Congratulations to Community Health Champions!

On Friday 22 February, we celebrated the success of our Community Health Champions at a graduation event. Those who have been actively volunteering for 6 months or more received a certificate in recognition of their dedication to the programme and we listened to speakers talk about their experience of the scheme. These included 2 Community Health Champions who shared their story of how they became involved with the programme and what they have achieved. We also heard from Nasreen Akhtar, contract manager of the CHC programme; Marc Blanchette who coordinates the CHC programme at Pheonix Futures; and Ibrar Uddin from Birmingham Mind who spoke about the wider Community Cohesion Programme and upcoming mental health training opportunities.

The morning was a huge success and a great opportunity to recognise the brilliant work that Community Health Champions are doing across Birmingham to promote positive healthy lifestyles to others in their community.

The event closed with a delicious buffet, provided by ChangeKitchen, a local social enterprise supporting disadvantaged people in Birmingham.

Support Freshwinds at Barclays’ Cake Sale!


On Friday 15 March, Barclays are holding a cake sale at their High Street branch in Birmingham to raise money for Freshwinds. If staff hit their fundraising target of £500, Barclays will match it meaning Freshwinds will receive a fantastic £1000 to support our work. We would like to send a massive thank you to Barclays for choosing Freshwinds as their nominated charity and wish them the best of luck with their event. Cakes go on sale at 10am so drop in and buy one of their delicious cakes!

Help Freshwinds spread the word about TB


World TB Day 2013 is fast approaching and Freshwinds needs your help to spread the word about TB in Birmingham!

In recent years Birmingham has experienced a rapid increase in the number of diagnosed TB cases and this number is set to rise. Freshwinds is currently spearheading a campaign to raise awareness about TB using World TB Day to reach out to the community.

On the 24th March 2013 third sector organizations, alongside Freshwinds, will be hosting a day of activities in central Birmingham to commemorate World TB Day 2013. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about the symptoms of TB, how it is treated and where people should go if they suspect they might have TB.  Staff and volunteers from Freshwinds will be joining in the awareness activities all day, with global music and dance providing a vibrant and exciting atmosphere.

TB is a serious but treatable infectious disease that is spread by the cough of an infected person, normally after prolonged exposure or repeated contact.  If you experience three or more of the symptoms listed bellow it is recommended you seek advice from your GP or your local chest clinic.

  • A cough lasting more than three weeks
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

The activities on the day will be primarily undertaken by volunteers and TB activists.  We urge anybody interested in volunteering to get in touch with us and help make World TB Day 2013 a success.  We need enthusiastic people who will promote the cause by distributing leaflets and talking to the public on one to one basis. Freshwinds will also support and encourage anybody who would like to create their own event or promote TB awareness within their workplace, community groups or family.

If you are interested in organizing a TB training day for your staff/volunteers at Freshwinds, or would like to invite one of our TB Health Champions to promote TB awareness at your event, or you need any publicity material or any other information please contact us on:

Tel: 0121 4156670   or e-mail:

Learn It Together – IT training for young people and their families

Freshwinds launches a new intergenerational initiative which encourages young people aged between 14-16 and their parents, guardian or grandparents to gain a qualification in computer skills. The focus is to assist those young people gain a qualification through a different learning option. This initiative will be delivered at Freshwinds main site and at key community venues around the city.

This is part of Freshwinds new programme that supports young people to make positive choices today that will provide employment and career choices as they move into adult life. The programme offers support in achieving a qualification as well as gaining access to apprenticeships for many different areas of work.

For more information regarding our youth programmes please contact our Employment and Training team on 0121 415 6670 or

As part of this new programme we are also looking for volunteers who have skills in IT training and have a background in youth work. Information regarding volunteering at Freshwinds can be found on our website

Birmingham and Solihull act together to save money on energy

Freshwinds is participating in another exciting energy advice initiative, showing local residents the potential savings they can make by switching to the lowest cost energy provider. This will result in consumers receiving the best possible deal when purchasing their household gas and electricity, leaving more available household income.

