Hearing from our staff

Since 2019, we have been working on a four-year initiative called Connecting for Change funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. This initiative aims to achieve three outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Islington including;

Outcome 1: reduced barriers to wellbeing 

Outcome 2: increased personal confidence and capacity 

Outcome 3: improved support networks and happier, stronger communities. 

Our Connecting for Change initiative is being evaluated by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR).IVAR has conducted interviews with staff to capture their perspective and experience of how the Connecting for Change approach is working. This report summarises findings from interviews with nine staff working in a range of distinct roles at Help on Your Doorstep (HOYD), representing Connect Advisers, Good Neighbours Schemes (GNS), Team Leaders and Social Prescribing Link Workers.


Here are the main headlines that have emerged from speaking with the team about why Connecting for Change works:

  • Reassuring clients is an essential element of how HOYD staff support people
  • Outreach and the power of the ‘door knock’ cannot be underestimated
  • Co-designing the service with staff is key
  • Supporting staff wellbeing has been stepped up during the pandemic […] and is appreciated
  • A relational approach and recognising the benefits this has for clients
  • An ability to adapt in an ever-changing external landscape has been crucial

IVAR used three central questions to guide the interviews with staff. A summary of the findings in relation to these questions are found below;

What does it really take to engage (in the first place)?

IVAR summarised their findings

Reassuring clients is an essential element of how HOYD staff support people. It removes the panic element so common to people’s lives when they are living on the bare minimum. This way of existing is fragile, it requires great care and attention and dealing with issues in turn so as not to overwhelm the client. HOYD understands the need to build relationships to appreciate what support is required.

The GNS role has played an important part in helping people feel less isolated with their problems through supporting social connections with a range of engagement activities, both group and one to one, online and offline.

Our staff said

To have a human approach and to not see clients as a number for monitoring, if we actually see them as a person they feel more valued and are likely to have better outcomes. 

- HoYD staff member, 2022 

How do you move people beyond crisis and towards hope/aspiration?

IVAR summarised their findings

Staff are starting to support residents who are  starting to feel the challenge of the fuel crisis. It is anticipated that these issues will drive up demand for HOYD, with support continuing to be needed over the longer term to help clients find ways to manage. Staff are hearing about the choices people are and will need to make between such basics of food and heating for example.

Getting people what they are entitled to has long been at the core of HOYD’s approach. This matters because they don’t have to beg for it. Meaningful change happens when low incomes are boosted, especially when people have no idea they can access certain things.

Despite the challenges on the horizon the team remain committed to improving the lives of people in Islington. They are passionate and driven by what they do and the skills and knowledge (and optimism) they are able to bring to the task is impressive.

Our staff said

We can’t move mountains but there is quite a lot that can be done. […] We are here to help with something but we want to help them as people too. The client matters. HOYD is different in this way. It understands the human cost.

- HoYD staff member, 2022

How do you build greater empowerment with people, and what does that feel/look like?

IVAR summarised their findings

It is important that the support residents receive, also seeks to empower them to take control (where possible) and do things for themselves.

We heard the following about what makes a difference to people and helps them to take control:

  • Feeling understood and genuinely listened to
  • Staff bring their own personal experience and empathy
  • Non-judgemental ‘bedside manner’
  • Recognising the client’s strengths, not focusing on what they haven’t got
  • Offering practical tips to enable the client to take control of their lives e.g. keeping a diary, how to organise a calendar and supporting people to try things out and come back and tell you how it went

HOYD is highly responsive. In comparison to other organisations that can be tricky to get through to. A person always picks up the phone at HOYD. There might be a delay getting back to the person but at least this human connection has already started.

Our staff said

Thank you

It is great for us to get feedback and we would like to thank the partners taking part in the evaluation and IVAR for their dedication to the ongoing evaluation of Connecting for Change.

If you are an organisation that would like to find out more about working with us to improve the lives of Islington residents, you can find out more here.