Category: Service Provision

Services devised, developed and run to fulfill specific needs.

Edgbaston NNS and Early Help Edgbaston – Focus on Assets: Love Your Neighbour

The Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme newsletter goes out to members every two months, and we’re delighted to report that it now includes the latest news from ENNS’s sister service, Early Help Edgbaston.

Early Help is the Birmingham Children’s Partnership model of connected support for families and children across Birmingham. In Edgbaston, this work is led by Gateway Family Services, and so the team naturally works closely with the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme.

In each edition of the ENNS newsletter, we showcase great community assets within the Edgbaston constituency. So for this issue, we asked the Early Help team to get involved – and they told us all about the Love Your Neighbour food bank.

Love Your Neighbour helps Early Help Edgbaston to reach more families

By Marc Baggott, Edgbaston Early Help Coordinator

Love Your Neighbour, part of Gas Street Church, started out as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. I asked Martha Goshawk, the Love Your Neighbour Co-ordinator, to explain how the project started.

“As a church we wanted to play our part in our local community and provide practical support,” Martha says. “We started small; delivering emergency food parcels and providing a telephone befriending service. Since then we have grown and expanded our work and reach and now run a foodbank, provide a financial advocacy service, have opened a CAP Debt Centre and CAP Job Club and work with children and families. We’re also just about to open our food pantry called The Community Shop, and a new cafe and soft play centre. In all we do, we want to bring light and hope to the city and that’s what Love Your Neighbour is all about.”

I first learnt about the Love Your Neighbour Foodbank just after Christmas. The start of the new year is when lots of Early Help clients have food needs, partly because families tend to spend what little they have at Christmas, but mainly because support services are reduced over the holiday period. I met Martha at the Food Justice Network meeting, and she helped Edgbaston Early Help to register so that we could distribute food parcels through their food bank.

Since then, we have come to rely on Love Your Neighbour and the Gas Street St. Luke’s team. As well as helping us to meet the most urgent needs – distributing food to families living in temporary accommodation in Edgbaston and Harborne – we have been able to expand on our collaborative work by helping to deliver Family Fun Sessions directly to families.

Martha explains, “Recently we’ve loved going into the Cobden Hotel and running craft sessions for children and families currently living there. From painting and bracelet making, to making vast quantities of slime and hundreds of biscuits, we’ve loved getting to know people, spread the word about Love Your Neighbour and just having fun! One girl described it as “the best day ever” and we couldn’t ask for a better report than that!”

I totally agree with Martha that the craft activities were very impactful – the families were engaged and happy to be part of something. It’s a great example of how we can build on our connections to reach more families and provide wider support. I hope Early Help can continue to work with Martha and the team on future projects.

For more information about the Love Your Neighbour project, visit the Gas Street Church website.

If you’d like to subscribe to the Edgbaston NNS and Early Help newsletter, and get it straight to your inbox every two months, simply fill in your details on the newsletter signup page.

Services working hand in hand

The job of Social Prescribing Link Workers is to listen to what people want and need, and then to direct them to local groups and services that can help them achieve their goals.

Sometimes, those services are also delivered by Gateway!

Glenn is a Social Prescribing Link Worker who works in the North Solihull area. So when she met a patient who needed some help with her physical activity and eating habits, who better to direct her to than the Solihull Lifestyle Service?

Social Prescribing Case Study: Pam

Glenn, a Link Worker in North Solihull
Pam* was referred to the Social Prescribing Link Workers service in January 2021, because her GP felt that she would benefit from someone listening and giving her support.

Link Worker Glenn contacted Pam straight away and they arranged a time to talk over the phone.

The following week, Glenn called Pam and they spoke for quite some time. Pam explained she has a long term health condition, and also suffers from arthritis which causes her a lot of pain. Her follow up appointments at the hospital had been pushed back due to Covid, which was causing her to feel very low. Although Pam lives with her husband, he works during the day and she told Glenn she gets very anxious on her own.

Feeling down

As they chatted, it was clear the pain Pam was enduring really got her down, and this had caused her to stop doing the things she enjoyed. She said her eating habits were poor as she didn’t have an appetite and, although her husband often tried to encourage her to go out for a little walk or sit in the garden, she hadn’t been out of the house for a year.

