Gateway Family Services Thu, 05 May 2022 13:36:09 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Gateway Family Services 32 32 960 grants given out in just one constituency — Spotlight on our Household Support Fund Administrative Team Thu, 05 May 2022 13:35:00 +0000

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In memory of Bob Teagle Mon, 28 Feb 2022 11:05:01 +0000

Bob was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer almost a year ago, but in the end his death was relatively sudden. Over the last year we understand he had been telling his friends to be aware of the symptoms of prostate cancer and to see their GP if they had any concerns – and we’d like to echo this sentiment. You can find out more about prostate cancer on the NHS website.

Finally, one of Bob’s friends has set up a fundraiser to Help give Bob the send off he deserves. If there is any money left over, Jessica will donate it to prostate cancer research.

Katherine Hewitt



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When services become seamless: a Social Prescribing story Tue, 08 Feb 2022 16:26:09 +0000 We wanted to share a story from one of our Social Prescribing Link Workers, Deborah. She passed us this patient story as a great example of what happens when services work together to provide patients and clients with seamless support.

But first: what is Social Prescribing?

Social Prescribing allows GPs and other care staff to refer patients who have social or other non-clinical needs to a Link Worker, based at the surgery. Link Workers work with patients one-to-one, offering direct support and signposting to help them take control of their own health and wellbeing. They have a wide network of community contacts, and they use their experience and knowledge of local activities and services to co-ordinate ‘whole person’ support.

Sally’s story*

By Deborah Living, Social Prescribing Link Worker

Deborah Living is a Social Prescribing Link Worker with Gateway Family Services
When Social Prescribing is fully integrated into a person-centred GP practice, good things start to happen. Sally’s story shows how.

From my first morning at the surgery where Sally is a patient, it was clear to me that the practice knew their patients well and took an active interest in their wellbeing. Because of this, at the end of my shift, I spoke to the Practice Manager and the surgery team about the work she had done for the patients who had been referred to her. This informal communication structure continued to develop as time went on, with the Practice Manager popping in to see me to give insight into new patient referrals. Before long, the join between the surgery and the Social Prescribing service seemed seamless.

One morning, the Practice Manager came to speak to me about a patient called Sally. Sally had been to a routine doctor’s appointment at the surgery and the Practice Manager – who knew the patient well – had spotted her and felt something was not quite right. The Practice Manager told me how she had run out of the surgery after Sally to check how she was. Sally became upset as she tried to speak and the Practice Manager said, “I know someone who could help.”

One referral to Gateway later and I was on the phone to Sally. Sally told me how both her brother, who had Down’s Syndrome, and her sister had died during the first wave of the Coronovirus pandemic. Sally had become anxious and depressed as a result, was having trouble sleeping, and had closed herself off from the world. She was scared to go out because of Coronavirus and had also got into a mess with her finances. She sat indoors by herself, frightened her landlord was going to evict her at any moment because of her rent arrears.

I consoled Sally over her loss and current situation, and Sally agreed that she would like a referral for bereavement counselling and to a befriending service. I said I could also support her to take steps to separate the other difficulties that were overwhelming her into more manageable chunks, and Sally agreed to a face-to-face appointment at the surgery so we could make a plan together and begin to put it into action.

During the consultation, I made calls on Sally’s behalf so that she could get to grips with what money was owed and when it needed to be paid. She said she now felt able to speak with Citizens Advice for money management advice. On Sally’s request, I mediated between her and an advisor from her housing association and a payment plan was devised that Sally felt was affordable and the advisor was happy with. The advisor said they had no plans to evict Sally, but would like to speak to her about moving to a smaller property as her current home was under-occupied.

When I called Sally a couple of weeks later to check in, she sounded much brighter on the phone. She said she now had people to talk to, and was also in contact with her housing association and Citizens Advice. Sally said she felt more in control of her finances, and had decided to look at a property her housing association was offering her. Now, with Sally taking steps forward, I felt confident about stepping back.

I’m really happy about how Social Prescribing has become a part of practice culture here. It made every contact count for Sally, and will continue to do so for other patients in the future.

