On 5 October 2016, East Northants Faith Group hosted the FaithAction Northamptonshire Progress Tour at Rock UK Frontier Centre, Irthlingborough. The event was attended by representatives of local churches, voluntary and commercial service providers. A large section of the event as reserved for discussion about how the various groups could work more closely together to support local communities. The following is a summary of those discussions.

What are some of the barriers to be overcome?

  • Cuts – commissioners have less money/time to engage with VCS
  • Resource, time, capacity – volunteers (and the changing type of volunteers), coordinators (capacity)
  • Lack of information – regarding organisations and what we do, and other organisations and services; lack of knowledge of how to share information, how to get involved in things
  • Need a way to share the learning from what’s worked and what hasn’t
  • Churches are too self-sufficient and self-sustaining – a barrier to sharing learning and evidencing wider needs
  • Need to build up trust with those who could refer people on to us
  • Fragmented services (all helping the same person, not holistic); need for a simple referral process to access services
  • Conditions attached to grant funding
  • How to integrate people
  • Data protection
  • Top slicing of funding with prime contractors, eg on a £1m contract, 20% is allocated to administration at source; 10 contractors receive £16,000 each; £640,000 is left…
  • There are barriers for people themselves, eg those with mental health issues being banned from some services

What actions are people going to take away?

  • Find somebody who can help us support children with ADHD etc (church). Possibilities are Spurgeons (www.spurgeons.org), Hope and a Future (www.facebook.com/ahopeandafutureindisability)
  • Follow up contacts
  • Look into Faith Covenant (www.faithandsociety.org)
  • Churches to work together (eg through Council of Churches, Ministers’ Fellowship) but play to own strengths

What do we have to offer?

  • A safe space: eg giving a safe space for people with multiple/complex needs; where possible we move people on
  • A point of contact/informal meeting place
  • Local knowledge
  • Time
  • Hope
  • Solutions
  • Longevity
  • Consistency
  • Patience
  • Voice for the people we work with
  • Being a part of a consortium helps with joint bids
  • Our organisations meet most of the JSNA needs (not the main delivery organisation for any of them though)

What services and networks are we part of?

  • East Northants Faith Group website and email list – district wide and beyond
  • New Wine Healthcare Network
  • New Wine Church Leaders Network
  • Northampton CofE Deanery Chapter and Synod
  • Peterborough Diocese
  • Park Road Baptist Church
  • Rushden and Higham Ferrers Council of Churches,
  • C2C Social Action
  • Nene CCG
  • Health and Wellbeing Forum across county
  • Spurgeons Local Advisory Board – Rushden Children’s Centre: 01933 410112
  • Nene Valley Methodist Circuit, Rev. M. Eales: 01933 312778
  • Rural Wellbeing Service – Northamptonshire ACRE (http://northantsacre.org.uk/rural-wellbeing-service): links with CCG, NCC (mass participation), district forums, parish councils/village halls, voluntary sector meetings eg NVCA, energy workshops, Consortium Meeting – East Northants
  • Dirty Hands website for Christian social action in Northamptonshire (but need more volunteers, time to keep it working well)
  • Voluntary sector meetings, SNVB, Daventry, across county
  • Family support co-ordinator for Whitefriars Church (support for families, children and young people).
  • Members of parish nursing network (www.parishnursing.org.uk)

And finally…

“I would welcome more meetings like this one!”