Gateway Family Services https://gatewayfs.org Thu, 23 Dec 2021 10:54:06 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.3 https://gatewayfs.org/files/2017/04/cropped-Gateway-Icon-Blue-sq-512-32x32.png Gateway Family Services https://gatewayfs.org 32 32 Christmas opening times and foodbanks update https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/23/christmas-opening-times-and-foodbanks-update/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/23/christmas-opening-times-and-foodbanks-update/#respond Thu, 23 Dec 2021 10:52:58 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13255

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: https://gatewayfs.org/our-work

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 https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/22/household-support-fund-is-coming-to-edgbaston/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/22/household-support-fund-is-coming-to-edgbaston/#comments Wed, 22 Dec 2021 10:06:15 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13245

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 https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/14/getting-ready-for-a-smoke-free-christmas-helens-story/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/14/getting-ready-for-a-smoke-free-christmas-helens-story/#respond Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:07:00 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13235 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…. https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/01/can-you-help-us-make-community-connections-if-so-please-look-at-this-opportunity/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/12/01/can-you-help-us-make-community-connections-if-so-please-look-at-this-opportunity/#respond Wed, 01 Dec 2021 17:06:46 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13228 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 https://gatewayfs.org/2021/11/29/martineau-gardens-receives-the-queens-award-for-voluntary-service/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/11/29/martineau-gardens-receives-the-queens-award-for-voluntary-service/#respond Mon, 29 Nov 2021 23:09:46 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13196 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 https://gatewayfs.org/2021/11/25/edgbaston-nns-focus-on-assets-woolly-mammoth-stitch-works/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/11/25/edgbaston-nns-focus-on-assets-woolly-mammoth-stitch-works/#comments Thu, 25 Nov 2021 15:35:27 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13180 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 https://gatewayfs.org/2021/10/05/stop-smoking-start-doing-so-much-more-this-stoptober/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/10/05/stop-smoking-start-doing-so-much-more-this-stoptober/#respond Tue, 05 Oct 2021 15:17:26 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13165 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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Getting the full picture to offer full support https://gatewayfs.org/2021/09/21/getting-the-full-picture-to-offer-full-support/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/09/21/getting-the-full-picture-to-offer-full-support/#respond Tue, 21 Sep 2021 11:46:50 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13140 Across Birmingham, the city’s Early Help system is still giving thousands of families and children vital help and support. Below, you can read the story of just one of those families.

What is Early Help?

Originally set up by Birmingham Children’s Partnership as part of their COVID-19 response, the Early Help system allows teachers, social workers, housing workers (and others) to refer families and young adults to one of ten specialist teams based across the city. These Early Help teams work with families to find out what they need, and then give them extra support, including emergency food and financial help.

In Edgbaston, where many families are living in temporary accommodation, including hotels, the Early Help service is led by Gateway Family Services. We have worked with nearly 400 families since the service began last year, providing food parcels, emergency funds, and connections to local services that can offer longer term help.

Case study: the Maier family*

The Maier family were referred to Early Help Edgbaston by a Barnado’s housing worker in the summer of 2021. Dad Denis, mum Maria and their teenage son Stefan* were living in temporary accommodation – a single room at a hotel – and although they were receiving help from Barnado’s, the housing worker felt that they needed further support.

The referral indicated that the family’s status is ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF), meaning that they are subject to immigration control and can’t claim any mainstream benefits or housing help. The housing worker had also mentioned they were short of food, and that there were health issues, although it wasn’t clear at first what this meant.

A member of the Early Help team called the family to find out more and, although Denis had very limited English, they managed to get a better picture of what was happening.

Denis explained that he had moved to the UK from Romania a couple of years ago. Upon arrival, he had successfully applied for a National Insurance Number and started working at construction sites, and was joined by wife Maria and 18-year-old Stefan at the start of 2021. He also mentioned that Stefan is disabled and that Maria looks after him at home.

However, soon after the family’s arrival, things had taken a turn for the worse.

Denis’s National Insurance number had been used by someone else illegally, and this, combined with the language barrier, made it very difficult to apply for settled status. Having missed their chance, the family were left with No Recourse to Public Funds.

