Reaching People approach and principles
So how does this transformation of people’s lives happen? To understand our approach, picture someone sleeping in a shop doorway in a city centre. Imagine that same person some time later, with a place to live, having trained for a skill and starting a new business. Such journeys are possible. We know, because we have facilitated more than one. But there are many pitfalls along the way, setbacks that can cause it to falter or fail. So we have created Reaching People around the following specific principles or qualities which make up our innovative approach and which we believe underpin our success.
Continuity and commitment
Meeting complex needs takes time. We helped facilitate one man’s journey three-year- journey from rough sleeping to operating his own building trade business. It could easily take longer. The organisations in our network are established, sometimes for decades, their strengths well known throughout the sector. So we are able to co-ordinate services to be available exactly when they are needed. We can maintain contact with clients at times when project funding has ended.
Communication and shared systems
All our organisations delivering on our Moneywise Plus project use the same customer relationship management system. That alone has made a massive difference to our ability to co-ordinate our services, avoid duplication and be there when people need us most. Our members share in many other ways, through joint ventures and supportive local meetings. Ours is the opposite of silo-working, where we manage and facilitate provision across independent member organisations.
Specialist services with shared standards and values
Any organisation that is part of Reaching People has to meet the same high standards in policies and practice. We arrange member organisation training on anything from safeguarding or data protection to quality management. While the standards are common, we are also widely diverse in our specialist services. If the most appropriate key worker for a client is one with experience and understanding of drug and alcohol, domestic violence, mental health or offending issues, we will be able to allocate one.
Here are some examples of the ways that the consortium and the connections it makes can achieve better outcomes for our clients—with fewer resources.
- One of our organisations was renting office space from the council at a cost of around £10,000 a year. It was reducing staff numbers and needed a cheaper alternative. We helped find one. The organisation now rents a single room from another of the Reaching People member organisations.
Additional rooms and conference space can be hired at locally competitive prices. The result is a major cost saving for one organisation and a welcome source of steady income for another.
- Taking an audit of member organisations’ facilities, we discovered five had well-equipped community kitchens. None were used to full capacity. Thanks to Reaching People’s contacts and local knowledge, an embryonic social enterprise with considerable experience in community baking was offered an opportunity to use bread making to bring communities together. Bread bakery sessions have been included in funding bids and a new project providing bread baking as a catalyst for communicating development starts in 2019.
- Accessing professional finance services can be a major challenge for many community-based organisations. So one member organisation was delighted to follow the example of another and use the freelance services of a local voluntary sector finance specialist. Such sharing of contacts and resources are built-in to the Reaching People model.