Gateway Family Services https://gatewayfs.org Mon, 12 Oct 2020 09:39:36 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 https://gatewayfs.org/files/2017/04/cropped-Gateway-Icon-Blue-sq-512-32x32.png Gateway Family Services https://gatewayfs.org 32 32 Social Prescribing case study: “Head in the sand” https://gatewayfs.org/2020/10/12/social-prescribing-case-study-head-in-the-sand/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/10/12/social-prescribing-case-study-head-in-the-sand/#respond Mon, 12 Oct 2020 09:39:14 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12342 This is the third blog post in a series highlighting some of the real life cases our Social Prescribing Link Workers have worked on this year.

The first two stories we published were from Birmingham Link Workers:

Social Prescribing case study: “Help me to sort this out!”
Social Prescribing case study: “I just want to know my son is OK”

Now it’s the turn of our Solihull team. Glenn is one of four Social Prescribing Link Workers who are based at North Solihull GP practices and, like all our Link Workers, she has been working with patients who have been referred by their GP or other practice staff for social, non-clinical needs. Since Covid hit in March, most of the work has been done via video and phone calls, with occasional visits to foodbanks, shops and pharmacies to help patients out, and the occasional distanced meet-up in parks and open areas.

Glenn told us about “Lorraine” (not her real name), who was referred for general advice and befriending, and explained how she encouraged her to deal with things one step at a time.

“No longer burying her head in the sand”: Lorraine’s story

Link Worker Glenn works in North Solihull

In June, Lorraine’s* GP referred her to the surgery’s Social Prescribing Link Worker, Glenn, for some extra support. The referral form mentioned that she may potentially need befriending, general advice and signposting (directing her to other organisations and agencies she might not have known about before).

Glenn called Lorraine shortly after receiving the referral. She asked her what had been happening in her life recently, and how she might be able to help.

Lorraine, who’s in her late 60s, told Glenn that she felt her health was suffering because of stress. So they had a long chat about it. Lorraine explained she had recently moved to Solihull from the other side of the city, and didn’t know anyone nearby, but that the main issue on her mind was debt. She told Glenn that this was causing her the biggest worry and was the source of most of her feelings of stress.

Lorraine explained that she had debts with a number of companies, including her own bank, with whom she had gone overdrawn. It had got to the stage where she admitted she now didn’t know where to start sorting it out. She was feeling overwhelmed.

The first thing Glenn did was to give her the details of Step Change, an organisation that would give her free debt advice. Then they wrote everything down to see where they could make a start. Lorraine said she didn’t have the confidence to ring the bank to talk to them about the overdraft, but Glenn gave her the encouragement she needed to make the call.

In fact, the bank were really helpful on the phone, and sent Lorraine an income and outgoings form to fill in. Lorraine and Glenn filled it in together, and this has allowed the bank to give Lorraine a repayment plan that feels positive and achievable.

The next step will be to use this information to fill in some forms for Step Change. Then Glenn will call the other places where Lorraine has debts and tell them that she is working on a budget plan with the organisation. By working methodically and making achievable plans with the help of debt specialists, Lorraine is already starting to feel more in control.

“[Lorraine] definitely feels better now that she has started to sort her debts out,” says Glenn. “She feels like she’s no longer burying her head in the sand.”

Now that Lorraine has tackled her biggest worry, she is starting to think about some of the other things she’d like to improve. She has mentioned that she’d like some help to lose weight and stop smoking, so Glenn has also referred her to the Solihull Lifestyle Service, where she will be able to work with an advisor to make more positive lifestyle changes.

*Lorraine’s name has been changed

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Quit smoking this Stoptober https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/30/quit-smoking-this-stoptober/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/30/quit-smoking-this-stoptober/#respond Wed, 30 Sep 2020 10:46:12 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12326 Stopping smoking is one of the best things you’ll ever do for your health.

When you stop, you give your lungs the chance to repair and you’ll be able to breathe easier. There are lots of other benefits too – and they start almost immediately.

It’s never too late to quit, so join in this Stoptober. Let’s do this!

Visit the NHS website and download the app

Everything you need to start your quit journey is on the NHS Quit Smoking website, including the link to download the Stoptober app.

Stoptober is a 28-day stop smoking challenge. The app allows you to:

  • track your progress
  • see how much you’re saving
  • get daily support

If you can make it to 28 days smoke-free, you’re five times more likely to quit for good!

