Wigan Council

Wigan Council

Wigan Borough Place Based Working – Community Response Model to COVID 19

Briefly describe the initiative/ project/service; please include your aims and objectives

The Deal 2030 is an exciting and ambitious strategy for Wigan Borough. It’s a plan which aims to make Wigan Borough the best place it can be, providing a unified strategy for the whole borough to make it the best possible place to live and work over the coming decade. It was created after the biggest ever consultation undertaken by Wigan Council called The Big Listening Project, which visited 83 locations across the borough, spoke to 6,000 people directly and collated 10,000 brilliant ideas.

To deliver the priorities in the plan it is essential that we work closely with partners, particularly those with whom we work to deliver and reform services for borough residents. To ensure we deliver the highest-quality public services, we have split the borough into 7 defined neighbourhoods which are population between 30,000 and 50,000, big enough for services to align staff to and small enough for staff to get to know an area well. COVID19 has dominated the landscape across public services for the most part of the last 12 months. It has impacted up on the way that local services and networks operate and has provided different challenges and opportunities to support some o four most vulnerable residents and each other.

From the start of the pandemic Wigan Council worked with partners from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise(VCSE) sector, and from businesses as well as from across the public sector, taking a proactive approach to ensure a joined up and coordinated response utilising the already well-established community hub within each of the seven service delivery areas. We focused upon:

– Individuals, couples and families who were self-isolating or shielded
– People who are vulnerable within our community, and who have complex needs
– Groups of residents in key settings, Primary Care, Schools, Care homes, homeless and other settings

We aimed to create and implement an integrated community response model to the COVID-19 pandemic; to support the health and wellbeing of our residents. A response model that could respond flexibly, was replicable and suitable for use at scale. Objectives were for all those in need to be provided suitable support in a timely manner, ensuring that basic needs were met including food, wellbeing, health and financial support. Neighbourhood hubs coordinated a community response. High demand for support led to us deploy staff from across the partnership into roles within the hubs to provide a flexible and adaptable approach that maintained resident focus and didn’t duplicate ongoing work elsewhere in the system. Having a common goal and purpose brought everyone together; the focus was divided into two key priorities; boroughwide infrastructure and a localised offer across each of the seven neighbourhoods.
The Boroughwide infrastructure comprised:

– Central food distribution hub
– Helpline, contact points and welfare advice for residents
– Leads across logistics, food, finance, communications and volunteering
– Process and protocol development, matching of deployment needs, induction content, allocations, monitoring and welfare support
– Joint Intelligence for the identification of vulnerability, shielded cross referencing and performance arrangements
– Wigan Community Partnership Volunteer Bureau

The neighbourhood structure supported the community hubs to provide:

– A voluntary, community sector support network
– Food bank network and provision
– Bringing organisations and services together
– Matching local volunteers and local induction
– Links to mutual aid groups, provision of local information and links with logistics
– Local co-ordination for food, pharmacy, wellbeing advice and comfort calls

Key practical delivery mechanisms included:

– Follow up calls via the contact centre requesting food, welfare checks, prescription collection and other enquiries
– Visiting vulnerable residents to conduct welfare checks where the National Shielding Team had been unable to contact them over the phone. This provided assurance that our vulnerable residents were safe and well and that support and assistance were provided if necessary
– Pharmacy pick-up service following NHS guidelines and advice from CCG colleagues. Our approach ensured that our residents were able to access vital medicines during the crisis

What are the key achievements?

Phase 1 of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has stress-tested our established placed based model and amplified the importance of a partnership neighbourhood approach in supporting the health of all our people and resilience of our strong communities. It provided an unexpected yet valuable opportunity to work innovatively and collaboratively; to accelerate wider integration of services including the voluntary sector, to support the health and wellbeing of our residents and to improve our neighbourhood resilience both during and after crisis. We quickly developed a boroughwide food offer, with a central food distribution centre coordinated by the Armed Forces Hub. Food was then transported to established food banks to support their increase in demand, where foodbanks hadn’t previously been available, we worked with community groups to set up a food provision that would be suitable for the area. Each neighbourhood was responsive to residents needs and food offers varied from cooked meals delivered to individuals, food parcels available to families and food pantries for those who were able to pay.

Through our approach we also:

– Supported over 7000 individuals
– Provided over 32,000 food parcels / meals through the council, community groups and food banks
– Made over 5,000 comfort calls or referrals for welfare support or
– 20,000+ Items of PPE Delivered to residents, VCSE Groups
– 7 local comms and engagement plans in place supporting borough wide comms strategy
– Handled over 7,500 calls via our contact centre and around 1,500 online forms form the public requesting support
– Registered an additional 493 volunteers

Our move towards a local data warehouse approach allowed us to combine data sets to support a cohesive approach for
more accurate targeting, increasing inefficiency, enhancing outcomes and improving our safeguarding role. Some examples
of our targeted approach include:

– Advice card & communications: targeted distribution to ageing population through assisted bin collection service
– Outbound welfare calls: vulnerable children and families, shielded list, etc
– Domestic Abuse: Proactive welfare calls
– Targeted visits and support package to specific communities in the borough
– Targeted visits to canal and riverboat dwellings, providing advice, education and support
– Asylum Seekers: Translated information, relaxation of ‘no recourse to public funds’ and access to food and other support via neighbourhood bases and hubs
– Residents and young people not complying to lock down rules: Targeted patrols and education, noncompliance visits across the borough
– Vulnerability due to mental health: Launched 24/7 helpline and consolidated support approach across neighbourhoods
– Targeted support for rough sleepers alongside self-isolation provision at Mercure Hotel and new accommodation provision in the community
– Drug and Alcohol dependency: Regular phone contact for residents who are identified as alcohol dependent by addiction service providing advice and support

We have recently undertaken a resident survey to better understand the impact that our community response has provided them during the pandemic. 1266 people responded with 94% saying they were happy with the support provided, 95% saying they would recommend the service to a friend and positive comments such as “Neighbourhood hub were like a life line to me whilst my husband is in bed ill, they gave me numbers to help with online shopping and gave me advice on getting a volunteer shopper. They both cheered me up no end at this time of crisis and I looked forward to their call every week to lift my spirits I felt like I had continued support throughout.“

What are the key learning points?

Specific characteristics considered critical to the success of the delivery model have been:

– Multi-agency response: neighbourhood teams including Community Link Workers, Complex Dependency Team, IHL, GMP, staff deployed staff from council and partners, PCNs and local pharmacies
– Key community organisations: VCSE anchor organisations working hand in hand with neighbourhoods
– Networked food provision: supported by boroughwide infrastructure
– Flexible Workforce: redeployed staff, partners, VCSE & local volunteers working together
– Council Senior Management Team: support to deploy staff from non-critical services and prioritising of the community response
– Robust deployment process: to match colleagues skills with activities and to provide a sound induction process to ensure organisational assurance and importantly the confidence of staff stepping into new activities and the priority of welfare support
– Central Contact Centre: provision of a dedicated helpline and route for online referrals
– Community Hub: Co-ordinating & managing the local on the ground response to food, volunteer offers, logistics, gathering intelligence around local VCSE resilience & setting up arrangements reflecting local needs
– Borough wide co-ordination point: matching incoming referral, monitoring requirements and tracking support
– Elected members: galvanise sub-local responses, intelligence and mutual aid

A range of valuable outcomes related to workforce development have also been identified through the success of our asset based
approach to COVID-19:

– Attitudes and behaviours of staff from across partnership
– Having different conversations
– Partners knowing communities better
– Giving permission and growing confidence in the freedom to redesign and innovate
– Co-location of teams and expansion of partner agencies

Wider learning from our Community Resilience Model and response to COVID-19 working hand in hand with VCSE and

– Deeper understanding of our communities
– An opportunity to use the knowledge and expertise of elected members and communities better .
– Deal Principles allowing mutual aid to flourish in empowered communities
– Networked provision
– Community reservist model has developed workforce skills and experience and built an understanding of neighbourhood work across wider services
– Connecting boroughwide arrangements direct into the neighbourhood model provides a better service for residents e.g. Contact Centre direct links into neighbourhood hubs, with support from back office functions
– A physical hub provides a focus for integrated working on the ground, and promotes a common purpose

Additional Comments

In Wigan we continue to review our processes and methodology in line with the developing landscape of neighbourhood delivery to ensure that high quality services are delivered in a logical, sequenced and timely manner and for the benefit of our residents. True to The Deal 2030 and in spite of the Covid 19 pandemic our residents, teams and partners pulled together in their commitment to #Be Kind and to keep each other safe. We couldn’t be more proud of each other.

COVID-19 Response Recognition Award

Ongoing review of the place-based approach and future modelling of integrated services is key to the continuous development of service delivery across the seven neighbourhood areas in Wigan. The recent Covid-19 crisis has provided an opportunity to work differently and to accelerate working in place within the developing landscape both during and after crisis. The assimilation of our response to the newly emerging needs with our core neighbourhood delivery model has been a significant success for the borough across individual, service and system perspectives.

We have already taken immediate opportunities to:

– Define a contingency blueprint for each neighbourhood
– Retained a ‘virtual’ boroughwide and neighbourhood emergency model to manage increased demand surge
– Respond to local ‘Trace and track’ requirements

The capability of staff and volunteers to respond to crisis during Covid 19 restrictions within the community providing food, welfare calls, social isolation, prescriptions etc has been in demand and we are currently exploring various opportunities to continually improve our systems. Building upon developing strengths of our partnerships; volunteers will become a core element of the our reservist model. Residents remain at the heart of our legacy and recovery approach and to build back better we are:

– Capturing learning to build into the future place-based neighbourhood model
– Defining the future arrangements for volunteering
– Redefining the future relationships with VCSE partners using a community wealth building approach
– Creating a networked food model
– Following up priorities from the EIA for recovery phase
– Reconnecting vulnerable residents that we have identified through COVID 19, with their local communities to further build on our asset-based approach
– Building ‘what works’ into our future operating model