*Sally’s name has been changed

More information

Social Prescribing Link Workers are provided to a number of Birmingham PCNs by Gateway Family Services CIC. If you are a GP practice or federation and you’d like more information about service delivery, contact Balvinder Kaur at Gateway on 0121 456 7820. If you’re a patient and think a Link Worker could help you, you’ll need to be referred, so ask your GP practice about social prescribing.

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Christmas opening times and foodbanks update Thu, 23 Dec 2021 10:52:58 +0000

We would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all the staff and volunteers at Gateway Family Services.

Please take note of our opening hours during the festive season. Our office will close for Christmas at 5 pm on Thursday 23rd December and reopen on Wednesday 29th December until 31st December.

We may not be as fully staffed as usual so please bear with us if you’re trying to call. Information can also be found on our website:

In the meantime, If you need food over the Christmas period see a list below of Birmingham foodbanks and their opening times.

You may also find this handy google map for you to locate the food banks much easily.

We hope you enjoy the winter break, stay safe and see you in 2022!
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Household Support Fund is coming to Edgbaston Wed, 22 Dec 2021 10:06:15 +0000

We’re pleased to announce that the Household Support Fund has now been launched and will be open for applications early in the New Year. The fund is aimed at helping people afford essentials such as helping towards utility bills, food and staying warm through the tough winter months.

Gateway family services along with Age UK will be supporting households in the Edgbaston locality to complete online applications.

Further information will be announced over the coming weeks so please stay tuned to our social media platforms and website for updates and more detail!

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Getting ready for a smoke-free Christmas: Helen’s story Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:07:00 +0000 Up until a few weeks ago, Helen*, 50, was a heavy smoker. She has asthma and, having smoked all her life, she constantly suffers from chest infections.

Now, with the help of the Solihull Stop Smoking Service (part of the Solihull Lifestyle Service), she’s quit smoking – just in time for Christmas!

Smoke free in time for Christmas

Helen’s motivation to give up smoking came from her family. Her daughter stopped smoking when she went on holiday recently and managed to do it ‘cold turkey’. Her sister quit smoking this year with the help of the Solihull Stop Smoking service. And she’s a carer for her dad, who stopped years ago and is always asking her to try and give up.

Now that Helen was the only smoker in the family, she decided she had no more excuses, and contacted the Solihull Stop Smoking service.

Stop Smoking Practitioner
Karen Goldingay

With support from her trained Stop Smoking Practitioner Karen (pictured, right), Helen decided to use nicotine patches, inhalator and gum to help her quit.

For the first few weeks, she really struggled and, at tricky times, found herself having the odd cigarette, but she didn’t let it get her down. She was determined to keep trying because she wanted to become completely smoke free.

Now, Helen’s managed to go four whole weeks without a ciggie. She’s incredibly proud of her achievements so far and has started to see how much she prefers a smoke-free life, just like her family told her she would.

In the run up to Christmas she’s been able to go shopping and browse for hours without having to keep going outside to smoke in the cold. As well as having more money to spend on food and presents, she’s enjoying only having to take her phone and purse with her when she goes out. But most importantly, she’s excited that there won’t be a single smoker in the house when everyone comes over for Christmas dinner!

She’s also feeling the benefits physically already, too. Last week, she had a cold, which would usually make her very unwell. Previously, even minor colds would go to her chest and leave her poorly for weeks. This time, her breathing is easier and she’s been able to function just fine.

Helen says, “I know it’s early in my quit attempt but I’ve already achieved more than I ever have before. I’m determined never to smoke again!”

Free support from the Solihull Stop Smoking Service

Anyone who lives in Solihull, or has a Solihull GP, can get FREE one-to-one help and support from the Solihull Stop Smoking Service (part of the Solihull Lifestyle Service).

Call free on 0800 599 9880Expert support from local stop smoking services gives people the best chance of success. In Solihull, this expert support is provided by NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioners, who offer a one-to-one service. As well as information and access to stop smoking medications, our practitioners provide advice, support and encouragement during regular phone consultations and text messages.

