Here you’ll find a selection of news and stories reflecting the activities and events happening within SJOG.

SJOG shortlisted for ‘Charity of the Year’ in national award

The National Third Sector Excellence awards recognise the achievements of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. SJOG has been recognised in four categories including the prestigious ‘Charity of the Year’:

  • Finance Team of the Year
  • Fundraising Team of the Year
  • Charity Chief Executive
  • Charity of the Year

We’re really pleased that the hard work of all of our colleagues over the past year has been recognised. To be shortlisted in one category would have been great, to be shortlisted in four (no other charity has more nominations) just goes to show the talent and dedication we have at SJOG.

The other charities and individuals named in the awards are an impressive bunch, with many household names. It’s an illustrious group to be a part of and to be picked out as a charity that is doing really good work is fantastic.

The awards will be announced over a two-day virtual event on the 7th and 8th of October.

Salvation Army and SJOG Working Together

Salvation Army and SJOG working together to support slavery victims through new five-year government contract

The Salvation Army has announced the appointment of SJOG as a specialist partner who will provide support to victims of modern slavery in England and Wales through the Government’s new Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (MSVCC). 

The Salvation Army and SJOG have worked together since 2011. This new contract will enable them to build on the relationships and expertise developed to further help survivors of slavery as they begin to recover and move on with their lives.

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland, said:  “We are pleased to welcome SJOG, who have played a key role in helping us to support thousands of victims of modern slavery as they rebuild their lives, bringing important expertise and a shared passion to change the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

One British man supported by SJOG having been forced by a criminal gang into delivering drugs by threats of violence against him and his family said: “Throughout my time with St John of God on occasion I felt down and sad and instantly one of the team would cheer me up and make me think positively. Every day you help innocent people rebuild their lives.. Amazing people. Amazing service.”

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SJOG awarded ‘Change Project of the Year’ Award

SJOG awarded ‘Change Project of the Year’ at the National Charity Times Awards

SJOG won the award because of the transformation from barely surviving to being a thriving, growing charity.

Award judges praised the significant cultural and systemic changes that have occurred over the past 2 years, and singled out Paul Bott, SJOG’s Chief Executive, for involving colleagues on the frontline in the change, and his ability to manage change effectively through good leadership.

The trustees appointed Paul in 2018, and on his arrival he appointed a new senior team, who together have transformed the charity by engaging front line colleagues, and giving them the tools they needed to solve the challenges that the charity faced.

The success has seen the organisation being clearer about its purpose and being more supportive of each colleague in the charity so that they can better support the people that we are here to serve. This has led to a 20% growth in both reach and income over the past year, and has developed the financial viability of the charity.

Paul said, “It’s great that the excellent work of all of SJOG’s colleagues has been recognised in these prestigious national awards. It’s a testimony to their hard work, and they have worked very hard indeed, striving to be of more help to the people that we are here to serve. We’ve made a really good start.”

Paul Forster-Jones, Trustee of SJOG said, “Hearty congratulations, this is richly deserved, entirely appropriate and a fitting recognition of a magnificent transformation. I’m hugely proud to be a small part of such a noble and high performing charity and I know I’m not alone.”

Care Work Hit By Immigration Changes

Article reproduced by kind permission of Ellen Teague and The Tablet:

The majority of vacant positions in care work are classed as low-skill - and therefore will not be open to many migrants.

“There needs to be a new political and financial settlement for care homes and domiciliary care which recognises the commitment and vocation of carers," according to Philip McCarthy, Director of the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN). “The pandemic has shown just how much we rely on people to do this essential, but often unsung, work,” he told The Tablet this week, “and over the last months care workers have risked their own health and that of their families”. His hope is, "that the Government and employers will invest in the skills of care workers so that we can build a care system to be proud of.” 

