Community navigators in Cambridgeshire

Featured article - 17 July 2017
Sunny Singh, Strategic Development Manager, Practice & Safeguarding, Cambridgeshire County Council

Head-shot of the author, Sunny Singh, Strategic Development Manager, Practice & Safeguarding, Cambridgeshire County Council

Back in 2012 we discovered that it’s clear that there is a wealth of community and voluntary activity going on in Cambridgeshire that supports older and vulnerable adults in the county. The Community Navigator project began five years ago as a key response to the views expressed by Cambridgeshire residents and stakeholders through the Ageing Well programme. But we also discovered that what was missing was a countywide infrastructure to bind it all together. We wanted to see - at a local level – all of this activity linked; and supporting people to access these activities.

The Community Navigator service operates via a team of a manager, five district coordinators, a wellbeing worker, a project worker and volunteers. This network of Community Navigator volunteers (both community and organizational) act as a local key point of contact, identifying and assisting isolated older people in accessing appropriate services and activities at an early stage; and so delaying or preventing crisis.

Using an asset-based-approach; seeking local solutions

The Community Navigator service have detailed knowledge of activities available in their local area and by using an asset-based-approach, they work with clients to seek local solutions. The Navigators provide a wide range of information and support for clients, for example: providing details of social activities; assistance in accessing trades people; support in the home; responding to benefits queries, housing and mental health issues. The District Coordinators all hold a NVQ Level 3 in Information, Advice and Guidance and therefore are able to offer advice as well as signposting and supporting people to services and opportunities.

In 2013, a total of 2,451 ‘Navigations’ took place - in 2015 this had risen to 4,000. These navigations have been achieved with a 95% client satisfaction rate. Client feedback shows that the main areas where the scheme has made a difference is over wellbeing and with feelings of being supported. In 2015 over 90% of clients felt that Community Navigators support had made a difference to them, with nearly half of clients (46%) stating that it had made a significant difference.

Here’s some feedback

It's from someone who has been supported by a Community Navigator: “I don’t know how she done it. For her to come up with a hearing solution - which I been waiting for three years - is a godsend. You can’t replace that. She’s a miracle worker.”

Hearing that makes it all worthwhile. Let’s hope that the scheme has gone from strength-to-strength in another five years’ time, using the assets of our local Cambridgeshire communities.

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