Bank Staff Take Up Gardening In Aid Of Focus

Staff from a leading bank took on a Groundforce-style challenge to help transform the gardens at Focus Birmingham.

The 12-strong team from Lloyds Bank changed out of their business clothes into gardening gear before equipping themselves with spades, forks, hoses and paint brushes.

The major transformation of Focus Birmingham’s two gardens at Harborne took place on April 7 as part of the bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility – Make a Difference Day.

The welcome commitment consisted of the green-fingered staff from Lloyds Bank visiting Focus to carry out work on the gardens throughout the day.

Their combined challenge included a general tidy up, removing any rubbish or unwanted items, jet washing tiles, varnishing and painting garden furniture, removing some fencing, and planting a number of shrubs and other plants.

As well as the labour, Lloyds also bought around £250 worth of plants to help transform the Focus gardens.

Giles Wheeler, Relationship Manager SME Banking at Lloyds Bank, said: “It was fantastic weather and we had an excellent day. I believe that Focus were absolutely delighted with what we did.

“We tidied up the courtyard area, varnished and prepared all outdoor garden furniture for the year ahead, and put in around £250 worth of plants which we provided so service users have a nice, pleasant garden to enjoy, including a sensory garden area with aromatic plants.

We were looking for a deserving cause to send in a groundforce-type squad and Focus fitted the bill.”

Susan Hoath, CEO of Focus Birmingham, said, “We were utterly delighted to be selected by the wonderful team at Lloyds Banking Group to come and transform our outdoor space. Their enthusiastic hard work made a huge difference; clearing away the rubbish and the weeds, pruning back the overgrowth, planting the tubs and re-varnishing all the furniture.

Their efforts have transformed a tired and overgrown corner into a lovely sensory garden space, ready to be used as we head for warmer days – both for our service users in the day centre and to host community events.”

Focus provided a couple of skips for the rubbish and unwanted items to be collected in, and also served up refreshments on the day including lunch, tea and coffee.

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Birmingham Directorate Budget Consultation

Birmingham City Council approved its budget on 28 February 2017. Included in the budget was the requirement to achieve budget savings across identified areas.

Two of the identified budget areas were the Supporting People Programme and the Grants Programme to some third sector organisations. The required savings across both programmes combined is £3.2 million in 2017/18 increasing to £5.0million in 2018/19.

The Council are consulting on their proposals to achieve the £3.2m reduction for 2017/18 and a further £1.8m reduction for 2018/19.

How they will consult people?

1. We will be asking for views on our proposals from people who use services, carers, city council staff, health partners, organisations that provide adult social care services in the private or voluntary sectors and the general public;

2. You can tell us your views by completing a questionnaire, taking part in consultation meetings, by emailing or telephoning us. We will listen to, and take note of all your comments;

3. We will publish and make widely available what you tell us and what we plan to do next. We will show where we have changed any of the proposals as a result of listening to people’s views. Where we have not made changes to our proposals we will explain why this was the case;

4. We will write a report to our Cabinet including what we have found out through this consultation. The Cabinet is the governing body of the City Council, made up of elected councillors; it is responsible for decisions on all Council services.

How long will this consultation run for?

This Directorate Budget Consultation begins on 21st March 2017 and finishes on 10th May 2017.

How will this affect Focus Birmingham?

Our Community Services Team currently receives funding from Birmingham City Council to provide valuable support to people living with sight loss to enable them to live independently. The proposed cuts may have an impact on the future of Community Services in terms of how we currently support our visually impaired citizens. We provide a holistic support service which includes:

  • Benefits Advice
  • Apply for Grants
  • Independent Living Advice
  • Social Activities
  • Referrals to Statutory Services
  • Information on local services
  • Holidays
  • Information courses

We want to continue to provide this invaluable service and would ask people to get involved with the consultations and complete the online survey expressing your views and let your voice be heard. Please click here to get onto the site.

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A Duo of Dancing Grannies at Specsavers

A DUO of Dancing Grannies helped celebrate the official opening of a new Longbridge opticians on Wednesday (8 March).

Staff at Specsavers, 11 High Street Longbridge, were joined by the Black Country’s dancing duo, alongside Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, and Jasmin Rana from Focus Birmingham to celebrate the store’s official opening. The day also kick started the store’s fundraising for Focus Birmingham, their nominated local charity for 2017.

‘We are extremely grateful to Dame Mary and Jasmin for joining us for what was a fantastic day - the team, customers and visitors to the shopping centre all joined in with the fun and people seemed to love the Dancing Grannies,’ says store director Irfan Aziz.

