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Understanding and aligning link worker and community capacity building activity: A place-based approach in York and Wakefield


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Thursday, 13 May 2021

Understanding and aligning link worker and community capacity building activity: A place-based approach in York and Wakefield

The blog this week is by Sian Lockwood, chief executive officer of Community Catalysts.

Personalised care is central to a new service model for the NHS, including working through primary care networks, in which people have more options, better support, and properly joined-up care at the right time in the optimal care setting. Universal Personalised Care (UPC) is a vision and strategy for making personalised care business as usual for health services in England and includes a focus on the role of social prescribing link-workers and their interrelationship with wider community capacity.

The Coalition for Personalised Care (C4PC) is a key stakeholder body for the Personalised Care Group. The C4PC partnership has a high level of diversity and reach and includes many people with lived experience. Partners were aware of the many different organisations employing link workers or involved in community capacity-building activity in areas where they were working. They felt that a piece of work that was place-based and explored ways to understand and align link worker and community capacity-building activity would be helpful to the delivery of social prescribing in line with UPC. C4PC was engaged in January 2020 to explore how social prescribing, the role of link workers and voluntary and community assets, worked together at place level. C4PC agreed a work programme, to be delivered in two places in the north of England, York and Wakefield. The work was co-ordinated by Community Catalysts and was delivered by three of the C4PC partners, the National Association of Link Workers, the Health Creation Alliance and the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

This work began in January 2020 and prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic. There was an inevitable pause in the work as the focus of all areas turned to managing and mitigating the impact of the pandemic in their area. The vital role of communities, the value of the voluntary sector and the importance of the work of social prescribing and other link workers in supporting people at this time, became a dominant theme of this period of the pandemic and their experiences enriched the learning from the C4PC programme of work. Work began again on the work programme in September 2020 and was completed in early January 2021.

The report was published in March 2021 and summarises the findings of this work programme and the practical recommendations to help Integrated Care Systems (ICS) better align social prescribing and other link worker activity and organisations involved in community strengthening activity. This alignment will help make best use of scarce resource, add value to the work of the different organisations involved and help health and other partners understand where investment may be best deployed. The overall aim is to strengthen the role of social prescribing link workers, the VCSE, and wider community support for improved health and wellbeing of populations.

The report provides valuable insights for health, local authority and VCSE colleagues keen to work together in their own place to align link worker and community capacity building activity to improve community and individual wellbeing. It also demonstrates a highly effective model of collaborative working by C4PC partners, which the Coalition hopes will be the pattern for future collaborations bringing together the insights and knowledge of different groupings of partners to address different challenges.

You can read the full report here and there is a video available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z_MkT55Mgo

PCC is supports the training of link workers through our SocialPrescriberPlus programme.