Golden Valley Supportive Communities was a pilot project to improve links between activities and services delivered by local community groups, and those funded and provided by statutory services, especially focusing on social prescribing from the health service.
Herefordshire is a very rural county and a third of the population live in communities of typically less than 500 people. It has an aging demographic in which 22% of the population (43,200) are aged 65 or over, compared to 17% nationally. Providing health and social care is challenging and expensive and this pilot project, funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), aimed to improve understanding of and links between, those services which are provided by the third sector and community organisations, and those provided by statutory services including the National Health Service. It focused on Herefordshire's Golden Valley, one of the most rural parts of the county.
The Care Act 2014 has catalysed a different approach in service delivery, recognising the key role that community support plays in the health and well-being of local people. The project mapped the service provision within an area and provide this information in an accessible form to increase "social prescription" (i.e. where medical specialists signpost patients and beneficiaries to third sector support). This can help to reduce the demand on statutory services and enable more people to live independently within their own communities.
Brightspace's personnel had two roles with this project:
- as members of the Project Steering Group providing project management expertise and local connections to the third sector
- evaluating the project outcomes and making recommendations. Our evaluation focused upon the impact of five community hubs within the Golden Valley, and how they worked with the local doctor's surgery and other agencies operating in the area. Three reports were produced and the findings have been used by commissioners when considering the shape of future service relationships in the community.