Connecting Communities (C2) is a unique learning and delivery programme which seeks to transform our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, reducing health and social inequalities and creating the conditions for healthful behaviours to emerge. Ten years of case study research of community transformation underpin the Programme, which uses complexity theory as its theoretical framework. C2 was developed and is delivered by a multidisciplinary team including health care professionals, academics from The University of Exeter Medical School and Politics Department, and residents.
Central to the delivery is the belief that communities know what they need to support their health and wellbeing and that by building relations within communities and with service providers, new ways of working and behaving are realised.
C2 delivery is achieved through a series of processes which lead to the formation of a resident–led neighbourhood partnership. Several Clinical Commissioning Groups across the UK have commissioned C2 and recently Plymouth Council commissioned C2 as part of the Plymouth Fairness Commission to support new ways of working with neighbourhoods in areas of high disadvantage. The research underpinning C2 has shown that resident-led, multi-agency neighbourhood partnerships can have a dramatic effect across the indices of multiple deprivation; for example, the processes leading up to and during the regeneration of the housing stock, by the Beacon Partnership, led to an increase of 100% educational attainment of KS2 SATS for boys, a 40% decrease in child protection issues, 71% increase in employment and a 52% reduction in overall crime.
Camborne is one of the most deprived towns in the UK with high levels of antisocial youth behaviour, truancy and low levels of educational attainment. The Camborne Neighbourhood Beat team attended a C2 Programme and as a result realised new ways of tackling youth antisocial behaviour were required. They started by asking young people ‘what is it like to live around here?’ Their responses revealed a deep seated sense of shame about where they lived and very little for them to do. As a result of a chance encounter with a choreographer, the police started to host dance workshops during the school holidays.
Over one hundred young people attended the first workshop and by the second workshop they had decided to call themselves the TR14ers (the post code for Camborne); over 1000 children have attended these workshops. The Tr14ers are credited with a drop in antisocial behaviour, 90% reduction in truancy, increased educational attainment and police estimate that ten young people a year have been prevented from being labelled a persistent young offender. The health and wellbeing effects of the TR14ers have been acknowledged by the NHS Live awards as well as locally by West Cornwall PCT who funded the dance leaders group to work with other youth groups and schools, engaging young people in activity and building their self-esteem. In 2011 the TR14ers were awarded the Queens award for Voluntary Service. The TR14ers are now engaged in the delivery of C2 performing and mentoring in neighbourhoods where C2 is being implemented. Case studies, such as the TR14ers, are being undertaken to inform the Programme and generate further evidence of how the conditions for transformational change can be created.
DE-STRESS - An interdisciplinary research project examining poverty-related issues, antidepressant prescribing, health and wellbeing in low-income communities in South West England.