A new service has been launched in Cheshire West to give people who have found themselves in crisis the support and confidence to get their lives back on track.
The Community Connector scheme offers support to anyone who finds themselves in a time of crisis, whether that be the death of a partner, the loss of a job or coping with spiralling debt issues, ensuring individuals access local services that can help them get back on their feet.
The Community Connectors do more than traditional signposting. They accompany people to appointments, provide an introduction to services and make referrals, which gives those unsure or anxious about seeking help the confidence to do so.
They will do everything they can to help people navigate the often complicated systems and processes to find their way to the support they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The scheme is being run by Citizens Advice but it differs to the usual support the service offers as it’s provided on a one-to-one and long-term basis.
It has also been spearheaded by Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire David Briggs. He wanted to create the service following a report by the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission which identified that whilst there are lots of services available to support those in crisis, there are some people in society who they are simply not reaching.
Lord-Lieutenant David Briggs said: “People face a crisis for many reasons maybe through the loss of a job or death of a loved one or they may have been through a more gradual change as a result of ill health or creeping debt.
“Faced with these situations, people are likely to turn to the internet, consult a health or local authority service or visit a voluntary organisation. Whichever option they choose, it is unlikely to be the best one for all the help they need. In most cases they will have multiple needs that are beyond the capability of any single agency.
“The Community Connectors are there to ensure that their clients get all the help they need to find a way through. They connect clients to the right services at the right time, working at the heart of our communities.”
Thanks to funding from Cheshire’s police and crime commissioner, David Keane, and Cheshire West and Chester Council and range of other partners including Cheshire and Wirral Partnership, Anne Duchess of Westminster Charity, Zoom Zoom Trust and the Holroyd Foundation, a one-year pilot of the Community Connector scheme is currently running in Ellesmere Port and Winsford.
PCC David Keane said: “When someone finds themselves in a time of crisis, the decisions they make can often be make or break in terms of their recovery.
“If they are not given the right support they could turn to crime or anti-social behaviour or even fall into social isolation.
“There are so many fantastic services available to help people recover from their ordeal but all too often we see those in need face barriers against accessing the right services, whether that be not knowing the services exist or being too afraid to reach out for support.
“That’s why the Community Connector scheme is vital in ensuring those most in need in our communities make the right decisions to enable them to get their lives back on track.”
Councillor Nicole Meardon, cabinet member for children and families at Cheshire West and Chester Council, added: “This is another example of how the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission has given community inspirers a voice and allowed them to change the way people think about poverty.
“The Community Connectors will make a huge difference to those people who feel they can’t cope on their own and need support to move on in their life.”
The Community Connectors have already supported 57 people since the service began operating in June. That includes people like Simon, a trained joiner who had moved from London to Winsford to make a fresh start.
Simon recognised that he needed to get away from the life he was living in London where he had been involved in drugs and theft. Wanting to make a fresh start, Winsford was an obvious choice as he had friends living there. After six weeks sleeping on a sofa and struggling to find work, Simon was thinking that it may be easiest to return to London.
But then he visited Wyvern House Hub where he met Sean the Community Connector. Over a number of visits Sean was able to provide a benefit check to ensure Simon had money to live on and he helped him access short term accommodation. Sean was also able to help Simon access IT training through the Job Centre and a forklift truck driving training course.
Although he is still completing the training, he feels that the future will be much better and he knows he can contact Sean again for further help.
To access the service, please email [email protected] or call:
Winsford Community Connector - Sean 07894 238963 or Ellesmere Port Community Connector - Carol 07596 338067