Page 1

Page 4 Let’s launch Southbank

Page 14 Celebrating good mental health

Page 20 Changing lives



The magazine for Midland Heart’s supported housing customers

Autumn 2013

Big Bash for Inclusion Services page 16

last of the summer su Welcome to the autumn edition of Future Voice, the magazine for Midland Heart’s Care & Support customers. It’s another packed issue with news and views from around the services so a big thank you to everyone who has helped out by supplying information and pictures. This time we look at some of the larger events which took place in late summer – from the Hereford Let’s Launch celebration to Inclusion services Big Bash at James Bagnall Foyer. We update you on the Venture Volunteer scheme and catch up with Peter Husbands and Sirrena Harnell to find out how they are progressing in their new roles. We also meet volunteer Tracey Miller who is relishing her work at the Homeless Services Centre. We take another look at Spring to Life’s work on the allotment as the organisation waits to hear if it has scooped a prestigious Health Journal Award for its work within Mental Health services. With winter on its way we have focussed on winter safety issues to remind readers to take extra care during the cold, icy months. Of course there are our regular features including Ask Fay, the recipe and word search – make sure you enter to be in with a chance of winning! Sara Beamand Managing Director of Midland Heart Care and Support

Fun in the sun marks first birthday A day trip to sunny Weston-Super-Mare was the perfect way to celebrate the first birthday of Wolverhampton’s Mental Health and Complex Needs Service. The service, in Bushbury Lane, teamed up with customers and staff from Victoria Court and Hink Street for a great day out, playing cricket on the beach, exploring the pier and tucking into fish and chips. What the customers from Wolverhampton’s Mental Health and Complex Needs services thought…

it was “I thought sh and d the fi brilliant an mazing.” a chips were Edgar “It was really hot bu t I enjoyed the weat her and being on the beach.” Anthony

“It was good spending the da y with Victoria Co urt and Hincks Stre et. We all stuck toge ther and chilled out on the beach. I’d lo ve to go again.” Stephen

The Mental Health and Complex Needs Service, which opened in July last year, provides supported accommodation for 12 customers with mental health and complex needs for between two - five years. The service also offers 14 satellite flats with intensive community support across the Wolverhampton area.


un Seaside day out for Shoemaker families Young families from Rushden’s Shoemaker Court enjoyed a day of old fashioned fun at Hunstanton thanks to the kindness of a community church. Whitefriars church, based in the Northamptonshire town, kindly donated two mini buses to take the families to the seaside and some of their members came along to organise games. Rona Sawyerr, project worker, said: “It was a lovely day and everyone enjoyed themselves. “We spent the morning on the beach, playing games, paddling in the sea and building sand castles. “Games were organised but the children were having so much fun in the sea they weren’t interested. They did join in with the sandcastle building though. “After lunch we split up into smaller groups and walked along the prom. The older kids wanted to hit the arcades and pound coins were quickly exchanged for pots of pennies.” Everyone met up on the beach at 5pm and enjoyed a fish and chip supper – courtesy of Midland Heart – on the prom.

Contents Hereford launch


Ask Fay


Police chief visits


Winter safety

12 & 13

Volunteer update

18 & 19

Outdoor adventures

22 & 23

Express yourself


Devon delights A small group from Victoria Court escaped the city for three days to explore the beautiful English Riviera. Four customers from the service in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton - David Hayes, Karl McIntosh, Venckca Blake and Check Miller - stayed at the seaside resort of Torquay.

Assistant manager Ruth Grant-Shaw, who accompanied the group with Jon Edisbury, general support worker, said: “We spent three very enjoyable days exploring the area. “One of our days was spent visiting Plymouth, where we went on a boat trip around

the Devon Port docks and saw several warships and submarines from the British fleet.”


reasons to celebrate

The customer involvement team pulled out all the stops to make sure Hereford customers had a day to remember in August.

Let’s Launch…

Southbank Close The team organised the Let’s Launch day to mark the official opening of the new Southbank Close development of seven self-contained bungalows. All Learning Disability services customers across Herefordshire -Domicillary Care, Registered Care and Supported Housing - were invited to the funfilled event on 10 August. The sun shone as the guests enjoyed a busy day with plenty of organised games, craft stalls, face painting and a balloon launch. The About Face theatre company also entertained guests with a short performance. And when hunger kicked in, everyone tucked in to a delicious barbecue cooked up by Paul Roe and his team from Catering. Elaine Booton, team leader at South Bank Close, said: “The customers enjoyed the day very much and we received lots of good feedback from the customers and their families. “Our customers seemed to especially enjoy soaking the locality Manger with water. They talked about this for days!”


Hereford news round-up VIP day for Southbank Close Southbank Close played host to VIP guests on 6 September at the official launch of the new Hereford service. The scheme was officially opened by the Mayor of Hereford, Councillor Phil Edwards and speeches were given by Ruth Cooke, Chief Executive Officer and Sara Beamand, Director of Care and Support at Midland Heart. Members of Herefordshire County Council and Midland Heart staff were also given a tour of the apartments by Southbank Close customers. Lydia Bailey, Head of Learning Disability and Mental Health at Midland Heart, said: “This development will truly transform people’s lives by giving them their own home with access to flexible support to maximise their independence and achieve their aspirations.”

About Face The Herefordshire-based theatre company provides an opportunity for people with learning disabilities to explore drama as a means of communication and development. For more information email: uk or call on: 01568 616301.