Find your local Stop Smoking service

You are also three times more likely to quit when you get support from a Stop Smoking service, so ask your GP or local pharmacy what’s available locally. A Stop Smoking adviser will be able to give you access to ‘stop smoking’ medications and tell you what strategies and products will work best for you.

In Solihull, the Stop Smoking service is provided by the Solihull Lifestyle Service. Our NCSCT certified Stop Smoking Practitioners will work one-to-one with people to help them through Stoptober and beyond. They’ll provide information and access to medications, as well as advice, support and encouragement during regular phone consultations and text messages.

If you live in Solihull or have a Solihull GP, speak to your GP or call 0800 599 9880 to refer yourself to the Solihull Stop Smoking Service. You can also refer yourself using the Solihull Lifestyle Service referral form.

Resources for Solihull GPs

If you represent a Solihull GP practice and you’d like to promote Stoptober at your surgery, the following co-branded Stoptober / Solihull Lifestyle Service resources are available:

A4 poster for online use (JPG)
A4 poster for print use (PDF)
Digital screen (JPG)

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Link Worker Vacancy – Birmingham https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/23/link-worker-vacancies-birmingham/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/23/link-worker-vacancies-birmingham/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:00:23 +0000 http://gatewayfs.org/?p=12166 Social Prescribing Link Worker

We have rewarding opportunity for a Social Prescribing Link Worker to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. If you feel you could connect to people, community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support, we would love to hear from you!

Position: Social Prescribing Link Worker

Location: Birmingham

Hours: Full time (37 hours) 

Salary: £19,000 – £19,986

Contract: Fixed term to the end of September 2021

Benefits: The provision of workplace wellbeing support and activities, flexible working and a range of family friendly policies and subsidised parking.

Closing Date: Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight)

Interview Dates: 15th and 16th October 2020

Social Prescribing Link Worker will be integrated into the wider multi-disciplinary team of a PCN. This is part of NHS England’s Long Term Plan, which commits to building the infrastructure for Social Prescribing in primary care.

The Role

As Social Prescribing Link Worker, you will provide one-to-one support to people who are referred to you by GPs and the wider PCN team, helping them to increase their active involvement with their local communities. They may have issues such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity, as well as loneliness, isolation and low level mental health concerns which affect their health and wellbeing.

The role will build trusting relationships with people, create a shared personalised care and support plan and connect them to community groups, VCSE organisations and other services. This approach particularly helps people with long term conditions (including poor mental health), people who are lonely or isolated, or who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

About You

The Social Prescribing Link Worker will:

  • Be a good listener, have time for people and be committed to supporting local communities to care for each other.
  • Have experience of working positively with people facing complex social and emotional challenges.
  • Have a good knowledge of the area in which you’ll be based and what groups, activities and services are available there.

Some weekend and evening working may be required.

An interview is guaranteed to suitably qualified and experienced people with disabilities. All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

You may also have experience in areas such as Floating Support, Befriending, Community Family Worker, Social Worker, Community Navigator, Peer Support Worker, Welfare Support, Family Worker, Family Support Worker, Benefit, Care, Therapeutic, Therapy, Advice, Adviser, Health, Wellbeing, Social Care, Social Care Services, Health and Social Care.

Social Prescribing Link Worker Job Description and Person Specification

Application Form (please return to recruitment@gatewayfs.org)

Applications can also be requested by telephone by calling Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820

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Senior Link Worker Job Vacancy https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/23/senior-link-worker-job-vacancy/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 14:00:11 +0000 http://gatewayfs.org/?p=12162 Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker

We have rewarding opportunity for a Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker to focus on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. If you feel you could connect to people, community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support, we would love to hear from you!

Position: Senior Social Prescribing Link Worker

Location: Birmingham

Hours: 37 hours per week

Salary: £23400 per annum

Contract: Fixed term to the end of September 2021

Benefits: The provision of workplace wellbeing support and activities, flexible working including home and remote working and a range of family friendly policies and subsidised parking.

Closing Date:  Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight)

Interview Dates: 15th and 16th October 2020

Social Prescribing Link Worker will be integrated into the wider multi-disciplinary team of a PCN. This is part of NHS England’s Long Term Plan, which commits to building the infrastructure for Social Prescribing in primary care.

The Role

The Senior Link Worker will have a dual role, taking responsibility for the line Management of Link Workers and any volunteers linked to the service, providing them with suitable support and supervision and at the same time continuing to provide personalised support to patients through the provision of cover for Link Workers during absences and supporting with more complex patients.

