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
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?
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.
“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!
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.
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.”
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.
After a period of illness and a series of surgeries, Karen (pictured above, left) found it hard to bounce back to her old self. Although her physical health was generally improving, she was still feeling low.
“I’d always managed to maintain a good weight before my illness,” Karen says, “but even though I’d recovered from my operations, things weren’t the same. I had no energy, I felt low and suddenly I couldn’t seem to keep the weight off like I used to.”
One of the things Karen used to enjoy was cooking. But since her illness, she’d stopped spending time in the kitchen and instead would grab something quick and easy.
“I was tired all the time,” she says, “so I just wanted a quick fix. But those quick fixes had to be cheap, too. So instead of cooking from fresh, I was just grabbing a snack or a ready meal at the end of the day.”
Karen mentioned how she was feeling to her GP during a routine appointment, and her GP asked if she’d be interested in a free 12 week Lifestyle Programme.
“I jumped at the chance!” says Karen. “I’m on my own at home, with quite a tight budget, plus I work all day so I’m short on time, too, but I could fit in an evening class. And it wouldn’t cost me anything! I felt like I was being offered a chance to take advantage of free help with all the things I’d been worried about, so of course I said yes.”
The 12 week course
The Lifestyle Programme is part of the new Solihull Lifestyle Service. It replaces the Solihull Lighten Up service, and is designed to be a distinct 12-week behavioural change course, rather than a slimming group that people continue to go to indefinitely. The group Karen went to was at the Bosworth Community Centre in Fordbridge, North Solihull, but we hold meetings at a number of community venues in the borough.
By the end of 12 weeks, we hope the people who attend won’t only have lost weight (and all of the participants on Karen’s course had indeed lost weight by the final session) but will have made the changes required to keep the weight off. We don’t want the people we work with to be attending weight management groups forever; we want to give them the tools they need to make the changes themselves.
“A real boost”
Karen says that she enjoyed the programme because she didn’t feel pressured to lose weight.
“The course leader was really supportive and I liked the fact that it wasn’t all about getting your weight down – it was much deeper than that,” she says. “It was really educational. It’s not just buying branded diet meals or allowing yourself a certain number of ‘naughty’ foods. I feel like I’ve actually been on a proper course and learned a lot about food and how the body works.”
One of the big revelations for Karen was the fact that her low energy and low moods might be caused by the type of food she was eating.
“I thought I was knowledgeable, but a lot of the things I’ve learned here have shocked me. It turns out I was in a vicious circle. After learning about healthy fats, and salt and sugar levels, I realised that the quick meals were just sapping my energy and making me feel worse.
“I’d also stopped buying some of the things I really enjoy eating, like smoked mackerel and avocado, because I was under the impression that if they contained fat, they must be bad. Now I’ve learned that they’re OK and you actually need some of that in your diet.”
Thinking about food in a new way was the kick-start Karen needed to get back into healthier eating habits and to start cooking again. She says she’s already got more energy than she has had in years, which has stopped her downward spiral and given her motivation.
She says, “This programme has given me a real boost. It’s made me go back into the kitchen and spend time making nice meals again, from scratch, with the type of fresh food that I really want to eat. And the more I do it, the more energy I have to do it – it’s like I’ve found my mojo and I’m doing what I love again!”
Here are some of the things that attendees learned on the course, which they told us were “eye openers” for them:
Portion control, with examples and easy ways to measure out the right portions of popular foods
The importance of drinking water, and how staying hydrated helps your body to process everything
Cooking healthily on a budget: simple recipes including a pizza that costs a quarter of the price of a takeaway
The Change4Life mobile app, which you can use when shopping to scan food items and make healthier choices
The Lifestyle Programme is part of the new Solihull Lifestyle Service, offering a range of tailored health and wellbeing advice and support to help you make positive lifestyle changes. If you live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP, call 0800 599 9880 and ask about signing up — or complete an online referral form.
You might already know that our Social Prescribing service, Healthy Futures, had to stop taking referrals at the end of last year, due to lack of funds. You might also know that Healthy Futures is desperately needed in Birmingham. People who need support are relying on their GP or local A&E because they don’t know where else to go.