The Birmingham and Solihull Together initiative, launched yesterday (February 18), will see bill payers across the region club together to negotiate a better price from energy suppliers, with the key aim of reducing fuel poverty.

The thinking is that acting as a community rather than as individuals will enable residents to get a better deal overall.

And the more residents who join the campaign, the more they could save in the form of cashback discounts on their bills. So the message is for everyone to tell their friends, family and colleagues and pass it on.

Birmingham City Council and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council have secured government funding for the project, which offers the opportunity during a four week window between February 18 and March 17, for residents to see how much they could save through switching suppliers through Birmingham and Solihull

Longer term, the vision is to increase community spirit by enabling residents to club together to buy other products and services.

The pilot scheme in Cornwall saw people save an average of £133 a year.

To find out more visit, follow them on twitter @ BS_Together, watch them on You Tube or phone 0800 917 5772 or 0121 222 8051. Or contact Freshwinds directly on 0121 415 6670 and ask for Neil McAuley or Angela Dyer.

Personal safety, security and wellbeing in the community, at home and online

Freshwinds are about to launch a series of free informative workshops and discussions that will provide an opportunity to explore Health, Wellbeing, Human and Civil Rights, Personal Safety and Security in the home and the community.

Each course will be a 10 week programme of activities, with the provision of information packs about each discussion area, designed to make individuals more aware of, and better able to recognise situations where their safety, security or protection may be at risk.

The courses are on offer to people who with visual impairment, have a learning disability, physical disability, experience mental ill health, or have a history of drug or alcohol misuse.
Specifically adults whose circumstances make them vulnerable, and therefore require support and advice to protect them from avoidable harm.

The courses are being provided city wide by a partnership of organisations who are part of MCULO (Midland Consortium of User Led Organisations) which include:
Freshwinds, The Disability Resource Centre, Midlands Mencap, CP Midlands, and Focus.

The Safe and Sound project is funded by Birmingham City Council.

Deadline for cheaper fuel – and chance to win £1,200 – ends at midnight on Sunday

solihull energy 8
Coun Ian Courts, Solihull Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic development and regeneration, is urging residents to act now before it’s too late to switch.

A council supported campaign aimed at helping residents save money on their gas and electricity bills ends at midnight on Sunday (March 17th) – with a chance to win a year’s free fuel worth up to £1,200 an added attraction for householders.

The month long initiative, which has won the support of TV foodie Hugh Fearnley- Whittingtsall, is aimed at reducing fuel poverty and enabling householders to save an average of £133 on their annual household fuel bills.

Birmingham and Solihull Together, funded by the government and backed by both Birmingham and Solihull Councils, is an energy switching campaign with a difference – with the more people switching the greater the savings available.

Birmingham Energy Savers
Coun James McKay, cabinet member for a Green, Safe and Smart City at Birmingham City Council, is urging residents to act now before it’s too late to switch.

And organisers are offering people visiting the switching site the chance to win a year’s free gas and electricity – worth up to £1,200 – to encourage them to look and see how much they could save.

The final few days leading up to the cut off at midnight on Sunday have also included asking council staff to donate a percentage of their bill savings to Comic Relief, a knitting campaign aimed at helping homeless people supported by West Midlands charity St Basils and the chance to win an iPad mini.

To find out more, or to enter the competitions, visit, find them on facebook, follow them on twitter @ bs_together, watch them on you tube or phone 0800 917 5772 or 0121 222 8051.

A Winter Warmer Freshwinds Story

Freshwinds work in the community doesn’t end in the office nor does it stop with just our employees and volunteers. All our friends and families are liable to be called up and asked to kindly help out with our work, and from bucket collections to cake sales they are happy to do it. This year an example of one of our employee’s family members contributing to Freshwinds work in the community is Mohammed Al-Rahim’s (Founder, President and CEO) mother Gladys, who has made a real difference to people’s lives in Birmingham even though she actually lives in Kent! Every year she knits an unbelievable number of blankets and scarves for those who need them. In January Gladys’ kind donation was given to The Pod (one of our partner organisations) who then passed them on to the grateful member of FiN (Friends in Nechells).  After a cold white week of snow they were all very happy with their colourful warm blankets and scarves.


