Gateway Family Services https://gatewayfs.org Thu, 17 Sep 2020 10:44:17 +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: “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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Ready for a reset? Start your journey to Better Health https://gatewayfs.org/2020/08/03/ready-for-a-reset-start-your-journey-to-better-health/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/08/03/ready-for-a-reset-start-your-journey-to-better-health/#respond Mon, 03 Aug 2020 14:26:20 +0000 https://gatewayfs.org/?p=12209 Last week, Public Health England launched a major new adult health campaign to seize the opportunity for a national “reset” moment: Better Health.

For many, the past few months have been a wake-up call, with people realising how precious their health is and recognising that it is time to get back on track. The Better Health campaign has been designed to provide an opportunity for the nation to reset and introduce healthy changes, by bringing together a range of NHS support under the Better Health banner.

The campaign is kicking off by supporting individuals on their weight loss journey.

Lose weight and cut your risk

Nearly two thirds (63%) of adults in the UK are overweight or living with obesity. Gaining weight is often a gradual process that takes place over a number of years and modern life doesn’t always make it easy. But this extra weight causes pressure to build up around vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases like cancer, heart disease and now COVID-19.

By reducing your weight within a healthy range, you can help cut your risk of being critically ill with COVID-19. To improve health and wellbeing, individuals should aim to have a BMI below 25 and above 18.52. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME) should aim to have a BMI below 23 and above 18.5 to avoid risks to health.

For more information, go to https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/, where you can download a range of tools and support to help you lose weight.

In Solihull? Get FREE one-to-one support

Solihull weight loss leafletPeople who live in Solihull (or have a Solihull GP) can access free one-to-one support to lose weight. The Solihull Lifestyle Service is here to help you make positive lifestyle changes – things like cooking and eating more healthily, and becoming more physically active – in a way that suits you.

To start your weight loss journey, call 0800 599 9880, or ask your GP to refer you.

Our team are on standby, ready to help; after an initial assessment, you’ll be allocated to an Advisor to work one-to-one. Your Advisor will help you identify the lifestyle changes you want to make, and then give you all the encouragement, motivation and practical help you need to make them happen.

You’ll also get information about local activities and groups you might be interested in, and a personalised action plan to help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals.

Let’s do this!

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Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme officially launches https://gatewayfs.org/2020/07/06/edgbaston-neighbourhood-network-scheme-launch/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/07/06/edgbaston-neighbourhood-network-scheme-launch/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2020 14:13:37 +0000 http://gatewayfs.org/?p=12175 At the start of this year, Gateway and Age UK Birmingham were appointed to lead the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme (NNS). We were about to start planning our launch event when Covid-19 hit and the country went into lockdown.

Rather than holding an event to launch the new scheme, we dived straight into supporting community groups in the area. Our Asset Development Worker Sam, and seconded Early Help co-ordinator Marc, began co-ordinating the delivery of food parcels and other vital support to the local communities — and this is how the scheme has been running for the last four months.

Now, however, we are starting to move forward again and on 23rd June, we held the official launch of the Edgbaston Neighbourhood Network Scheme — albeit as an online meeting rather than the physical event we had originally planned.

Around 25 people came together via Zoom to discusss the original aims of the ENNS: the ways in which we can help local community, activity and social groups to sustain themselves and, if they wish to, develop further. We also talked about how things have changed since March and how we can support groups to adapt to a post coronavirus landscape.

The event was attended by representatives from Gateway, Age UK Birmingham, the Adult Social Work team, Birmingham City Council, BVSC and other agencies, but also by a mix of community groups (also known as “assets”).

After introductions and some information about the ENNS and how it can help community groups, attendees split into three “breakout rooms” to discuss issues in more detail: funding, the “three conversations” social work model, and lessons learned from Covid-19.

Natalie Tichareva, from Age UK Birmingham, said, “I think it is safe to say we were all slightly nervous about how a digital launch event would go, but in the end I do not think it could have gone better! Thank you to everyone who attended and took part in our breakout room discussions following the presentation. We have made some great links through our launch event which will be able to strengthen our work in Edgbaston going forward.”

We understand that many people weren’t able to attend, and that some of those who did attend would like the opportunity to reconvene so that they can attend the other breakout meetings, so we’ll be planning more digital get-togethers in the near future.

In the meantime, click here to download the ENNS Welcome Pack PDF, which you should be able to print as a booklet. If you don’t have access to a printer and would like a copy of this, please email info@gatewayfs.org and we’ll send you a copy.

