We are here to support, promote and develop voluntary and community action in Middlesbrough

The strength in Community Connect

As a way of keeping up to date with the transformational changes taking place in Adult Social Care, I’ve read the ‘Strengths-based social work practice with adults’ roundtable report Policy paper: Strengths-based social work practice with adults. I was pleased to realise how our Community Connect model of practice resembles the report’s recommendations to adopt a more person-centred, holistic and empowering approach when engaging with people. This was also highlighted by MVDA’s Partners in Prevention work, where we’ve started to identify the impact the voluntary and community sector makes in prevention.

Combating social isolation

The Community Connect Service, is led by MVDA in partnership with Carers Together and Middlesbrough Citizens Advice Bureau, and takes a strengths-based approach from the outset. It does this by, by identifying the resources available to people, looking at their interests, capabilities and capacity, to combat social isolation. We help to create opportunities such as volunteering and act as a gateway to advice, information and services, which postpones or prevents the need for formal care.

We encourage people to meet us in the community and as close to the person’s home as feasible, helping to connect the person to community assets that are just on their doorstep. This encourages independent use of venues such as community hubs, libraries, cafes within voluntary organisations etc., which are excellent facilities to hold appointments and promote activities taking place in the community.

At the core of our approach is equality, ensuring that people are able to use the service and if mobility is an issue we can meet in the person’s home. We can signpost to services such as British Red Cross, Middlesbrough Live at Home Scheme, Silver Line etc. which are examples of assets that can connect with people who are house-bound.

It starts with a conversation about a person’s life

When we first meet people, we carry out an assessment, which is a conversation around the person’s life, looking at things such as finances, debts, emotional well-being, safety, practical needs etc. By working together, a support plan is created, which highlights any barriers that can be tackled as well as identifying goals to work towards, helping to build confidence, resilience, self-esteem, motivation and more importantly, independence.

Community Link Workers adopt a supported signposting approach to connect people to local assets and can attend first visits, helping to make introductions between the service and the individual.

Overall, our approach I feel links well with one of the key principles of the Care Act 2014, which is to help people to achieve the outcomes that matter to them in their lives.

Berni Doab