Glenn told Pam about the Solihull Lifestyle Service, explaining that they could offer her support and advice about diet and exercise, and she agreed to be referred to them. She was allocated a Wellbeing Advisor called April, who would be able to start working with her in a couple of weeks’ time. In the meantime, Glenn and Pam talked about exercises Pam might be able to do. She mentioned that she had a treadmill at home but didn’t use it.

Glenn shared her own experiences of arthritis. She explained how she had forced herself to try and walk each day, and had found this boosted her mental health. Pam said she felt better having someone to talk to and said she would start using her treadmill.

April, a Wellbeing Advisor with the Solihull Lifestyle Service
The next time they spoke, Pam had started using the treadmill every couple of days for 15 minutes at a time, and had started eating small, regular meals, thanks to April’s encouragement. However, she told Glenn she wanted to stop taking anti-depressants. Glenn advised her to continue until she spoke to her GP, but also told her about St Germain’s, a service that uses a cognitive behaviour approach to depression and anxiety. Pam said she was willing to give it a go and consented to a referral.

Feeling the benefits

The next time they spoke, there had been a complete turnaround. Pam was eating regular meals and exercising nearly every day. Her GP had lowered her anti-depressant dosage so she could gradually stop taking them. John from St Germain’s had sent information about CBT and exercises for her to follow, and Pam was feeling the benefits already.

In their last conversation, Pam told Glenn that both her husband and son had noticed a difference in her wellbeing. In her own words, she had “stopped feeling sorry for herself”, and said she was even looking forward to doing some gardening!

She told Glenn she would always be grateful for the support she received from all three services.

*Pam’s name has been changed

Hand in hand

As you can see, Gateway’s approach is not about duplicating support, it’s about working hand in hand. Social Prescribing is about listening, finding out what someone needs, and linking them to it. The Solihull Lifestyle advisers are the experts in helping people to eat and exercise healthily.

As well as our own services, we are constantly making new contacts with others, widening our network so that we can direct people to the most suitable local support, and “plugging people in” to their community in the most effective way.

If you run a service in Birmingham or Solihull that would like to take referrals from Link Workers, get in touch to make sure we have your details.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic Maternity Voices: we want to hear from you

Do you have recent experience of maternity services? Are you from a Black, Asian or other minority ethnic background?

Maternity systems in Sandwell and West Birmingham are producing a COVID-19 Communications Plan, specifically designed to help them better communicate with women and families from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Now, Sandwell and West Birmingham Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP) is looking for service users to help co-produce the Plan.

Why is this Communications Plan needed?

During the pandemic, there has been a decrease in people accessing NHS services, including maternity services. However, it is vitally important for pregnant women and new parents, especially Black and Asian women, to seek help if they have concerns about their own or their baby’s health.

Evidence has long shown that maternal and perinatal mortality rates are significantly higher for Black, Asian and mixed-race women and their babies than for white women. And recently, it has been found that mortality involving COVID-19 disproportionately affects people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. Emerging evidence indicates that Asian women are four times more likely than white women to be admitted to hospital with COVID-19 during pregnancy, while Black women are eight times more likely.

This Communications Plan is designed to reassure pregnant women and new parents that seeking help from the NHS is safe.

How you can help

First, click the link below to download the Plan (Word doc).

Draft-LMNS-BAME-Communications-Plan

When you have read the document, we would like to know your answers to four questions.

All questions are optional, so you can respond anonymously if you wish. However, if you would like to know more, or be more involved in producing the Plan, please include your name and email address where indicated.

When you’ve finished, press “Submit”, and your answers will be emailed to Che Maclaren, the Co-ordinator for Sandwell and West Birmingham MVP. You can also contact Che by emailing her at c.maclaren@gatewayfs.org

Name

Want to join the Maternity Voices Partnership as a Service User Representative?

Have you recently used maternity services in Sandwell and West Birmingham? Would you like the chance to improve women and families’ experience of perinatal care?

