"Services like this are important because prevention is better than cure!"

Outreach Coordinator

By utilising volunteers we now have a greater reach within the community to support people with a wide range of social, emotional, or practical needs to improve their mental health and physical wellbeing. 

I’m an Outreach Coordinator for Community Connectors.

Community Connectors is a social prescribing service. Social prescribing supports clients to access specialist agencies and activities in their local community that can help to improve their mental health and wellbeing. 

After a referral from a GP, a Community Navigator will work with the client to develop a personalised wellbeing plan. They will support the client, step-by-step, to action the plan, including helping them to connect to relevant services and activities within their local community.

My role is to recruit, induct, and coordinate volunteer Buddy and Peer Support Workers to support clients to access services and activities within their local community. This compliments the Community Connectors work to ensure that clients access the most appropriate and relevant support that they require.  

Working with volunteers is fairly new to Southdown and so there are a number of different aspects to the role. On the one hand, we are setting up processes and establishing guidance, offering specific training, and reporting on new information. On the other hand, we are providing a new aspect to our service by working in conjunction with people with lived experience of a mental illness in order to provide social, emotional or practical support

A typical day differs between administration and training to providing supervision to our volunteers to ensure they are working safely and effectively. It also involves a lot of joint-working with partners in the community such as Sussex Recovery College.

By utilising volunteers we now have a greater reach within the community to support people with a wide range of social, emotional, or practical needs to improve their mental health and physical wellbeing. 

Clients who could benefit from social prescribing and peer support include those with mild or long-term mental health problems, people who are socially isolated, those who are vulnerable, and those who frequently require primary healthcare intervention. Research has shown that peer workers yield improvement in client psychiatric symptoms resulting in decreased primary care needs, larger social support networks, and enhanced self-esteem and social functioning.

Services like this are important because prevention is better than cure! On a clinical level, it can help combat over-medicalising people as well as save primary healthcare money. On a social level, it helps positive relationships develop between different individuals and groups towards a shared understanding and common values. On a psychological level, it helps people overcome their own personal barriers to increasing their mental wellbeing. What’s not to like? It’s win- win all round! 

This role is a newly-created position where there is so much possibility to shape the volunteer aspect of the service so it is quite exciting. There’s plenty of scope to really make it an effective and essential part of Community Connectors. 

In the short term, I hope this role becomes an essential part of the service and really benefits the clients above and beyond our previous limitation of support.

 

Community Connectors is a free service for people with issues impacting on their mental health and where they or their GP have identified that a ‘social prescription’ would be of benefit. Social Prescribing helps clients find practical solutions to everyday issues and supports them to link in with specialist agencies and activities in their local community that can help improve their mental and emotional wellbeing.