20th Anniversary Volunteer & Staff Feedback

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations we asked our staff how they felt about their time at Freshwinds:

For me, observing Freshwinds’ growth is an inspiring experience. The dedication shown by staff, volunteers and trustees (both past and present) is the driving force behind Freshwinds’ achievements. There has always been a willingness to go “one step further”. Freshwinds is more than a charity – it educates and enables people to live healthier and happier lives and brings opportunities to them that they might not have felt they deserved previously.

Freshwinds also takes great care of staff to ensure that they are safe and empowered in the work they carry out and is constantly aware of the external challenges that affect the work carried out by front-line workers.

Upholding the ethos and values of an organisation over a 20 year period is only possible if each member of the organisation acts cohesively with the same focus. With this in mind, I can see Freshwinds celebrating many more birthdays in the future!


Working at Freshwinds has helped me to grow both personally and professionally.  I have gained invaluable experience of working with a vast client group with varying levels of needs.  My self confidence has increased as a result and I feel I have gained a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by offenders when reintegrating back into society.  I have also been fortunate in gaining promotion within the team to senior support worker and have enjoyed the extra duties this has brought such as conducting initial needs assessments with prospective clients, assessing risk and offering advice and guidance to fellow team members.

I feel this could not have been achievable without a supportive team and line manager and hope that any future changes to my career bring with them the same support and team spirit.


I am still as passionate about my work as I was when I first came to Freshwinds.

Since being here I have achieved a lot for myself in my working life, I have achieved an NVQ Level 3 in Advice and Guidance and many more qualifications. My personal life my Family members have said my job suits me which makes me a happier person as I am doing what I love.

With regards to the clients I support it is great when they achieve their Goals and Clients have stated that if they had not got the support only god knows where they would be.

It great to see clients reconnect with family and they say this is because of the support that they’ve received, I also say to my client to take one step at time and we focus, stay calm and above all  stay POSITIVE.


One of my most profound experiences during my work at Freshwinds has to be being reminded of the power of caring touch to transcend barriers to verbal communication. This occurred whilst working with a client who speaks very little English, making verbal communication between us almost impossible. I have worked with this client to give massage treatments on several occasions now and it is clear that in order to communicate compassion, sensitivity and care for someone, words are not essential – a caring touch can, and does convey all of this. Likewise in order to communicate comfort, enjoyment and appreciation the client does not need any words to tell me this is what they are feeling; comfort and a sense of peace is evident from their body language.


I have found working with children from special schools across Birmingham and their families a very humbling experience. I have been involved in the delivery of workshops teaching basic massage and relaxation skills for the families to use and the impact during these workshops, even with up to 10 children and their families present, has been a really humbling experience for me; I simply wouldn’t have believed how calm and relaxed the children could be if I hadn’t experienced it first-hand.


What struck me most over my short time here has been working on the IM database and doing reports for them: seeing clients, each with so many conditions – any one of which I’m not sure I could cope with. I have no doubt that standard medical practice will be a cocktail of chemicals to try to extend their lives at whatever cost to their quality of life. At the very least, even a placebo effect of having caring people to turn to would be valuable to anyone in that situation: I expect feelings of hopelessness can be a serious hindrance to anyone’s ability to heal and recover. But I have no doubt that the treatment Freshwinds gives is far more tangible than that and invaluable to these people. The thought also occurs that many of them might be desperate for help from anywhere and thus vulnerable to abuse so providing this service is doubly important. And of course, that’s just one group of clients in just one project. It’s a pity there isn’t a Freshwinds in every city.


To have the opportunity to work within an organisation that adopts a holistic and person centred approach, which better enables clients to both access and remain engaged with the support that they require, is rewarding and motivating. It is refreshing to work in an environment where others share similar values and are truly invested in improving the lives of vulnerable people.


Working at Freshwinds has provided me with the chance to meet some amazing clients who inspire and humble me through their experiences and their dedication to getting the most out of life. It has also given me the chance to make some great friends amongst the team and feel valued in the work that I do.


