Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme supports older people in the Edgbaston constituency to connect with individuals, groups, organisations, activities, services and places in their local neighbourhood.
If you run a community group or organisation in Birmingham, it’s important for you to know that voluntary sector activity is still allowed, and that you can continue to support those in need in the city, as long as you do so safely.
In most cases, you will simply need to follow the government guidance for that activity. However, some activities do not clearly fall into a set of guidelines.
Please note that the document sets out the understanding of the current situation from BVSC, but each venue, organisation and activity lead needs to consider their own circumstances and current official guidance.
Current official guidance
The single most important action we can all take to fight coronavirus is to stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives. When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread of the infection. That is why, from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, you must:
Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
Close certain businesses and venues.
These new measures will reduce the growth rate of the virus, which will:
prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed
ensure schools, colleges and universities can stay open
ensure that as many people as possible can continue to work
Are you a community group or voluntary organisation based in the Edgbaston or Northfield constituencies? Do you need help with fundraising, or want support to find suitable grants and funding opportunities?
We’ve been talking to Birmingham Community Matters, a charity which helps people develop and fund community projects, about how we could work together to provide support to members of the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme. If you run a local activity group, social club or community organisation, we want to hear from you!
To make sure we can offer the right support, we’re asking community-run groups in Edgbaston, Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green, Shenley and Weoley Castle to complete a fundraising survey. We have anecdotal knowledge of what local groups might need, but this survey will help us to make sure that the needs of the area shape what happens next.
When we have heard from as many groups as possible, we’ll put together a programme of support and let you know how you can get involved.
Want to know more about the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme?
The ENNS is led by Gateway Family Services with Age UK Birmingham. We act as a central co-ordination point for the network, and can offer support for volunteers and groups, including access to grants. If you are a community group or local voluntary organisation based in one of the areas listed above, and you haven’t yet been in touch, contact us to find out more on 0800 599 9880, or email@example.com, and consider joining the ENNS mailing list.
In this edition, Neighbourhood Network Scheme Community Worker Natalie Tichareva writes about her (socially distanced!) visit to the Quinborne Community Centre.
Focus on Assets: Quinborne Community Centre
By Natalie Tichareva
We visited the Quinborne Community Centre, a fantastic community space that provides a number of activities for local residents in Quinton and Harborne as well as its surrounding areas.
The Quinborne Centre has been serving the community for over 80 years, having been established in July 1938. Since its formation the centre has been at the heart of community activity in Quinton and Harborne and today is home to a diverse variety of groups who use the centre to host activities.
On the day of our visit Colin Simmonds, one of the centres Directors, gave us a tour of the impressive building which sits on the site of the former Edgbaston Golf Club. The centre boasts multiple large meeting rooms, a nursery space, gym and dance rooms as well as café and working kitchen. At the centre of it all is a beautiful garden which offers attendees a time to relax during their breaks.
Many who attend the social activities at Quinborne have been doing so for many years; drawn to the centres large array of activities. Similarly, many of the Quinborne Centre’s staff are also longstanding, and when asked about his favourite parts of working with the centre Colin informed me that their staff and volunteers were key part of this: “everyone is so dedicated and hardworking”. One such staff member is Aaron, who greeted us on arrival alongside Quinborne Centre Manager Carl. Aaron started out as apprentice with Quinborne before working his way up to his current role as Centre Supervisor, an example of the centre’s commitment to nurturing relationships with all those find a home within its walls.
Another of Colin’s favourite parts of working with the centre is the buzz of activity that takes place when the centre is open, “Walking into the centre on a Tuesday, which is usually our busiest day, you have all the different groups taking part in activities. The noise of it all going on is great!” Like many community centres Quinborne had to close its doors during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures. But on the day of our visit the team at Quinborne were busy getting the space prepared for re-opening to the public, which will hopefully take place in September.
A key part of the centre’s longevity has been its ability to change and adapt to meet the needs of the community, and this has remained the case through the COVID-19 pandemic. Colin informed me that staff have kept in regular telephone contact with attendees to the centre, ensuring that the social connections that keep so many people attending each week have remained during lockdown measures.
Thinking ahead to the future Quinborne Community Association will soon be launching their ‘Virtual Friendship Club’ where they will be providing isolated older adults with a tablet, training on how to use their new technology and the opportunity to join the Virtual Friendship club hosted on Zoom. The project has been funded through the Edgbaston NNS Small Grants Fund, administered by Heart of England Community Foundation. Alongside this Quinborne are keen to continue their great work while strengthening relationships with other community groups in Quinton and Harborne and are always looking for ways the most lonely and isolated in Edgbaston can be given an opportunity to engage with centre.
We wish the centre the best of luck in this and would like to thank Colin and the team for taking the time to chat to us!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you a copy.
