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 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.
This week, we have been recruiting volunteer Health Ambassadors for our new Big Lottery-funded programme, Making Health Work.
We’re launching the project in partnership with the Foyer Federation; the idea comes from Foyer’s Healthy Conversations programme, which aims to give young people the understanding, opportunities and networks to improve the health and wellbeing of themselves, their peers and their communities.
With Making Health Work, we aim to help young people to have Healthy Conversations with a focus on work and employment.
Health and work go hand in hand
The programme aims to get young people thinking about the ways in which work impacts on health … and health impacts on work. Our new Health Ambassadors will create conversations to address the health and lifestyle issues that sometimes create barriers for young jobseekers.
Eating healthily, doing physical activity and taking care of your mental health will all give you a good grounding in preparation for employment. But there are deeper and broader issues around health and wellbeing that can affect your working life too. Things like having friends who are a positive influence, having a good social circle to provide some support, even just knowing how to access services, and having access to good food at a reasonable cost, can all affect your health and have a positive impact upon your ability to work.
In turn, work can be good for your health. It gives you a reason to leave the house each day and stay active. It helps you develop the sleeping and eating routines that your body needs. It helps you to meet people and widen your social circle.
In short, we believe that facilitating Healthy Conversations between young people can give them the skills and background to sustain employment.
Could you, or someone you know, be a Health Ambassador?
Danny Fryer, Talent Agent for Making Health Work, said “we’re looking for Health Ambassadors aged between 18 and 25 to come and work with us in these volunteer roles. The Health Ambassadors will help us to deliver the programme through one-to-one coaching sessions with other young people and conversation groups, as well as activities like Health Taster Days and Social Action Projects”.
Volunteers will be given specialist training for the Making Health Work project as well as having access to the same training and ongoing support that all Gateway volunteers receive.
The specialised training includes two days working with Youth At Risk, full training on the Healthy Conversations resource pack, and training from the Mental Health Foundation. Volunteers will learn coaching techniques and find out how to lead discussions around mental and physical health.
On Wednesday, a group of potential volunteers came to our first recruitment session and held their own conversation group. The Ambassadors will be setting goals for others, so the session provided some practical demonstrations of the sort of work they could be doing. If you think you might be interested in coming along to the next one, give us a ring on 0121 456 7820 and ask about Health Ambassadors.
Pathways to employment
Making Health Work is a really good addition to our Skills Escalator (right; click for full size). Once the Health Ambassadors are trained, they can go on to take up other volunteering opportunities with Gateway, such as Befriending, or supporting Pop Up Talent. And, of course, as with our other volunteer programmes, they will have the opportunity to move up and become apprentices and paraprofessionals.
The links between employment and physical and mental health are clear to us (after all, health and employment are what we do!) so we are really pleased to be leading a programme that provides pathways to employment in this way – especially one that works with younger people.
Volunteers are making a real difference to how well heart patients stick with their recovery programmes. In a new initiative, Gateway volunteers have joined up with the cardio team at University Hospital Birmingham to support patients as they get well. Kate Gee, a nurse consultant for coronary heart disease at University Hospital Birmingham, describes how volunteering helps the patients – and the volunteers.
Consultant cardio nurse, Kate Gee describes how volunteers help heart patients recover.
Regular dance classes are helping heart patients get back on their feet. It’s a new initiative run by the cardio team at Birmingham University Hospital and part of its success is the involvement of volunteers from Gateway. Kate Gee, the consultant nurse leading the project talks about the difference the volunteers make.
Our new out-patient service offers cardio out-patients and their families the chance to work with a “befriender” to progress their recovery plan.
The befriender will be a first contact point for any aspects of the recovery programme and could assist with going to the shops, getting to the planned dance classes.
Part of Strictly is an invitation to attend a weekly dance class – whether to improve your dancing skills (!), meet with other patients or one of our team, or simply socialise.
The Strictly dance session will be held weekly, at Selly Oak Methodist Church in Langleys Road . At this class the patients and their partner/friend, if you choose to bring one, will be invited to get up and dance. Dances will be available that don’t need a partner. Professional instruction will be provided! If people don’t want to dance and just prefer to just sit it out that’s fine too. The idea is to have fun!
The programme is free and will last 12 weeks during which you will be asked to complete questionnaires so we can get an idea of how the programme is doing.
Here, one of our volunteers, Jim, explains why he has decided to give up some of his time to volunteer within his local community after being made redundant