Several GP practices in Birmingham and Solihull now have Social Prescribing Link Workers who are based at the surgery.
Link Workers give people time, focusing on what matters to each person, and looking at the bigger picture. As well as providing a listening ear, they use their local knowledge and networks to connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support. The service is confidential and free.
Senior Link Workers
Nicky Olalekan has over 20 years’ experience in social and outreach work, and now manages the Social Prescribing Link Worker teams at Gateway, allocating referrals and looking after the teams’ wellbeing.
Nicky says: “Our Link Workers do an amazing job. Their knowledge, kindness and resilience have helped build a service that is going from strength to strength, supporting hundreds of people to become more independent and achieve their goals.”
Anita Ward comes to Gateway after five years in a managerial role for a community charity in Birmingham, and now works with Nicky to manage the Social Prescribing Link Worker teams.
Anita says: “Social prescribing is vital. It means that people who would have previously fallen through the net because their issues weren’t medical are now able to get help and support for social and economic matters such as housing and social isolation.”
Birmingham Link Workers
Abeda Begum has been a support worker for most of her working life, having worked with young care leavers, in a women’s refuge, and as a family support worker. Sociable and a good listener, she quickly makes people feel at ease.
Abeda says: “I enjoy getting to know people, believing in them and encouraging them to achieve their goals.”
Chanel Lawes has over five years’ community support experience, including helping ex-offenders in supported accommodation to prepare for independent living. Empathetic and calm, Chanel is a good listener and easy to talk to.
Chanel says: “I have a genuine desire to empower others, and to encourage people to achieve their potential.”
Cristina Pinero Maese combines practical problem solving skills with a caring approach. Working on a number of grass roots projects in Balsall Heath over the last 15 years has given her a good insight into her community and the problems people face.
Cristina says: “The opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to someone is a powerful incentive to me.”
Dean Suleyman has been a fitness professional for 18 years and has helped a wide range of people, including those with medical conditions, to improve their health and wellbeing through exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle changes.
Dean says: “The most enjoyable and rewarding part of my job is to motivate and empower people to take control of their health and wellbeing.”
Liana Nesbeth’s background includes advocacy for ex-offenders and supporting people with mental health issues. She was also one of Birmingham’s first qualified Community Organisers in the national Cabinet Office programme.
Liana says: “My working ethos is ‘listening matters’. I believe that allowing people to recognise their own needs is a vital step in improving wellbeing.”
Rangit Kaur comes to Gateway from Walsall’s Urgent Care Centre where she was a Team Leader, providing clinical staff with a high standard of support. She is a fluent Punjabi and Hindi speaker and understands Urdu.
Rangit says: “Healthcare should be holistic. I am looking forward to supporting individuals who need access and guidance to support in the community.”
Sadaf Raja has worked in the voluntary sector for ten years, including working in services focused on recovery, social groups and talking therapies. Warm and compassionate, she listens to people to understand what matters to them the most.
Sadaf says: “This role is an exciting opportunity to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team and help individuals to find a sense of belonging.”
Tina Lakeru comes to the service having previously been a Health Trainer, exercise instructor, debt coach and youth worker. Passionate about health and exercise, she has worked with a wide range of people, many of whom have specialist exercise needs.
Tina says: “I’m looking forward to supporting patients with social issues that affect their wellbeing. I enjoy helping people to become more confident.”
Zeshaan Hussain is looking forward to helping people take control of their lives and live with purpose. Approachable and empathic, he has worked as a volunteer for charities in the Alum Rock area for many years, including working with homeless people.
Zeshaan says: “I am excited about giving back to the community. I truly believe that it is in filling others cups we find our own to overflow.”
Solihull Link Workers
Angela Browne has been supporting people for 18 years in a variety of roles within the social care sector –including in residential homes and day centres– but for the last 10 years she’s been working one-to-one with people to help them make the most of employment opportunities.
Angela says: “I am excited about supporting people to change their lives, improve skills and move forward at their own speed and in the direction they wish.”
Glenn Rodgers has been a Community Development Worker, so she has up-to-date knowledge on what’s available and easily accessible in the community. She was also a Gateway Health Trainer, offering one-to-one advice and empowering people to take control of their health issues.
Glenn says: “I love helping people, whether it is practical, or emotional support that they are looking for. Every day and every client will be different. I hope to make a difference.”
Leah Crawford previously worked with people with dual diagnoses of mental health and learning disabilities, using a holistic, positive approach to help people build their confidence and wellbeing. She’s looking forward to bringing this experience to Gateway.
Leah says: “I am excited to work with a new team, supporting people to reach person-centred goals and live a more fulfilled life by empowering themselves.”
Lisa Cooper has five years’ health care experience, predominantly in primary care, but she’s also a mother who has accessed local services. She understands how to treat individuals as a whole person, not only clinically but by listening and offering advice, help and support.
Lisa says: “I am excited and looking forward to helping people access local resources to aid their social independence.”