Community Connectors project (MHCLG government funded)
To support new migrant households to connect with local services and existing communities, with a focus on addressing concerns around housing, hate crime, community cohesion and health and wellbeing. So far reached 293 households – almost three times the initial target of 100.
The project supports new migrant households and to add value to wider work programmes through providing a better understanding of culture of place; supporting connections with local services and existing community networks by building bridges, and to encourage participation and independence.
What has been delivered?
- Recruitment of five Community Connectors from diverse backgrounds with lived experiences and who were all first-time employees of Leeds City Council.
- Identified families in priority neighbourhoods initially, who would benefit from intensive support.
- Supported solutions to help residents and services better integrate.
- Used an asset-based community development approach to community engagement, map strengths and build on them.
- Supported development of funding applications for community projects such as participatory budgeting and take up of conversational English.
- Took the services directly to those in need and worked around the service user needs with a person centred approach.
What was the impact/next steps?
- Reached 293 households – almost three times the initial target of 100.
- All five Community Connectors successfully obtained employment with the council.
- The benefits of direct support nearer to where the service users reside or visit, such as schools
- Cross-council and city services recognised this initiative that supported outcomes and saved money for services for new and settled migrant households.
- Reduced financial burden for service users and pressure on services - housing policy change as the charge to non-EU migrants for proof of tenancy when applying for leave to remain has been waived
- Key role in resolving asylum-related concerns at a local level directly with the accommodation provider by strong partnerships and understanding of client group. So far the Community Connectors have had contact with over 50 asylum-seeking households.
- Maximised benefit entitlements for many households by timely interventions, and who were unable to understand terminology and processes; saved time, money and pressure on services.
- Helping to save money whilst managing the expectations of service users – eg cases such as social services supporting children under Section 17 funding. So far 34 cases have been referred by social services for which they were using Section 17 funding to provide support.
- Services better understanding their local community – e.g. New Wortley Community Centre – supported mapping of BAME communities in the local area; supported the recruitment of a BAME development worker to improve access to services.
- Development of a no recourse to public funds toolkit to support statutory services to undertake assessments, e.g. used by social workers and shared with voluntary sector services.
- Addressing ongoing unresolved cases between new migrant households and services.
- Building capacity within the third sector, such as delivering crèche services through a service level agreement, risk assessment and strengthening safeguarding policy to increase confidence and learning and improve volunteer capacity to meet local needs.
- Connecting households to the right support – quick resolution on domestic violence cases by encouraging applications to the Home Office for concessions via social services (positive results in women fleeing violence, and accessing support, universal credit or employment within three- month timescale), referrals from police, faith organisations, third sector and from communities.
- Established links with employment and skills advisers; signposted to key organisations such as community hubs, We Care Academy CAB, NHS etc.
- Partnerships developed with localities, councillors, and wider services such as housing, youth, health, schools etc. understanding issues, learning about priority neighbourhoods, challenges faced by local residents, the offer of local services, the gaps in service provision.