We are currently looking for Service User Representatives to join the Sandwell and West Birmingham MVP and help shape our maternity services for the better. Being a Rep could include coming to meetings (currently online), regularly giving feedback about local services, and attending focus groups – but you can be involved as much or as little as you like. Contact Che to find out more.

Birmingham Foodbanks over Christmas

If you need food over the Christmas period see a list below of Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell’s foodbanks and their opening times.

For most of the foodbanks you will need a voucher, for information on how to get one please contact the following organisations:

    • The Active Wellbeing Society: 0121 728 7030
      • Opening times:
      • Thursday 24th December: 08:00 to 16:00
        Friday 25th December: 10:00 to 14:30
        Saturday 26th December: 10:00 to 12:30
        Sunday 27th December: Closed
        Monday 28th December: 10:00 to 15:00
        Tuesday 29th December: 10:00 to 15:00
        Wednesday 30th December: 10:00 to 15:00
        Thursday 31st December: 10:00 to 15:00
        1st January: Closed
        2nd January: 10:00 to 15:00
        3rd January: Closed
    • The Trussell Trust : 01722 580 180
      • For more information about contacting The Trussle Trust over the festive period follow this link.

Birmingham:

Selly Oak:

B30 Foodbank

(Voucher needed)

Open Friday 1st January (Closed Friday 25th December and Tuesday 29th December) Cotteridge Quaker/Friends Meeting House

23a Watford Rd, Cotteridge B30 1JB

The Life house Closed 21st December -4th January

 

Ladywood:

Aston and Nechells

(Voucher needed)

The Elim Church Wednesday 30th December 13.00-15.00, The Elim Church St Margaret’s Rd, Ward End B8 2BA
The Salvation Army Centre Friday 1st January 12.30 – 14.30. The Salvation Army Centre, Gladstone St, Aston B6 7NY

Edgbaston:

Quinton and Oldbury Foodbank

(Voucher Required)

Closed 24th December – 6th January St Boniface Church
Quinton Road West
Quinton,
B32 2QDThe Coffee Shop
151 Castle Road West
Oldbury, Sandwell
B68 0EL
Smethwick Foodbank

 

(Voucher needed)

Tuesday 22nd December 12-2pm

Thursday 24th December 12-2pm

Tuesday 29th December 12-2pm

Thursday 31st December 12-2pm

Church Hill Street
Smethwick
West Midlands
B67 7AH
Central Birmingham Foodbanks

 

(Voucher needed)

Tuesday 29th December, 9.30 – 11.30 am

Tuesdays 5th January, 9.30 – 11.30 am

Friday 8th January, 10 – 1.30 pm

Birmingham City Church
Parade
Birmingham
B1 3QQ
(car park on Helena Street, B1 2AW)
St. Germains Thursday 24th December: 12-2.30pm Food Parcels only

25th December 12-1pm Take away Christmas Dinner

Wednesday 30th December 12-2.30pm

Monday 4th January 12-2.30pm

Friday 11th January 12-2.30pm

(Closed 28th December, 1st January)

180 Portland Road B16 9TD

 

Hall Green:

Highfield Hall Food Bank Open everyday except bank holidays (25th December, 28th December and 1st January) Please call in advance of visiting to request a food parcel

Telephone: 0121 439 2690

Email: info@highfieldhall.org.uk

Food parcels at Daar-ul-Jannah Advice Centre Closed 24th-28th December. Telephone: 0121 792 5442

Mobile: 07847661022 861

Address: Stratford Road, B28 8BH.

Incredible Surplus food parcels

(No voucher required, pay as you feel)

Balsall Heath Farm

 

Tues, Weds, Thurs 12–1.30pm Address: Malvern Rd, B128NN
Kings Heath Community Centre Mon & Fri 12pm-2pm

(Except bank holidays 25 December, 28th December and 1st January)

Address: 8 Heathfield Rd
Sparkhill food bank

(Voucher needed)

Sparkhill & Hall Green Wednesday 23rd 14.30-17.30

Wednesday 30th 14.30-17.30

Tel: 0121 708 1398

 