One of the best things about Freshwinds is that we look at the holistic needs of our clients and quite often have in-house projects that can support the client with their various needs.  For example, when we assess clients for complementary therapies for their health needs, we will also enquire about and often discover a variety of social problems that they also need help with (such as housing problems, bills, benefits, social isolation etc) which we can then refer on to FINDA, B-Sage, SPP etc confident in the knowledge that these other projects will be able to help them.  It is great being able to offer this level of support to our clients.


‘Through my work at Freshwinds I have felt part of a community, one in which there has been close support and guidance. Whilst I don’t get to work closely with clients I never feel too far away from the impact of our work and hope that through my work I enable others to help us to continue to deliver our support which is invaluable to many people across Birmingham.

Looking back at the past 20 years it is easy to see the profound importance of Freshwinds and I only hope that we are able to continue to grow in a similar fashion into the future’.


Just to reflect on my time at Freshwinds. I applied for the position for personal reasons. I have worked for the organisation for 7 years and I have seen the organisation go through many changes I have met numerous different clients and people from all races and backgrounds.  I feel I have gained so much experience and learnt valuable life skills which I could never have gained in any other organisation due to the diverse and complex work which Freshwinds undertakes.  I feel that my Journey at Freshwinds has been nothing but positive and has enabled me to face and overcome many challenges.


I have fully enjoyed my time at Freshwinds and the work I have done so far. My time here so far has opened my eyes to the work that is done and the need for support throughout the communities. I personally enjoy the challenge of clients, the challenge of other support groups and working to help the client set the goals and achieve the outcomes for their lives. Freshwinds has helped me develop as a individual with training and experience that I never thought I would be able to do. I am looking forward to seeing the challenges I face personally and within the Freshwinds team in the future.


This may sound like a ultimate cliché – but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Freshwinds.

Before I started, I was out of work for 6 months, I was unsuccessful on two occasions for University, and I was getting turned down for jobs left, right and centre. I had no reason to be positive when all around me was full of negative attributes, and I considered myself as a failure.

When I first started, I never expected to be here after the six months of the Future Jobs Contract. I worked to the best of my ability and it is so rewarding that it had paid off, and I was asked to continue working with the team and here I am a year after I started!

This job has provided me with so much experience and skills, and I feel like I am still developing in my professional and personal life, and it is a great feeling knowing that my work is an active part of the service, and also being a part of a diverse and exceptional team.

Freshwinds has provided me with a reason to smile – not bad for my first job…


I have always said that we spend too many of our lives working too many hours, and if you do not enjoy your job, you should change it. I was working in a completely different field altogether, however while I was there, I knew this is where I belonged, working within a support service. I am lucky enough that although there are days when my job is difficult, and the stories I hear can be quite harrowing, I still want to come into work in the morning, and do my very best for the people I work with, and for. The joy of my job comes at the very end, when I am signing a Client off the service, and am writing an exit report which details where the Client was on their journey, and how far they have gone. It still surprises me when I read through them.


I believe that working here has made me a positive thinker. I have managed to concentrate on my assignment as a Tenancy support worker and I have not been distracted with the negative thoughts. Positive thinking has brought me inner peace, success, improved relationships with my clients and above all satisfaction in my job role. I believe that the positive thinking is contagious and people around me have picked the mood and are affected accordingly.


Working at Freshwinds has given me the opportunity and privilege to share time with some amazing people, our staff team, and our clients, and the freedom to provide support in innovative ways. We can never feel what others have felt, we can never fully understand someone else’s experience, but we can be inspired, moved, and amazed by the courage, determination, and  achievements of the people with whom we come into contact through our work.


I have found, working at Freshwinds an eye opener! I never expected the level of work, passion, patience and commitment the staff at Freshwinds put into their work duties. Working with clients has been fantastic. It has allowed me to see the lives of those I would normally not meet in my everyday life outside of work. It has allowed me to support those that genuinely need help. I have learned a number of skills working at Freshwinds and have gained so much knowledge from clients as well as my colleagues. I have also had an insight of how other organisations work and Freshwinds is an asset to the community.


