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Birmingham Connect to Support

NNS Building Blocks

NNS Building Blocks

Birmingham City Council working with the voluntary and faith sector to support citizens to lead healthy, happy, independent lives within their own homes and communities. Below are the key building blocks for Neighbourhood Network Schemes.

1. Community Asset Mapping

Each NNS gathers information about the community assets in Birmingham’s neighbourhoods. The asset map can be found on Connect to Support’s Community Directory. By community assets we mean any group, organisation, place, activity or service which can support, older or disabled, citizens with:

  • reducing isolation,
  • leading healthier and more active lives,
  • ensuring their income is maximised,
  • small repairs or improvements which enable citizens to continue living at home,

support for carers, as individuals and in their caring role.

2. Developing Partnerships with Social Workers 

NNS Leads expect Social Workers to invite them to participate in ‘innovation’ meetings to support the change in working culture, particularly keeping the focus on connecting people to community assets. These meeting allow Social Workers time to share creative ideas for supporting individuals, and to identify gaps in community support. The Lead Facilitators actively participate in these meetings, sharing their knowledge of what is available whilst Social Workers help develop the Lead Facilitator’s understanding of where the gaps are.

 

3. Local Marketing and Engagement Plans 

It is essential that each NNS promotes itself to community organisations in its neighbourhood. This needs to be a local approach but can include leafleting, networking events, social media, websites and newsletters. Part of their role is also to encourage residents to get involved in running the NNS, for example via participation in the steering group.

4. Networking Events 

These are a key tool for building partnership and local trust. Voluntary and community organisations are often very good at sharing resources and supporting each other and the lead facilitators can unlock this potential. As outlined below, participation in networking events is also essential to the culture change in social work teams so that they can develop an appreciation of what community assets can offer and how they can contribute to communities.

5. Co-Production 

Co-production is about recognising that local people, especially those living with impact of aging or long-term disability, are ‘experts by experience’ and that this knowledge and expertise can help the NNS achieve its aims. Working in a co-productive way also recognises and addresses the imbalance of power between those in paid professional roles and citizen volunteers. In addition, it supports the change to a ‘strength-based’ culture which recognises people are the experts in how best to lead their own lives. NNS leads have done this by providing training, addressing any access or support needs and buddying citizens together via a co-production group. Citizens have been involved in steering groups, grant panels, gap analysis and developing local solutions. Local citizens are also often responsible for running local assets. 

6. Partnership Steering Group 

The steering group is designed to bring together a wide range of local partners who can help influence and shape the work of their NNS. Representatives of the local Social Work team are expected to be members as well as Commissioning, local community organisations and some local citizens. Other members might include Councillors, Primary Care Professionals, Housing, Police or Fire Service representatives. The steering group also provides a space to share other developments in preventative working, for example, the development of Social Prescribing Link Workers. 

7. Gap Analysis 

Each NNS is expected to develop a gap analysis with input from its steering group membership. This will guide the prioritisation of capacity development and grant funding. Some gaps have been identified as City-wide issues common across all the NNS, for example accessible transport. These can be looked at by the Commissioning Team or Lead Facilitators can look at ways to address them collectively. 

 

8. Capacity Building Support 

Capacity building is offered to community assets by Lead Facilitators. This may include business development, advice on grant funding applications, training on safeguarding or other key knowledge areas. Depending on the lead facilitator’s expertise they may deliver this themselves, use a budget to purchase training, or deliver it in partnership with another NNS in the City. Assets are also encouraged to participate in the NNS; many lead facilitators have used a membership scheme to encourage this.

9. Grant Process 

Each constituency NNS has a grants process in place to target small, local organisations. Each NNS has an allocation of funding for small grants. Applicants are expected to engage with their local NNS, this includes checking that the proposal contributes towards local NNS outcomes and gap analysis. The NNS Lead will also support organisations to consider other funding options that might be available. Applications for an NNS grant are submitted to a local funding panel which includes representation from local citizens, the SW team, commissioning and other partner organisations. Grants are up to a maximum of £10,000 with most NNS also having micro grants available of less than £1000.

10. Support & Development Role

An organisation is commissioned with expertise in developing and managing community and voluntary sector organisations. They are responsible for running a Lead Facilitators forum which meets regularly to share learning and problem solve. The support and development organisation also act as a ‘critical friend’ to the commissioning team and identify examples of best practice from across the city and beyond and share these via the Lead Facilitator forum, across different steering groups and through newsletters and other communication.

Last updated: 8/24/2021

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