Here are some starter questions and some answers!
Please feel free to forward questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q1. Surely compassion is an everyday response?
It is. Within families, amongst friends, between neighbours, in a fix. Whitby Compassion is about discovering some of those who are falling through that net of support. Maybe lacking the confidence to ask for help, not wanting to be a nuisance or not knowing who to go to. Not just in Covid-19 times but in normal times pre-Covid-19 and “new normal” beyond it.
Q2. How will volunteer Connectors find people needing to be connected?
They won’t be looking! They will be discovering as they go about their regular routines. They will not know where to look, but they will will know how to discover from a lead. An accidental meeting with a stranger at a bus stop and a chance conversation revealing a concern, need or even a practical problem causing maybe some anxiety. The compassion of the Community Connector comes in because they deliberately take time to engage and discover what the problem may be and try to help them take a step towards help – signposting to advice or a helping service. Quite literally, a problem shared is a problem halved. Relief that someone even listens.
Q3. How can a few volunteer Community Connectors achieve much?
A single Connector may only engage meaningfully with someone once a month or once a quarter. It is worthwhile help though for that individual. What might 1000 such Community Connectors achieve? Well, maybe 1000 times more. This is what happened in Frome in Somerset. It started with a few dozen and built up over time with people requesting “alertness” training.
Q4. What good might it do?
We should not underestimate what simply being noticed and spoken to does for someone, for instance, shut in or afraid of being out. 1:1 good.
In Frome it also did measurable good to the health service because it reduced the number of emergency ambulance trips to relatively distant hospital A&Es (quite similar to Whitby). Over a 3 year period trips from Frome reduced by 18% whilst those in the overall region increased by 30%.
Low level direct interventions seem to reduce the on average risk of matters escalating to the level of issues requiring professional care.
Q5. Are Criss-Cross Community Connectors counsellors or part of a counselling service?
No. But the question deserves more than a two letter response.
They pick up somebody’s crossroad experience – which way should I go? – and they are “pop-up human signposts” to activities, organisations and initiatives that are designed and recognised by the community as trusted counsellors with right motives in specialist or generalist areas. They in turn might steer people (with their agreement) towards other help once situations are better understood.
A good “professional” example of this are the GP Community Link Workers. They receive people through the GP services and also other routes and point people to activities and services that might help. The Men’s Sheds are the examples close to home in this. The same thing with NYCC Living Well and others.
So, no. But the Connectors need the maturity to realise their limitations. Unless the “worry” is a leaking tap and you have experience with drips, don’t pick up the spanner yourself. This is only an example but it holds a good degree of truth. Connectors signpost.
THESE ARE ALL DRAFT RESPONSES TO GET THE PAGE GOING. The text may be refined in the light of comment.