Creating Opportunities for a Brighter Future!

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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.

 

Check back to see the photos from this event…

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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.

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Carol Concert

Forum’s Carol Concert was held on Wednesday 13 December 2017, and was generously hosted by the Salvation Army Community Church, Old Chester Road in Birkenhead.

There was a warm and positive atmosphere throughout the evening. The Right Reverend Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead delivered a thought-provoking message, and a range of festive and traditional carols were sung to music played by the Salvation Army’s brass band.

We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to all who helped to organise and support the event, and to all who attended to make the evening so special.

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National Housing Federation visit to Forum

On 30 November we were delighted to receive a visit from senior officers of the National Housing Federation.  The National Housing Federation (NHF) is the voice of affordable housing in England, believing that everyone should have the home they need at a price they can afford.  The NHF represent the work of housing associations and campaign nationally for better housing.

Baroness Diana Warwick, Chair of the NHF; Katie Teasdale, National External Affairs Manager; and Jordane Shaw, Policy Officer valued the opportunity to better understand the essential work Forum undertake with young people in the region.

After an initial meeting with Debbie Thompson, Chief Executive, and Sue Elliott, Chair of Forum’s Board, the party visited a number of our accommodation sites where they met both residents and staff teams.

We were delighted that our Patron, The Right Reverend Keith Sinclair, Bishop of Birkenhead and our honorary President, Chris Allen BEM were also able to attend the delightful buffet lunch at the Bridge which concluded the successful visit.

 

Feedback received following the visit was extremely positive, and we look forward to continuing our work with the National Housing Federation.

I wanted to send a personal note to say how much I appreciated the special effort you made not only to give us such a wide-ranging view of your terrific work but also to give us several opportunities to meet with your very special tenants. It was so moving to hear their stories and to see first-hand how they were turning their lives around because of the support and encouragement Forum is able to give them.

It was also lovely to meet several of your team members and staff and, through them, to see how the special ethos of Forum underpins everything they do. It was truly inspirational.

Baroness Diana Warwick

 

Diana, Jordane and I were so impressed by Forum- from your inspiring tenants to your dedicated team and innovative services. It was a wonderful day and an amazing insight into one of the most precious parts of our sector. The work you do is such a credit to you all and it is a privilege to understand that better. I know Diana is determined that the Federation does all we can to help you flourish and yesterday’s visit reinforced to us all why that matters so much.

We were overwhelmed by our welcome and grateful for you organising such a thought provoking tour and amazing lunch celebration- please do pass on our thanks to the whole team.

Katie Teasdale

 

 

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Charity Shop news

Another happy customer!

Customer A started coming to our Just for You charity shop located at 72 Market Street, Birkenhead about 6 months ago after making friends with another young mum locally who told her about the shop.

Her visits to the shop have enabled her to identify a big change to the services on offer.  The Pay as You Feel section has enabled her to give her daughter a weekly treat when she is well behaved at school.  This incentive has not only had a positive impact on her daughter in school but “has also taken the pressure off a little at home” as both Customer A and her partner are trying to manage their mental and physical health issues, and most importantly, maintain a happy family.

Since the shop is now open 5 days a week Customer A has dropped in more frequently and spent more time with the Community Asset Team members, our volunteers.  She enjoys a walk to the shop after a cup of tea with her friend as she finds that everyone is welcoming.

When asked what makes this shop different she replied that there is a difference in being able to walk out with a bag of food knowing it was affordable and having been able to make a choice of the items she wants instead of receiving a hand out.

Customer A now recommends the shop to friends at her daughter’s school.  “It just makes sense to stop food going to landfill…just because a cereal box is bashed up, rich or poor we don’t eat the box but we all still eat cornflakes with milk don’t we?!”

Customer A has recently had difficulties with her benefits being cut and is waiting for a Universal Credit claim to be processed.  She and her partner agreed that they don’t have much money, but when they do spend, they choose to spend it wisely in the shop.

They added that they would like to get involved in the shop one day once their situation is stable.