Healthy Futures is a social prescribing service for people in Birmingham and the West Midlands.
We've all had moments in life where we've felt alone, with no one to turn to.
Sadly, this is an everyday reality for some people in Birmingham. So Healthy Futures has two Wellbeing Navigators who are experts in providing support to people with a broad range of social needs.
The service has two main aims:
- to build up people’s resilience and improve their quality of life.
- to reduce any unnecessary time spent with Primary Care services.
Unfortunately, at the end of 2018, after initial funding ended and our own reserves ran out, Healthy Futures had to stop taking referrals. We suspended the service, leaving hundreds of vulnerable people in Birmingham without access to support.
We know Healthy Futures is desperately needed in Birmingham – and, thanks to a formal evaluation carried out in 2017, we know it works.
So now, we're asking for your help to bring Healthy Futures back to Birmingham.
When someone is referred into Healthy Futures, usually by their GP, they are assigned a Wellbeing Navigator (like Ralph) who goes out to visit them and find out what they need help with.
Many people rely on their GP or local A&E, even when the support they need isn't clinical or medical, because they don't know where else to go. That’s why, in 2016, Gateway launched Healthy Futures. Our Wellbeing Navigators support socially isolated people to build resilience and improve their quality of life, thus reducing time spent with their GP.
Common issues include help with housing (many of the people we work with are in hostels or temporary accommodation), financial hardship (many are entitled to benefits but are not receiving them, or have difficulty managing them). We can help with alcohol or substance misuse, and ongoing mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
“Support” might mean a cup of tea and a friendly chat to get through the day; some help filling in forms, working out budgets and making phone calls; or, for people with more complex needs, a range of more specialist help, including support to access other services. If a Healthy Futures Wellbeing Navigator can’t help, they will know someone who can.
The support we give is practical, emotional and, most importantly, helps builds independence.
Often, people just need a bit of direction to help them start forming their own friendships and networks, which in turn builds self-esteem and the confidence to tackle bigger issues themselves.
Read about how the Healthy Futures service has been proven to save time and money for GPs and the NHS
With this being our first ever attempt at a crowdfunding campaign, we want to be ambitious yet realistic. Our service is one that is not easy to quantify into ££s. Helping someone to turn their life around is quite a priceless achievement.
However, we have put together a breakdown of how your donations will help cover the costs associated with running the Healthy Futures service.
In 2016 a formal, independent study into the Healthy Futures pilot project was carried out by Mott Macdonald. We have found the statistics and comments from this evaluation to be really useful when presenting to GPs.
The evaluation found Healthy Futures to be "a cost-effective way to reduce the time people spent with their GP (when a social intervention was more appropriate)", as well as "significantly increasing people’s self-reliance and self-care"
Cost savings to the NHS: “The use of non-clinical staff members instead of GPs is cheaper by around one third”
Cost savings to Social Care: “Had (Gateway Family Services) not intervened, patients would likely have been referred on to social services at a much greater additional cost, representing a saving of approximately £10 per hour”
- Return on investment for the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund (which funded the original pilot service): 62p in every £1
Judith is in her 50's and unemployed: "I feel more positive and less confused about my benefits now, thanks for calling them today for me, and helping to sort it and update things with them. I feel like I have my mojo back. I think walking more is helping me too, and your support."
James is in his 40s and has seen a few support workers over the years. He said to Ralph: "I have had a few issues and problems with support workers in the past, even still these days, but not with you. You don’t judge me, you listen to me, and I know how much you really want to help me. I can see that you really care."
Laura is a mum in her 30s. She works full time but she and her child have been living in temporary accommodation: "I will look forward to my appointment with [the outreach worker] at Anawim [a women’s centre], thanks so much for referring me to her, and telling me more about the support they provide. I am sure they will be of great help to me, like you. I am feeling upbeat."
It's clear to see that the Healthy Futures service has had a real positive impact in Birmingham. Yet in recent years we've seen the funding for services like Healthy Futures dramatically cut when it’s clear that more and more money is being needed across the third sector.
It feels like the country is in crisis when it comes to social support. It’s frustrating to watch and, believe us, even more frustrating to experience. If you want to join us and help do something about it, then please join our Crowdfunding campaign.
If you choose to support our Crowdfunder, we'd like to send a huge thank you from the entire team at Gateway.
HEALTHY FUTURES BLOG
Gateway Healthy Futures: Six months in, we published a case study of Diane. She is typical of someone who is in need but not entitled to any other sort of support (June 2016)
Sadly, when funding ended, the service had to close. But we decided to use our own reserves to relaunch it: (February 2018)
Healthy Futures was designed by Gateway Family Services CIC in partnership with GP consortium SDSMyHealthcare, and was originally funded by the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.