Website: https://sparkhill.foodbank.org.uk/

Balsall Heath Church Centre Thursday 24th 11-1pm

Thursday 31st 11-1pm

Smethwick

Holy Trinity Church

 

(Voucher needed)

Tuesday and Thursdays 12.00-14.00 Church Hill Street

Smethwick

West Midlands

B67 7AH

Erdington

George Road

(Voucher needed)

Tuesday 12.00-14.00 George Road Baptist Church, George Road, B23 7RZ
Six Ways Baptist Church

(Voucher needed)

Thursday 12.00-2.00 Six Ways Baptist Church, Wood End Road, B24 8AD

Solihull

Kingfisher Foodbank

(Voucher needed)

Shard End Wellbeing Centre Closed 24th December and 31st December

 

(Usual opening times are Thursday 12.30-2.30)

Shard End Wellbeing Centre

(the old Community Centre)

170 Packington Avenue

Shard End

Birmingham

B34 7RD

Smiths Wood Closed 25th December and 1st January

 

(Usual opening times are Fridays and Tuesdays 12.30-2.30pm)

Auckland Hall

Sunbeam Close

Smiths Wood

Birmingham

​B36 9JR

Sandwell

For information on Foodbanks in Sandwell and how to access vouchers go to https://www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk/locations/.

Supporting a group during lockdown: the Patient Health Forum

The Patient Health Forum (also known as the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group) is a social group for people who live with, or care for people who live with, a range of long term health conditions.

Patient Health Forum meetings would normally include a presentation, like this one from Age Concern.

It’s run by a committee of volunteers but the monthly meetings, which usually take place at a community centre in Stirchley, are supported and facilitated by Gateway.

The group has been going for years now and, for many of the Forum members, the monthly meetings are a lifeline: some members live alone, or with the person they care for, and would otherwise rarely get the chance to socialise. The meetings provide a chance to meet friends and other people who are in a similar situation, as well as access to information and advice from local agencies and groups. Plus, of course, the all-important buffet lunch!

So in March, when the meetings had to be suspended, we had to make sure that we could continue supporting the group.

Switching to remote support

In mid-March, when it became obvious that gatherings would need to stop, we contacted all Forum members with the offer of a phonecall in lieu of the regular meetings. At that point, almost all of the members accepted the offer of a monthly wellbeing check or social call.

However, as you probably remember, things escalated quickly at the end of March. A week after offering the monthly calls it became clear that most members would have to isolate because they are over 70 or otherwise vulnerable. So we made the check-ins weekly. Many of the Gateway staff who’ve helped out at Forum meetings know the members quite well, and others were quick to offer befriending support, so we were very happy to do this… but it did mean that we were making weekly calls to more than 50 people.

Over the last two months, some Forum members have opted out of the calls, as they feel they already have enough support from friends, family or neighbours. But we have gladly continued to make weekly calls to the remaining members and, right now, we are continuing to support around 15 people.

What do we talk about?

Most of the calls Gateway staff make to Patient Health Forum members are social, but many are also practical. Amongst other things, we’ve helped people to have their medication delivered, register as vulnerable on the NHS website, find out more about the benefits they are entitled to, get in touch with a chiropodist, and start online shopping.

But sometimes the calls are surprising. We have found that as well as providing support, we are also empowering people, giving them the chance to be helpful to others as well as benefiting themselves. Becky, a support worker who’s been making calls, says: “One woman was fantastic about sharing her local info about food and pharmacy deliveries with me, and I have been able to pass this on to others who have also benefited. She definitely saw herself as contributing to our community knowledge rather than receiving from me.”

Kath is one of the Gateway staff making wellbeing calls.

Kath, another staff member who’s been making wellbeing calls, pointed out that the crisis itself is also having some unexpected benefits. “Some of the patients told me they had reconnected with friends and family they hadn’t spoken to for a while,” she says. “One lady was pleased she’d actually had a two hour conversation with her daughter, who had previously been too busy to visit or pick up the phone.”

And Forum members have told us how grateful they are for the continued support. Some have told us they’d been feeling a bit forgotten by services, so a chat makes all the difference.

