The Core Connector Fund – Recruiting Community Champions
The Wandsworth community continues to experience health inequalities. These inequalities are sometimes caused by lack of access to disease prevention or management strategies. This is an issue across South West London.
To address these issues, the South West London Integrated Care Board decided to endorse community health champions – volunteers embedded in their own communities to empower their peers to improve their own health.
Wandsworth Care Alliance is the lead organisation delivering a pilot community health champions programme in Wandsworth.
To date, the pilot projects we have supported have been short term, small scale and have involved a small number of volunteers. We now want to develop the programme by inviting organisations to apply for funding to host a community health champions project manager (“Core connector”) within their own organisation.
This will be for up to 12 months initially. The core connectors will be focused primarily on heart and lung health.
What is required
We are looking for Wandsworth based community groups to host a core connector. We are open to looking at a wide range of potential hosts but are particularly interested in
- Locality or neighbourhood-based community groups which might be working with a range of user groups within a specific geographic area
- Groups working with local people with physical or learning disabilities and their carers
- Groups working with people who are homeless
- Groups led by and working within specific ethnic or faith communities within Wandsworth including refugees and migrants
- Groups working with people experiencing low income or poverty
The host organisation will receive funding to enable them to appoint a part time core connector on an initial up to 12 months contract. The objective of the core connector is to
- Recruit and train a network of volunteers within their own organisation and beyond it within the geographical or community of interest the organisation serves
- Develop a deep understanding of the assets available within their target community to support people in improving their health – facilities (eg parks), services, activities (eg weight management classes) etc
- experience in looking after their own heart/lung health through conversations and active listening exercises
- With those volunteers develop a programme of activities. The following are examples only, please tell us your ideas:
- Coffee mornings themed around aspects of heart and lung health but which also offer an opportunity for social engagement;
- Informal activities to support healthy eating and exercise such as community lunches or group walks in a local park;
- Healthy living buddy schemes ;
- More structured activities such as yoga or cooking clubs;
- A regular presence at existing activities so that participants can chat to the volunteers about issues related to heart and lung health and access onward referral information
- Create a space for community champion volunteers within and beyond the host organisation to come together to provide mutual support and share experience and insights:
- Organise sharing/training/learning events for organisations hosting champions in Wandsworth
- Increase awareness of the connector and champion roles in Wandsworth
The emphasis throughout is on the kind of informal support a friend might provide; volunteers are not encouraged to become health workers, have confidential conversations with anyone or offer any kind of “advice” on specific issues. They are encouraged to become good, engaged listeners who support individuals to take action themselves and help motivate people to make lifestyle changes or to access formal health services or specific community organisations.
The core connector needs to be someone well connected within their community, who can inspire trust and who is a motivating convenor.
We are offering grants of approximately £15k-£18k.
Monitoring will be relatively light touch and focused on story telling.
Why do this?
This programme is piloting a community led empowerment methodology which seeks to harness the power of the community to help individuals take some control over their own long-term health. We hope that if the pilot demonstrates a positive impact, the approach can be more permanently embedded. The pilot programme provides participating groups with the opportunity to:
- Build a cohort of volunteers with enhanced listening and organisational skills
- Build connections and networks with other groups participating in the pilot
- Test new approaches in their own area to provide local people with information and support
- Improve the long-term health of their own client groups and understand better the barriers they face
We are looking for initial expressions of interest in becoming a core connector host. Expressions of interest should offer the following information;
- Basic details about the organisation (name, location, purpose, activities, primary client groups). Much of this may be available on your website -please feel free to sign post us to the relevant pages.
- How a Core Connector would fit into your existing range of service provision
- Some information about the profile of volunteers you would look to mobilise, including an estimate of potential numbers
- A brief indication of how you might respond to the key points in the brief
- Anything else relevant
We do not expect expressions of interest to run to more than 2 pages – and one would be plenty!
If you would like to discuss the scheme and your possible proposal in more detail please contact Jessica Johnson
We will be in touch with all organisations who submit an expression of interest to discuss next steps or to offer feedback.