Link Workers provide one-to-one support to people who are referred to them by GPs and the wider PCN team, helping them to increase their active involvement with their local communities. They may have issues such as debt, poor housing and physical inactivity, as well as loneliness, isolation and low level mental health concerns which affect their health and wellbeing.

About You

You will need to be able to communicate well, building strong relationships with your team, GP Practice staff and the wider health and social care sector as well as community groups and VCSE organisations. You should have experience of leading a team of staff, providing timely and appropriate support and development and dealing with conduct and performance issues in a consistent and fair manner.  Link Workers are based within GP practices so experience of managing Outreach staff or remote workers would be advantageous.

You will have:

  • Experience of staff supervision, ideally in a health and social care setting or similar
  • Experience of direct delivery of support to individuals with social needs
  • Knowledge of Birmingham and localities therein
  • Experience of partnership working across a range of organisations

The service is delivered flexibly to meet the needs of patients so some evening and weekend work may be required.

An interview is guaranteed to suitably qualified and experienced people with disabilities.

All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced DBS check

You may also have experience in areas such as Floating Support, Befriending, Community Family Worker, Social Worker, Community Navigator, Peer Support Worker, Welfare Support, Family Worker, Family Support Worker, Benefit, Care, Therapeutic, Therapy, Advice, Adviser, Health, Wellbeing, Social Care, Social Care Services, Health and Social Care.

Senior Link Worker June 2020 Job Description

Application Form (please return to recruitment@gatewayfs.org)

Applications can also be requested by telephone by calling Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820

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Community Connector – Job Vacancies https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/23/community-connector-job-vacancies/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/23/community-connector-job-vacancies/#respond Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:57:56 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12318 Community Connector

We are currently seeing to employ a number of Community Connector’ roles to map voluntary and community organisations within the Edgbaston Locality and to share information about organisations across a range of services.

Position: Community Connector

Location: Birmingham (Edgbaston locality)

Hours: Full time (37 hours) 

Salary: £18393 to £19986 dependant on experience

Contract: Fixed term for 6 months (with possibility of extended funding beyond this point)

Benefits: The provision of workplace wellbeing support and activities, flexible working and a range of family friendly policies and subsidised parking.

Closing Date: Tuesday 13th October 2020 (midnight)

Interview Dates: 15th and 16th October 2020

The Role

Birmingham is a youthful diverse and creative city currently delivering a programme of early help support for the young people (0-25) and families across health, education, vocational training and social care. This new ‘Early Help’ programme is being established across the 10 localities, led in part by the voluntary sector – helping to create local networks of support for families where it can be most effective.

The Community Connector will play an exciting role in helping to re-engineer a step-change in community and family-focused support for children and families. As Community Connector you will need to demonstrate a wide understanding of the diversity of the city and an ability to work with all communities.

The organisation’s vision is one where families, whether they are asking for early help support or are in specialist services, can get support or help in their neighbourhood, and where they can be connected to all the wider opportunities that are available in the city, arts, leisure, sport, recreation.

About You

We are looking for dynamic and energetic communicators, capable of engaging with key stakeholder organisations as well as vulnerable individuals across defined locality regions. You will need to be digitally literate; with a deep understanding of the importance of inclusivity, equality and diversity, able to clearly articulate the delivery of network training to a wide range of stakeholder organisations and positive about change.

An interview is guaranteed to suitably qualified and experienced people with disabilities. All successful applicants will be subject to an enhanced DBS check.

Please note due to current circumstances you will be required to do some work from home.

You may also have experience in areas such as Community Development Worker, Social Service, Support Worker, Care Worker, Networking, Asset Development, Neighbourhood Work, Early Help, Community Support.

Social Prescribing Link Worker Job Description and Person Specification

JD Community Connector Early Help v2

Application Form (please return to recruitment@gatewayfs.org)

Applications can also be requested by telephone by calling Maxine Brown on 0121 456 7820

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Social Prescribing case study: “I just want to know my son is OK” https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/17/social-prescribing-case-study-i-just-want-to-know-my-son-is-ok/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/17/social-prescribing-case-study-i-just-want-to-know-my-son-is-ok/#respond Thu, 17 Sep 2020 10:19:13 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12302 This is the second blog post in a series highlighting some of the real life cases our Social Prescribing Link Workers have worked on since they started in February.

You can read the first one, about Wayne and his patient ‘Linda’, here: Social Prescribing case study: “Help me to sort this out!”

“I just want to know my son is OK”: Chloe’s story

Becky, Link Worker

Chloe* was referred to Link Worker Becky (pictured, right) by her GP, who reported that Chloe was struggling with her mental health and a lack of routine.