What’s more, Denis had been injured, meaning he was no longer able to work, and Maria was now caring for both her son and her husband. During the conversation, Denis expressed a lot of concern for his wife and mentioned that she was suffering from back pain. It took some digging before we realised that Stefan is severely physically disabled, but didn’t have a wheelchair. Maria had been carrying him around the hotel room.

The Early Help Edgbaston team jumped into action, making referrals to various health services for Denis and Maria, and to the council’s Occupational Health service for Stefan so that he could be assessed for a wheelchair. They also referred Denis to the Community Law Centre for support with his legal challenge for National Insurance fraud. Finally, they arranged food parcels and some emergency funds. At this stage, the family felt they were getting all they help they needed so, with their consent, the case was closed.

In September, however, the Maiers were re-referred, this time by someone from the Big Issue legal support team. Although Denis is making a legal appeal, with help from the Central Law Society, the family still needs a bit more help. So Early Help Edgbaston is now working with local charity Karis to deliver a joined-up community support package. Early Help Edgbaston is part of Gateway Family Services, which has a family support worker and access to interpreters, who will help build a much clearer assessment of the family’s needs. Together, they will help the Maiers to access further help with housing and finance, as well as linking in with existing GP support.

More information

If you are a family in need of support, or an organisation helping families in the Edgbaston locality, please visit the Early Help Edgbaston pages on our website, call Early Help Edgbaston on 0121 456 7821 or email earlyhelpedgbaston@gatewayfs.org to talk to our team.

*All the family’s names have been changed

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Social Prescribing case study: changing circumstances https://gatewayfs.org/2021/09/02/social-prescribing-case-study-changing-circumstances/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/09/02/social-prescribing-case-study-changing-circumstances/#respond Thu, 02 Sep 2021 08:45:47 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13107 Every so often, we highlight case studies from our Social Prescribing Link Workers.

Our Link Workers work with GPs across Birmingham and Solihull to provide social and non-medical support for patients. Their role is that of connector: working with people to help them identify their own needs, and then putting them in touch with support services that can help them in the longer term.

Because a Link Worker can spend weeks talking, listening and building a relationship with a patient, they sometimes find that people’s needs go beyond what was disclosed to their GP. This was the case when Link Worker Abeda took on a case referred by a Balsall Heath GP, which mentioned only that the patient needed help with a benefits application.

Changing support for changing circumstances: Yasmin’s story

When Yasmin (not her real name) was referred to the Social Prescribing Link Worker service, she was allocated to Abeda (pictured). Yasmin’s referral, which came from her GP surgery, mentioned that she would like some general advice on benefits, so Abeda gave her a call to find out more.

During their first conversation, Abeda asked Yasmin to tell her as much as possible about her situation, to make sure she could give her all-round support. Often, things come up in these initial chats that might not have been mentioned in the referral – and sometimes, it can help the person just to know they have someone to talk to.

Yasmin, who’s in her 30s, told Abeda that she was having some difficulties with her benefit claims, because there had been some changes in her circumstances.

Until recently, she explained, she had been the sole carer for her mum, who had cancer. Sadly, her mum passed away last year, so Yasmin now lives alone. She also has some physical health problems of her own – issues with her legs that mean she is now unable to work. So, she wanted to make sure she was claiming the correct benefits, and asked Abeda to help her with applications for employment support allowance and universal credit.

They made the claim together, making sure the authorities had all the correct information, and that Yasmin understood all the related evidence that would need to be submitted.

Over the few weeks that Abeda supported Yasmin, she could see that her health was deteriorating, and that she was finding it more and more difficult to care for herself. When Yasmin told Abeda that she had slipped and fallen trying to have a bath, Abeda asked if she would think about getting a carer of her own to help her around the house. She agreed, so together they applied to Occupational Therapy for an assessment, and also looked at local care agencies to see if there was one that might be able to help.

Within a few weeks, she had had an assessment, and together they had found a care service Yasmin was happy with. Now, carers from Sevacare visit her three times a week to help her at home and, depending on the outcome of the Occupational Therapy assessment, she may also be able to get additional support and equipment.

