Social Action – Building Strong and Resilient Communities
A key part of the Support Northamptonshire’s approach is to support people and communities to use their own resources, capacities and capabilities to build strong and resilient communities and tackle key community needs. Social action, volunteering and community networks can play a significant role.
Volunteers drive social action and we are passionate about supporting volunteers. We have a tried and tested Volunteer Management Tool kit to recruit, train, and retain volunteers.
Supporting People programmes
We support Supporting People Programmes that provide direct support to people and help them to sustain their housing, wellbeing and employment.
Community Watch is a social action programme which started in 2018 and aims to prevent crime and fear of crime. Community and volunteer-led, the programme supports recruits and trains volunteers in neighbourhoods to co-ordinate Street Watch and Neighbourhood Watch schemes and works with councils and other agencies to improve neighbourhoods by organising clean-ups and enabling people to get to know their neighbours.
Breathing Space is Orbit Housing Association national programme supporting their residents who have low-level mental health needs to seek support and receive 1:1 support, wellbeing courses and additional benefits from Orbit’s other support services. Support Northamptonshire works with Northampton and Kettering Mind to deliver this countywide programme.
Over 50 volunteers support the Homeless Forum. The new Night Shelter started in 2017 and going from strength to strength with incredible support from all sections of the community and providing a shelter for over 18 people.
In time the forum aims to provide client support for people with complex needs and work with agencies to influence housing policies and resources.
Support Northamptonshire completed a 4 year Big Lottery funded Connecting Communities programme meeting all the outcomes and exceeding specific targets. In particular:
- The targeted Welfare Benefit and Debt advice for BME communities reached over 3000 people and achieved additional benefits of nearly £3.5m for people.
- The Good Neighbour programme demonstrated how to recruit and support volunteers to deliver informal support to people to prevent needs escalating. During 2017/18 we had 49 volunteers. 55% over 50 years, 43% retired. 75% women, 27% not white British and 7% disabled, matching the demographic profile of our locality. In addition, we recruited and trained 44 volunteers for a Community Network, the Homeless Forum substantially exceeding the target of volunteers by 50%.
- The volunteers providing one to one support have on average supported at least one person. Using SN’s outcomes framework we aggregate the data on groups of people supported and on average people moved up 1 point on the 6-point scale for Engagement in the Local Community, for Good Emotional and Mental Health and for Being Engaged and Active. For the indicator Enjoying and Achieving, people moved up 2 points on average, demonstrating success in achieving positive outcomes.
- The Community Network programme showed how to set up networks of support led by volunteers – we supported 4 Community Networks.
- The Affordable Warmth programme practical support for the most vulnerable, increasing awareness of energy costs, and how to keep homes warm and safe. We reached over 3000 households, Supported 167 people, held nearly 30 advice sessions.
A new group launched to tackle the problem of loneliness and isolation among older people. The group is aimed at giving older people the chance to take part in a range of social groups and activities to reduce loneliness and isolation. The Community Network Co-ordinator is in the process of applying for funding to help make a difference to people who have nobody to help them get out regularly.
Meg said: “I worked alongside the Wellingborough district nurses as part of my nursing training and I was truly heartbroken with how many people were cut off and isolated from the everyday world which was having a detrimental effect on their health and well-being.”
A social group set up by two women who were widowed found that it was important to meet other people in the same situation. They found that widows and widowers were especially isolated because they would have relied on their partners for company and can suddenly find themselves alone and facing isolation.
The group now meets for weekly lunches, organises trips and social gatherings and members of the group volunteer to support people in need of friendship.