When Becky contacted Chloe a few days later, it was obvious why. She said, “my baby son has been taken into care and is being adopted. I haven’t seen him for months. I just want to know if he’s OK but I’ve called and the social worker isn’t answering.”

At first, Becky simply listened.

In supported housing because of her learning difficulties and mental health needs, Chloe also told Becky she was unhappy sharing a house with people who, she felt, didn’t care about her son. She had previously lived with her son’s dad but now they were in separate houses and, because of Covid-19, they couldn’t see each other. She felt sad and isolated.

Having established that finding out about the baby was Chloe’s priority, Becky offered to call the social worker, and the next day was able to reassure her that her son was doing well. She explained that she would be sent a “settling in” letter, and helped her understand that, although she couldn’t see him, she would be able to write a letter to him every year.

Giving Chloe the space to talk about her son was vital. They discussed writing letters, or keeping a journal, and Becky has suggested setting aside a time each week to think about him and express her feelings. She’s reassured Chloe that what she’s going through is a very significant and difficult thing, and put her in touch with Karis Neighbourhood Scheme’s Listening and Guidance Service, which supports people going through loss.

Chloe really wants to move house, so Becky contacted her support worker, who told her that Chloe is in arrears and on a very low level of benefit. Clearly, budgeting isn’t easy –Chloe had already run out of food for the month – so Becky put her in touch with Ladywood Money Advice to find out if she’s on the right benefits, and what her housing options are. In the meantime, she also arranged for a one-off food parcel to be delivered.

Becky also pointed Chloe to an online social prescribing art group, which has turned out to be beneficial to both of them. Becky says, “it’s great because she enjoys the activities and it’s something for us to talk about. But the group leader has also shared a lot of Housing Association knowledge with us. We can communicate about Chloe and keep her GP in the loop too. It’s a great network.”

Chloe continues to lead her own support, but Becky expects she’ll help her with housing, budgeting support, and perhaps finding some volunteer work over the next few weeks. In the long term, she hopes Chloe will be able to make sense of the loss of her son.

Becky says, “when someone has multiple issues, it’s natural to want to do everything at once, but it’s important to focus on a person’s priorities. It’s not about rushing in with a magic wand or a sledge hammer. As Link Workers, we are able to spend time getting to know someone, understanding their needs and supporting them one step at a time.”

*Chloe’s name has been changed

Social Prescribing Link Workers and lockdown

Some of the Social Prescribing Link Workers team, pictured in February

Based at GP practices, Link Workers take referrals directly from GPs and other practice staff for Social Prescribing: offering one-to-one “whole person” support for non-medical and social issues, and helping people to access local activities and services.

We started putting together our Birmingham Social Prescribing Link Workers team in February; however, they had only been working with their local surgeries for a few weeks when Covid-19 hit and the country went into lockdown.

As more and more people started to need help, the referrals came flooding in and our Link Workers went into overdrive. As well as continuing to build relationships with their local GPs and care staff, they also continued to build their networks of local organisations and agencies, including making contact with the hundreds of new volunteer organisations and foodbanks that were popping up. And of course they were still getting to know each other as a team, albeit remotely. All work was done via video and phone calls, with occasional visits to foodbanks, shops and pharmacies to help patients out.

It has been tough, but they have done (and continue to do!) a tremendous job. In the five months they have been in their roles, our Social Prescribing Link Workers have already supported more than 400 people.

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New Covid-19 guidelines for Birmingham, Solihull and Sandwell https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/14/new-covid-19-guidelines-for-birmingham-solihull-and-sandwell/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/14/new-covid-19-guidelines-for-birmingham-solihull-and-sandwell/#respond Mon, 14 Sep 2020 14:21:54 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12293 An outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull. That means some local restrictions are coming into place this week:

New local guidelines from 15th September

If you live in Birmingham, Solihull or Sandwell: from tomorrow, Tuesday 15 September, you should not:

  • host people you do not live with, in your home or garden, unless they’re in your support bubble*
  • meet people you do not live with, in their home or garden, whether inside or outside of the affected areas, unless they’re in your support bubble*

*A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household (on an exclusive basis).

New national guidelines from 14th September

From today (Monday, 14 September), residents will also need to comply with the new ‘rule of six’ national restrictions, where it is against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than six (apart from specific exemptions listed in the national guidance).