There have been a number of things I have learnt since I have been at Freshwinds.

I have seen how tough it is for those with entrenched negative behaviours to change alone and how sometimes even a small amount of support can be enough to start the positive process. I have understood that “ you can’t please all of the people all of the time” but to help a few can result in a change of better life plan and end to negative entrenched behaviour.

I have also learnt that everyone is a cog in the bigger wheel of life and that means each person if of equal importance. My mission in life is to pass this message on. Every day, every visit to a client is of value. It teaches you something about someone else in this world, in our case about their life and their behaviour.


I realised when I came to Freshwinds the impact that small things have on rebuilding my sense of self and acceptance of myself and my achievements. The staff I interact with on a daily basis have helped to introduce my factual self to myself in a pleasing, sensitive and positive light and it has reframed how I think of myself ever since and my ability to feel comfortable in my skin. Freshwinds has helped me to find the confidence I need in life, to try to be the best human being I have the potential to be.


The ethos of FW has changed my own outlook and I value and support people much more than I ever did before.

I have seen individuals grow and develop with our support and this has been a joy, I have watched a frightened and abused woman, become empowered with our support and go on to help others who are in the same situation as she once was.

Freshwinds’ commitment to our community is well known and respected and they are seen as a reliable and honest organisation by clients and stakeholders alike.


I have come into contact with a number of patients presenting extremely low levels of well-being, some with the most saddening and distressing stories of their experiences in living with chronic conditions. It has been very humbling for me personally to see these people make dramatic improvements, particularly in terms of their health and self-esteem, after receiving one-to-one therapy.


During my time at Freshwinds I have supported several people in achieving their goals and I have also had the privilege of working with kind and modest people that are always happy to help people in need. Having working in the private sector for several years my interest was in profit maximisation but my involvement at Freshwinds opened up a new perspective in my motivation as I found satisfaction in helping vulnerable people more rewarding than my previous thought. As such it has been a privilege and a great experience working at Freshwinds especially in this difficult economic climate and I hope the Organisation will continue its good work.

TB Awareness Training

Freshwinds is collaborating with TB Alert, the UK’s national TB charity, to spearhead the Department of Health’s commitment to raise awareness of tuberculosis amongst the most vulnerable groups. Freshwinds will be holding a series of TB awareness training workshops to promote knowledge, guidance and access to resources to raise awareness of TB amongst professionals and organisations working with at-risk communities.

For more information Click Here

Baseline 8well Project

BASELINE is a community-based resource for people living with HIV and hepatitis. We feel it is vital to connect with other community organisations to continue to build better networks & stronger partnerships.

March saw the launch of our 8well project. 8well is a series of short films about living with HIV, which focus on healthy eating. The project brings together a group of passionate people living with HIV and a number of experts who tell us that food should be fun and bring people together

Freshwinds is pleased to support and work in partnership with Baseline

Integrated Medicine Open Afternoon – Friday 9th March 2012!

Freshwinds Integrated Medicine Project is planning an information afternoon directed at professionals who would like to find out more about the work that we do.

The afternoon is planned for Friday 9th March 2012 at 1.30pm and will be held in the main meeting room on the ground floor of Prospect Hall, 12 College Walk, Selly Oak, Birmingham, B29 6LE.

At this time we will give a short workshop on massage and aromatherapy, including the opportunity to give and receive a hand massage, followed by a talk about the services at Freshwinds and a tour of Freshwinds.

This particular information afternoon is being organised by Freshwinds’ Integrated Medicine Department.  Therefore, the emphasis of the talk will be about how we provide complementary therapies for adults and children with life-threatening and life-limiting illnesses and will cover areas such as the principles and philosophies of the service, referral pathways, the structure of the service, patient management etc.

During the talk, however, we will also give an overview of all of the other projects within Freshwinds.