But did you know that if all of our Twitter followers chipped in with a tenner, we could support at least ten people for another year?
So we’re asking for your help.
In the next few weeks, we’re going to be launching a crowdfunding campaign. We’re hoping to raise £7000, which would allow our Healthy Futures Wellbeing Navigators to support more than ten people for a period of about twelve months.
“I have moved forward in the last year more than I did in seven years. And it’s all because of you.”
Last year, one of our Healthy Futures clients was Royin, filmed here talking to his Wellbeing Navigator Ralph.
When Royin was two years old, he fell down the stairs and suffered a brain injury which caused life-changing disabilities. Despite doctors’ predictions that he would never be able to work, Royin went on to get a degree and a career in senior management.
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.
Having employees who suffer from poor mental and physical health isn’t just bad for them – it can be bad for your business. Low wellbeing levels in the workplace can affect staff turnover, productivity and motivation.
That’s why we’ve put together a range Workplace Wellbeing Workshops, designed specifically for employees to improve their health and wellbeing at work.
Places are now available for a series of Workshops we’ll be running in June at our Edgbaston training rooms.
Choose from Resilience, Stress Management, Mindfulness and Healthy Lifestyles – and take advantage of a soothing 20% discount if you book all four!
Location: Gateway, 75 Harborne Road, Edgbaston
12 places available on each workshop £25 per person per workshop, or £80 per person for the whole day*
Call Jemma on 0121 456 7820 to book.
The four workshops, designed and delivered by Gateway’s health and wellbeing specialists, teach employees a range of basic wellbeing practices. Your staff will learn how to make small, preventative health changes that could have a big impact on working life.
During each bitesize session, we’ll get staff engaged in some fun and inspiring activities designed to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace. Using tried and tested behaviour change techniques, your employees will gain knowledge and skills that should help them to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle.
Read what others have to say
Some comments from previous participants about workplace wellbeing courses from Gateway:
“The tutor was really organised and set the work to a good pace.” — course participant, 2019
“I learnt a lot on the course and I can use this in my workplace.” — course participant, 2019
If you can’t make this date but you’d like to talk about other ways to support your employees’ wellbeing, give us a call. Gateway’s qualified, experienced health facilitators offer structured support around healthy eating, physical activity and exercise, smoking and alcohol intake, and stress management and we can tailor our range of workforce wellbeing packages for your needs.
Whether your staff need individual one-to-one support, group sessions or team workshops, there’s something for every workplace. How about a lunchtime health check, including on-the-spot blood pressure and BMI checks?
Or even a fun health day where staff get to compete in a Smoothie Bike Challenge?
Call now on 0121 456 7820 to find out more.
RSPH Level 2 courses: places still available
Thinking about learning how to support people with their health and wellbeing? Places are still available on our RSPH-accredited courses in Understanding Health Improvement, Encouraging a Healthy Weight and Healthy Eating and Understanding Behaviour Change later this month. For more information, call Jemma on 0121 456 7820 today.
We’re really pleased to announce that Gateway Family Services has been awarded the contract to provide Solihull’s Integrated Lifestyle Service for a minimum of three years from April 2019.
Gateway will be working with a number of partners to deliver a range of core lifestyle services to communities in Solihull, including health checks, weight management, smoking cessation, men’s health and health psychology.
These lifestyle services make up a significant part of Solihull’s new community wellbeing service: a broader partnership of voluntary and community organisations working together to improve the lives of Solihull residents. The new approach will promote self-care and independence, making it easier for people in Solihull to find information and advice, as well as providing specialist support for those who need it.
We are delighted that Solihull Council has chosen Gateway to lead the Integrated Lifestyle Service, an important part of the borough’s new community wellbeing service.
In doing so, we will be drawing upon our vast experience and years of expertise delivering health and wellbeing services like Health Trainers and Solihull Lighten Up. Since 2015, Solihull Lighten Up has helped more than 3,000 people with a range of needs – sometimes complex – to lose weight and make major lifestyle changes.
And our delivery of the Solihull Integrated Lifestyle Service will perfectly complement Gateway’s other services, like our Workplace Wellbeing services, health and wellbeing training courses, the Birmingham and Solihull Maternity Voices Partnership (BSol MVP) and the work our Peer Educators do with young people (Straight Talking).
