I have been attending the Birmingham Settlement for a few years and I find it very refreshing. It is a good place for meeting all type of people. We can get financial information and computing, Art Class, for which I have a particular interest. The staff are very friendly and helpful. The centre helps many people who lives alone; they come and get company and friendship with others, we sometime go out for the day, eat-out or sightseeing. Very good centre to come!
D. Gabbidon – Ageing Well Member
“I am a 56 yr old single male with financial, benefit and rent problems. After years of trying to find help with escalating bills and 2 wks to losing my home of 10 yrs due to the bedroom tax, a struggling business and ill-health I had exhausted my search for help and was in a very bad way – until I was lucky enough to be referred to Jane and her team at Birmingham Settlement. Going on previous experience with other organisations I wasn’t expecting much. However, I was overwhelmed how I was not judged, and welcomed, and only after a short time my mind put at ease as Jane and Sue took on my problems and methodically and systematically over a very short period of time with such knowledge and experience. I walked out of the office in Witton Road that day feeling the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. 2 months on I am no longer in debt, my rent up to date and actively seeking an exchange to a more manageable property and have a positive attitude to the future. Thanks to Jane and her team where there is a relaxed attitude to people’s problems nothing is too much for them if they can help they will! I owe a massive thanks to them all, and can definitely say without their help my future would have been a very different story – A huge thank you to Jane and the team!!!!” Steve
I had just recently become a Foster Carer and I had to give up my job as the child needed 24 hour supervision. My social worker told me that I was entitled to income support so I started to get the ball rolling. They gave me an appointment and interviewed me, they told me that it would take 14 days and I would receive it. I waited for a response as I had received a text stating that the money would be in the bank 4 weeks later and nothing. I phoned them up and they said I wasn’t entitled. I had another word with the social worker, he said I am entitled. I went to the Job Centre, no one would see me and they told me to phone, they told me to come back up there, filled the paperwork out again and another 4 weeks passed and nothing. I repeatedly phoned and 16 weeks later nothing.
I had a word with my neighbour, she told me to go to Birmingham Settlement. I got there in a mess as I was getting worried about my rent, the receptionist was very polite. I told her my situation, a nice lady appeared from round the back, brought me in an office, made loads of phone calls, wrote 3 letters, had a word with her boss told me if I didn’t hear anything in the afternoon I was to come back tomorrow. I went back the next morning where I had the same lady (Sue). She wrote an official letter and in 2 weeks my benefit was sorted out. I had never heard of Birmingham Settlement before and I think they do a grand job, I personally think they should be paid a top wage as I think they are remarkable, friendly, helpful. I would recommend them to anybody because if it wasn’t for Sue I would still be in limbo, great organisation.
Mrs L, a single parent with a disabled child living in private rented accommodation came to us for advice on housing and rent arrears. She also has a disability and has not had any benefit payments for 3 months. Mrs L had failed an appeal for Employment Support Allowance and despite having made a new claim she could not get a payment until she had attended a medical. Mrs L had tried to claim JSA but had been refused as an ESA claim was pending, therefore she was in a catch 22 situation with no payment of benefit and a landlord seeking to evict due to rent arrears. Mrs L had also been denied a claim for Carers Allowance as at the time her daughter had not yet been awarded Disability Living Allowance, however this had now been awarded. We contacted the Carers Allowance team to inform them that a DLA award had now been made and they were able to backdate her payments, which helped against her arrears. With Carers Allowance arranged Mrs L is unable to claim ESA at the same time but is now able to get all other related benefits including Housing Benefit and Council Tax rebates. Mrs L and her daughter’s future are now more secure. This was a case in which all the pieces of the puzzle were present but Mrs L needed us to help her put them all together.
Mrs N is a 72 year old widow and an existing member of the Ageing well programme. Mrs N requested support for increasing utility debt and was concerned that she was being over-charged particularly with regard to her gas as she could not afford to keep up with her repayments. Mrs N sought advice from our Money Advice Team and an application was made to Charis Grant for support with her debt. The outcome was successful; Mrs N received the full amount of the outstanding debt (in excess of £500). She was extremely pleased with the outcome.
J, aged 55, has been attending tai chi for some time. Having been recently widowed she has been fighting depression ever since. “I was sad when my husband passed away but deep in your mind there’s a voice that tells you don’t let depression get a hold of you. You have to fight it. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m fighting it. And hopefully I’m winning. Coming here is a way for me to fight it.”
H (2 ½) struggled to adapt to environments and transition between activities and had limited social skills. He did not participate during circle time group activities, instead playing alone. After a few months at Stay and Play he was often first at the table for focus activities and sits through circle time, joining in with nursery rhymes. H still has limited speech but interacts and communicates confidently, expressing himself through gestures. He understands what is being said, can follow instructions, is comfortable with routines and is confident around others. His personal, social, emotional development has improved immensely.
R and J both began volunteering with us in March 2014 as part of the Mindset programme which helps to boost employability in people who have experienced mental health issues. Once they had finished their placements with Mindset, both R and J decided to stay on volunteering with Birmingham Settlement. J worked primarily in administration, supporting with Fundraising and then in the Community Engagement and Wellbeing Team. R helped to run Job Club, helping jobseekers to improve their computer skills and search for work. In July 2015 both R and J successfully gained employment. J found a job as a cleaner/ hostess for Heartlands Hospital and is pleased to be working full time again after several years of part time and temporary work. R gained employment in Finance and IT which is what he had originally been looking for and is an area he has not worked in since his illness. He is extremely pleased to be working again.
A came to Job Club as whilst she had plenty of relevant experience in her field she had been out of work for over 6 months, was unsure of how to apply for jobs and found it difficult to find part time work that would allow her to work and take part in family life at the same time. She had help to complete a CV that highlighted her extensive work experience and skills and was shown how to successfully search and apply for jobs online. A is now employed on a permanent part time basis as a Play worker, the hours and the role suits her and she now has the skills required to search and apply for jobs with conviction and confidence. “I would like to thank Job Club Session and all of their staff for helping me achieve my goal of finding my ideal job”.
S, a woman in her 20s with cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair user and is supported with all aspects of her daily life by family and carers. S came to our IT Sessions to improve her IT skills. After attending a five week course S gained different IT Skills which have helped her with a range of daily tasks in her life. She’s learnt how to use NHS Choices to find information about her GP and request prescriptions and is also more aware of online security when it comes to which sites to trust with her personal details. S has become more independent and confident to make decisions about her own life rather than relying on carers and she feels more in control.