A new report published by VODG (Voluntary Organisations Disability Group) references Certitude’s Connect and Do programme as an example of how organisations can tackle social isolation and change perceptions of disability.
Above and Beyond: How voluntary sector providers of disability support add value to communities explores how innovative not-for-profit organisations consistently and proactively meet gaps in support, particularly as austerity undermines existing provision.
Our Connect and Do programme involves a wide range of free events with a focus on well-being, personal development and promoting social interactions.
Certitude Chief Executive Aisling Duffy describes Connect and Do as “a range of collaborative, creative ventures focused on building more inclusive communities that value the talents and experiences of everyone. We believe people with learning disabilities and mental health needs should be able to play a more active role within their local communities, rather than be viewed as the passive recipients of traditional services.
Connect and Do’s key message to people that use traditional social care services is ‘You belong in your community, with your community and you have the skills to share and something to offer.’ This model allows for people from all walks of life to model behaviours to each other, break down perceived barriers and learn and develop together.”
You can read the full report – which features case studies from other wonderful organisations – on VODG’s website. Our case study about Connect and Do can be read below.
Certitude’s “Connect and Do” is a progressive and inclusive model for greater local community cohesion through the delivery of community activities and workshops. It offers a wide range of workshops with a focus on wellbeing, personal development and promoting social interactions. Certitude currently delivers Connect and Do in the London Boroughs of Hounslow, Bromley and Lambeth. The programme was launched in April 2018 and is running until March 31st 2019 in these boroughs.
All workshops take part in community spaces that are accessible to everyone and offered to us for free by our community partners. The majority of workshops are led by disabled adults through our peer mentoring project and supported by our community development team. Participants include people who traditionally use social care as well as people from the local communities where the programme is offered.
An initial pilot that ran in Lambeth demonstrated the huge impact on people’s recovery, confidence and increased positive sense of self. It also fundamentally changed how paid staff and the wider community viewed them in these new empowered roles. We learnt that there are a large number of people who are isolated within their communities, who regularly attended the programme and weren’t formally using social care services.
Of the 200+ people attending the weekly workshops, approximately half are members of local communities not directly supported by Certitude.
Connect and Do is delivered through one full time Community Development Manager and two full time Community Development Partners. The staffing and costs of materials are funded through a combination of charitable and local authority grants, as well as match funding from Certitude. All spaces are offered for free by community partners – local councils, community centres etc.
Connect and Do’s key message to people that use traditional social care services is ‘You belong in your community, with your community and you have skills to share and something to offer.’ This model allows for people from all walks of life to model behaviours to each other, break down perceived barriers and learn and develop together. Peer facilitators have reported a significantly positive impact on their recovery and all 10 facilitators have remained with the programme and engaged. Several of them have gone on to engage with other external community programmes and paid employment.
“You have offered the most amazing experience to our students by working so collaboratively and I know it has been a life changing moment for so many of them. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to this important partnership” – Jack Hughs, Brit School (Community Partner)
“Using my training as an artist and my experience of anxiety and depression to benefit others has been a pivotal experience for me… For the first time in I can’t remember how long, the act of leaving the house has been a way to stop an anxiety attack” – Jeff, Peer Facilitator