“The Skills Plus centre at Ashford Gateway has proved really popular and numbers of adults attending regularly to improve their skills have exceeded our expectations. I believe the Gateway concept enables us to reach more people in a way that fits with their busy lives and I am keen to see Adult Education feature in more Gateway developments.“
(Head of Service – Adult Education)
A young woman came into Gateway in September 2006, facing homelessness following a relationship breakdown. While looking at job notices in Park Mall, saw Gateway and came in for housing advice. Within the hour, the officer found her a solution. She could not qualify for a council house but could get a loan to secure a private one bed rental accommodation. She then used the Internet to apply for the job. Her comment:”This is a genuine help centre. There is help without being labelled.”
Cross referral case histories point to their extraordinary benefits to the individual.
From Repossession to Debt Counselling: An individual facing repossession issues came in to see Housing Advice. They were referred to the Debt Counselling service via Volunteer Centre for help with bank account and financial management.
Housing benefit to voluntary work: A lady experiencing total nervous breakdown came in to see Housing Advice. She was worried about losing her housing benefit but could not face pressure at work. Referral to Volunteer Centre placed her in a low pressure job with the Red Cross until she could build up confidence while retaining her housing benefit.
Domestic problems to voluntary work and training: An individual faced with serious domestic issues came in to see Social Care. This prompted a multi-agency meeting with Police, Volunteer Centre and Adult Education. She was given a volunteer job and referred to community training courses to reduce exposure to domestic stress.
A stepping board for a disabled widow: A woman with disability lost her husband. She had never needed to support herself in the past. She saw Adult Education for creative writing and they encouraged her to try Maths. She discovered a talent for the subject and is expecting to get an A for GCSE. She is confident of getting a job. “I was shattered after my husband passed away. They made me believe in myself. Gateway isn’t just about learning, it’s my social life. It’s been a real stepping board.”
Combined OT, carer and housing solution: A family from London visiting an ailing relative in Ashford came into Gateway by chance. OT liaised with county duty staff to create an OT and care package for the family relative. OT also involved Ashford BC’s Housing service to find a more suitable property with OT facilities.
Paying tax and getting OT package for grandparent: An individual came in to pay council tax. They saw OT and mentioned they had a disabled grandparent. A county duty referral and OT intervention were completed in a single assessment.
GP and Dental Surgery inquiry gets operation sorted: One individual mentioned that her friends’ operation had been cancelled 3 times. She was put in touch with the right individual and the rescheduled operation went ahead. The PCT manager had gone out of her way to help. The customer came back just to report positive feedback.
GP referrals into Family Matters: The Family Matters surgery at Gateway was struggling to see people. The Primary Care Support Manager took her along to a GP education event. Since then, as many as 11 GP referrals a month are helping people address child abuse issues.
The convenience factor: Regular users of the Payment Kiosk and Free Internet are simply grateful for the convenience of Gateway’s shopping location. The district council offices are further away and many older and disabled people find it a hard walk. Internet users are often those who cannot afford a computer but benefit considerably by applying for jobs or paying council tax, garage rent on line or simply by learning to use a computer.
Quotes from Gateway DVD
Kevin, a student who came into Gateway about 7 months ago has already passed his literacy level 2 qualification with us and he’s presently working towards his numeracy. He was looking to get back to work; he’s been out for a while.
“At the moment I’m doing a literacy and numeracy course. I’ve just completed the literacy course and I’m now three quarters of the way through the numeracy course. I need these qualifications, with any job now you apply for you have to have a piece of paper to say you can do these certain things.
Gateway itself is a brilliant place to come, a relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff and convenience, the car park is just outside, straight into the warm straight back out”.
“There were these friendly people sitting there at the desk then I saw this big sign saying volunteer, and I thought okay that’s cool, so I went up and I asked them and they gave me a whole list of things that I could do and what I got involved with was the soup kitchen and that was really, I had a good time and I met some great people and it really worked out well for me”.
“I would recommend it because it’s convenient and it’s quick. I think it’s very useful to have a number of services under one roof, because for someone like me I’ve got lots of different questions, about a lot of different issues and it saves me hours of leg work, phone calls, being put on hold”.
“I feel very comfortable here; even get a cup of tea occasionally, which is quite nice”.
“I saw this was here and enquired what it was and they said you can pay your Council Tax here so I said lovely because it saves me a lot of time and trouble and it’s a nice place to come to pay your tax”.
“What I like about the Gateway is the computers are so quick, I think it’s very good, the computers are easy to get to, it’s nice and warm in here always, I’ve got no complaints”.
Quotes from Delivering Public Service Transformation, IDEA Report
“It saves hours of leg work and phone calls” – anonymous Gateway customer
“This is a genuine help centre. There is help without being labelled” – anonymous young female Gateway user
“As a voluntary sector organisation, it is extremely difficult to get involved with statutory organisations. [The Gateway] offered us the opportunity of access to middle and senior management, which, for a small agency strapped for time and resources, is invaluable.” – Manager of Volunteering Ashford
“40% of the people visiting the Kent Gateway make use of the internet facilities in the complex”