We’re very pleased to be able to help but it’s a worrying time for people who are already socially isolated. It’s not clear yet how the future of groups like the Patient Health Forum might look – but we hope that it won’t be long before we can start safely bringing people together again.

Some more comments from members…

“This call means the world to me. It breaks up my boredom and cheers me up. I enjoy having a natter and a grumble; it stops me from getting depressed, so I look forward to it. I miss the Patient Health Forum; seeing everyone there and the lunches.”

“I’m glad for the call. I don’t have a TV in my house, just a radio, but I’d usually be out meeting my friends. Not being able to chat much to people can get lonely, but this call helps me to speak to someone.”

“This call helps me if I need additional information, or when I am not sure about things like support for my disabled daughter. I’m happy to have a chat and you’ve helped me with your advice on how to keep myself busy doing jigsaws and mandala colouring. I really miss the Patient Health Forum gatherings so thank you for checking up on me weekly, it means a lot.”

“A big thank you to you and Gateway for calling me, especially in these difficult times.”

“It’s really kind of you to check up on me and make sure I am OK. It means a lot that you’re taking the time to ring me up.”

“Great to hear that someone cares; that we are not shut up and put away. I am happy I belong to some clubs including the Patient Health Forum. They are checking up on me which is a really nice thought especially in these difficult times.”

“It means a lot to me when you call. When you don’t see people it’s lovely to get a call out of the blue and have good chat. I have been feeling lonely, and isolating does not help the situation. Thank you, I look forward to next week’s chat.”

Phones, food and pharmacies: the new normal

Team meetings look a little different these days…

Over the last few weeks, like many third sector organisations, Gateway has completely changed the way we work. All our staff are now working from home; our internal meetings are held over video and face-to-face appointments have had to cease.

Our overall strategy and ethos, however, has not changed a bit.

As we have done for the last fourteen years, we are still providing community-based support, helping people to manage their own health and wellbeing in a sustainable way.

Right now, though, we are doing this not only through our regular services, but by responding to the immediate, urgent needs of people in our community — many of whom are having to shield or self-isolate.

New services, fast

In March, when it became clear that everyone would soon need to start social distancing and working from home where possible, it was obvious that our services were going to have to change quite substantially. We understood from our capacity planning that, in order to provide support for the public whilst keeping our staff safe, many of our functions would have to switch to remote working. But we also saw that there were going to be huge needs around isolation and helping people to get the basic essentials.

We knew we had to work fast.

In collaboration with our outreach teams — in particular our Social Prescribing Link Workers, who were already having these conversations with patients — and drawing on our skills as an organisation, we put together some offers of help to Birmingham and Solihull Councils and Public Health. These prioritised:

  • the distribution of food and medication
  • social support over the phone to listen and reassure people, and
  • linking people to sources of advice and help.

In response to these offers, some new services were very quickly requested and developed. We are now running these new services in addition to our regular services.

Pharmacy collections

Community Wellbeing Adviser Deb in her additional role as delivery driver

In Solihull, as well as continuing to take referrals for the Solihull Lifestyle Service, and supporting people over the phone, we now run a medication collection and delivery service. This is a team of drivers who collect prescribed medications from pharmacies across Solihull, and deliver them to people who aren’t able to get to a pharmacy themselves.

The team of five is made up of Link Workers and Community Wellbeing Advisers and they do this on top of their already busy caseloads.

This service, like seemingly everything else at the moment, was developed at breakneck speed. New policies were put together, new processes designed and approved, responsibility allocated to a manager, and staff briefed and trained, very quickly. Normally it would take several meetings and weeks of talks to create something like this, but thanks to the urgency and willingness from Solihull Public Health and everyone else involved, it has been done in days.

ENNS and support for Quinton households

Leaflets were delivered to a number of households in Quinton (click to view full size PDF)

While other Neighbourhood Network Schemes have been running for a year or more, we have only recently been appointed as lead for the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme — and because of the Coronavirus, we have had to hit the ground running.

We’d only been getting to know Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton groups for a few weeks when Birmingham City Council and BVSC asked all the Neighbourhood Network Scheme leads to co-ordinate their constituency’s Covid-19 response.