Jasmin Rana, marketing and fundraising manager at Focus Birmingham, adds: ‘As a local charity supporting people with sight loss and disability, we are delighted that Specsavers in Longbridge have selected us as their chosen charity for this year. We want to thank the staff of Specsavers for taking part and raising much needed funds for us.’

The new store boasts three test rooms over one floor, including a soundproof room for hearing appointments. It also has a dedicated contact lens area and a high-tech digital retinal camera that helps with the early detection of conditions like glaucoma, by taking a picture of the back of the eye. Digital retinal photography is offered at no extra cost as part of the standard eye examination service.

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Specsavers supports Focus Birmingham

Specsavers staff at the new Longbridge branch will be raising their glasses as they celebrate their official opening next Wednesday (8 March).

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, and Jasmin Rana from Focus Birmingham will join the team at the new Specsavers store at 11 High Street, Longbridge on Wednesday to cut the ribbon marking the store’s official opening. The day will also kick off the store’s fundraising for Focus Birmingham, with specs MOTs (cleaning and adjustments) on offer in return for donations.

Alongside Dame Mary and Jasmin, the store will also be playing host to The Dancing Grannies for the day, who’ll be on hand to keep visitors entertained as they boogie away.

‘We’re delighted and honoured that Dame Mary and Jasmin are joining us to help celebrate this milestone new store opening,’ says store director Irfan Aziz. ‘It promises to be a great occasion for everyone involved and we’d encourage people to pop down and join in the fun while raising funds for a local cause that we feel particularly passionate about.’

Jasmin Rana, marketing and fundraising manager at Focus Birmingham, adds: ‘As a local charity supporting people with sight loss and disability, we are delighted that Specsavers in Longbridge have selected us as their chosen charity for 2017. We want to thank the staff of Specsavers for taking part and raising much needed funds for us.’

The new store boasts three test rooms over one floor, including a soundproof room for hearing appointments. It also has a dedicated contact lens area and a high-tech digital retinal camera that helps with the early detection of conditions like glaucoma, by taking a picture of the back of the eye. Digital retinal photography is offered at no extra cost as part of the standard eye examination service.

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New Chief Executive To Take Focus Forward

Susan Hoath, who is taking over the reins at Focus Birmingham, said: “I want to see Focus grow into what I think it can be.

I think it has a really strong offer to make to local service users because of its knowledge and understanding of disabilities. Focus understands these people better than anyone else and knows what works.”

Susan, who joins Focus Birmingham from Sight Concern Bedfordshire, added: “The people at Focus are so passionate and really care about what they do. So I am really looking forward to being a member of the Focus team and to first learning about and then shouting about the amazing work that it does and could do more of in the future.

“The time is coming for organisations like Focus – embedded in and led by their communities, and offering a genuine ‘value for money’ model of care and support by delivering personalised services and enabling people to take more control of their lives. I want to be part of that.”

Susan, who succeeds Tom Harrison as Chief Executive, has spent more than 15 years in the NHS commissioning primary care and community services, including creating opportunities for the voluntary sector.

However, her first job after graduating from Nottingham University was as an environmental officer with British Gas, before the role disappeared following privatisation.

“I was left without a job but I managed to convince the health service that I could talk to communities about what their GP services should do. So I went from job to job, from County Durham to the South of England, commissioning GP and community services.

“At the end of the last century I moved to Bedfordshire to join what later became the local Primary Care Trust, integrating health and social care to better align to local and national strategy and to develop their offer to local funders in the NHS and local government.

“But I wanted to make a difference with real people, that is working with voluntary organisations and commissioners, which you don’t do when you are just doing policy work.

“I had been working on and off with Sight Concern in Bedfordshire for a number of years – buying services from them from time to time - as they were in my local area. So when an opportunity came up to go there for a couple of months I took it.”

The temporary role as Deputy Chief Executive involved helping to restructure Sight Concern’s contracts with local organisations. But, as Susan added: “The longer I stayed the more it became obvious that I enjoyed working there, so what began as a couple of months ended up as three years.”

In fact, it was only the job of Chief Executive at Focus Birmingham that persuaded Susan to seek pastures new. 

“I believe I have had a far greater impact on the improvement of services for vulnerable people through working in a local charity than I ever could in strategic organisations, and this belief keeps me in the voluntary sector and led to my application to join Focus Birmingham.”