As health and wellbeing experts, working in the local community for more than thirteen years, we know that the accessible, community-based approach that Solihull Council has chosen will be most beneficial for people’s health.
We’re looking forward to working with our new partners to deliver a top class service and supporting thousands more people in Solihull to a healthier lifestyle.
Unfortunately, we’ve had to stop taking referrals to our social prescribing service Healthy Futures again, leaving dozens of vulnerable people in Birmingham without support. Right now, we simply don’t have the money to continue.
Back in February, we announced that we would be continuing to fund the service using our own savings. At the time, we knew there was a risk we wouldn’t secure external funding before the allocated reserves ran out. Now, sadly, that risk has become a reality. We’ve had to stop taking referrals and our Wellbeing Navigators have spent the last two months winding down people’s support.
How Healthy Futures works
We have two Healthy Futures outreach workers, or Wellbeing Navigators: Ralph and Margaret, who work with people who’ve been referred by their GP. We work in partnership with SDSMyHealthcare, a consortium of GPs in Birmingham, and receive referrals from them and other organisations in the area.
Put bluntly, Healthy Futures clients are usually “frequent flyers” at their GP surgery — but it’s not medical help they need, it’s social.
When someone is referred into the service, Ralph or Margaret will go out to visit them and find out what they need.
Issues they support people with include housing (many are in hostels or temporary accommodation), financial hardship (many are entitled to benefits but are not receiving them, or have difficulty managing them), alcohol or substance misuse, and ongoing mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Some just need a bit of direction to help them start forming their own friendships and networks. The support given is practical, emotional and, importantly, builds people’s independence.
Here are some examples of the feedback we’ve had from Healthy Futures clients in just the last six weeks.
Judith* is in her 50s and unemployed:
I feel more positive and less confused about my benefits now, thanks for calling them today for me, and helping to sort it and update things with them. I feel like I have my mojo back. I think walking more is helping me too, and your support.
James* is in his 40s and has seen a few support workers over the years. He said to Ralph:
I have had a few issues and problems with support workers in the past, even still these days, but not with you. You don’t judge me, you listen to me, and I know how much you really want to help me. I can see that you really care.
Laura* is a mum in her 30s. She works full time but she and her child have been living in temporary accommodation:
I will look forward to my appointment with [the outreach worker] at Anawim [women’s centre], thanks so much for referring me to her, and telling me more about the support they provide. I am sure they will be of great help to me, like you. I am feeling upbeat.
Cath* is in her 50s and currently unable to work due to her depression:
Thanks so much, I really do feel the need to move on in my life now to look at volunteering and work, either temporary or otherwise. It’s thanks to you I feel like that. You have been so patient and supportive.
We know there is huge demand for the service; since February we have a steady stream of referrals from GPs.
And we know that the service works: an official study carried out in 2017 found that Healthy Futures is a cost-effective way to reduce the time people spend with their GP (when a social intervention is more appropriate), and significantly increases people’s self-reliance and self-care.
But, despite searching and applying for funding from many sources, we haven’t yet been able to secure any external funding and, unfortunately, we just can’t continue under our own steam.
A country in crisis?
Over the last year we’ve applied for many bids and tenders, and there are more in the pipeline, but haven’t won any funding for Healthy Futures so far. Occasionally we have been pipped to the post by larger organisations or partnerships whose reputation will allow them to reach more people — dare we say, it seems that quantity is sometimes given priority over quality.
We’ve even looked at crowdfunding — asking members of the public to donate — but really, should this be necessary?
Of course we understand that not every service can be funded, but it’s clear that more and more money is being needed across the third sector. Feedback tells us that every social fund we apply for is massively oversubscribed; for example, the Challenge Fund told us they had received more than twice as many applications as they’d been expecting. Building Connections told us they had a £9m budget but if they had funded everyone who applied they would have needed a £191m budget.
It feels like the country is in crisis when it comes to social support. It’s frustrating to watch and, believe us, even more frustrating to experience.
Watch the video
Watch the video below to find out how Margaret recently helped someone who had had to move house because of ill health, but found herself socially isolated in an area she didn’t know.