Waterfields joins Hereford services Midland Heart has won the tender to run Waterfields, a Learning Disabilities service in Hereford. Waterfields is an inter-linked home with communal facilities which supports six customers who live independently.


agony aunt

Dear Fay Our agony aunt Fay has managed to pack a lot in to her life including 18 months as a customer at the Midland Heart Foyer. She seized the opportunity to become an apprentice and after working across two services, she was offered a full-time position as support worker at the Midland Heart Foyer. Fay now works at The Snow Hill.

A problem shared... If you have a problem you need help solving, write in to our very own agony aunt, Fay. The topic can be about anything you like, including relationships. If your letter is suitable for publishing, she will respond in her own inimitable style. Send your letter to: Fay, Future Voice magazine, Midland Heart, Bath Row, Birmingham. B15 1LZ or email her at: futurevoice@ Your letter/email will be treated in the strictest confidence but please include your name. All letters will be published anonymously.



Dear Fay,

Two months ago I was diagnosed with mental health issues and am now on medication which is helping. I live in a Midland Heart supported housing service and have made several friends here. I would like to talk about my mental health problems to my friends but I am worried that they wouldn’t understand and might start avoiding me. How can I approach the subject without scaring them off?


Thank you for your question. It’s great that you feel you want to talk to your friends about your mental health issues. Being honest about your mental health can make you feel better as this means you

don’t have to keep things hidden any more. There are a few things you should think about before you have this conversation though. Be prepared and think about the kind of reactions you may get as everyone has their own perception of mental health. Pick a good time, when you feel comfortable and ready to talk. Your friends may have lots of questions or maybe none. If there are questions you should give as much information as you wish to share. If you feel uncomfortable, move the conversation on and come back to it when you feel you can. Sometimes people’s first reaction won’t last. Your news may come as a surprise so give your friends time to take the information in and ask questions. It may help to have some

Future Voice Fancy joining the Editorial Board? Everyone’s

information about your mental illness; some people find it easier to find out more information in their own time. Sometimes people are afraid to talk about mental health because they feel they don’t know what to say or how to help. Tell your friends it is ok to ask questions and if they are real friends they will continue to support you and be there for you. Finally, once mental health issues are out in the open people often want to talk. Don’t be surprised if your honesty encourages other people to talk about their own experiences. I hope this has helped and wish you the best of luck. Best wishes Fay


Our Editorial Board is an ever-changing mix of customers and staff who make sure Future Voice is all about our customers and the issues that they want to read about. This issue we spoke to customers from across Inclusion Services at the Big Bash Fun Day at James Bagnall Foyer in West Bromwich. The editorial meetings are friendly and informal and you can get involved as much or as little as you want. If you’d like to come along and see for yourself what it’s all about, speak to your scheme manager or support worker. Alternatively you can email us at

Do you have a story to tell? Our readers enjoy learning about other people’s experiences. If you would like to tell your story, get in touch by writing to us at the usual address or by speaking to your service manager or key worker. We prefer to include names and photographs for our case studies, but if you would like to remain anonymous, then we won’t include your details. You’ll also be given final approval on the article – we won’t print anything that you’re not happy with.


news round-up New LD service hopes to transform lives New homes for Coventry customers Learning Disabilities Services has added four brand new bungalows to the accommodation it offers in Coventry. The bungalows in Longford, which form part of a General Needs new-build site, have been designed to be more suitable for the requirements of its new residents. The four customers, who were moving into their new homes as Future Voice went to press, will enjoy independent living with support. More next time on this story

Learning Disability services are celebrating after winning the contract to open a new residential home in Sutton Coldfield. The new service, which opened in October, will cater for people with autism and/or complex needs and will be accredited through the National Autism Society. Emma Main, Operations Manager for Learning Disabilities services, said: “Although we already work with customers who have autism, to have a service specially designed to meet their needs is a new and exciting move for us.” More next time on this story

Midland Heart shortlisted for top award Midland Heart has been nominated for a prestigious Health Service Journal award. The organisation has been shortlisted in the Innovation in Mental Health category for its work with Spring to Life. The winners of the awards, which recognise and celebrate excellence in the healthcare sector, will be revealed at an awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Tuesday 19 November 2013. Rosemary Doherty, Mental Health operations manager said: “This recognises our commitment to working with other local organisations and our customers to maximise well-being and support people to gain the skills that they need to take the next step.”


Recycling project takes centre stage down on the plot A very special ecocomplete. greenhouse has sprung to An appeal to staff brought in life at the Mental Health the 1500 bottles needed and services’ allotment in a frame was constructed by Handsworth. staff volunteers on the day. The new structure is the Philippa Allenby, a therapeutic perfect example of recycling counsellor with Spring to Life, using 1500 plastic 2 litre drink led the project. She said: “It bottles within a speciallywas a scalding hot day but designed wooden frame. we had between 30 The allotment has and 40 people helping The project was been transformed during the course of led by Spring in recent months the day. to Life, which and despite the runs several “Many of our regular hot weather, has community volunteers were there healthy crops of gardening as well as the Finance everything from projects across Income team, who spinach and broad Birmingham. laid the foundations beans to lettuce Staff and and built the wooden and runner beans. customers from frame.” across Midland Heart met on Customers and staff threaded the plot on 14 July – in the the hundreds of plastic middle of the unexpected bottles on to wire to form the heat wave. walls and roof. It was hard work but at the “It was a great team effort,” end of the day the new Philippa added. “Everyone greenhouse was almost

worked really well together and had a good time. We were pleased to see around 12 customers from Mental Health services and floating support come up to the plot to lend a hand.” Philippa said: “An ecogreenhouse is particularly appropriate for the allotment because it is cooler than a standard glass greenhouse, is ventilated and allows rain water in. It means the plants won’t need watering every day.” The allotment volunteer days with Spring to Life take place every Wednesday from 10.30am – 2.30pm and on alternate Mondays from 11am – 2pm. All customers are welcome so speak to a staff member if you’d like to get involved.