A new healthcare visa was announced by the government on 13 July, to be granted to NHS workers but not to social care workers. It will be within a new points-based immigration system which comes into force from 1 January next year when freedom of movement with the EU ends. The new system, says Home Secretary Priti Patel, will allow the UK to "attract the best and brightest from around the world". Frontline care home workers and contractors are excluded, and a minimum salary threshold means that many cleaners, porters and support staff will not qualify. People overseas will not be eligible to apply for a visa to undertake so-called ‘low-skilled’ work, including in social care settings. 

Mark Wiggin, Director of Caritas Salford, has highlighted the situation of existing staff already here on low wages, such as a refugee who wants to bring their family over to join them under the visa scheme. “Currently there is a minimum income requirement of £18,600 plus £3,800 for the first child and then £2,400 for the next child” said Mr Wiggin; “so if you want to bring your two children in addition to your wife you need an extra £6,200, giving you a total income of £24,800”. He pointed out that, “the current government minimum income requirement would effectively prevent a family reunion taking place for low paid workers”. 

Although residential care providers currently rely greatly on EU nationals to fill vacancies, the government feels that immigration is not the answer to the challenges in the social care sector. The majority of vacant positions will not be filled from immigration as these workers are not classed as skilled - and they're not eligible for the rebranded NHS and care workers fast track visa. Care workers won't be able to apply for a care-specific visa.

Paul Bott, chief executive of SJOG Hospitaller Services, a member of CSAN whose work includes residential care homes, told The Tablet this week he too would like more recognition of care workers of all nationalities. His organisation works in 35 communities across England, and employs 500 people, 63 of whom are non-UK nationals. “Whilst that’s just over 10%,” he said, “these colleagues are primarily focussed in London and the south-east, in our homeless service in Euston and our services that support people who have been trafficked or subject to modern slavery”. He told The Tablet that the diversity of languages spoken by staff is valued as many clients come from Eastern Europe and other regions prone to human trafficking. “We have some experienced people with specialist knowledge that can’t be replaced quickly or easily,” he reported, “and it is clear that for a period of time the level of knowledge and skills in key services will be less than it is now.” Training will be a priority.

The UK government is encouraging employers to invest in workers from within the UK, and Mr Bott reported that “At this point, we are not expecting there to be any workforce recruitment issues for us because of the recession we are facing, where we’ll see more people becoming unemployed”. He told The Tablet that the pool of potential workers for social care projects is likely to be greater post-Covid, reflecting that, “It’s sad that we need to wait for the economy to struggle before we can fully staff though.”


Andrew enjoys a taste of his outreach service again

In recent months, due to the restrictions put in place to tackle COVID-19, many of the people we support have had to stop outreach services and actiivities which were both enjoyable and part of their weekly routine. Andrew from Brentwood, our supported living service in Leyburn found himself unable to go to Chopsticks, an outreach service dedicated to giving people with disabilities opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.  He really missed the interaction opportunities the service provides.

Recently however, Andrew was overjoyed by a visit from the Chopsticks’ team.  He was delighted to see them and he also received some craft supplies for activities to do at home.  

Andrew will hopefully be back at Chopsticks soon enough, however, in the meantime, we are glad he can still access their activities and support while at home at Brentwood.

Thank you to Chopsticks for their support!

Richard leads the vocals

Five of the people we support in our services in Enfield have taken part in the Sing Out Choir with a unique and wonderful cover of the Beatles’ Hey Jude, with SJOG’s Richard Armstrong leading the vocals.  Sing Out Choir is an inclusive choir for adults on the autism spectrum or with a learning difficulty, based in Enfield, North London. Not all members have access to the internet, so home visits were made to record all their choir members singing at their doorsteps to feel connected again. “The feeling of shared excitement has kept many of us going over the past weeks.  We strongly believe singing is one of the best ways to feel relationship and feel socially connected to each other. Sing Out Choir members deserve recognition for their incredible efforts and optimism at the saddest of times, despite needing to shield at home for months.” Camilla Farrant, Choir Director

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