Creating Opportunities for a Brighter Future!

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Merseyside Women Of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award

At a beautiful ceremony on the 28 June, well deserved finalists and their supporters gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Liverpool for the prestigious Merseyside Women of the Year awards.  One of those worthy women was Forum’s President Chris Allen, BEM.

The Merseyside Women of the Year event aims to find and reward the unsung heroines of Merseyside, for their passion, determination and dedication to their varied causes and communities.

Winners and runners up were announced for 12 categories with one overall “Merseyside Woman of the Year” voted for by members of the general public.

We are overjoyed that Chris’ enduring enthusiasm and tireless determination to transform lives was recognised in her receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Jake Mills of Chasing The Stigma, a Merseyside based national mental health charity and sponsor of the award.

Debbie Thompson, Chief Executive at Forum was delighted to hear the news ‘I would like to congratulate Chris on this prestigious award, it is very well deserved!

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“The best AGM I’ve ever been to…” 

Accolades poured in to Debbie Thompson, CEO in the hours and days following the Association’s 2018 Annual General Meeting, ‘Building Futures… Building Lives’.

Attendees were generous in their praise of another inspiring and thought provoking event held at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, and ably hosted by the Association’s Patron the Right Reverend Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead.  Organisers were pleased to be joined by over 100 supporters including the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral, Councillors, Commissioners, Stakeholders, Association Members, staff and residents.

Debbie’s welcome included special recognition and thanks to Harvey, an extraordinary 5 year old, and the Association’s youngest supporter.  Harvey is currently undertaking a sponsored 100 mile cycling challenge to raise funds and awareness for those facing homelessness.

Building Futures:

The Association’s Chair conducted the business meeting, and launched the Annual Report which she encouraged attendees to access on the website.

We were delighted to welcome Catherine Holmes, Homes England, our key note speaker for the evening.  Mrs Holmes gave an informative presentation on Homes England’s five year strategy and opportunities for partnership working.

Building People:

At Forum we know the importance of building people, through encouragement and support, recognition of their value, and celebration of their talents and skills.  This is true for those individuals we work with, and also within our staff team.  One longstanding staff member shared a personal journey she’d faced during the last year and spoke movingly of the support she’d received from her ‘Forum family’.

Greg, Macauley and Tamar, all residents and each a talented musician and soloist performed numbers by Bob Dylan, Adele, Elton John, James, and even an original piece during the evening.  Charlotte, a resident and poet, shared an original composition, and found she was asked for copies at the end of the evening.

Every speaker and performer won warm applause from the appreciative audience.

Building Lives

Two former residents spoke movingly about the challenging circumstances that brought them to Forum, the impact their time with the Association had on their lives, what came next, right through to where they are now.  The audience responded to the speakers open and honest accounts of their turbulent but amazing journeys with a spontaneous, lengthy standing ovation.

The evening concluded with prizes awarded following the Frank Houston Challenge, this year a Staff v Resident’s Rounders Competition, and the Peter Keane Competition, this year a photography competition on the theme ‘Building futures… building lives.

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Thanksgiving for 50 years

From humble beginnings in April 1969, this month Forum Housing Association began its 50th year, and marked the occasion on 16 April with a Service of Thanksgiving at Christ Church Birkenhead, the Parish Church of our founders.

We were delighted that the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral could join Forum supporters old and new, to celebrate this achievement and look to the future.

Speakers at the event were Sue Elliott, Chair of the Board, who shared a presentation on the developments and impact Forum has made over the last 50 years; and our Patron, the Right Reverend Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead.
Bishop Keith delivered an interesting, thought provoking and encouraging message, paying particular attention to Psalm 19 verse 18 “For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.”, his key verse for Forum that day.

After the Service almost 100 members of our Forum family shared a time of fellowship, making the most of the opportunity to catch up with old friends, colleagues and residents while enjoying delicious refreshments; there was a real buzz in the air. During this time the Celebration Cake was cut by our Chief Executive, President, Patron and Chair and photographs were taken to mark the occasion.

A huge thank you to all those involved from Christ Church; the Brass Quartet from Salvation Army, Rock Ferry, a valued and long time supporter of Forum; the Speakers; Forum staff including Debbie Thompson, Chief Executive and Sue Barker, Head of Safeguarding and Wellbeing who read key verses beautifully, and to the Association’s President, Chris Allen BEM for leading Prayers of Thanksgiving.

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Birkenhead to Amsterdam Cycling Challenge

Seven Cyclists

Eight Days

Four Countries

600 Miles

One Goal:  to help to transform the lives of young homeless people.

Forum Staff Member Brian Hinton and a group of likeminded friends have set themselves a huge challenge, cycling from Birkenhead to Amsterdam to raise awareness and funds for Forum Housing Association.