news round-up Summer fun for Shoemaker Court

Heathfield welcomes local Police and Crime Commissioner Customers at Leicester’s Heathfield House enjoyed a visit from the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, Sir Clive Loader, and had the opportunity to share their experiences. Minesh Patel, Team Leader at Heathfield House said: “The visit went really well. The group talked about lots of different issues and the commissioner talked about his role and the challenges police are facing.” The visit was part of Sir Clive’s on-going work to identify more opportunities for people who are willing to turn their lives around. Sir Clive said: “I strongly believe that individuals who want to ‘go straight’ and stop the cycle of crime often associated with substance misuse should be given a chance. “It was also an excellent opportunity to meet the staff of Heathfield House who I know are working extremely hard to reduce re-offending. “It was good to “It’s really valuable meet Sir Clive and to have both sides of it was interesting to the story when I’m see what everyone looking at the most had to say.” effective ways to commission services Francisco Barros, to tackle such issues in customer, Heathfield the future.” House


A summer fair at Rushden’s Shoemaker Court was a real community event thanks to the kindness and generosity of a local church. Whitefriars Church Group, part of the town’s St Mary’s Church, became involved with the Northamptonshire service when one of the congregation lived at Shoemaker Court. The group offered to run the summer fair in August, and with a large team of volunteers, made sure customers and their families enjoyed a wonderful day. Wina Dales, team leader, said: “A good time was had by all. The weather was lovely and the church organised a barbecue, which went down very well.” The team of volunteers included pupils from Rushden Community College who organised face painting, bead art and helped provided music for the event. Carina Fisher, Inclusions Manager, added: “We are thrilled with everything the church does for our customers and the values they promote. “We would like to say a big thank you to them and to the volunteers who organised the fair and the day trip to Hunstanton. The children will certainly have something to talk about when they return to school.”

Laura’s fundraising work helps to transform lives Keeping customers at the heart of her work is the key to success for Midland Heart’s Fundraising Manager Laura Reynolds. Laura, who has 12 years’ experience in her field, joined the organisation in January to implement and manage the fundraising strategy and maximising income for all Midland Heart services. Already she has secured £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to help cover costs of the Calvert Trust myth breaker event in October. The newly-created position is an exciting project for Midland Heart and Laura is relishing the challenge of the role. “Starting a project from scratch is always very exciting but the best part of the role is knowing that all the funds I can generate will help to improve the lives of our customers,” she said. Her work encompasses the broad spectrum of fundraising from setting up a new Legacy programme to submitting applications

to Charitable Trusts and Foundations and building relationships with Corporate Trusts. Laura, who reports to the Head of Business Development, Neil Tryner, is also working on the final details for a Black Tie fundraising evening at Aston Villa Football Club in March which should prove a big money-spinner. She said: “I have spent a lot of time setting up a new strategy and policy for the organisation as well as applying for funding. “The lead time is between four and six months from submitting the application to hearing if we have been successful and we have several bids in the pipeline.” She has also devoted a lot of her time to getting out and about visiting Midland Heart services, talking to managers and customers about how funding could help to transform lives. “That’s one of the best parts of the job,” Laura added, “actually seeing where the money is most needed and working out the best way to secure funding.”


winter safety

Stay safe this winter Life is for living so we love to hear that customers are getting out and about in the winter weather. But do take sensible precautions to make sure you stay safe. Slips, trips and falls In previous winters thousands of people have been admitted to hospital after suffering more serious injuries after falls during wintry weather. Figures from the Hospital Episode Statistics for England show there were 4,314 admissions to hospital in 2011/12 as a result of people falling over on snow or ice. During times when pavements and footpaths are covered in snow/ice: • Wear sturdy footwear, with a good grip • Allow yourself extra time so you don’t find yourself rushing on slippery pavements.. • If councils have provided grit bins so people can treat public areas not included on the usual gritter route, use them. Staying warm Make sure you wrap up when you’re out and about in wintry weather and be aware that alcohol can affect your perception when it comes to temperature.


Open water safety When the country is in the grip of freezing temperatures, many people lose their lives after falling through the ice. In more than 50 per cent of cases the victim had been attempting to rescue another person or a dog. The only way to stay safe near frozen water is to KEEP OFF. • Do not attempt to go out onto the ice yourself. • Call for assistance from the emergency services. • Try to find something that will extend your reach, such as a rope, branch or item of clothing. Reach out to the casualty with it. Then, making sure you are stable on the bank, by lying down or getting someone to hold onto you, attempt to pull the person to the shore. Fire Safety Fires can start suddenly and spread quickly, damaging your home and furniture and putting lives in danger.


Keep communal corridors clear

• Keep all fires and heaters guarded. • Keep candles away from furniture and curtains. • Don’t dry or air clothes over or near the fire or the cooker • Keep matches and lighters well out of reach of children. • Plan your escape route. Remember - get out, stay out and call the fire brigade out! Electrical Safety Many accidents and fatalities involve electricity - it must be treated with respect. • Do not use appliances with worn or damaged flexes. Keep portable mainsoperated appliances out of the bathroom • If an appliance appears faulty stop using it and have it checked at once • Never overload an electric socket. For more information and advice about staying safe this winter go to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website at:

