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Changing lives, changing systems: reconnecting lonely older people with their community




Social Finance

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This report shares learning from practical experience of impact at scale. It focuses on Reconnections, a service which aims to address loneliness and social isolation among older people. Reconnections was transferred to Independent Age – a leading UK wide charity that supports older people and has the specialist skills and resources to replicate it. In the ‘Community Connector’ intervention, volunteers help lonely individuals to reconnect with groups and activities in their community, based on their personal interests and aspirations. The Reconnections experience suggests a number of lessons for organisations seeking to grow new approaches to social problems through this kind of ‘transfer approach’ to scale: 1. Invest in defining and evaluating a ‘product’ – another organisation will only take on your new model if you can define it specifically enough and demonstrate its feasibility and effectiveness 2. Codify the product – describing your model specifically enough for another organisation to pick it up and deliver it is a separate task in itself 3. Transfer people as well as product – sharing and embedding of tacit knowledge and culture 4. Find the right ‘parent’ – above all, ensure that the new organisation’s mission and ethos are well aligned with yours, as well as the resources and capabilities for delivery at scale 5. Allow for adaptation – even the best defined model will need modification to fit with the new organisation and new sites 6. Consider the context – it’s important to recognise that this approach is unusual in the voluntary sector, and you will need to consider if the context will support a successful transfer. (Edited publisher abstract)

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