Sarah Gorman is the Chief Executive Officer of Edberts House, the host project delivering on the Local Conversation in the Old Ford and Nest Estates. Sarah talks about some of the project impacts in the local area.
“We have started to really talk about our work in terms of connections – it is at the heart of what we do. We often identify ourselves by the connections we have and if we don’t have them, it can sometimes be difficult to say who you are. Making sure we all have a sense of connection is vital for good health and wellbeing.
It is also linking our community and the services around us together more effectively. Through the project, we have forged relationships with schools, the Council, universities, a counselling organisation and GPs.
For example, we have community development workers based directly in GP surgeries for patients that come in for non-clinical issues.
We have been able to produce evidence that the patients who are accessing the scheme are reducing their appointments by over 25 per cent, which is saving money and importantly, ensuring individuals are getting the right support they need. Quite often, we support our community to access appropriate groups and local activities through our hub, funded through our Local Conversation, which improves their health and increase their sense of wellbeing.
The work with the GPs has grown really quickly. The combination of understanding our community and local needs, combined with the medical expertise of the practices, has meant that over 700 people have been supported across all areas of their lives.
Now, we are working with the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Gateshead Public Health also placed a researcher with us for a year to understand our processes: an academic paper has been written about her experience. Partly as a result of our work, the Council is looking at how they can change their approach to support people more holistically.
It is starting to make such a difference in our community, people are starting to feel more confident, and as a result, more empowered. We have had a Director of the Public Health, head of our housing company, and the Chief Executive of the Council come to our estate to talk to residents about their views and concerns.
Local people have also been involved in various campaigns, including one concerning traffic around a school. People have shifted from feeling passive in their community to feeling like they have the power to influence what needs to change and do it themselves. There’s still much to do – but we have made a good start.
Using our experience, and supported by the expertise of the residents from the Old Fold and Nest estates, we are starting to help an estate in the area which has had no community intervention at all. We have a wide variety of partners around the table and are developing new ways of working together – with residents at the heart – and we will be able to access numerous data sets to measure the change. It’s very exciting – and we can’t wait to see what emerges when residents start to take action.”
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