So in the last few weeks we have got to know lots of new organisations very quickly!

The Edgbaston NNS is now a central point of contact for people in need, and for groups that need help to be able to do even more than they were already doing. We now have an emergency asset register, where we are logging the creative ways in which groups continue to support their members, and the extra support that groups and individuals are able to offer.

We have anticipated that Quinton, which has the highest levels of deprivation in our constituency, will have the highest intensity of need. So our NNS team and our local Link Workers are working closely with community groups like The Quinton and Oldbury Foodbank, and the B32 Group, whose volunteers are organising and delivering food, as well as local Councillors, to co-ordinate support here — and we’re also helping to promote a designated grants programme in the area. We have the support of our MP, Preet Kaur Gill. And we’ve set up a group that meets weekly by Zoom to keep in touch, share ideas, and check on progress.

Shopping service

Gateway’s Social Prescribing Link Workers have only been in post for a couple of months, but they have already seen massive changes in their job role. Originally set up to be based at GP surgeries and working directly with patients, the Link Workers are now all working from home.

Thankfully, they are a creative and resilient bunch! They’re continuing to receive non-clinical referrals from GPs and Practice staff, and they’re also helping with the new services — so not only are they supporting patients over the phone, they’re also sourcing food parcels, delivering medications, and doing other odd jobs for people who need help.

But they’ve also helped us to discover an extra need. Lots of people need food parcels because of financial hardship, but what about people who can and want to pay for their food? There are many people who can’t get out to the shops and whose usual support networks are not able to help. Supermarket deliveries are either unreliable, or not viable for other reasons, and it means some people are going without.

So we are setting up a shopping service. This will be led by our Link Workers and made available to those we support who really need it, and we hope to have it in place within the next few days.

Thank you

When everything is moving so quickly with so much uncertainty, we are grateful for our dedicated teams of staff and our community’s strength. It has felt important for us, as an organisation that supports the people of Birmingham and Solihull, to be able to say we’re happy to muck in. But it’s even more valuable to know that our staff will respond in the most responsible, empathic, co-operative way, and that there are many community groups and individuals that we can work with to support those most in need.

Coronavirus update

Given the most recent government advice, and for the wellbeing of our staff and the people we work with, we are moving towards home working over the next couple of days. However, all of our services are still running, and you should continue to contact us in the usual way.

Our outreach services — including the Solihull Lifestyle Service and Social Prescribing Link Workers — are continuing to take referrals and to support people over the phone and via email. If you would like to refer into these services you can, and if you are currently receiving support, you will continue to do so, albeit remotely.

All face-to-face group activities have been suspended, so the MVP meeting scheduled for 26th March will not take place and the Patient Health Forum is not currently running.

Solihull contact information

For the Solihull Lifestyle Service, including the Solihull Stop Smoking Service, please call free on 0800 599 9880 and you will be put through to an adviser as usual. We are still taking new clients and referrals.

Other contact information

For other queries about any other services, or for general information about Gateway Family Services, please call our Birmingham number which is 0121 456 7820.

What a difference a year makes: Social Prescribing Day 2020

Today is the second ever Social Prescribing Day, highlighting the importance and significance of social prescribing within healthcare.

What a difference a year makes

This time last year, we celebrated the first Social Prescribing Day with a story from Healthy Futures. We told how Wellbeing Navigator Ralph had helped Alia and her disabled son to meet new people and put down some roots when they moved from temporary accommodation into social housing.

Healthy Futures was a social prescribing service that we funded ourselves and this was a typical client story, showing just how much a Social Prescribing was needed in Birmingham. However, although Healthy Futures was highly successful from a healthcare perspective — supporting over 200 people with tailored non-medical support, and saving time and money for local GPs — eventually, a lack of external financial support made it unsustainable.

Since last year’s Social Prescribing Day, though, we’re pleased to say that things have changed considerably.

This year, the concept of Social Prescribing is much more widely known and understood.

NHS England have rolled out Social Prescribing services nationally, funding PCNs (Primary Care Networks, which are groups of GP practices) across the country to offer a model that is very similar to Healthy Futures. Many GPs, practice staff and other primary care providers can now refer patients to a Link Worker, who works one-to-one with the patient to offer direct support and signposting.

