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.”
Kath Richards was previously a Community Support Worker, helping a diverse range of people including older people, families and people with dementia, and has brought these skills to Gateway. She is a good listener who enjoys connecting with local people to improve their wellbeing.
Kath says: “I’m passionate about support. My work in this and previous roles has increased my skills and cultural insight, ensuring people feel accepted and valued.”
Link Workers for NSAR, Balsall Heath & Sparkhill, and Small Heath PCNs
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.”
Cristina Pinero Maese combines practical problemsolving 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.”
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.”
Wendy Palmer was previously a Wellbeing Coach, Mentor and wellbeing programme facilitator. As a trained Mindfulness Teaching and NLP practitioner she has many years of experience supporting people’s wellbeing, including those living with lifelong conditions.
Wendy says: “I’m looking forward to creating opportunities for individuals to ‘join-up-the-dots’ for their holistic wellbeing.”
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.”
Link Workers for GOSK, West Birmingham, Harborne and Edgbaston PCNs
Jaspreet Kaur‘s background is in the voluntary sector, where she has spent 10 years supporting people in need, including a trip to Haiti where she helped install water pumps and arrange repairs to orphanages and schools. She continues to volunteer locally, helping homeless people and people with addiction issues.
Jaspreet says: “I have a real passion to help others. After working abroad I’m enjoying using my experience to support people locally as a Link Worker with Gateway.”
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.”
Liana Nesbeth’s background includes advocacy for ex-offenders and supporting people with mental health issues to engage with services. 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.”
Rebecca Cuthbert comes to the service from a background in multi-agency working and a person-centred approach to care, with experience in coaching, mentoring, family support and advocacy. She enjoys helping people to feel that they are living more fully.
Becky says: “Social Prescribing recognises the messy cross-over between all of our human needs. I’m excited about helping people unleash new potential.”
Link Workers for South Birmingham Alliance and Pershore PCNs
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.”
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.”
Wayne Price has worked with Gateway for over ten years as a Health Trainer, Diabetes Tutor and Wellbeing Adviser, helping people to take control of their own health and wellbeing and connecting them to community support networks.
Wayne says: “I enjoy helping people maintain or regain their independence through life skills. I know how important it is to listen and give people time.”
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.”
Link Workers for North Solihull North and North Solihull South PCNs
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.”
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.”
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.”
Shameem Akhtar worked with vulnerable families for over ten years in Children’s Centres before coming to Gateway, listening with compassion and care and supporting people who need it the most.
Shameem says: “I have a real passion of serving the community and welcome this opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives, supporting people to live a healthier and happier lifestyle.”