The trip will be broken down into seven stages;

Stage 1: Birkenhead to Birmingham. 94 miles.
Stage 2: Birmingham to Oxford. 80 miles.
Stage 3: Oxford to Putney, London. 64 miles.
Stage 4: Putney, London to Calais, France. 90 miles.
Stage 5: Calais, France to Ghent, Belgium. 100 miles.
Stage 6: Ghent, Belgium to Breda, The Netherlands. 73 miles.
Stage 7: Breda, The Netherlands to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 75 miles.

This will be a total of over 600 miles and around 48 hours of cycling.

We wish the group well as they complete their preparations before undertaking this considerable endeavour at the end of May and will be eagerly following their progress.

To sponsor this entirely self organised event go to:  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/tour-de-foyer
To follow developments of the trip visit their Facebook page at; https://www.facebook.com/TourDeForum/

The group would appreciate it if you could share both these links with your contacts to encourage them and help them to reach their target

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Investing in People

Forum are delighted to have successfully retained accreditation against Generation Six of the Investors in People Standard.

Retaining Investors in People accreditation in the current, challenging climate shows the high value Forum places in our staff team, and the positive values and culture we have developed.  The drive and dedication of the whole team enables Forum to create opportunities for brighter futures for our residents and other customers.

Read an extract from our report

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Bridge Project – Birkenhead

We were delighted to receive the recent news of a successful tender for our supported accommodation services for 18 – 24 year olds at the Bridge Project, Birkenhead.  Forum have held this contract previously for 25 years and helped many, many thousands of young people receive emergency accommodation, high quality support and help with move on and resettlement.  The new contract is for up to four years and allows funding for the employment of a number of specialist staff within the areas of Health, Complex Needs, Life Skills and Meaningful Engagement.

Integrated into the service is Forum’s new safe seat service allowing up to an additional five rough sleepers to be brought in from the cold every night whilst more permanent options are sought. This comes at a time of rising street homelessness and is part of the Association’s joint work with Wirral Borough Council Housing Options and Commissioning Teams.

During the length of the contract, Forum will continue in their commitment to Wirral’s Social Value action plan through the recruitment of volunteers, using locally based staff, supporting educational and workforce development through Chester University student placements and offering support for four local community projects per year.  Our staff will support our young people to release their talents to help their immediate communities through joint environmental projects and creating opportunities to give back to their local area.

 

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Kip on the Kop

Forum Housing are excited to be participating in Wirral Ark’s first annual sleep out event on Friday 5 October at Prenton Park, home of Tranmere Rovers Football Club.

What is the sleep out?

Aptly named ‘Kip on the Kop’, the event has been organised by Wirral Ark to raise public awareness of homelessness, and funds on behalf of itself and a number of local homelessness service providers; Forum Housing Association, Phoenix Futures, Riverside, Wirral Ways to Recovery, Wirral Women and Children’s Aid, and YMCA Wirral.  Participants will ‘sleeping out’ under the stars (or clouds) from 6pm on 5 October to 6am on the 6 October.

How can I get involved with the sleep out?

There are a number of ways you can get involved;

  1. You can sign up to take part by visiting the official Kip on the Kop website: kiponthekop.com.

It costs £10 to sign up and there is a minimum fundraising target of £50 per person. Participants must provide their own warm clothing and sleeping bag.  There are limited spaces so if you’re interested in joining us please sign up without delay.  Fundraising packs will be sent out directly to registered participants by Wirral Ark’s fundraising team.

  1. You can sponsor someone that is taking part in the event.

If you do not know anyone taking part just yet, do not worry. We have a number of representatives from Forum Housing taking part. We will be happy to forward sponsorships to them.

Please email Forum’s lead on the event at brian.hinton@forumhousing.co.uk if you are interested in being a sponsor.

  1. You can help spread the word. As this is the first of the annual event, your help with telling friends, family, colleagues, business partners etc is going to go a long way in making it a success. So please get the word out and help create a real buzz for the event.

If you have any queries please get in touch with Brian, or if you would like to provide corporate sponsorship please contact the fundraising team at Wirral Ark directly: fundraising@wirralark.org.uk

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Wirral Kayak Challenge 2018

Congratulations to all 86 kayakers taking part in the Wirral Kayak Challenge 2018, to raise money for Claire House and Wirral Holistic Care Services.

On calm waters the group set off from New Brighton, to a sandbank beyond Hilbre Island where they waited for the tide to turn before continuing on to Thurstaston, a total of 15 miles and in glorious sunshine.

Forum’s Michael Hardman, a first time participant, found the sunburn more of a hindrance than the 10,000 paddle strokes.

Michael thanked colleagues for all their support and sponsorship, saying that ‘the event was a big success and (despite the sunburn) it was a great experience.  We couldn’t have had a better day for it, and all the competitors made it to the finish line to raise lots of money for two great charities.’

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Merseyside Women of the Year Awards

At a glamorous ceremony on the 22 June, well deserved finalists and their supporters gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Liverpool for the prestigious Merseyside Women of the Year awards.  One of those worthy women was Forum’s own Amy Butterworth.