The horrific recent press report of a fire in a communal hallway, which killed a family of five, has highlighted the need to keep such areas clear. Midland Heart strives to ensure that our customers and properties are as safe as possible, and as part of this drive our housing officers are now reviewing fire risk assessments. These checks will look at communal hallways and make sure that items such as pushchairs, bikes and shopping trollies, which could pose a hazard, are not blocking communal areas. David Cockcroft, Operations Manager for Midland Heart stressed: “It is not only a fire risk, but also a breach of a tenancy agreement, to leave things such as pushchairs or other personal items, in communal areas. “By reviewing these assessments we are simply doing our jobs to ensure communal areas are available at all times in the event of an emergency and is very important to the safety of all of our customers and their families.” Communal areas need to be kept clear so that people can escape quickly in the event of an emergency and to minimise the risk of fire spreading. Even things like door mats, pictures and plants can prove hazardous


good mental health

Services come together to celebrate good mental health Customers and staff within Midland Heart’s Mental Health services came together to celebrate World Mental Health Day and the launch of a new well-being resource. More than 70 people from across the services met up on 10 October at the special fun-filled event at Flint Green House in Birmingham. “It was a fantastic day,” said Roz Ratcliffe, Project Manager at Flint Green House. “Customers here were heavily involved with the planning and the running of the event. “Lots of activities were organised from team games in the garden and a snooker competition to a quiz. Customers from different services displayed their artwork and poems on show. There was a real buzz about the place.” What the customers said: “I really enjoyed the World Mental Health Day event at Flint Green House and meeting other Midland Heart Customers. I learnt a lot about other services.” Jason, Richmond Road


“I had a great time. I made new friends and met some old friends. We had lots of fun doing the activities. The food was great and I look forward to the next visit.” Victoria Court customer “It was a very good day with great food and fun activities. My family came too and they also enjoyed it.” Jason, Flint Green House “It was a good day. Lots of people attended and I met an old friend. The food was nice and the people were nice.” Victoria Court customer

New resource to boost well-being Customers have played a major role in the design of a new booklet designed to improve the well-being of people within Mental Health services. The booklet, which was launched at the World Mental Health Day event at Flint Green House, will encourage customers to manage their own well-being.

The theme for World Mental Health Day on 10 October was ‘Mental Health and Older Adults’. You can find out more online at:

The resource follows five key determinants to well being. • Give – your time by volunteering, for example. • Connect – make time for relationships. • Keep learning – take up a new hobby, learn a new skill. • Take notice – be curious about what is around you. • Stay Active – physical activity boosts all-round good health. Manager Roz Ratcliffe who co-ordinated the booklet, said: “The booklet has been a real team effort with a lot of input from customers at every stage. “We have tried to fit the needs of all customers. The booklets have been designed to be easy-to-use and there are pages to jot down thoughts, ideas, activities and notes. We hope customers will use their guide independently and if they need support we can help with that. We hope customers feel empowered to be responsible for their own for their own physical and mental health.

Mental Health First Aid Lite helps staff support colleagues A new training initiative has helped Midland Heart staff to recognise the signs if a colleague/family member /friend has mental health issues and also helps staff to manage their own mental health. The training sessions were delivered to help staff support colleagues/family member/friend who may be experiencing a mental health issue and broaden their knowledge of the subject. Rosemary Doherty, Operations Manager of Mental Health Services, is Midland Hearts first mental health first aid trainer and delivered several sessions to staff, volunteers and customers. this year. The informative course covered the different types of mental health issues people can experience and what staff can do to offer support and manage their own mental health. The sessions also focussed on what we can do to maintain and improve our own well-being Connect, Take Notice, Stay Active, Keep Learning and Give. Rosemary said: “The idea behind the training sessions is to raise awareness that mental health issues can affect anyone. “One in four people experience mental health problems and in business terms this costs the UK in excess of £70 billion each year. “With our staff well-being strategy we hope to raise awareness within Midland Heart and to help staff manage their own mental health.”


the big bash

Big Bash fun for all

Inclusion Services were determined to mark the end of summer in style and the Big Bash event didn’t let them down. The customer involvement team organised a day to remember at James Bagnall Foyer in West Bromwich, with something to suit everyone. The event, held on Friday 13 September, attracted dozens of customers from across Inclusion Services, all keen to enjoy the fun and many Inclusion Services customers arrived in style… on the Big Red Bus. Services ran their own stalls ranging from Helen Dixon House’s jewellery making stand to the tempting selection of cakes baked by South Road customers. Mosaic making, graffiti painting, rodeo bulls, popcorn machines, DJ work shop, cake decorating and games kept the visitors busy. A range of refreshments, including a barbecue cooked up by Catering Services, was on offer to give everyone a much-needed energy boost. Live entertainment was provided by a talent show, which saw seven brave customers take the mic.


It was a close call, but Natalie Edginton from the Foyer, who has since moved into The Snow Hill, collected most votes and was awarded the first prize of shopping vouchers and tickets for a football match for herself and three friends. Special thanks go to Iain from The Snow Hill, the superb host of the Talent Show. More live music came in the form of Cadence, aka sisters Ashley, Beth and Alex, accompanied by their mother, Inclusion Services manager Portland Jones, on drums. Magic Moments & Customer Involvement Officer Tommy Fellows said: “Everyone really pulled together to make this happen. It was great seeing services working together to make the day successful. “Thanks everyone for supporting the day and making it so special for all our Inclusion Services and a special thanks to all the volunteers who helped on the day.”

r “It’s the first time I’ve eve bu , t really done any painting time od it’s fun. I’m having a go .” do today, there’s a lot to port Pamela Okogi, floating sup m gha customer, Birmin “I’m having a good time.” , Jade Samson, Eagle House Stafford

“I’m lovin’ it. The food is gorgeous. I’ve been making jewellery here which I haven’t done since school and I’ve really enjoyed it.” Becky King, Eagle House, Stafford

“I enjoy baking and we have a regular session every Wednesda y at South Road.” Dwain Young, South Road House, Sparkbrook, who was one of the team behind the cake stall


venture volunteers Volunteers venture out The latest Venture Volunteer programme got off to a great start this summer with a new batch of recruits keen to expand their experience and skills Here two volunteers – both former Midland Heart customers – talk to Future Voice about how volunteering is proving such an enriching and enlightening experience. Meet Sirrena Sirrena Harnell signed up to the Venture project when she was a customer at Muirhead House. She currently volunteers two days a week at Helen Dixon House, a femaleonly service in Moseley. “I first thought about volunteering after I went on a Calvert Trust experience. I found that I loved helping people and the activities helped me to break down barriers - it really gave me confidence.

