TS came to Birmingham Settlement for Employability Support, having spent nearly a decade out of work living with a serious illness. He spends a lot of time at home and is fairly isolated. Having made good progress towards recovery, he was now ready to begin his journey back into work, but had a large gap in his work history. He was also worried that he would struggle to get a job because he still has weekly hospital appointments that would affect his attendance. Having discussed the options available TS agreed that we would look for opportunities for training and apprenticeships to help him get a ‘foot in the door’. TS was supported to update his CV, look for opportunities and offered specialist advice to understand the complexities of how his Employment and Support Allowance would be affected. TS was offered a place on a Prince’s Trust programme that will give him both training and work experience – and better yet, the placement is in the same hospital that his appointments are, so it’s the ideal location to avoid clashes with his appointments. TS is thrilled to be making progress and excited to be back in the work place and learning. After completing the placement he will be in a better position to enter paid employment.
I approached Birmingham Settlement in Kitts Green initially to become a volunteer, but due to unforeseen circumstances I could not commit to the role. I then approached for support, with my son’s additional needs, and support with his educational needs, I did not feel his needs were being met properly. So I went to seek advice from the hub. Since I approached Birmingham Settlement the has been amazing and gave me wonderful advice which has allowed me to get my son’s diagnosis, which is something I have been fighting for years. She also made me aware of support groups within the area, which is just exactly what I needed.
I believe I have learnt to be more open minded a look at things with a wider prospective due to the support I received. I can see that in order for me to achieve my goals to support my son I need to keep an open mind to everything that is available around us. The Settlement has helped me to help my son. Also now I have been able to get my son’s diagnosis it means life is a little less stressful for us all.
I enjoy popping in when I walk past for a chat with the advisors, it’s always a joy to relieve a few stresses. It’s great to know that the hub offers all kinds of support if I was ever in need.
Having the Hub is exactly what our community needs, it offers a variety of support that we’d normally have to spend hours on phones to access. The staff are always happy to help no matter what your situation is with no judgement, they will go out of their way to get you the correct support a help to the best of their ability. It’s an amazing service and we are glad to have it within our community!
Danielle – East Birmingham Hub
“Hi my name is Christie, I have lived in many different places including the US, Canada, Ethiopia and Kenya. I moved to the UK from Ethiopia in February 2016 with my husband and two children. It was daunting because I didn’t know anyone in this country so I enrolled as a volunteer English tutor to develop my tutoring skills, learn about British values and culture and meet new people. When the course finished all the students felt they needed to put into practice what they had learned and improve their English further. They also wanted to stay in touch as they had made good friends as many were isolated at home. With this in mind I decided to start a Women’s group called Coffee and Conversation providing a range of activities and games to practice English. This group has been hugely popular and a great success.
Volunteering gives me purpose outside the home and allows me to engage in my community. I have small children and it is a great way to get out of the house, socialise and do something rewarding. I’ve lived in other countries where I have had to learn another language when working as a nurse treating patients. It breaks my heart that some of the women who have lived here for 20 years can’t speak, read or write. I want to empower them. This is my way of giving back to the community. Being an English Tutor and facilitating the Coffee and Conversation group is the highlight of the week for myself and the women that attend. I enjoy how the women take ownership of the group by bringing food, engaging and planning activities. I enjoy the social aspect and it has become like a family to me. This group is a way for us to understand different cultures and maybe break down barriers. It is a truly, rich cultural experience.” Christie – Aston Volunteer
Expressions Youth Music Workshop Participants:
“It was an amazing experience, first we sang Bob Marley then at the end of the session we shared personal experiences and it got very emotional. I left the session inspired plus grateful to have met The Community Action Worker, he has helped me a lot.” JA
“Expressions was epic because everyone shared personal experiences and I felt like in time I can share and express my feelings without being judged. Great group, great team spirit.” NC
“Expressions was uplifting and inspiring. What I like about the Birmingham Settlement is that it’s unique, it has great workshops that suits the service users’ needs.” JB
“Expressions was inspiring, I shared my lyrics and my story about my mom passing away everyone was so supportive of me I left Expressions feeling like a weight had been lifted of my shoulders.” ES
“It was emotional but uplifting, thank you to the Project Worker and everyone in the group who made me feel comfortable to share my lyrics and stories about my dad who passed away from cancer.” WG
“Just a very short note to thank the Trainer for an inspiring – and exhausting – course last Tuesday. I’m now working my way through the Delegate pack and will send for the new Disability Rights Handbook when it comes out in early May.
Thank you so much!. The course was truly inspirational and I am determined to make good use of my new-found knowledge to help people who come to our Advice Café.”
BC – Hazelwell Hub
“The course has given me a good grasp of knowledge and understanding of the PIP assessment process and its requirement.”
“Trainer was very enthusiastic and encouraged participation though quizzes and group work” Headway, recipients of in-house training.
“Workshop presentation was just right, not too deep but gave you all that you need to know, well delivered.”
St Basil’s, attendees at a financial capability workshop, .funded by the BarrowCadbury Trust.
“I would like to thank you for helping organise the workshop at both of our Hubs. The members within the service were very appreciative of the time that the trainer took to explain any concerns that they had”.
Creative Support, attendee at a benefits workshop.
“Thank you…we have found their work really valuable to us and the kids, and staff love the sessions”
Mill Pool Pupil Referral Centre, participants in the 1 Mile Away young people’s workshops.
“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 to!”
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 two weeks to losing my home of ten years 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 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. Two months on I am no longer in debt, my rent up to date and I’m 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, but four 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 four 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 three 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 two 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 three 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 class 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 aged 2 ½ years 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 have improved immensely.
R and J both began volunteering with us in 2014 as part of the Mindset programme, which helped 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 mainly to support 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, temporary work. R gained employment in Finance and IT, which is what he had originally been looking for prior to 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 six 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.