Yasmin has continued to submit sick notes to support her benefits claim, but she is still waiting to hear the results of the application. Because she has less money coming in than before, she’s finding it harder to pay bills, so Abeda helped her to get a discount from Severn Trent, as part of their scheme for people with a low household income.

Abeda hopes that Yasmin’s benefit claim will be accepted soon, but until then she’s continuing to chase it on her behalf, and to support Yasmin while she waits. Yasmin has said she would have been lost without the service, especially during such a difficult time, and tells Abeda she is very grateful for giving her so many options.

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Social Prescribing case study: Kurdish connections https://gatewayfs.org/2021/08/26/social-prescribing-case-study-kurdish-connections/ https://gatewayfs.org/2021/08/26/social-prescribing-case-study-kurdish-connections/#respond Thu, 26 Aug 2021 10:23:00 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=13102 Throughout the pandemic, our Social Prescribing Link Workers have continued to support people – usually patients referred by their GP – with social or other non-medical issues. This is the latest in a series of blog posts highlighting their work; you can read more Link Worker case studies here.

The job of the Link Workers is to help people make connections: to help them navigate the city’s statutory services, to put them in touch with specialist advice and support, and to suggest groups and other activities that might help them improve their health and wellbeing. If a Link Worker can’t help, they will know someone who can!

Osman (not his real name), a Kurdish man living in Birmingham, knew what he needed – but had so far been unable to navigate the system, or even communicate his needs to his GP fully, due to the language barrier.

Creating confidence and connections: Osman’s story

“Osman” was referred to the Social Prescribing service by his GP surgery. However, although he had multiple needs, he doesn’t speak English, so wasn’t able to communicate them in detail.

He was allocated to Sadaf (pictured), a Link Worker based in Small Heath. The first thing Sadaf did was to contact a local interpreting agency that specialises in patient liaison.

During a three-way call with Sadaf, Osman and a Kurdish interpreter, Osman told Sadaf he had three main issues.

Firstly, problems with his physical health mean that Osman has difficulty with steps and using the bathroom at home. He asked how to access equipment to help him get around the house. This was clearly Osman’s most urgent issue. He said that his physical problems affect his mental health, which impacts his day-to-day life, and described feeling stripped of his independence.

Sadaf explained that Osman would need to be assessed by the Council’s Occupational Therapy department to find out if he was eligible for equipment. For this to happen, he would need to be referred, and he readily agreed to this.

Next, he said he was struggling to keep up gas and electricity payments. He told Sadaf he would like to change to a pre-paid meter but, because of the language barrier, he felt unable to call the utilities company to arrange it. This, too, was causing him a lot of concern.

Sadaf assured Osman that all the utilities companies have interpreters, and that they would be pleased to help him. He was reassured and said he felt a lot more confident about calling them.

Finally, Osman said he wanted to find a solicitor to help him with a medical negligence case. He reiterated that his physical health was at the core of his problems, and explained that it had deteriorated during a hospital admission. He felt he had not been medicated correctly during his stay, and that this had left him immobile. PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) had recommended seeking legal advice, but he had been unable to find a solicitor himself.

Sadaf explained that Link Workers cannot give legal advice or recommendations, but said she would try and connect him to a Kurdish community service that can.

After the phonecall, Sadaf made the referral to Occupational Therapy, and then began the search for more specific help. However, after hours of online research and phonecalls, she found that support for the Kurdish community in Birmingham is limited. Instead, a Community Connector at Family Action, which works with hundreds of groups and services, said they would work with Osman in the longer term to arrange further support that would help with his claim.

Occupational Therapy have since contacted Osman and, although his referral has been received, there is a backlog due to the pandemic. He will be assessed, but it could take a while.

Despite the setbacks, Osman has told Sadaf he is already feeling happier because someone reached out to him and offered to work through issues together. Although he understands that it will be a lengthy process, and that this is just the start of his journey, the reassurance and guidance that Sadaf was able to give him has already helped a lot.

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