“Everyone has been very friendly at Helen Dixon House and I’ve had a lot of help and support from the staff team and Julia, Inclusion Services manager. “Volunteering has been so good for me and I really enjoy the work. I’ve done all sorts of jobs from answering the phones to talking to customers. I’m even running a Zumba workout class one evening a week, which is a lot of fun. “I would like to work towards a full-time job in support work. I’ve experienced a lot in my life and I think that helps me to understand what our customers are going through. “Last year my confidence was at an all-time low after a lot of bad stuff happened. I was homeless and I had nothing. Now I feel I am back on track and it feels brilliant.” Meet Peter Snow Hill volunteer Peter Husbands can be seen on duty each Monday and Thursday manning reception at the service in the centre of Birmingham. Peter, a former Zambesi customer, now lives in independent accommodation in Ladywood. “I asked my support worker about the possibility of doing volunteering when I was living at Zambesi and he directed me to the Venture project. “Before moving to the service I had been homeless and I was so grateful for the



It’s been a busy year for apprentice Sian

support I received that I felt I wanted to put something back. “I worked in car sales for 25 years so I think I communicate well and have good customer service skills. Having been homeless myself means I can relate more easily to others and understand how one small change in circumstance can impact on your whole life. “Since I began volunteering in June I’ve been based on reception but I am very keen to get involved in more customerfocussed work and take on more responsibility. “Volunteering is giving me good experience and at the end of my work I will be able to sit back and really consider what I want to do with my life and what will be good for me. “I know that whatever direction I take it is important that I am happy in that role. A positive state of mind is fundamental to my health and happiness.”

The past 10 months have been a steep learning curve for Midland Heart apprentice Sian Richards but she has risen to the challenge. Sian, 18, joined the organisation last December on a 12-month apprenticeship placement with the Magic Moments and Customer Involvement team. It’s been a hectic year so far and Sian, a former nursery nurse, has gained valuable experience and knowledge and will finish her apprenticeship with a Level 2 NVQ in Customer Service. She said: “The apprenticeship suited me because I didn’t really want to go to college. I prefer to work and as an apprentice, I feel that my career has really got going. “Everyone has been very friendly and supportive, helping me learn new skills.” To date Sian has taken on the responsibility for organising a Magic Moments helicopter trip and running a forum from start to finish. She has also helped out at a Calvert Trust week, which she said was “amazing” and at the Lion King weekend for Older People’s Services. “I have gained so much from this apprenticeship,” she said. “It is an excellent way to learn and I would recommend it to anyone. “I have loved working for Midland Heart, it’s a great organisation, and I would love to be accepted for a fulltime position when my year is up.” STOP PRESS: Sian was recently offered a full-time position with Midland Heart’s Older People’s Services as Activity Coordinator for Aviary Court and Penmakers Court.


making a difference

Volunteer Tracey Miller helps to make a difference at the Homeless Services Centre

Changing lives For Tracey Miller, like many other former Midland Heart customers, volunteering is one of the best ways to say ‘thank you’ for the support she has received to get back on her feet. She initially began volunteering with the customer involvement team two years ago, helping out at special events. In July she was taken on at the Homeless Services Centre in Bradford Street and works four days most weeks. “I love the work,” she said, “so I come in as often as I can. There’s something different going on every day and we see regulars as well as new people. While customers are waiting to be seen by a member of staff they can have a hot drink and I will have a chat with them.


“I enjoy working as part of a great team, everyone working towards the same aims. It’s very rewarding as I feel that I am doing some good.” Tracey handles routine tasks but the area which really motivates her is being face-toface with customers. “I have a lot of understanding of some of their problems through my own experiences, so that helps. “A few customers get impatient because they think nothing is being done to help them or that processes are taking too long. “I try to explain that a lot is going on behind the scenes for them and try and sit with them to talk about their problems. “I’ve never had an issue with a customer because I understand where they’re coming

from and their frustrations.” Tracey, who has also been a volunteer at football sessions run by the Homeless Services Centre, said that initially it was the passion of the staff team for their work that attracted her to the Centre. She explained: “Eventually I would like to work full-time with the homeless and know I would learn a lot from being part of such a great team. “I wanted to gain experience of working with rough sleepers because many of them have such big hearts and too many judge them without realising that homelessness can affect people from all walks of life. “I also wanted to be able to give something back to Midland Heart staff who helped me get back on my feet. I wanted to do the same for others. “It costs nothing to help someone who is struggling and my appreciation to Midland Heart is my driving force. The support and guidance I have received has made me a stronger person.” Amanda Nicklin, Homeless Services Centre Manager, has been delighted with the difference Tracey has made. She said: “Tracey shows real empathy towards customers, is always willing to take on tasks given to her and has a real enthusiasm to work with our customers. “I hope that her volunteering experience and increased skills will assist her to obtain paid employment in the future.”