Now, people in Birmingham like Alia will be able to once again access support from a trusted para-professional, trained to support people with all sorts of social, non-clinical needs. Gateway is working in partnership with SDSmyhealthcare to deliver a Social Prescribing Link Worker service to 11 PCNs across Birmingham and Solihull, and our new Link Workers are already settling into their surgeries.

Gateway Social Prescribing Link Workers

We have a team of 11 Link Workers, all of whom have a wide network of community contacts and experience and knowledge of their local area. You can meet the Link Workers and read more about them here.

Each Social Prescribing Link Worker works from a number of different surgeries throughout the week, offering patients one-to-one, person-centred support.

GPs and Practice staff can refer anyone who needs non-medical help, and the Link Worker will work with that person to help them take control of their own health and wellbeing and increase their active involvement with their local community.

  • People with social rather than medical needs
  • People needing help to access or navigate services
  • People experiencing social isolation or poor mental health
  • People with issues relating to advice, housing or income

“Sure, we can walk with you through a door – but ultimately it is your door.”

Zeshaan is one of Gateway’s new Social Prescribing Link Workers. He works with GP practices in the NSAR Primary Care Network, covering Nechells, Saltley and Alum Rock. Find out more about his role, and how he feels about social prescribing, in this short video.

New Straight Talking sessions for schools: gang and crime prevention

Straight Talking West Midlands — a team of young parents who go into schools to talk to pupils — are now delivering more sessions than ever. This year, to complement our sessions on teen pregnancy, healthy and unhealthy relationships and child sexual exploitation (CSE), our Peer Educators are introducing a new session: gang and knife crime prevention.

As with all the sessions, this is being designed as an early intervention tool, with the aim of preventing children from being persuaded into gangs and related crime. Working with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, we’re designing the sessions to cover topics such as the pressures of gang affiliation, drug trafficking, the impact of knife crime, and awareness of the ways in which young people can be groomed to take part in criminal activity.

We’re looking forward to delivering the new session as part of the full course from Spring 2020. If you think your school or youth group would benefit from some Straight Talking, contact Marc or Che on 0121 456 7820 or email m.baggott@gatewayfs.org for more information.

What will the sessions cover?

Shocking statistics from the Office of National Statistics show that knife crime is rising faster in the West Midlands than anywhere else in the country – in fact it has tripled in the last five years. And the National Crime Agency has recently identified Birmingham as a major hub for county lines, whereby children are recruited and bribed to deal drugs in rural areas, often ending up hundreds of miles from home.

The new sessions for schools and youth groups in the West Midlands are still in development, but they will be based on sessions already being trialled by Straight Talking in London. They will cover the pressures that young people may be under to carry a weapon, or to be associated with gangs or criminal activity, and — like the sessions we already deliver on child sexual exploitation — the ways in which young people can be groomed.

In the West Midlands, sessions on gangs and knife crime prevention are supported by the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) so our aim is early intervention. The first step to prevention is knowing the full facts, so our Peer Educators will be making pupils fully aware of how what starts as a ‘friendship’ may lead to pressure being put onto them, and the consequences of getting involved in criminal activity.

As with all our Straight Talking work, these will be interactive, lively sessions, and the Peer Educators will be using role-playing games to get pupils thinking about how they might react in certain situations, opening up discussions about their expectations versus the realities, and making them fully aware of the risks. They’ll also be showing videos — such as the one below from Rosca, a former violent offender who explains how he became involved with a criminal gang in London from a very early age.

If you have experience of this type of youth crime and feel you could be a positive role model for young people, we’d be interested in talking to you. For more information, contact Marc on 0121 456 7820 or email m.baggott@gatewayfs.org..

Disruption to phone lines Thursday 12th Sept.

We’re moving offices on Thursday so from 12pm we will be without phone lines but we hope we’ll be back up and running again within a few hours and certainly by the end of the afternoon. You can still email us info@gatewayfs.org and if you have any individual staff members mobile numbers please continue to use as normal as these will be unaffected.  All should be back to normal on Friday.