The Waiting Room (TWR) Team are proud to present a milestone in community engagement.
In the last twelve months TWR have had over 100,000 visits to the website by Birmingham and Solihull communities. The smart online directory has offered support to professionals and the citizens within our communities across Birmingham and Solihull. It has played an especially important role since the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown in March.
TWR has continued to roll out the information in as many ways as possible to ensure accessibility to support services at such a crucial time. This includes:
The Waiting Room Apps being launched and promoted since September 2019 on Google Play and Apple App Store
More than 20,000 instant access key fobs across all GP practices in Birmingham and Solihull
7,500 key fobs rolled out through Birmingham Public Health within the emergency packs
400 scannable posters for public areas.
Alongside this we have promoted the importance of accessing support utilising key Public Health messages related to the pandemic both through short information videos and the development of the Covid-19 Support Section at TWR.
This achievement would not have been possible without the ongoing collaboration and support of our wider partners including Birmingham City Council Public Health and Adult Safeguarding Team, Birmingham and Solihull NHS CCG, our GP’s, Universities, locals schools and our third sector colleagues to name a few.
Isolation and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic has made life incredibly difficult for all of us. But for those most vulnerable to the Coronavirus, these pressures and challenges are greater still.
People from all walks of life are finding it harder to get the best support. They are finding it as hard to even best support themselves. It’s no surprise, none of us have experienced anything like this before and the unknown is a huge cause of fear.
But at Common Unity, we believe the key to beating this pandemic is to be there for each-other, as difficult as that may be.
Supporting those most at risk
Thousands of our community members have been shielded. So, we have been working hard in collaboration with Public Health Birmingham to provide support to those most vulnerable across our communities. During the lock-down period Common Unity and partners have ensured that 7,500 key fobs linking communities to The Waiting Room Directory (TWR) have been distributed. These fobs went out with the Birmingham Emergency Packs to best enable communities to link with the right support.
Making TWR fit for purpose
We have also made sure that TWR is as bang up to date as possible. We have developed a whole new area in TWR being dedicated solely to information and support related to Covid-19. The information covers local services and support opportunities as well as national ones.
Stepping up a gear
During this pandemic we have also received many calls from people in the community who had received the key fobs but weren’t very confident using the internet. We have provided advice on a range of services. This has included counselling services, welfare benefits support services, self-help services, helplines support services, mental health support services, domestic abuse services to name but a few. It has been a real challenge but one we feel could be taken taking on fully and conquered.
Through hard work and close collaboration, we believe Birmingham has gone some distance in effectively keeping some of our most vulnerable citizens safe and well during this difficult period.
We would like to thank our associates and our partners across the NHS and the charity sector for their amazing work.
We are in unprecedented times and facing uncertainty as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to affect our daily lives. We want to assure you that Common Unity is fully committed to the safety and health of our communities.
During this period we all need to be there for each other even more so than usual. This is difficult as the lock-down means that for many people they are finding the experience of life with little or no contact a real challenge to cope with.
But there are opportunities especially through the links we have online.
The Waiting Room Online Directory
For overall Health and Wellbeing service information there is The Waiting Room (TWR) . Although many of the services are struggling regarding staffing numbers available and the amount of support they can practically put in place they are still providing as much support as they can personally, online, via text and the telephone.
TWR also provides you with links to Birmingham and Solihull’s local NHS website. These links gives advice to the public around this challenge as well as links to all the national websites provided by the NHS and the Government. TWR also provides you with directories to all GP surgeries across Birmingham and Solihull.
Dealing with loss
We are conscious that even after this situation has subsided, the longer term impact and issue of loss will remain with many of us for years to come. That’s why TWR has also included within its listed services access to the national Cruse Bereavement website. This provides crucial advice as to how best be supported through these difficult times.
Our mental health
Another key thing to look after is our own wellbeing. The NHS backed Every Mind Matters website provides loads of tips to improve your mental wellbeing. Looking after yourself is priority during these challenging times, after all, we need to be as well as we can so we can continue to help and support those around us that we love. We have added this link to TWR but you can also read it HERE
During this period of lock-down there are also rising concerns in respect of domestic abuse. We have added the Governments advice and guidance page to TWR but there are a number of superb services in Birmingham and Solihull that support people at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse. Such services include RSVP and Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid. There are also a range of Helplines listed in TWR because as we all should know, it’s good to talk. Organisations include Samaritans, Calm and for those under 25, The Mix helpline.
We also have listed Food-banks in Birmingham and Solihull as currently there are many who are finding it increasingly hard to make ends meet. We have also provided the National Debtline link that many community members might find useful which includes a Web-chat option.
Don’t forget, there are loads of other areas including Mental Health, Virtual Support, Therapeutic Support and more besides that you can tap into from home.
Keep in touch
If there are any services that you are aware of that have recently popped up to support Birmingham and Solihull citizens and it is not on TWR, please do not hesitate in letting us know either by clicking on ‘add a service’ at TWR or emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Common Unity and the Waiting Room team will be highlighting other relevant and useful services over the coming weeks that may be able to support you, your family and friends. In the meantime, look after your wellbeing and please keep yourself safe.
It’s a clever way of linking people with local support with the least amount of stress, hassle or disappointment
Back in the 80’s, there was a song called “Road To Nowhere” – pretty good as well – but when I think of online resource directories, or worse still, paper directories for health and social care services, they are often just like this song. They are, too often, a Road To Nowhere.
The telephone numbers are often wrong or discontinued; the organisation you are searching for has either moved, closed or changed the services they provide; the website links don’t work or the pages you are looking for don’t exist anymore – so we designed The Waiting Room in Birmingham (known as TWR) and the TWR Resource Key.
It’s a clever way of linking people with local support with the least amount of stress, hassle or disappointment – access to information is instant, information is current and making contact is do-able for both professionals and the public.
In 2016 we started testing the TWR Resource Key with 25 GP Surgeries to see how it went down with their staff and their patients. The results are astounding and demand for TWR both in Birmingham and wider is growing fast with both Professionals and the public realising that access to local services can be up-to-date and are quite literally at their finger-tips.
I know will-power plays a big part but the support we provided via The Waiting Room Resource Key has been priceless for him. Aston Fire Station recently shared TWR keys amongst their team leaders for further distribution across their patches.
One Team Leader told us
“I issued 27 keys in total to managers of the HMO’s owned by Midland Living” – their feedback was excellent.
The HMO’s are occupied by people who have serious support needs for various substance misuses and use of violence.
The managers have stated that the keys have been invaluable for signposting and they will continue to use them.
I have visited the HMO’s myself and chatted with some tenants about the Resource Keys – they tell me that a lot of the time it’s knowing where to get help, which the key has been invaluable for.
I have seen the effects of the key first-hand with a tenant who is now two months clean after using the key to access a range of support.
He is now doing voluntary work at the HMO to keep his mind occupied and maintain his well-being.
I know willpower plays a big part but the support we provided via The Waiting Room Resource Key has been priceless for him.
I truly believe that these keys have helped with the rehabilitation of some of our most vulnerable and will certainly continue using them.”