Volunteer Spotlight- Dan McCormick

When Dan began volunteering at Freshwinds it was a much smaller charity with only a limited number of staff. Five years later lots of things have changed but not Dan, who is still as enthusiastic and eager to help as ever. Fresh News caught up with Dan to congratulate him on his impressive five years of volunteering at Freshwinds and to hear about his experiences.

Dan McCormick

I would struggle to tell you what I did five days ago, so I felt very unfair asking Dan to cast his mind back five years to his first days at the charity but he remembered surprisingly clearly his Freshwinds beginnings. His two overriding feelings when he first came in to volunteer were excitement and nervousness, excited to be able to help people but nervous about the new challenge. I don’t think he has ever stopped being excited about coming in to volunteer; in contrast his nerves did not last past his first morning. Dan happily recollects how friendly, welcoming and helpful everyone was when he began, he very quickly felt part of the Freshwinds team or as he more accurately describes it the ‘Freshwinds family’.

For Dan the last five years have flown by and it is not surprising as he has been very busy, working in nearly every part of Freshwinds. He has enjoyed his many different challenges and feels like he is always learning something new. After so many years Dan has many different highlights but what he feels is the best part of volunteering at Freshwinds is meeting so many ‘wonderful caring people’.

After five years of hard work I asked Dan what kept him motivated to give up so much of his own time, he simply replied that he just ‘enjoys making people smile’. Simply is the wrong word to use, for you can sometimes forget the value of an actual smile. A smile is sometimes priceless. No one knows this better than one mother who was at a Parent Support Group event where Dan was helping; to her amazement Dan was able to make her child to smile. This excited the mother, for she had not seen her child smile in over two years. I could work at Freshwinds for another five or even fifty years and I don’t think I would achieve something so indescribably important.

Dan is very modest and he feels like Freshwinds has helped him more than he has helped the charity. I beg to differ and in the end we agree to disagree. Whichever one of us is right it is not important, for I know that Dan will continue making us all smile in his next five years with Freshwinds.

Free Energy Advice and Support Services

Over the next three months, Freshwinds are participating in a number of local and national initiatives aimed at helping people access support and advice to ensure that their homes are heated as well as possible over the winter months, and that they are receiving their full entitlement to welfare benefits, as well as dealing with any debt and money advice issues they may have.

Freshwinds Advice and Information Services have been selected  to provide three new services until April 2013, all aimed at helping people stay healthy in their own homes. These are;

  • Along with our partners in the Birmingham Social Enterprise Energy Network (B:SEEN), Freshwinds are working with Birmingham Energy Savers and their partners, Carillion, referring clients for a comprehensive assessment of the energy efficiency of their homes as a forerunner of the Green Deal which is coming out later this year.  The assessments are aimed at those on means tested benefits, those in fuel poverty or in hard to heat homes.
  • For the second year running we have been invited to be a partner in the Stay Warm/Stay Well Project which has been funded by the Department of Health to provide energy and debt advice to vulnerable households across Birmingham. We are offering a home visit to make this service as accessible as possible.
  • We have received funding from Citizens Advice and Ofgem to run ‘Energy Best Deal’ sessions, aimed at raising awareness amongst the public and professionals on how to receive the best deal from their energy providers or how to switch to cheaper tariffs or providers.  Over 75% of low earners who went to an Energy Best Deal session in 2011/12 said they would take action to cut their gas and electricity bills following the advice they received.  Energy Best Deal sessions will be run in partnership with other groups, including local children’s centres.

All the services are free and open to residents of the City Of Birmingham.

Fuel poverty, has become a huge issue amongst a large number of clients and we welcome the opportunity to act proactively to help our service users avoid the stress and ill health that it causes. For further  information on any of these schemes, please contact Angela Dyer, or Neil McAuley on 0121415 6670, or via email on