“It costs nothing to help someone who is struggling.” THINKing ahead means faster support for rough sleepers A new database launched by Midland Heart’s Homeless Services Centre will enable those working with rough sleepers to offer effective support more quickly. THINK, which stands for Tackling Homelessness Information Network, went live on 21 October across the West Midlands. The system is used to help workers share information to ensure that they act as quickly and effectively as possible to help those they encounter. The THINK database will record demographic information, contacts made with outreach workers and basic indications of the person’s support needs such as drug misuse or physical health problems.


outdoor action

Adventurers tackle tough outdoor challenges

Young people from Lichfield House, Lichfield Foyer, Eagle House, Rolfe House and James Bagnall Foyer got a taste for adventure at a special activities day at nearby Cannock Chase. The group of 10 spent a day at Beaudesert Park where they tackled a number of outdoor challenges designed to test their group interaction, team work‌ and courage! It was a busy day as the customers faced a range of activities including the assault course, archery, tree climbing and low level ropes.


The afternoon sessions saw the young people, who were split into groups, test their skill and co-ordination on the double crate stacking trial. With two climbers working together to construct the highest tower of crates possible, it was a challenge to see which pair could climb the highest and quickest, supporting each other’s balance without falling off. As you can imagine, there was a lot of risky activity going on throughout the day, organised by Lichfield House as part of a fun way to look at Health & Safety issues. Part of

the day included the groups considering the risks that may be involved in an activity and what could be done to reduce that risk. Support Worker Darren Webb, said: “It was a great opportunity for young people to take part in team building activities, meet with customers from other services and consider what a Risk Assessment is and why we do them, all that while having fun! “The weather was on our side too so what else could we have asked for?”


hear my words Express yourself… through poetry This issue we feature a poem by customer Kerry Pagne who has lived at Birmingham’s Muirhead House since June 2013. Kerry enjoys writing poetry as it enables her to express her thoughts and feelings more clearly. When I’m starring in the mirror, And I’m looking at myself, I think I’m well and fine, What am I doing to my health? The first beer the starter, It’s a means to an end, But then I can’t stop, It feels like my one friend. Yes it makes you feel good, Of course it makes it great, But slowly and surely It’s becoming my no.1 hate. All of the drinkers, Will find an excuse for one, Time to let your hair down, And time to have some fun.

Fun’s not all it’s cracked up to be, Slurring words, loss of memory, Not knowing how you got home, When you walk through the door, Sleep for a few hours, Wake thinking of dog cure. Binger, alchys and social, We are all the same, The thing, this addiction, Is a serious game. All of the people, That I loved and lost, And now I really know, Everything it has cost.

All the stupid things, That I’ve said and done, Time to realise, Look after number one. I know I wanna stop it, God, how hard I’ve tried, How many more mistakes, To help me decide. None is the answer, I know who I can be, I wanna be the Kerry, I know’s inside of me. Kerry Pagne

Life’s not that brilliant, Life could be grand, So time for reflection, No more drink in my hand.

Pedal power raises funds for Acorns More than 30 Midland Heart staff completed a mammoth cycling challenge and raised £4,000 so far for Birmingham-based, Acorns Children’s Hospice. The team tackled Cycling Weekly’s ‘Malvern Mad Hatter Sportive’, cycling 46, 74 or 104 miles through three counties.


David Kinnair, Operations Manager Commercial Services at Midland Heart, says: “Acorns is a fantastic charity which touches the hearts of us all. This is the second year we have organised a bike ride and I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work, fundraising and dedication to compete on the day.”

improved service Positive outcome after floating support funding cutbacks

VIP Villa trip for lucky trio Three customers enjoyed a day to remember when they received a VIP match day experience at Aston Villa for the game v. Newcastle United. Ian Edwards, Ian Morgan and Abdoulaye Ba were treated to the afternoon at Villa Park after winning first prizes in various activities at the recent James Bagnall Foyer Fun Day. The lucky trio, accompanied by Geoff Lowe, Acting Team Leader at St Eugene’s, had the full VIP experience, sitting in an executive box, with hostess Mavis on hand to serve refreshments. The visit also included lunch and a trip to the Trophy Room. Geoff said: “It was a fantastic day and the guys really dressed for the occasion. The Villa officials were wonderful, and made us all feel special. We were all really impressed.” The group also bumped into former Villa stars Brian Little and Ugo Ehiogu before the return taxi took them back home.

The old adage that necessity is the mother of invention proved true when Supporting People funding for Birmingham’s Floating Support service was reduced. Some clever thinking and reorganisation within Inclusion Services has resulted in better provision to customers… with no job losses. Earlier in the year Midland Heart was informed that funding for its stand-alone Floating Support team, which picked up referrals both internally and from external agencies, would be reduced. Paul Webber, Inclusion Services manager, said: “We had to look closely at how we deliver services to floating support customers and initially thought that some tough decisions would need to be made with the loss of experienced staff.” After several brain storming sessions we came up with a solution… to bring floating support into Inclusion’s existing Hub service – with all round benefits. Paul explained: “A customer at one of our Hub services, for example, would already be familiar with the support workers there. “This same team of support staff will now continue to support him/her once they have moved into independent accommodation. “Customers develop good working relationships with support staff within their service and when they move on, these relationships can now be maintained. It has been a very positive move for us.” He added: “So from initially feeling very apprehensive about what the funding cuts would mean, we have developed a new method of working which provides a more cohesive and coherent service for customers and staff than it did before.”


literacy skills

s n o i t a n o d k o Bo s r e m o t s u c p l e h Customers at the Homeless Services Centre can now pick up books to take away. The Digbeth service launched its small library of donated books to mark International Literacy Day on 8 September. Staff hope customers will be encouraged to read more and improve their literacy skills. Amanda Nicklin, manager of the Homeless Services Centre, said: “We first promoted the joy of reading as part of World Book Night in April, where we successfully received 180 free books, which we handed to our customers. “Staff noticed the books were well received and donated more books to create a small library in the reception area so customers could continue to get pleasure from reading and also help to improve their literacy skills.” The library received a further boost in October when the BBC sent over a consignment of books after Amanda wrote to them appealing for donations.


