developing communities, changing lives

Community Fun Day for families during the spring school holidays.

Posted on 17th April 2014 by · No comments

On Thursday 24th April Birmingham Settlement are holding a Community Fun Day for families to bring their children to, with a range of fun spring activities to keep children entertained during the school holidays. Also available on the day will be one-to-one support for parents on a range of topics including looking for work, family support and money advice. We hope to build parent’s confidence and skills in these areas, helping to improve their job prospects, money management and parenting skills. We can help with:

  • Helping decide which jobs best suit your skills.
  • Searching for work.
  • How to put together CVs and job applications.
  • Finding and getting onto the right courses.
  • Finding volunteer roles that will support your job search.
  • Family support from a qualified family support worker.
  • Debt and benefits advice from a qualified money adviser.
  • A recruitment specialist will also be available to provide advice.

The event is free to attend for everybody and will take place from 10:30am-2:30pm on Thursday 24th April 2014 at the Centre for the Aston Family, 359-361 Witton Road, Aston, Birmingham B6 6NS.

For further information please download the flyer below or call Siobhan Sadlier on 0121 250 0777.

Community Fun Day flyer

Mindset – Supporting employability for people with mental health issues.

Posted on 16th April 2014 by · No comments

Mindset logo

People are out of work for many different reasons and it is hard enough getting a job at the best of times, but for people who have faced mental health issues there are additional barriers beyond what most job seekers face. This year we have continued our work with Mindset, a programme of activities to help people who have experienced a range of mental health issues get into work.

Most participants on the programme have well established career paths with a wealth of experience between them, but due to lost confidence, stigma from employers and other factors they are struggling to get back into the workplace. One of the participants told us, “I feel reluctant to give information about my condition as I fear it would result in discrimination.”

But through Mindset participants complete a structured programme that provides a combination of training, coaching and work placements over a period of 4-6 weeks. Staff from the Mindset group also work with local employers to advocate for positive recruitment of those with mental health issues. Between March and April this year seven people came to Birmingham Settlement on volunteer placements in roles including administration, data analysis, IT training and service user involvement. Participants were assisted in gaining practical skills they can use in the workplace, helped to improve their CVs and encouraged to reflect on the skills they have to use and what they still have to work on.

The programme has been a huge success so far this year with volunteers both enhancing our organisation and gaining a lot from it in return. Some of the things participants have told us include:

  • “Training and working at Birmingham Settlement has been a worthwhile experience.”
  • “Some of the tasks have been challenging so I’ve learned different things.”
  • “It’s been a growing experience.”
  • “I got what I wanted out of it.”
  • “I’ve gained things I didn’t expect.”
  • “I thought I wouldn’t work in an office again, but I feel like I don’t have anything to worry about now.”
  • “Anything’s possible!”

We hope that the experience of the programme will have a genuine impact on the chances of participants finding jobs and we intend to continue working with Mindset later this year to build on the work done so far.

Mindset is run in partnership between Birmingham Settlement and:

Come along to our Careers Day for help finding work.

Posted on 20th February 2014 by · No comments

Unemployment in Birmingham continues to be high and many people are struggling to find work that is right for them. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do next and who to ask for support.

On Friday 28th February 2014 from 10am-3pm Birmingham Settlement is holding a Careers Day at the Centre for the Aston Family (359-361 Witton Road, Aston, B6 6NS).

The aim of the day is to help people build their confidence and improve skills so they can find work. Even if you feel completely clueless, no question or difficulty is too small to come and ask us about it.

We can help you with tasks including:

  • How to put together your CV.
  • What to write in job applications.
  • What to say in interviews.
  • Looking for a course that will help you learn new skills that are relevant to the workplace.
  • Find out how volunteering can help you get a job, and what kind of roles are available in Birmingham.
  • Help deciding which jobs best suit your skills.
  • Meet employment specialists who can provide advice specific to your current situation.

A qualified money adviser will also be present.

Lunch will be provided.

Please click here for further details.

Careers Day poster

Mental health is no barrier to work.