Live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP? Call 0800 599 9880 or complete the online referral form and start your quit journey today!

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Are you an organisation that can you help us make Community Connections? If so please look at this opportunity…. Wed, 01 Dec 2021 17:06:46 +0000 Gateway Family Services along with being joint Lead Facilitator for the Neighbourhood Network Scheme in Edgbaston also oversees the Voluntary Sector Early Help offer.  Early Help is an initiative led by Birmingham Children’s Partnership in association with third sector partners and it’s aim is to provide services and support to make life a little easier for families experiencing hardship.

Since Gateway Family Services began its role in summer 2020, it’s worked with 550 families however there is still a feeling that there are parts or specific communities in the constituency that the offer isn’t reaching.  Gateway, knowing the wealth of community groups in the area sees this as being the key to broadening and improving what it’s already doing.  It seeks a partner organisation in each of Edgbaston’s four wards: Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton (we already have a partner in Bartley Green) to work side by side. The ask would be to share contacts and connections with the ultimate focus being to improve access between families and services.  Might your group or organisation be able to help? If so full details are in the attached Expression of Interest Doc below

  • We are looking for organisations that are based in the area they wish to work with
  • A payment would be attached to the work and we would work on formal terms through a service level agreement
  • we anticipate the arrangement lasting for a maximum of four months (end of March 2022)
  • You would work closely with our team, particularly our Community Connector

To apply there is a simple form, including three questions that require a short response.  Deadline in Sunday 5th December

Early Help Targeted support- Expression of Interest 1

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Martineau Gardens receives the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Mon, 29 Nov 2021 23:09:46 +0000 One of the longest running Community Gardens in Birmingham, Martineau Gardens, has been recognised for its commitment to the community, receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. Awarded during lockdown, when gatherings were not possible, representatives of Martineau Gardens received the award from John Crabtree, OBE, Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands on Sunday 17 October at the awards ceremony, at Birmingham Hippodrome.

Martineau Gardens is one of 230 charities, social enterprises, and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

When the City Council-run environmental centre closed, a group of local people came together to create a community garden that would stay open for free, for the public of Birmingham to visit and care for. Established in 1997 as a volunteer-led organisation, today, Martineau Gardens, in Edgbaston, is a thriving independently run registered charity.

It supports volunteers on the therapeutic horticulture programme to look after the 2.5 acre free-to-enter community garden, many of whom have mental health issues and learning disabilities. A team of volunteers welcome over 10,000 visitors each year who come to enjoy its peace and tranquillity and a further team helps with special events and courses.

Hundreds of school children visit the outdoor ‘classrooms’ to learn about the environment. The Gardens have been described by visitors as ‘an oasis of calm in the bustling city’ and as ‘Birmingham’s hidden gem’ – all thanks to the dedication of the wonderful volunteers.


Claire Perry, volunteer at the Gardens for over ten years said “Martineau Gardens means the world to me, to be around nature makes me calm and happy. I came here to boost my confidence, and now I’m here, I feel I’ve come out of the darkness and into the light.”

Munsab Kahn, volunteer at the Gardens said “Volunteering has given me a role – there was a massive hole in my life but when I began volunteering here, I could see there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

Gill Milburn, outgoing CEO for Martineau Gardens said “We are delighted and honoured to receive the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. Volunteers are the beating heart of Martineau Gardens. Whether supporting our work week in week out, or rising to the challenge when needed, each one makes a difference. The Award is testament to hundreds of volunteers past and present, who have given selflessly to care for our beautiful community space. We look forward to being able to have everyone back at the Gardens for a well-deserved celebration.”

Jenni Fryer, incoming CEO for Martineau Gardens said “Martineau Gardens is a much-loved, much-valued green space in the heart of the community welcoming over 10,000 visitors every year who come to enjoy its peace and tranquillity. The Gardens wouldn’t be the welcoming beautiful space it is without our volunteers.”

Martineau Gardens is open Monday to Saturday, 10am until 4pm for visits and is free to enter.