The Merseyside Women of the Year event aims to find and reward the unsung heroines of Merseyside, for their achievements in just doing what they do best, changing lives and giving extra meaning to people’s lives across Merseyside.

Winners and runners up were announced for 12 categories with one overall “Merseyside Woman of the Year” voted for by members of the general public.

We were delighted that Amy’s enduring enthusiasm and determination to make a difference for others were recognised in her nomination, and overjoyed that she went on to win the Merseyside Women of the Year, Community Change Award, sponsored by Neo Community and ADDvanced Solutions.

Amy has received many congratulations from all the team including Debbie Thompson, Chief Executive’s own commendation “Amy’s award is a result of her focussed effort, passion, and commitment to improve the lives of the people in the community.”

Reflecting on the event Amy commented:

“I was in the best atmosphere at the Crowne Plaza at such a touching and emotional event, having the privilege to meet some of the most incredible women who work tirelessly day in and day out for their cause and communities.   

I was so shocked to not only be recognised but then to go on and win the 2018 Community Change category.  I feel this is a reflection to the community we work within and the fun we have. 

Thank you so much.” 

For more information on the award and other winners please go to: www.merseysidewomenoftheyear.co.uk

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Annual General Meeting

Attendees at Forum’s 2017 AGM, enjoyed an inspiring and thought provoking event at the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead on Wednesday 13 June 2018, ably hosted by the Association’s Patron the Right Reverend Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead.

We were delighted that Sara Mogel OBE, former Principal of West Cheshire College and Director of Foundation Enterprises North West agreed to be our speaker for the evening.  Ms Mogel spoke of the challenges faced by those people who are affected by homelessness and the work of Foundation Enterprises NW to provide personalised support.

Ms Mogel also highlighted the tremendous value of learning both for the knowledge gained and physical and mental wellbeing found through learning.  Ms Mogel quoted Benjamin Franklin, inventor and founding American father who said ‘Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn’ a sentiment central to Forum’s own approach.

Prizes were awarded following an art competition for current residents on the theme ‘Live… and Learn, helping you to shape your future’.  Entries were displayed alongside a selection of photographs taken by a former resident which received much acclaim.

As usual at this annual event the star performers were our young people who both delighted and challenged attendees with their musical talents, across a number of genres.

One young person performed a rap he’d written about his story so far which he’s agreed we could post to illustrate the situation and experiences of some of Forum’s young people.

Do you know the struggle of living in the hostel life?
Eating beans on toast for two weeks just to survive.
Waiting every month for a payment, barely getting by.
The hunger in your tummy constantly keeps you up at night.
Sometimes I sit and wish I’d picked a different life, I wish that I flip the script and jump up on a different vibe.
Sometimes I sit and wish I’d picked a different ride, as I am on a roller-coaster and the name of it is life.
I’ve been through a harder life then most of them.
Man have been through harder so for them I am not boasting it.
Big shout to those yeah that pulled through and soldiered it.
Tonight I’m going to raise a glass and damn right I’ll be toasting it!
My head is going to overload, so many thoughts in my brain its like an overdose.
Many dark thoughts I just want to comatose and never wake up as the thoughts just don’t want to go.
I tried handling this s**t on my own and trust me you don’t want to go down that road.
Because even on the hottest day your heart will be cold, I used to be a nice guy and now I have no soul…
Reason for living on this earth sometimes I sit and wonder why that my mum had given birth,
sometimes I sit and wonder would I be better off in the dirt, but then I think no because of all the people that I’d hurt.
I don’t want to be a burden on this world because I’m hurting, there’s man going through worse and that for certain.
One day my eyes will open wide just like some curtains, one day my future will shine bright and that’s for certain.
Yh yo and I’m just trying to reach the high life, but I don’t meet the requirements on the ride height sign
and for my family I want a bright life, because living in the struggles like living in the night time.
That’s why I’m rapping now just trying to get my rhymes tight, ready for the day that it finally gets to be my time and ima kick this s**t like Muay Thai.
Starting at the bottom but you know that I will climb high.
You wouldn’t ever want to see the s**t that I’ve seen.
People constantly using drugs around me, and my brother yeah from around the age of 3, and that s**t had an impact and now i smoke weed.
I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I just blow tree, and if that offends you then you can blow me.
I used to give a f**k that used to be the old me, and if you think I’m like that now speak to my OG’s.
As life goes on my head is getting messy.
Sick of constantly feeling low and always stressing.
Sick of being mentally ill and always vexing.
Sick of always doing wrong it really does my head in.
I just want to think straight but my brain wont let me, the waves in my brain yeah they’re really f***ing heavy.
I’m surprised right now I ain’t sipping on some Henny, dangerous thoughts daily yeah they’re really f***ing heavy.

And those are a few snippets of my life.
A few moments of what’s going on inside of a broken mind.
Inside the heart of a broken guy.
Raw emotions when I wrote these lines!