Posted on 28th June 2013 by · No comments


Mindset logo

Birmingham Settlement has joined together with a consortium of private businesses* and the local authority-supported Mitre project to launch Mindset, an innovative pilot scheme aimed at helping some of the most vulnerable people in the city gain access to employment and independence.

People who have or are facing mental health issues experience additional obstacles to entering employment in the already difficult economic climate – from personal barriers to preconceptions held by employers. Mindset aims to improve the chances of people to enter and stay in employment.

The pilot programme included robust employability skills training – from basics like completing applications through to provision of IT skills. It also included one-to-one coaching from a corporate contact, mental health support from Mitre and a voluntary placement provided by Birmingham Settlement.

The pilot was a great success and some of the participants secured jobs shortly after the programme had been completed.

Birmingham Settlement CEO Martin Holcombe said, “It is a difficult job market with hundreds of thousands of people finding it hard to gain employment and because of a combination of ignorance and misunderstanding, this is made even more problematic for anyone with mental health problems.”

“We’re delighted to have played a practical role by offering volunteer placements. We’re aiming to continue the project with Mindset and grow the offering too, so that more people can gain access to the support available.”

*Partners included:

Do Something Different this Volunteers’ Week.

Posted on 31st May 2013 by · 1 comment

Each year 1st-7th June is national Volunteers’ Week, a time to celebrate the incredible role volunteers play in charities and communities throughout the country. This Volunteers’ Week Birmingham Settlement will be joining numerous other charities and groups at the Volunteer Centre Marketplace being held at BVSC (138 Digbeth, Birmingham, B5 6DR) to tell people about how volunteering contributes to our organisation, the roles we have available and how to get involved. Come along to see us and the other organisations present to find your perfect volunteer role this week. Whatever you’re interested in there’s certain to be something for you, so come along and do something different this Volunteers’ Week! The Volunteer Centre Marketplace will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-3:30pm and on Friday from 10am-12:30pm. On Tuesday the marketplace will be moving to the Birmingham City Council offices on Woodcock Street to give all of the BCC staff a chance to find volunteer roles too.

Read more here: http://www.bvsc.org/dosomethingdifferent

Tashala’s story: A life with Birmingham Settlement.

Posted on 24th August 2012 by · No comments

Erdington shop 25th anniversary - Jean

Tashala has been involved with Birmingham Settlement for over a decade and has used multiple services provided by us. “I got to know Birmingham Settlement originally when I took a course to develop basic skills. I later began using the Nursery to help with raising my daughter. I had been using the shop in Erdington for a while but at the time I didn’t realise they were part of the same thing. I went in after completing my course and began volunteering.” Tashala volunteered in our shops in Erdington, Wylde Green and occasionally Sutton Coldfield.

From there Tashala’s experience grew and she started to get more involved, she told us. “The shop was a great way to buy affordable things for my daughter. She was the best dressed child in school! Going into the shop allowed me to get away from things and was and is a great place to take my kids.”

“I later encountered financial issues and sought money advice from Birmingham Settlement too. The help they gave me was fantastic. Thirty minutes of advice did so much compared to other help I’ve received. It was a lot of stress because it’s difficult when looking for help. They sorted it all out and made me like I didn’t need to worry.”

“I’ve been involved with Birmingham Settlement since before my daughter could walk, and now she loves it too.” Having recently turned fourteen, Tashala’s daughter now volunteers with us in our shop in Erdington too.

Tashala found a job whilst volunteering with us and has since stopped volunteering , but she still help out when she can.

“Birmingham Settlement helped me a lot. The charity is very dear to me and my daughter and helped me to believe in myself.”

Jennifer’s story: “A community thing” to help people in need.

Posted on 17th August 2012 by · No comments

Jennifer has been volunteering in one of our charity shops since November 2011. Jennifer started volunteering with us having recently finished work. “It was glorious for a while,” Jennifer told us, “but then the structure and focus I had dipped and I lost many of the things associated with having fulfilling days.”