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Edgbaston NNS – Focus on Assets: Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works Thu, 25 Nov 2021 15:35:27 +0000 The Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network is here to help all of Edgbaston’s community assets with everything from grants and funding applications to networking and promotion. That’s why Community Connectors Deb and Natalie are always on the lookout for new community projects to meet, learn from, and support! Every two months, they speak to one of our assets in depth and feature them in the the ENNS Newsletter. This time, it’s the turn of Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works CIC.

Focus on Assets: Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works CIC

By Deb Ufton and Natalie Tichareva

We all know that making time to connect with others and do the things that make us happy help to improve our health and wellbeing. This is something that Woolly Mammoth have addressed repeatedly with their various stitch projects. Read on to find out more about Woolly Mammoth and their latest Metre Meadow Sewing and Sowing project, in partnership with The Patchwork Meadow, in Quinton.

Woolly Mammoth’s Creative Director, Tina Francis,  tells us, “I come from a family of makers. I have three brothers, a builder, a master tool maker and an interpreter for the deaf. So we all use our hands and heads to make a living. I don’t find it unusual for men to knit and stitch because my dad was taught by his mom to do this. Her family were all fishermen and so knitting and stitching were essential skills for men at sea. I think that if you can stitch you can travel the world, firstly,  people will always need things fixed and secondly you do not need to speak the language when you have the language of stitch in common.

“Working with Suze on Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works is the best of both worlds for me. As a stitch artist, running workshops can all too often be about the stitch process which is fine if you are coming to me to learn a specific skill. But we are about way more than this, stitch is the activity but community is the aim. Having Suze by my side gives me confidence because her ability to bring the creative community element never fails.”

Projects Director Suze tells us how Woolly Mammoth got started, “In 2012 I started working in the Jewellery Quarter on heritage regeneration projects. Tina was active as a resident and business owner there and our paths soon crossed regularly at various work events. I moved on to deliver the community engagement programme at Stirchley Baths in 2016 and invited Tina to be the artist on a community project for local residents, to recreate a piece of history in stitch. Before you know it, we had 155 people all stitching pieces in a coordinated way for an artwork which still hangs proudly in the building today.

“Back in the Jewellery Quarter a year later, I commissioned Tina to work with me again – this time we set the bar much higher and challenged ourselves to bring together 1,000 people from across the city to stitch a bee for a collaborative tapestry for The Hive. We created an epic tapestry where every bee is unique, just like its stitcher. It was such hard work, but after this second project we knew we had something really special.”

Connected, content and colourful

About 18 months later Tina and Suze set up Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works as a Community Interest Company with a vision and social mission to stitch Birmingham’s communities together through creative fun and a shared purpose to build a connected, content, and colourful city.

Our Stories In Stitch project, Ward End, funded by Hodge Hill NNS.

Tina says, “Craft is often seen as a singular activity but at Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works we are about creating large scale artworks using small contributions from everyone.  We have stitch projects that have included people from aged 3 to 93 and no one’s work is rejected because it might not look neat.  We value everyone’s contribution!”

Tina and Suze always wanted Woolly Mammoth projects to connect people to places and to each other and to use a needle and wool as a tool to get people working together towards a shared goal. As the pandemic struck it also became apparent that taking part in something creative and collaborative could also have a positive impact on people’s personal wellbeing.

Suze remembers, “Three weeks into our first Woolly Mammoth project – 18 at Heart – we were forced to change our way of working. We had programmed 20 social stitch meet ups over the next six months but had to cancel them and move to postal tapestry kits and online activity. We sent out 1,900 tapestry kits during the first lockdown March – June 2020 and five fantastic artworks were created from the stitched pieces that collaborators sent back to us. This included a 6ft arch in Northfield created by 162 people; a field of poppies created by 250 people for the Jewellery Quarter cemeteries; 18 tapestry train artworks with individual carriages, doors and engines stitched by over 250 people (one for each rail station in Worcestershire); and an apple wall hanging made by 160 stitchers for a church in Evesham. We even did a yarn-bomb along 5.5miles of the number 18 bus route from Billesley to Northfield, featuring 670 tapestry hearts stitched by a stitch team of 40.”