Residents should follow government advice around ‘hands, face, space’ and getting tested, including:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser
  • Wear a face covering in appropriate scenarios (if you’re not exempt)
  • Be aware of others not in your household and manage your space as much as possible. Always stay 2 metres away from people you don’t live with – or 1 metre with extra precautions (such as wearing a face covering)

If you, or someone in your household, have Covid-19 symptoms, it is very important that you stay home and book a test by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk.

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Edgbaston NNS – fundraising support survey https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/09/edgbaston-nns-fundraising-support-survey/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/09/09/edgbaston-nns-fundraising-support-survey/#respond Wed, 09 Sep 2020 16:49:51 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12284 Are you a community group or voluntary organisation based in the Edgbaston or Northfield constituencies? Do you need help with fundraising, or want support to find suitable grants and funding opportunities?

We’ve been talking to Birmingham Community Matters, a charity which helps people develop and fund community projects, about how we could work together to provide support to members of the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme. If you run a local activity group, social club or community organisation, we want to hear from you!

To make sure we can offer the right support, we’re asking community-run groups in Edgbaston, Harborne, Quinton, Bartley Green, Shenley and Weoley Castle to complete a fundraising survey. We have anecdotal knowledge of what local groups might need, but this survey will help us to make sure that the needs of the area shape what happens next.

Click here to complete the Fundraising Support survey.

When we have heard from as many groups as possible, we’ll put together a programme of support and let you know how you can get involved.

Want to know more about the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme?

The ENNS is led by Gateway Family Services with Age UK Birmingham. We act as a central co-ordination point for the network, and can offer support for volunteers and groups, including access to grants. If you are a community group or local voluntary organisation based in one of the areas listed above, and you haven’t yet been in touch, contact us to find out more on 0800 599 9880, or info@gatewayfs.org, and consider joining the ENNS mailing list.

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Edgbaston NNS – Focus on Assets: Quinborne Community Centre https://gatewayfs.org/2020/08/28/edgbaston-nns-focus-on-assets-the-quinborne-community-centre/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/08/28/edgbaston-nns-focus-on-assets-the-quinborne-community-centre/#respond Fri, 28 Aug 2020 11:57:16 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12255 The Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme, which launched in July, has a bi-monthly newsletter for members, which you can subscribe to here. In each edition of the newsletter, we’ll be showcasing great community assets within the Edgbaston constituency.

In this edition, Neighbourhood Network Scheme Community Worker Natalie Tichareva writes about her (socially distanced!) visit to the Quinborne Community Centre.

Focus on Assets: Quinborne Community Centre

By Natalie Tichareva

We visited the Quinborne Community Centre, a fantastic community space that provides a number of activities for local residents in Quinton and Harborne as well as its surrounding areas.

This photo, of an adult education class at the Centre, was taken before the Covid-19 distancing measures came in. Photo: Quinborne Community Centre website

The Quinborne Centre has been serving the community for over 80 years, having been established in July 1938. Since its formation the centre has been at the heart of community activity in Quinton and Harborne and today is home to a diverse variety of groups who use the centre to host activities.

On the day of our visit Colin Simmonds, one of the centres Directors, gave us a tour of the impressive building which sits on the site of the former Edgbaston Golf Club. The centre boasts multiple large meeting rooms, a nursery space, gym and dance rooms as well as café and working kitchen. At the centre of it all is a beautiful garden which offers attendees a time to relax during their breaks.

Many who attend the social activities at Quinborne have been doing so for many years; drawn to the centres large array of activities. Similarly, many of the Quinborne Centre’s staff are also longstanding, and when asked about his favourite parts of working with the centre Colin informed me that their staff and volunteers were key part of this: “everyone is so dedicated and hardworking”. One such staff member is Aaron, who greeted us on arrival alongside Quinborne Centre Manager Carl. Aaron started out as apprentice with Quinborne before working his way up to his current role as Centre Supervisor, an example of the centre’s commitment to nurturing relationships with all those find a home within its walls.

the Quinborne Centre also has a pretty garden where people enjoy spending time. Photo: Natalie Tichareva

Another of Colin’s favourite parts of working with the centre is the buzz of activity that takes place when the centre is open, “Walking into the centre on a Tuesday, which is usually our busiest day, you have all the different groups taking part in activities. The noise of it all going on is great!” Like many community centres Quinborne had to close its doors during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures. But on the day of our visit the team at Quinborne were busy getting the space prepared for re-opening to the public, which will hopefully take place in September.

A key part of the centre’s longevity has been its ability to change and adapt to meet the needs of the community, and this has remained the case through the COVID-19 pandemic. Colin informed me that staff have kept in regular telephone contact with attendees to the centre, ensuring that the social connections that keep so many people attending each week have remained during lockdown measures.