Jennifer enjoys doing something with her time and likes the variety she gets from volunteering in our shop. Jennifer has learned a wide range of retail and customer service skills while volunteering with us. “To me it’s just a real job. Even though it’s not paid that’s how I treat it.” Jennifer has also built relationships with people, which has helped to reduce her isolation.

“It surprised me what it’s like. When people come in it helps them through difficulties. They come in, buy goods and leave pleased with it. It’s a community thing. For example a customer came in about their sister who was in a really hard place and was destitute. We were able to help in practical ways by finding them furniture. It’s great to be able to help people and sometimes when they come in we can refer them to other areas of the Settlement. “

Geraldine’s story: Prepared for a career change.

Posted on 6th August 2012 by · No comments

Geraldine has recently begun volunteering in one of our offices supporting our Money Advice service with administration as well as helping on reception. We spoke to Geraldine about her experiences with us so far.

What made you want to volunteer in the first place?

“I wanted a change in career. Due to health problems I had been working in a low-stress environment, mostly in cleaning, and catering over the last 15 years. As I got better I completed a course and the provider pointed me towards voluntary work.”

What do you like and dislike about volunteering with us?

“The experience has been very positive. I feel like I’m learning all the time everyday, gaining more valuable experience. Everybody is very friendly. Being unemployed is very isolating so it’s nice to be near people. I tried really hard to think of something bad to tell you to help other volunteers who might follow but I couldn’t think of anything. It’s been such a good opportunity to learn because it’s work I would really like to do and it’s hard to break into the area because when you’re looking for a job they always want experience. It’s hard to find that first job to give you a chance to develop your skills.”

How did you feel about the training/support you were given here?

“First of all I was given all the basic knowledge I needed and it was very helpful to get started. Everybody is very patient and supportive here. I’m always asking questions and everybody is willing to help me. Sometimes you just have to learn as you’re going along as you need to know so much to be on reception, but everybody has been very supportive. It might be easier for someone already with experience. I do feel the training and support is good. It’s a very nice atmosphere to work in.”

Do you use any Birmingham Settlement’s other services?

“I went to the Job Club recently and it was very interesting. I’ve had advice from other agencies before but I really learned a lot. I had one-to-one advice to help me with positive thinking and how to prepare for interviews, as well as using LinkedIn. At home I look at example questions, but it was really helpful and more realistic to be with someone and actually practice answering the important questions I could be asked.”

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience with us?

“I’m very happy with it so far. I enjoy coming into work everybody. I appreciate the great opportunity I’ve been given.”

Nick’s story: Meeting new people.

Posted on 27th July 2012 by · No comments

Nick has learning difficulties and volunteers in our shop in Sutton Coldfield several days a week. At the time he came to us he wasn’t doing much and he thought volunteering could be a good option for him. One day he met the manager of the shop and liked her so decided he would give it a try. Nick’s favourite part about volunteering is all the friendly people he gets to meet each day. “Volunteering has helped me to build my confidence and learn new skills” explains Nick. “I am just happy to work for the Settlement”. One of the Settlement staff commented “He’s very witty and makes me laugh. He’s so lovely to work with.”

Rachel’s story: Out of debt.

Posted on 23rd July 2012 by · No comments

Rachel volunteers in Birmingham Settlement’s shop in Newtown. She has been involved with the organisation for over seventeen years using our Money Advice service as a lifeline at times. “When I first moved into my flat I really needed help and they were brilliant. If it wasn’t for the Settlement I don’t know what I would have done.” After receiving the help she needed Rachel wanted to put something back into the Settlement and started to volunteer with us in 2011.

Rachel enjoys working with the people in the shop, getting to know the regular customers and having fun. “Some of the customers haven’t got anybody to talk to so it makes their day,” Rachel told us. Rachel has gained experience working in the shop and learned a lot about health and safety, which is a field she is interested working in. Volunteering with us has helped Rachel to speak to more people and come out of her shell. Rachel explained that she has achieved personal growth while volunteering with us also: “When it gets busy I used to get flustered but now I take it in my stride”.