant parent, or have you or your partner given birth within the last three months?
We’re looking for recent parents, or parents-to-be, to take part in a focus group about food and nutrition.
This is the second event we’re running as part of the “Birmingham Food Conversation”. The Birmingham Food Conversation is helping to shape a better food environment for citizens in Birmingham, so we’ll be talking about your thoughts on food and the food choices you make, and feeding that back as part of the wider conversation.
Parents can attend with children
Parking is available on site, and travel expenses will be reimbursed
Light refreshments will be provided
Each participant will receive a Love2Shop voucher worth £10, as a thank you
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.
We’ve been running Workplace Wellbeing services for a couple of years now, but right now we’re delivering one of our largest Workplace Wellbeing commissions yet: a series of events for Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust.
Gateway’s Wellbeing Advisers and Trainers have been working in a number of locations around the city, delivering one-to-one advice sessions and group workshops to several different NHS divisions, and have been working with hundreds of people.
Like all our Workplace Wellbeing activities, the work for the Trust is designed to get employees thinking about their own health and actively managing their own wellbeing; in this case activities are covering topics like eating healthily, managing stress and getting a good night’s sleep. We’ve designed the programme in collaboration with the Trust to ensure that each activity is based on the wellbeing needs that staff have identified themselves.
The numbers at a glance
Our Health & Wellbeing event at Moseley Hall is in full swing. Flu vaccinations, health checks courtesy of @Gateway_FS and lots more. Better not share my own blood pressure reading though . . . pic.twitter.com/HJJsrFkett
There are a few more events left in our schedule for the Trust, but we’ve already engaged hundreds of people, up to senior management level, across six venues. For this piece of work so far:
160 people have received a mini health check (blood pressure and BMI taken, followed by personalised advice)
82 people have attended stress management workshops
33 people have attended mindfulness workshops
30 people have attended resilience training
more than 100 people have received advice and taken leaflets from our information stands
We also ran some half-day “taster events” where people could try out short sessions of activities like Tai Chi and guided meditation, and there was good attendance at these, too.
“Thank you to all your team. The day and the afternoon sessions evaluated really well.” — Richard French-Lowe, Senior Consultant (Organisation Development), Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust
Why commission a workplace wellbeing service?
Structured support and simple, practical advice from professional health facilitators can help employees to understand how work and health is intrinsically linked, and to create a happier and healthier workforce. Educating and supporting staff to manage their wellbeing has been shown to:
Reduce absences and sickness levels
Reduce risk before illness occurs
Improve staff retention
Your organisation or business can choose from a range of workforce wellbeing packages, including individual one-to-one support, group sessions and team workshops. We’ll work with you to come up with a bespoke plan that will address your staff’s needs. Topics available for sessions, workshops and activities include:
Physical activity, included seated exercise
Stress management and resilience
Alcohol awareness, including “mocktail” recipes
Blood pressure tests
If you’d like to commission Gateway’s health advisers to come and deliver Workplace Wellbeing events at your place of work, please contact Katherine on 0121 456 7820, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week we were very pleased to find out we’ve won a top prize for supporting our staff in caring roles.
The Carer Friendly Business Awards Birmingham are part of the Working for Carers programme by Forward Carers, an organisation developed to make a real difference to the lives of people in carer roles, and Gateway won first prize in the Working for Carers Award category.
The judges were impressed by the flexibility we offer to staff who also have caring responsibilities, including adapting our HR policies to allow for people who may need extra support.
Caring for carers
We have always prided ourselves on being a caring, supportive employer, and our employees are a diverse mix of people with a range of responsibilities outside work. Work and home are intrinsically linked, so we aim to provide a considerate environment where staff can be open about their needs, including regular meetings with line managers, plenty of frank, honest conversation, and a willingness to look at a range of solutions.
Because of this, our working and employment policies have always been flexible, but since joining the Forward Carers scheme as a Working For Carers accredited employer in January, we have reviewed and improved them even more.
We based the following changes on conversations with the carers we employ:
At point of employment we now directly ask if the person has caring responsibilities. If they have, we discuss and implement a plan which is then regularly reviewed.
Carers told us practical support is often most helpful, so we encourage staff to tell their immediate colleagues they have caring responsibilities. We have found that colleagues are keen to help, supporting them through the common peaks and troughs of caring.
Carers also talked about the importance of maintaining their health and wellbeing, so as well as making sure everyone has the opportunity to take part in our internal workplace wellbeing activities, we also encourage carers to be assessed and take up any offers they might be entitled to.
One of the judges on the Working for Carers Award panel was Councillor Mary Locke. She said: “It was clear from the award entry that Gateway Family Services recognises that carers make up a very important part of the community and they need extra support if they are to continue working, alongside their other responsibilities.
“The team have worked hard to create a working environment which is supporting their staff, also in a carer role outside of the office. The judges were also impressed at how staff are being encouraged to be friendly, open and understanding, which can be hugely beneficial for anyone who is starting to feel isolated or overwhelmed in their role as a carer.
“We thought they were all worthy winners, but Gateway Family Services stood out for all of us.”
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.
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.