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Link Worker Vacancies – Birmingham and Solihull https://gatewayfs.org/2020/06/23/link-worker-vacancies-birmingham-and-solihull/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/06/23/link-worker-vacancies-birmingham-and-solihull/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2020 16:12:23 +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 or North Solihull

Hours:Full and part time hours available

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: 12th July 2020

Interview Date: 15th, 16th and 17th July 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.

For the Birmingham post an ability to speak another community language, or languages, would be highly desirable and some weekend working will 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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Supporting a group during lockdown: the Patient Health Forum https://gatewayfs.org/2020/06/02/supporting-a-group-during-lockdown-the-patient-health-forum/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/06/02/supporting-a-group-during-lockdown-the-patient-health-forum/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2020 15:06:36 +0000 http://gatewayfs.org/?p=12123 The Patient Health Forum (also known as the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group) is a social group for people who live with, or care for people who live with, a range of long term health conditions.

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

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

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

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

Switching to remote support

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

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

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

What do we talk about?

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

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

Kath is one of the Gateway staff making wellbeing calls.

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

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

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

Some more comments from members…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Edgbaston Early Help Scheme: Food for a family in crisis https://gatewayfs.org/2020/06/01/edgbaston-early-help-scheme-food-for-a-family-in-crisis/ https://gatewayfs.org/2020/06/01/edgbaston-early-help-scheme-food-for-a-family-in-crisis/#respond Mon, 01 Jun 2020 12:02:07 +0000 http://gatewayfs.org/?p=12048 Because of the Covid-19 crisis, Birmingham Children’s Partnership has accelerated their plans for “Early Help”, a new model of connected services and communities to help families across the city.

It means that families and children who need emergency help during the crisis can get it in a timely way, from a network that includes schools, health services, the local authority, and voluntary and community organisations.

In the Edgbaston area, the Early Help response is being co-ordinated by Gateway. Programme Co-ordinator Marc has been seconded to lead the project, and is already working closely with schools and children’s centres in the area to provide support for dozens of families.

We have found that even those families who were previously doing well are starting to struggle now, due to the impact the crisis is having on income and health, but the Early Help scheme is designed to make sure schools and children’s centres can refer families in and get them the help they need as soon as possible.

Here, Marc tells us about a family he supported a couple of weeks ago. It’s a fairly typical example of how the scheme works and how the joined-up model is providing urgent essential support.

Food for a family in crisis

By Marc Baggott

Marc Baggott
Marc, who is usually our Straight Talking Peer Education co-ordinator is now leading the Edgbaston Early Help work.

On Wednesday 6th May I had a call from Sarah*, a Designated Safeguarding Lead at a local secondary school, with concerns about a family.

She explained that two of the teenagers she works with are currently living in temporary accommodation with their dad after being made homeless. Their dad Jason* is a single parent and, although he usually works, he had been off sick for three weeks with Covid-19. Because he holds a zero-hours contract, hadn’t been paid for his time off sick, so they had no money coming in.

Sarah had contacted Edgbaston Early Help because she could see Jason was struggling, and was worried the family was low on food.

After speaking to Sarah, I phoned Jason to find out more and we talked in depth about the support he needed. His main concern was their lack of food, but he also highlighted that they were unable to do any cooking at the hotel – although there are some shared cooking facilities, they are dirty, and utensils and equipment go missing.

The first thing I did was to contact St Germain’s Church in Edgbaston, which offers freshly prepared hot dinners on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It meant that Jason and his children wouldn’t go hungry that evening.

The following day, after some more research, I referred Jason to the Four Dwellings Foodbank; usually it opens on Fridays but because of the bank holiday it was open a day early that week. Jason would be able to visit the foodbank himself that day and pick up food for the whole family.

The lack of cooking facilities at their accommodation was still an issue, though. Even if Jason had food, there was no guarantee they would be able to prepare a meal. So I made an application to the COVID-19 resilience fund for £75, through BVSC, and helped him find a microwave and some tupperware storage containers within his price range.

That afternoon, I received a call from Jason thanking me for all the support he had received. He said that the support really helped him when he was struggling, and that the food and microwave meant that his children could now cook snacks and a lunch when they needed it. He sounded over the moon.

I asked if there was anything else they need, but Jason said they were OK now they had food. I have told him I’ll be back in touch in a few weeks’ time to see how the family are getting on and to check they have access to the things they need.

*Sarah and Jason’s names have been changed.

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