'Here they get on the case, they don’t drag their feet’ 

‘They’re nice people - if you need something they are there’ 

These are just some of the things Islington residents told us about the support they had been receiving, as part of our evaluation of the Connecting for Change programme, known as ‘Connect’.  

Helping people where they are and working with them for change  

Connecting for Change helps people where they are; on their doorsteps and in their communities, over the longer term 

Islington residents find out about the support through Connect Advisers, leaflets, being signposted by other agencies (Council, CAB, Job Centre) or through talking to a neighbour or friend.  

The Big Knock is a monthly activity that involves the whole team meeting people on their doorstep in different locations in Islington, often joined by other partner organisations. This a great way to find out what people really need.   

Listening and learning: understanding what residents need to make change  

We have been out and about listening to residents in the Islington community and hearing their experiences of connecting in this way and especially what they value most about the Connect AdvisersThis has given us an understanding of the unique way this support helps Islington residents 

It’s been such a privilege  to have these conversations with people about what they are grappling with in their communities. This is some if what we have learnt along the way. 

‘When I come in with something, they actually do something about it’ 

Help on Your Doorstep- why the approach works  

Help on Your Doorstep offer immediate and long-term needs support, from replacing a broken cooker to support to get a job. One of the most significant things they do is connect people with others in their community.  

All of this is possible due to an amazing team of staff who are able to build trusting relationships with those that need help. They treat residents with respect, genuine concern and approachability, empathy and patience.   

Staff adapt their approach in response to each resident’s individual situation – it’s one step at a time, gentle nudges. It’s about working alongside not doing to, but with. They provide tailored support, but will also signpost to things that will help. This could be activities happening in the community or encouraging ways to meet others. This support focuses on what is happening now, but also enables residents to think about what could make this better in the future.  

 'I have been homeless such a long time – I didn’t know I could even get this sort of help, now I have confidence to get that help.'

 HOYD work with over 150 partner organisations in Islington – ranging from health to welfare, community centres to legal representation – and act as a hub for them to come together, learn about each other and share what they do. 

One of the things we found was that people don’t always know what they are entitled to, the Connect team at Help on Your Doorstep do. Residents described the overly formal approaches of other services, and things being too ‘processy’ that ended up causing stress because staff themselves seem to be under pressure. They talked about a different sort of exchange here, a two-way conversation. 

What helps the most? 

Residents find it helps to talk things through and to hear about the other types of help you can get. They value working with the same person. This means they get to know each other and can build a trusting relationship.  

The informal and friendly approach, being treated as equals – on their doorstep- is vital.  

People told us they had learnt new things about themselves along the way. Like being more resilient, getting more confidence, sometimes even learning new skills and managing money but most of all it was about reassurance, being able to find your own solution – things they never knew existed before, and being in control again.   

We’re looking forward to hearing more from Islington residents in the next phase of our engagement activities.  

Written by Charlotte Pace | IVAR Research Associate 

The Institute for Voluntary Action Research is a charity that works closely with people and organisations striving for social change. We are the evaluation partners to Help on Your Doorstep who have asked us to review the adapted approach over this period.