Tina adds, “during the pandemic lockdowns we were able to work with large amounts of people by sending a dose of what we like to call ‘woolly wellness’ through the post for people to do safely at home. Two further projects included sending out a monthly wellbeing tapestry pack and community magazine for four months for around 200 people, thanks to NNS grants in Selly Oak and Ladywood constituencies.”

Covid recovery projects

Since covid restrictions have eased, Woolly Mammoth projects have been more about recovery and bringing smaller groups of older people back into spaces to stitch together and this includes projects in Ward End where over 20 stitchers created their own tapestry samplers and told their life stories in stitch for an exhibition. Two weekly social craft groups have formed and thrive as a legacy of this work. In Billesley around 20 stitchers who had been receiving ‘woolly wellness’ kits came to Tina and Suze’s ‘in person’ meet ups, and they now continue to meet monthly to craft together. These ‘covid-recovery’ projects have been made possible thanks to Neighbourhood Network Scheme grants.

click to open full size leaflet

Suze says, “Our latest project in Quinton is a partnership with The Patchwork Meadow, a small environmental charity and Edgbaston NNS. In fact, it was Deb Ufton who connected us! We are running a ‘sewing’ and ‘sowing’ project which has almost 40 stitchers, aged 50+ using embroidery to sew wildflower designs each month for collaborative artworks which will form a public art trail next Easter. At the same time we are also sowing wildflower seeds to brighten up Quinton’s green and not so green spaces. So far we have planted meadows in the Toby Carvery car park and in the communal garden at Moat Meadows Retirement Housing complex as well as in the stitch team’s gardens. We’ll be doing more sowing across the area again in March next year. It is a really fun and friendly project, and two groups are meeting at Quinton Library and Toby Carvery as well as keeping in contact in a WhatsApp group”. We have received such a warm welcome from the staff at these venues and are grateful to the Library for also offering their space so that stitchers can meet up to sew together at other times.

Alison, founder of The Patchwork Meadow says, “We have planted 1,750 square metres of meadow to date across the city and counting! We are really enjoying working on the Quinton Metre Meadow Project with Woolly Mammoth.”

Suze continues, “After the last 18 months, it’s so wonderful to see people sitting together, chatting, laughing and sewing. Friendships are forming, people are getting more confident about being out and about, and in their sewing abilities, and green shoots can be seen emerging through the earth, promising colourful meadow areas in the future. It’s been a really excellent project to work on, and we can’t wait to see what we can all create together”.


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Stop smoking – start doing so much more this Stoptober Tue, 05 Oct 2021 15:17:26 +0000 Stoptober is back! The mass quit event, now in its tenth year, is calling on smokers to join the 2.3 million others who have made a quit attempt with the campaign since its launch. If you make it to 28 days smoke free, you are five times more likely to quit for good.

Over 6 million adults in England still smoke, and it remains the leading cause of premature death, with almost 75,000 preventable deaths a year. A new nationwide survey of 2,000 current smokers released last month has found that nearly half (45%) have been smoking more since the first lockdown began.

If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health, allowing you to start moving better, breathe more easily and save money. Join the thousands of others and start your quitting journey this October. Just search ‘Stoptober’ for more information and free tools to help you quit.

Free support from the Solihull Stop Smoking Service

Anyone who lives in Solihull, or has a Solihull GP, can get FREE one-to-one help and support from the Solihull Stop Smoking Service (part of the Solihull Lifestyle Service).

Public Health England states that expert support from local stop smoking services gives people the best chance of success. In Solihull, this expert support is provided by NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioners, who offer a one-to-one service. As well as information and access to stop smoking medications, our practitioners provide advice, support and encouragement during regular phone consultations and text messages.

Live in Solihull, or have a Solihull GP? Call 0800 599 9880 or complete the online referral form and start your quit journey today!

More resources for Solihull GPs and other organisations

If you’d like to promote Stoptober at your GP practice, community venue, or place of work, the following co-branded Stoptober / Solihull Lifestyle Service resources are available:

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