Thinking ahead to the future Quinborne Community Association will soon be launching their ‘Virtual Friendship Club’ where they will be providing isolated older adults with a tablet, training on how to use their new technology and the opportunity to join the Virtual Friendship club hosted on Zoom. The project has been funded through the Edgbaston NNS Small Grants Fund, administered by Heart of England Community Foundation. Alongside this Quinborne are keen to continue their great work while strengthening relationships with other community groups in Quinton and Harborne and are always looking for ways the most lonely and isolated in Edgbaston can be given an opportunity to engage with centre.

We wish the centre the best of luck in this and would like to thank Colin and the team for taking the time to chat to us!

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Social Prescribing case study: “Help me to sort this out!” https://gatewayfs.org/2020/08/17/social-prescribing-case-study-help-me-to-sort-this-out/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/08/17/social-prescribing-case-study-help-me-to-sort-this-out/#respond Mon, 17 Aug 2020 15:06:39 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12235 We thought it would be interesting to highlight some of the real life cases our Social Prescribing Link Workers have worked on since they started in February. We’ll be publishing a selection of these over the next few weeks and you can read the first one, about Wayne and his patient Linda*, below.

But first, a little note about the last few months…

Social Prescribing Link Workers and lockdown

Some of the Social Prescribing Link Workers team, pictured in February

Based at GP practices, Link Workers take referrals directly from GPs and other practice staff for Social Prescribing: offering one-to-one “whole person” support for non-medical and social issues, and helping people to access local activities and services.

We started putting together our Birmingham Social Prescribing Link Workers team in February; however, they had only been working with their local surgeries for a few weeks when Covid-19 hit and the country went into lockdown.

As more and more people started to need help, the referrals came flooding in and our Link Workers went into overdrive. As well as continuing to build relationships with their local GPs and care staff, they also continued to build their networks of local organisations and agencies, including making contact with the hundreds of new volunteer organisations and foodbanks that were popping up. And of course they were still getting to know each other as a team, albeit remotely. All work was done via video and phone calls, with occasional visits to foodbanks, shops and pharmacies to help patients out.

It has been tough, but they have done (and continue to do!) a tremendous job. In the five months they have been in their roles, our Social Prescribing Link Workers have already supported more than 400 people.

“Help me to sort this out”: Linda’s story

In February, Linda’s* GP referred her to the surgery’s Link Worker, Wayne (pictured), because of her issues with hoarding.

“A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner, usually resulting in unmanageable amounts of clutter. The items can be of little or no monetary value.” (source: www.nhs.uk)

When he received the referral, Wayne contacted Linda straight away and they arranged to meet up at the surgery for a chat.

They spoke for over an hour. Linda, who’s in her fifties, explained that her relationship with her parents was at the heart of her hoarding problems, and that although she was getting help from the Mental Health team, it was only short term. She told Wayne she felt alone and helpless, saying “there’s not much anyone can do to help me. I don’t know how to solve this.”

Wayne asked Linda to talk about what she really wanted. How could they work together to make her feel happier? She said, simply, “help me to sort this out.”

Wayne went online and spoke to his network of contacts to find out what was available. He quickly discovered that West Midlands Fire Service hold regular meetings run by Clouds End, a specialist organisation that helps people with hoarding behaviours.

Wayne encouraged Linda to attend, and even offered to accompany her if she wanted some support. She decided to go on her own and found the meetings to be a positive experience. The other attendees were people like her and the group sessions had a non-judgemental atmosphere. She told Wayne she felt encouraged by the support.

In the meantime, Wayne found out more about what the Fire Service could offer. The priority was Linda’s safety; because no-one had been able to get into the house for a while, there was no way of knowing if it was safe. They arranged a home visit where WMFS carried out a fire safety check and installed a new smoke alarm. Wayne also found out that WMFS have a Specialist Team who support people just like Linda. When he told her, she was over the moon and started planning for them to visit.

The next step was for Linda to start reducing the clutter in her home. She started selling items online, which has been going well; she is happy to see some cash coming her way.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the Fire Service Specialist Team hadn’t yet been able to visit due to the Covid-19 isolation measures, but Wayne is in regular contact with them and they will start working with her as soon as it’s safe.

Wayne continues to contact Linda every week for a chat about her wellbeing. She remains pleased with her progress and tells him she feels positive about her future.

* Linda’s name has been changed

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