We met for a coffee…

An aspect of talking part in Birmingham Poverty Truth is to get know our invited commissioners on a one to one basis as well as in the group sessions.

I’m Karen and I was asked to meet up for coffee with Simon Fenton, from Forward Carers. After exchanging a few emails, it was decided to meet up at Coffee#1 on Sutton Coldfield, High St. We were to coincide with a YMCA young carer drop in session.

I’m nervous for many reasons; well I don’t normally stop to have a coffee while I’m out and don’t make plans to meet the people that I do know. It’s also, a different high street to what I am used to. It has already been offered by Simon that he will pay for the coffees. So, I arrange ‘a just in case I’m not back’ school pick up and ask my daughter for advice on what to order, as I’ve seen the advert of looking at a coffee menu. Answer- americano or flat white. O.K. thanks. I got this.

We meet Alan Burrows from the YMCA and he offers support services to young people 17-25 that provide care to a parent or relative. Using the coffee shop as a safe, open and drop in environment and the shop is happy to allow their venue. Simon and I are describing Birmingham Poverty Truth and a lady drops in and she shares her story with us. It’s her daughter’s story really but as a concerned mom, she is involved with getting as much support as possible, to continue with education and raising a family. More people arrive and it’s a good time to leave them to the session.

We find our own table and Simon describes Forward Carers consortium. It’s a social enterprise, not for profit company and he is the C.E.O. (chief executive officer.) It receives an amount of money from the NHS and then working with other partners delivers a range of services that provide care and support for ‘the carer’. Not, the ‘cared for’ but the person that is doing the caring.

Wow. How simple and obvious is that? Make the carer stronger through alternative opportunities of relaxation and special offers. Help to get to personal appointments and peace of mind with a care plan arranged if the carer is taken to hospital.

I’m impressed. It’s all about the carer and no data is recorded of the ‘cared for’. We laugh, as it actually took a while for all of the partners to completely get it and just focus on the carer. Forward Carers allocate funds to these partners to provide the support to as many carers as possible and in as many ways as possible all over Birmingham with easy to reach localities. It’s forward thinking that’s for sure and all overseen by Simon; who I met for coffee one day.

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