Because of the Covid-19 crisis, Birmingham Children’s Partnership has accelerated their plans for “Early Help”, a new model of connected services and communities to help families across the city.
It means that families and children who need emergency help during the crisis can get it in a timely way, from a network that includes schools, health services, the local authority, and voluntary and community organisations.
We have found that even those families who were previously doing well are starting to struggle now, due to the impact the crisis is having on income and health, but the Early Help scheme is designed to make sure schools and children’s centres can refer families in and get them the help they need as soon as possible.
Here, Marc tells us about a family he supported a couple of weeks ago. It’s a fairly typical example of how the scheme works and how the joined-up model is providing urgent essential support.
Food for a family in crisis
By Marc Baggott
On Wednesday 6th May I had a call from Sarah*, a Designated Safeguarding Lead at a local secondary school, with concerns about a family.
She explained that two of the teenagers she works with are currently living in temporary accommodation with their dad after being made homeless. Their dad Jason* is a single parent and, although he usually works, he had been off sick for three weeks with Covid-19. Because he holds a zero-hours contract, hadn’t been paid for his time off sick, so they had no money coming in.
Sarah had contacted Edgbaston Early Help because she could see Jason was struggling, and was worried the family was low on food.
After speaking to Sarah, I phoned Jason to find out more and we talked in depth about the support he needed. His main concern was their lack of food, but he also highlighted that they were unable to do any cooking at the hotel – although there are some shared cooking facilities, they are dirty, and utensils and equipment go missing.
The first thing I did was to contact St Germain’s Church in Edgbaston, which offers freshly prepared hot dinners on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It meant that Jason and his children wouldn’t go hungry that evening.
The following day, after some more research, I referred Jason to the Four Dwellings Foodbank; usually it opens on Fridays but because of the bank holiday it was open a day early that week. Jason would be able to visit the foodbank himself that day and pick up food for the whole family.
The lack of cooking facilities at their accommodation was still an issue, though. Even if Jason had food, there was no guarantee they would be able to prepare a meal. So I made an application to the COVID-19 resilience fund for £75, through BVSC, and helped him find a microwave and some tupperware storage containers within his price range.
That afternoon, I received a call from Jason thanking me for all the support he had received. He said that the support really helped him when he was struggling, and that the food and microwave meant that his children could now cook snacks and a lunch when they needed it. He sounded over the moon.
I asked if there was anything else they need, but Jason said they were OK now they had food. I have told him I’ll be back in touch in a few weeks’ time to see how the family are getting on and to check they have access to the things they need.
Recently, Gateway and Age UK Birmingham were appointed to lead the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme (NNS).
We hoped to announce the launch of Edgbaston NNS this week, but of course, current events have overtaken us. Instead of a launch event, we are diving straight into support for community groups in the area.
The Council and BVSC (Birmingham Voluntary Services Council) have asked us to focus purely on how organisations in the Edgbaston constituency are responding to Covid-19 and how we can provide the necessary support to those who need it.
What is a Neighbourhood Network Scheme?
Neighbourhood Network Schemes are designed to support older people in Birmingham to connect with individuals, groups, organisations, activities, services and places in their local neighbourhood.
As part of Birmingham City Council’s new community social work model they are constituency based, so the Edgbaston NNS covers the areas of Edgbaston, Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green, Shenley and Weoley Castle.
At the moment, however, every NNS in Birmingham is focusing on support for community organisations as we all adjust to events relating to the coronavirus and the resulting isolation.
How is your group managing?
To help us build up a picture of what’s already happening and what more may be possible, we are asking community organisations and groups in the areas of Edgbaston, Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green, Shenley and Weoley Castle to get in touch with us by email or phone (details below) and let us know the following:
Has your group had to close or otherwise change in terms of what you normally do? We know most meetings have been suspended, so how has this affected you?
Is your group in a position to offer help? Let us know if you are doing something, planning to do something, or are willing to do something to help with the response.
If you’re not in a position to help, do you have any worries? Are you concerned about members of your group and how they may be coping?
It’s clear that a lot of work is already underway locally to ensure that vulnerable people, and those made vulnerable by this situation, get the help they need. We are here to build on this by coordinating, and potentially resourcing, support.
Over the next few weeks, Gateway and Age UK Birmingham, working together as Edgbaston NNS, will be:
Continuing to contact existing groups to find out your approach to the Covid-19 response
Monitoring new offers of Covid-19 support
Providing guidance and support to groups which are providing Covid-19 assistance
Connecting groups which are providing Covid-19 support to ensure they work together, maximise reach, avoid duplication and fill in gaps
If you run a community group in the Edgbaston constituency, contact Katherine at Gateway Family Services via email: email@example.com, or phone: 0121 456 7820, to let us know how we can help.