• In the UK one in six adults struggle to read and write. Worldwide an estimated 776 million adults can’t write their own name or read a line from a book. • This year’s International Literacy Day was dedicated to highlighting the need of basic literacy skills for all. Help is out there Many adults are reluctant to admit to their literacy difficulties and ask for help but there is plenty of support out there. Contact a local adult education college or your local library for information on courses. Turn to First Point of Contact on page 32 for more useful numbers and websites.


Bridging the

age gap

An inter-generational project to promote The five young people then spent a day at equality and diversity to customers has the Older People’s scheme with residents enjoyed glowing reports from everyone Jaqui, Eileen, Jean and Elisabeth. involved. Life Skills worker Pascale Pug from Lichfield Young people from Staffordshire and House, explained: “The day could not have Birmingham have been involved “Today people seem gone any better… as soon as with an equality and diversity the introductions were made, to be financially project to improve understanding everyone began chatting away.” secure even if and awareness of customers in they aren’t in After a lunch and a guided Midland Heart’s Older People’s employment. When tour of the scheme, Pascale services. we were young, organised discussion groups there weren’t any around topics including Life Skills worker Pascale Pug from benefits to help.” Stafford’s Lichfield House, said: homelessness, alcohol and drug “The image of young people is abuse. Shannon’s Mill probably at its lowest while the customer Pascale added: “Everybody view of young people towards the having a great time and the young people older generation could also be improved. This were sorry when it “It was a lot easier gave us the ideal starting place to challenge was time to leave. to find work in our these preconceived ideas.” “The two generations day. We could go got on extremely from one job to Project 1 Stafford and Lichfield well, behaved the other without Young people from Staffordshire Youth respectfully towards any problem.” Services visited a Midland Heart Older each other and Shannon’s Mill People’s Scheme in Tamworth to meet parted having gained customer residents and discuss a variety of topics. a lot of knowledge.”


Composting initiative takes off in Stafford The green-thinking crowd at Stafford’s Lichfield House marked World Environment Day with a special activity day. The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations in June was Think. Eat. Save - an anti-food waste and food loss campaign to encourage everyone to reduce their footprint. The group of seven customers, led by life skills worker Pascale Pug, discussed the topic before putting posters about food wastage around the service. They also made reminder stickers for switching off lights and turning taps off to place around the building. Pascale also launched a composting initiative at Lichfield House, giving customers information and advice about what waste could be safely composted. If you would like a composter at your service speak to your service manager or support worker. You can find out more information about composting on the Garden Organic website at


bridging the age gap continued... Project 2 Birmingham and Black Country An equality and diversity consultation at Penmakers Court, a Midland Heart Older People’s service in West Bromwich, brought customers from across the generations together. Darren Williams, from Muirhead House, Birmingham and Kaileigh Billington, from James Bagnall Foyer, spent a day with May Clarke from Penmakers Court. Along with two members “I worked from of staff from Inclusion 6am till 5pm 11 Services, the group hours a day in chatted about life, then the mill factory. I and now. could walk in and out of jobs.” Cynthia Samuels, a support worker at Rolfe May Clarke, House Foyer, said: “The Penmakers Court young people found this experience very eye-opening as some of them never really engaged with the elderly before. “Now they can’t wait to visit again and do an activity with the same customers. All our young people got on well with May and other residents. It was a most enjoyable day.

Black History Month Each year, October in the UK marks Black History Month and is a time for recognising the history and contributions from people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Take a look at how we have been celebrating!

e r u t c i P t c e f r e p Thank you to everyone who sent in entries for the first Future Voice photography competition. There’s a lot of talent out there! Last date for entries was 31 August 2013 and after a slow start, entries in the two categories flowed in. The entries will be judged by a panel of customers from across Care & Support customers with the results published in the January 2014 issue. The winning entry in each of the two categories will receive a £50 gift voucher… so keep your fingers crossed.

Viewpoint According to a report on the BBC news website, new guidance for psychologists will acknowledge that adolescence now effectively runs up until the age of 25 for the purposes of treating young people. In the latest in our Viewpoint series we asked Future Voice readers: WHAT WAS THE MOMENT WHEN YOU REALISED YOU HAD BECOME AN ADULT AND HOW OLD WERE YOU? This is what you said… “I’m not sure it just happened but I started feeling like an adult when I had no-one to look after me and I had to sort everything out myself.” Alan Bentley, Lichfield House “I was 14 because of family commitments.” Eagle House customer “I became an adult when I was first homeless at 15.” Zambesi customer “I was 15 and I had been kicked out and had to look after myself for a few weeks.” Ewan Davies, Lichfield House “I was 12 or 13. My father was disabled and I had to start doing things such as painting and decorating, mowing the lawns and staying in to look after his needs.” Dave B, Eagle House “When I had to move out of my parents at the age of 17 and moved into my cousins home and I was in full-time work.” Zambesi customer “It was when I was paying my own bills at my own place.” Gareth Bishop, Lichfield House “It was when my mum died. I was 17.” Hanwood House customer


viewpoint continued “I was 15 when I had to leave home and I had to do things for myself. I was put in a group home and I had to learn to look after myself.” James D, Eagle House “When I moved to Ireland at the age of 17.” Jake Sambrook, Lichfield House “I was 15. I had to leave home as my parents kicked me out of the house and I had nobody. I realised that I and to stand on my own two feet and move forward, but I know now I am an adult with responsibilities.” Aimee A, Eagle House

