Outreach and Engagement Approaches
by Angela Eden, Health Improvement Manager
Salford Health Improvement Service is a frontline, neighbourhood based health and wellbeing service which delivers a broad range of community initiatives to help people make behaviour changes. Our core areas of work most often cover areas such as smoking, weight support, healthy eating, physical activity and mental health. However, more recently the service has worked closely with our partner services within the City Council to develop a sustained programme of outreach and engagement work to help to tackle poverty directly within Salford’s most socio-economically deprived communities. There have been two key campaigns over the preceding 12 months, one called Better Off (focused on increasing access to anti-poverty services within the most socio-economically deprived communities), and one focussed on increasing uptake of the Pension Credit benefit.
There are 30 frontline staff with the Health Improvement Service who have strong networks and trusted relationships within the local communities in which they work. These staff have a history of successfully delivering campaigns and brief interventions. This meant that the service was ideally placed to get the key messages out to local residents to help them to make small, but often significant changes to their financial and economic situation.
‘Better Off Salford’ Health Bus campaign, was delivered over eight dates, with the health bus visiting two venues per date. This was delivered alongside our partners in Welfare Rights and Debt Advice and Housing. During this time over 150 conversations took place with residents within their own community about the topics of Emergency Financial Support, Benefits Advice, Managing Debt, Health and Wellbeing and Housing. During the campaign 120 referrals were made to other Anti-Poverty services.
Below is some feedback from staff involved in the delivery of the campaign:
‘I have had the bailiffs put on hold and agreed an affordable repayment plan’ (Debt Adviser)
‘I helped him apply for council tax reduction online – now in payment and applied to the council tax bill set up for him and his wife – pointed him to apply online for a discretionary housing payment. Also gave advice for Salford Home Search, as he wanted a social housing property and he also spoke with Housing Options who were on the bus, he spoke to the Credit Union lady who also runs a job club about applying for jobs online and with Universal Credit’ (Claims Management Officer)
‘I carried out a check the next day and identified entitlement to Employment Support allowance of £73.10 per week and Tax Credits (husband works) of £89 per week. Overall she will be £162 better off each week as a result of the visit to the bus’ ( Welfare Rights Officer)
‘We had a chap with very significant mental health issues who had been offered a flat but as the landlord could not contact him the application had been cancelled. The customer was unaware of all this until he attended the bus and after some emails we agreed to reinstate his application due to the issues he currently faces. This man was very agitated when he first presented to the bus and as we managed to resolve this situation he left the bus a much happier man. He in fact liked all the staff so much he stayed with us the whole afternoon and engaged with other customers. If the bus had not been there then he would not have known his home search situation. We managed to resolve this and this made him much happier with SCC services’ (Supported Tenancy Officer)
There are almost 6,000 individuals in Salford who are not claiming Pension Credit, but are entitled to it. Eligibility for this benefit opens up opportunities for other areas of financial support. It is estimated that there is as much as £12 million unclaimed Pension Credit in the city. Current changes to the Welfare system nationally will mean that if people don’t claim soon then they may miss out permanently, so there was some urgency to this work.
The Health Improvement Service worked in collaboration with our Welfare Rights and Debt Advice service, our Council Tax Benefits team and DWP to deliver an outreach and engagement campaign to encourage take up of the Pension Credit benefit by residents who may be missing out. The campaign focussed on busting myths about eligibility and how simple it is to make a claim. Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Services provided training and resources to the Health Improvement Staff to ensure they were confident in supporting residents to apply for Pension Credit.
Over 1000 conversations took place with individuals to take up Pension Credit during April and May 2019 in a range of community venues, and on the Health Improvement Bus. Targeted engagement took place with the Muslim and Jewish communities, where uptake of Pension Credit is currently even lower than the Salford average.
For more information please contact Angela Eden