We aim to finish by about 4.30pm.

If you would like to come to the information afternoon, please ring Freshwinds’ reception (0121 415 6670) with the following details:

Number of people coming:
Contact Telephone number (in case we have to cancel the morning):

Please pass on this information to other people who might find it helpful to attend.

Yoga for Health and Well-Being!

FIIM Yoga Poster
A new 10 week course of hatha yoga classes, open to all abilities but most suited to beginners.


Classes include gentle stretching exercises tailored to your individual ability and health needs, breathing exercises and relaxation. The course specifically focuses on a holistic approach to your well-being; the body, mind and spirit.  

4.30 – 5.30pm on Wednesdays

18th April – 27th June 2012 (inclusive, with a week’s break over half term) at Selly Oak Methodist Church Langleys Road Selly Oak Birmingham B29 6HT

£50 for the whole 10 week course

For further information or to book your place please contact Jenny Charlton at Freshwinds on 0121 415 6670 or via email jenny.charlton@freshwinds.org.uk


What is Yoga and how can it help me?

Yoga is more than just exercise. It provides a holistic approach to body, mind and spirit, typically through stretching, breathing and relaxation. Yoga aims to improve our physical and emotional wellbeing, and complements any conventional treatment you may be receiving for specific medical conditions.


What is different about this yoga class?

This class is specifically tailored to the needs of those attending, and is taught by Yoga Diploma student, Jenny Charlton. Since graduating from her degree in Complementary Therapies in 2004, Jenny has worked as a complementary therapist in hospice and palliative care settings and lecturer in Reflexology at the University of Derby. Jenny currently works for Freshwinds in the role of Complementary Therapy Coordinator, and is in the final stages of her training as a Yoga teacher, having already completed over 3 years of study in this field.


The course consists of 10 yoga classes; however, each class stands alone so there is no need to worry about ‘catching’ up if you miss one (or more). Unfortunately we will not be able to refund payment for classes which have not been attended.

Warwickshire Freemasons Donate £400 to support Freshwinds

Freemasons have a long tradition of charitable work, with funds raised by Warwickshire Freemasons and their families over the years being distributed on an annual basis. This year, a donation of £400 was made to Freshwinds.

Speaking about the donation, Steve Moralee (Director of Development) said: “We are delighted that The Warwickshire Provincial Grand Lodge has provided us funding this year. The services we provide to local people cannot continue without financial support and we are delighted to receive this donation and of the continued support of The Warwickshire Provincial Grand Lodge for our work.

Freshwinds Nominated for Best Midlands LGBT Charity / Group of Achievement

Freshwinds has been nominated for the Best Midlands LGBT Charity / Group of Achievement in the Midlands Zone Readers’ Awards 2012 for our work in the LGBT Community.

We would really appreciate if you could take some time to vote for Freshwinds to win this award.

To vote for Freshwinds as the Best Midlands LGBT Charity / Group of Achievement and vote on various other categories in these awards please click here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9X3DK38

New Staff Member: Abirami Nagarjan

Freshwinds has warmly welcomed Abirami Nagarajan in the role of Finance Officer at Freshwinds this week. We look forward to seeing Abirami bring her skills and experience from her previous work to her new role with us.

Abirami Nagarajan: New Finance Officer at Freshwinds

“I am originally from Singapore and moved to the United Kingdom in 2005. I love the culture and varying seasons in this country.

I have always enjoyed working with numbers and the problem solving aspects of finance. I graduated with an Honours degree in Banking and Finance and I am currently pursing my ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification. I worked in a charity in Cardiff for 3 years before moving to Birmingham.

I look forward to working with everyone.”

Prizes Awarded for Winning Questionnaire Responses

At the end of 2011 Freshwinds issued two surveys for its B-Sage and Be…Project programmes.

From all the entries received from B-Sage volunteers, Shabana Kauser was chosen at random and became the lucky recipient of £50 of Love2Shop vouchers.

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