“It was when I realised that I had nothing going for me and I had to stand on my own two feet. I was 21.” Hanwood House customer “I was 16 and I had to leave home and started living on my own and providing for myself. I had no-one to help me. If I needed to get stuff done I knew I was the only person which could do it.” Gareth A, Eagle House “I started working when I was nine years old.” Hanwood House customer

recipe What’s cooking? All you keen gardeners out there may have enjoyed a glut of raspberries this year. At Helen Dixon House customers tucked into Irresistible Raspberry Delights… and they’ve agreed to share their recipe with Future Voice. Irresistible Raspberry Delights Ingredients Raspberries - preferably home grown, fresh from the garden Small pot of double cream 1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence Maple syrup Oyster Delights purchased wafer shells ready filled with mallow,


coated in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. (We bought ours at the Co-op but meringue shells work just as well.) Method 1. Put the double cream in a large bowl and whisk until the cream starts to thicken into soft peaks. 2. Add vanilla essence and sugar and whisk until the cream is stiff and holds its shape when you lift the whisk out of the bowl. 3. When the cream is ready, stir in the raspberries. Reserve a few to decorate. 4. Spoon into the Oyster shells, drizzle over maple syrup, top with a raspberry. Enjoy! • Do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share with our readers? Email it through to

Word Search

Issue 24 w inner... The nights are drawing in and there’s a definite chill in the air, but Winner of th e Word Future Voice is looking on the bright side and embracing the best of the Search com petition in autumn and winter months in our word search competition this time. Issue 24 wa s Linda Kirk There’s a £50 voucher of your choice for the first correct entry out of from Leicest er Floating the bag, so make sure you send in your entry to be in the running... it’ll Support. He r winning e ntry was picked give a useful boost to your finances. out of the h a t by Iain Edw Post your entry to: FREEPOST, RRAL-ZTXB-SJXT, Future Voice Word The Snow H ards from Search, Midland Heart, Bath Row, Birmingham. B15 1LZ. ill. Linda ha s chosen a £ 50 WH Sm Please note the competition is only open to Midland Heart customers ith voucher as her prize. with only one entry per customer. Bonfires Harvest Pumpkin Fireworks Squirrels Open fires

Please note the competition is only open to Midland Heart customers with

Mince pies only one entry per customer. Hats and scarves V B X S C Y E C L B Z W M E D J I A U M S M S O Snowflakes O B J T V M A G S S E K A L F W O N S P M Q T Z Hot chocolate Y P G P F Q B W G Y D L E M R R M V J I U T B I A O E W Y G E V H W L A T L Q I U V R I W M X Q Icicles B O T N G W B N M R S I A E R J L G R P E D E K Mulled wine

Name Address

Telephone High Street coupon of choice


First Point of Contact Adult literacy support Direct Gov improve-english-maths-it-skills Helpline: 0800 66 0800. Birmingham Adult Education Service – run literacy and numeracy courses 0121 303 4318 SIFA Fireside - tackling homelessness, alcohol misuse & social exclusion in Birmingham.

0121 766 1700 Bullying UK 0808 800 2222 National Bullying Helpline 0845 22 55 787 Alcoholics Anonymous 0845 769 7555 Depression Alliance - help &

information about depression; depression and self help groups. The Samaritans Do you need someone to talk to? Tel: 0845 790 9090 (local rate) Mind - a leading mental health charity. MindinfoLine Monday – Friday, 9.15am – 5.15pm Tel: 0845 766 0163


No Panic - advice, counselling and selfhelp for people who experience anxiety, panic attacks, phobias or compulsive disorders. FREEPHONE 0808 808 0545 (10am– 10pm every day)

Call 0808 808 4000 Monday to Friday 9am-9pm and Saturday 9.30am-1pm

Age UK (formerly Age Concern and Help the Aged) Tel: 0800 169 6565

Leicester Drugs Advice Centre 96 New Walk, Leicester Tel: 0116 222 9555

Relate Advice and relationship counselling Tel: 0300 100 1234 Birmingham Information Services on Disabilities Tel: 0121 627 8610 National Debtline Free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems.

Talk to Frank Information and advice on drugs Tel: 0800 776 600 (freephone)

Northampton Women’s Aid 0845 123 2311 (Mon-Fri 9am-4.30pm) Citizens Advice Bureau UK National Domestic Violence Tel: 0808 2000 247 (24hr freephone) Brook Advisory Confidential sex advice for the under 25s Tel: 0800 0185 023 (freephone)

We are happy to make the contents available on tape, large print, braille or in a different language. We also subscribe to the Language Line interpretation service. If you need help communicating with us or understanding any of our documents, we can arrange for a Language Line interpreter or translator to help you. If any of these services would benefit you please contact us.

Contact us: 0345 60 20 540 32

Shelter housing advice helpline Lines are open daily from 8am to midnight. Tel: 0808 800 4444 Age UK (formerly Age Concern and Help the Aged) Tel: 0800 169 6565 Relate Advice and relationship counselling Tel: 0300 100 1234 Runaway Advice for under 18s who have run away from home Tel: 0808 800 7070 (freephone)

Future Voice Issue 25  

In this Issue; Hereford launch, Ask Fay, Police chief visits, Winter safety, Volunteer update, plus much more.

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