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BARCLAYCARD DONATION IS A DOUBLE SUCCESS

Focus Birmingham was selected by the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce as its chosen charity during its prestigious annual awards and dinner at Birmingham’s International Convention Centre on November 19.

And, after raising £4,000 through the sale of raffle tickets on the night, Focus Birmingham was then delighted to be awarded a further £4,000 by Barclays who agreed to match the funding.

The funds were raised by four members of staff - Manoj Patel, Mohammed Fiaz, Inderjeet Seera and James Whitaker, Area Business Manager at Barclays Corporate in Birmingham. James, who also presented the cheque, said: “We were delighted to be associated with this prestigious event and to offer our fundraising support to such a worthwhile cause.”

Nigel Bland, interim Chief Executive at Focus Birmingham, which offers practical support and rehabilitation advice to people coping with sight loss and disability, said: “It was a phenomenal evening at the Asian Birmingham Business Chamber of Commerce Awards.

“We were very pleased to raise £4,000 on the night, but delighted with the support we received from Barclays. We cannot thank them enough for their support, which will enable us to continue providing our vital services to those living with sight loss and disability in Birmingham.”

Last year's Asian Business Chamber of Commerce awards dinner was the organisation’s 30th such event.

Its president, Saqib Bhatti, said: "We were delighted to have selected Focus as our nominated charity of the year. There are some fantastic local and national charities that are involved with the ABCC, but this year Focus stood out. A local charity working with those with disability and sight loss, we hope to support them in their work going forward and wish them every success on their path."

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Enterprise Holdings Foundation Gift

Focus Birmingham are delighted to have received a £1,000 donation from The Enterprise Holdings Foundation.

The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Enterprise Holdings, which, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.

This donation will help Focus to continue supporting people living with sight loss and disability in the Birmingham area. We would like to thank Kay Parbat and Shane Foley from Enterprise Rent-A-Car and also the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for the support and commitment shown to Focus Birmingham over the past year.

We are looking forward to building on our partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Enterprise Car Club in the future.

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Tesco Bags of Help Grant Scheme - Vote Focus

We need your help!!!

Focus Birmingham are delighted to have been selected as one of the beneficiaries in the Tesco Bags of Help Grant Scheme. Our Sensory Garden Improvements Project will be put forward to a customer vote in Tesco stores during this December. The project with the highest number of votes across our region will receive £5,000, the second placed project £2,000 and the third placed project £1,000.

If you shop at any of these Tesco store please vote for Focus Birmingham Sensory Garden Improvements Project 

  • BARNT GREEN BHAM EXP
  • DUDLEY RD HALESWN EXP
  • MARLBROOK BRMSGRV EXP
  • HASBURY HALESOWEN EXP
  • STOURBDG HALESOWN EXP
  • FRANKLEY BIRM EXP
  • QUINTON
  • BOURNVILLE BHAM EXP
  • KINGS HEATH BIRM EXP
  • HAGLEY RD BHAM EXP
  • WEOLEY EXPRESS
  • RUBERY METRO
  • SELLY OAK BRST RD EXP
  • WEST HEATH BRMGHM EXP
  • BIRMINGHM BRISTNL EXP
  • BIRMINGHAM BRISTL EXP

Please help to spread the news with fellow colleagues, family and friends and sharing our Facebook post.  We need your votes!!

Let's put smiles on the faces of our service users in 2017!

Why Vote for The Sensory Garden Improvements Project?

A sensory garden is vital to stimulate the senses of our service users courtesy of plants and materials that engage with the service user's senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and sound.

Sensory gardens will add considerable value to our service as they have proven therapeutic value. For example, people with disabilities (such as visual impairment or dementia) can enjoy nature in a safe and tactile environment. Sensory gardens can also make a great contribution to emotional and physical health of our service users.

Having a sensory garden at Focus will be beneficial for both staff and service users as it provides a two-way learning process.

Pop into your local Tesco store as stated above and vote!!  Remember voting ends last day of December. 

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DIG OUT THOSE CHRISTMAS JUMPERS FOR FOCUS

Christmas jumpers are as much a part of the festive period as turkey, tinsel, and loads of presents around the Christmas tree. Click here to learn more

Focus Birmingham specialises in supporting people affected by sight loss or other disabilities. This year we are hoping to go one step further by asking everyone to wear a Christmas jumper to work or school on one day in December to raise money for the services we provide.

The charity is hoping to encourage people to go ‘Festive for Focus’ during the week beginning December 12.  The campaign calls on supporters to nominate at least one day in the week to “go festive for Focus” by turning up for work or school in their Christmas jumper. Supporters can register online for free and receive a fundraising pack in return.

