Creating Opportunities for a Brighter Future!

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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!

 

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Can Do Fund

Generous donations that Forum receives from churches and individuals, is added to money raised through fundraising schemes and events to create our Can Do fund.

Our residents face many barriers to achieving small steps, much less big dreams; the CAN DO fund is used along side planned support programmes to give  young people a helping hand, supporting them to overcome obstacles they face.

Applications are received to fund a wide range of items which would be difficult to obtain without the Can Do fund, including:

  • Hair styling and make over session for someone with body image and self confidence issues.
  • Smart clothes and shoes for a new job / interview
  • Ordering a copy of a birth certificate for ID, in order to open a bank account
  • Repairing glasses and going for eye tests
  • Administration charges to secure a positive move on property
  • Driving Theory Test

One young person who accessed the Can Do Fund this year is an experienced Para Climber, and attends tournaments across the country. Climbing is used by this young person as a coping method for her disabilities and other challenges. An application was made to the Can Do fund for replacement climbing shoes which had become worn and were a concern for the resident who currently performs at such a high level she could be considered for the selection process of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – a very exciting prospect!  The young person was overjoyed to receive the new shoes which she could not have obtained without the support from the Can Do fund.

 

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Supported Lodgings – Cheshire East

Cheshire East Council have continued their commitment to the Association through the award of a Five Year contract to start in April 2018 delivering a Supported Lodgings Service. The Association has held this contract for a number of years and was recently required to re-bid against some stiff competition for the continuation of this work.

Our Supported Lodgings Service provides a valuable option for young Care Leavers to live with a host member of the community in their own home, similar to the way that fostering works. We have 20 active hosts, all thoroughly vetted, trained and supported to provide a diverse offer across what is a huge patch of rural and urban areas across Cheshire East.

Young Care Leavers are extremely positive about this type of option as a stepping stone to fully independent living and are treated as a member of the family at all times. Forum are naturally delighted at this continued investment in our work and are particularly looking forward to refreshing the way this scheme works with our colleagues in Children’s’ Services.

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Homeless Awareness Day 2018

Forum’s Housing Solutions Team took part in Homeless Awareness Day on 15 February in Birkenhead Town Centre.

Birkenhead Business Improvement District, promoters of this annual event, described it as a means of, “highlighting the work that services do to support those who are vulnerable and living on the streets”.

The event, which was extremely successful, and organised by the drugs and alcohol service Wirral Ways to Recovery, brought together numerous charities, organisations and agencies to support the cause including: Wirral Council, Birkenhead YMCA, Wirral Churches Ark Project, Street Pastors, Public Health, Merseyside Police, Town Centre Hosts and Forum Housing Association.

On the day, staff from Forum Housing distributed leaflets and spoke to members of the public in order to raise awareness of the issues associated with homelessness in Wirral, and also offered advice on how the public can support these organisations in the valuable work they do.

 

 

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Old Heart of Birkenhead

On Wednesday 14 February, Valentine’s Day, Forum hosted a themed day based on the ‘Old Heart of Birkenhead’.

The event was a joint initiative led by Wirral Methodist Housing Association and Forum Creative Enterprises to raise awareness as to the diversity of shops and businesses in and around Hamilton Square.

Members from Clifford Grange Art Group, Wirral Methodist Housing Association, Forum Creative Enterprise and residents of Forum Housing Association came together to design and make ‘Heart Art’ for the occasion.

Local businesses were invited to support the initiative by displaying one of these homemade hearts in their windows.

Amy Butterworth gave her account of the day: “Members of the local community joined us at 72 Market Street for refreshments and cake, and talked about their memories of Market Street and the local area during World War II. They reminded us of how vitally important a sense of community still is for many residents.

What became very clear from the incredible stories shared on the day, is that something very ‘magical’ happens when individuals from all walks of life who care about where they live, work and socialise are kind to each other and give time and look after each other’s families and businesses.”

From conversations with the younger generation of residents living locally, it is apparent that people like living in the area, they feel a strong sense of community and want to invest on a personal level. This is what made the ‘Old heart of Birkenhead’ – the support shown on the day from the local people, inspired the team to want to keep that same vibrancy alive, and continue to promote events, creating new memories focused on what we enjoy.

 

 

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Links Service – Wirral

Forum Housing are thrilled to have received recent notification from Wirral Council of their intention to award the new contract for accommodation and support for 16 and 17 year olds to the Association.

Following a (very) competitive process, Forum have been busy mobilising the new service which has a number of exciting aspects to it. Our offer includes  a new 24 hour seven bed Super Hub at one of our bases which integrates a Health and Wellbeing facility, Reflection & Counselling Room and a Training Flat to help our young people get ‘move on ready’.

As part of our continued work on resident engagement, Forum have provided the resources to employ a young person with lived experience who will act as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the new service and ensure our young people consistently get high quality service delivery and where they don’t, we know about it quickly!

The service provides an additional 18 units of supported accommodation across three sites and all provision is supported by dedicated, professional staff 24 hours per day.

Check back for a future update when we’ll take you inside the walls of our Super Hub and a chance to hear more through the lens of a day in the life of a Forum Super Hub staff member … watch this space!

 

 

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Community Entrepreneurship Programme

In December 2017, Forum Creative Enterprise launched a ‘Community Entrepreneurship Programme’ with 5 young people from Forum Housing Association’s projects across Wirral and Cheshire.

Dave Wood, founder of Metanoeo CIC, and Forum’s Amy Butterworth lead the programme, which includes developing a participant’s vision and skills for self-employment, accessing the relevant resources and building their confidence and self-esteem.

There has been positive feedback from attendees following their first day on the programme;

“It met my expectations fully” …
“I enjoyed exploring concepts and ideas in a relaxed setting”.

Participants are partnered up with life coaches, trained by Metanoeo CIC, including students from Edge Hill University and people who have experienced their own period of unemployment.

The participant’s ideas for businesses have varied widely, from a wellbeing life coach consultant for young people, by young people to developing a bespoke furniture business.

The first programme will be running until the summer by which time we hope to have an alumni of graduated young people running their own businesses.