Focus Chief Executive Tom Harrison said: “We are a specialist charity providing expert support, advice and information to anyone in the Birmingham area affected by sight loss and other disabilities.

“More than 29,000 people in Birmingham live with sight loss, which has devastating consequences. It prevents people from driving and working, it may restrict social interaction, cause isolation, and remove a person’s independence. And it can lead to low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence or depression.

“This Christmas we are asking for people’s support, by taking part in Christmas Jumper Week from December 12. This will be a chance to do something fun and support Focus by nominating one day for your work place or school to wear the wackiest Christmas jumper you can find, and celebrate the festive season in all its knitted glory.”

In addition, participants are being encouraged to take an ‘elfie selfie’ by snapping a fun photo of themselves in their Christmas knit and sending it to Focus via the charity’s social media sites while also texting a donation. All posts will be shared to raise awareness, and to thank people for their support.

As well as Christmas Jumper Week, Focus has also come up with some fun festive recipes which are available for download, ranging from the traditional Yule Log and Christmas pudding to ‘mistletoe muffins’. Focus is encouraging ‘bake off’ enthusiasts to sell their creations in the school playground or office Christmas party to raise money and awareness for the charity.

Tom added: “Our ‘Christmas cupcake cake-off’ is a twist on the classic TV show with ‘jumper cupcakes’ being at the centre of attention.

So, if you aren’t able to dedicate a day to wearing fun Christmassy jumpers then why not bake your own! Getting as creative as possible and putting your own Christmas knit design on a wonderfully homemade cupcake will be a great way to raise awareness and funds for Focus Birmingham.”

If you would like to know more or are interested in getting ‘festive for Focus’ can click here and sign up today or email jasmin@focusbirmingham.org.uk or call her on 0121 478 5239 for a fundraising pack full of fun seasonal ideas.

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GOSPEL CHOIR TO SING IN AID OF FOCUS

Birmingham Community Gospel Choir, which was set up in 2005 by its ongoing director Maxine Brooks, has chosen Focus Birmingham as its charity of the year, in honour of the mother of the choir’s founder.

The move is in tribute to Maxine’s mother, Norma Reynolds, who is registered blind after initially losing her right as a result of Type 2 diabetes.

A special fundraising concert will now take place in aid of Focus Birmingham and two other nominated charities at Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday 5 November.

Focus Birmingham’s new chairman, Graham Prior, has been invited to talk about the work of the charity from the stage ahead of the concert.

Maxine, who works as a nurse at a GP practice in Nechells, said: “We wanted to support Focus for personal reasons, because the charity is very close to my heart.

“My mother is registered blind but Focus have been great in terms of helping her and building up her esteem. They have also provided her with a cane and lots of aids around the house, such as knowing when to switch on the lights or the television.

They provide her with a lot of support and she also goes to Focus meetings which are a lot of help.”

Added Maxine: “She seems to manage quite well and is still independent. Focus have been really supportive in giving her a quality of life despite her sight loss, so I wanted to give them something back for all the good work they do.”

Maxine’s mother, who lives in Erdington, suffered glaucoma in her right eye as a result of her diabetes, and then injured it when she caught in on something while bending down.

“Because of the existing condition of her eye they weren’t able to save it, so she now wears a prosthetic eye. But her eye problems just got worse and worse and she’s now only got limited vision in her left eye which means she’s registered blind.”

Maxine, who said she had also come across patients with a visual impairment in her nursing career, said Focus would now get the opportunity to highlight the work they do at the November 5 concert.

The Birmingham Community Gospel Choir currently has 20 singers and musicians of all ages and backgrounds from across the city. Their crowning moment came last year when they won the title of BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year.

Maxine, who is also a pastor at the House of the Lord UK church in Nechells, has been singing and writing songs since the age of nine. She is also a member of The Nurses, a singing group whose first single raised money for the Nurse Aid Charity.

Tickets for the charity gospel concert on November 5 cost from £18 to £20.50. They are available by clicking here or by contacting the Town Hall Box Office direct on 0121 780 3333.

The other nominated charities are Mission Morogoro, to support an orphanage in Tanzania, and Oscar Birmingham in aid of people with sickle cell.

Further information about BCGC can be found by visiting www.birminghamcommunitygospelchoir.co.uk

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News Archive

Catch up with the latest news from Focus Birmingham or browse the archive of news below.

Upcoming fundraising events

Would you like to join us and help with future fundraising efforts? Read about some of our forthcoming events: