Since May 2019, IVAR has been working with Help on Your Doorstep (HOYD) to evaluate Connecting for Change, a four-year initiative that works with Islington residents over the longer-term to achieve their goals.

In June and July 2022, IVAR facilitated an evaluation workshop and two interviews with eight local referral partners in Islington. 

The findings from this activity have been summarised below using evaluation questions to guide them that have been co-produced with the Help on Your Doorstep team.

How is it going now, working with HOYD clients?

Partners described how the HOYD network helps people to connect in other ways that may not always be ‘seen’ by HOYD. There is a lot of background work that takes place to keep the network going, often the small things linking people to each other. There is more to share about the value and potential of the network.Partners using the HOYD Partner Network (newsletter, network meetings)found the network useful to circulate information about new projects ‘it gets circulated so quickly, it’s unreal’. They also find it really beneficial to receive communication from other partners via HOYD on a regular basis. There are many small organisations and new projects to keep on top of. Meeting partners at partnership meetings is also really useful.

Are there things you’re experiencing at the moment in terms of demand?

When asked about trends in Islington, partners said they have recently identified;

  • Rising levels of poverty amongst residents.
  • Digital and data exclusion, especially of elderly residents.
  • Changed working practice amongst services, as a result of Covid.
  • The complexity of mental health issues.
  • The complexity of cases, in general.
  • Variations in individuals’ experiences and need for employment support. More people are looking to change careers, have recently upskilled or are needing support to be set up as a sole trader.
  • Increased support for domestic abuse cases.

What do you need from the network of partners?

In relation to gaps and needs, partners said the following would help strengthen the sector;

  • An interactive map about the different organisations in Islington.
  • Advice on funding and partnership opportunities.
  • Continue practice that was adapted in the pandemic, i.e wellbeing check-ups.
  • Flyers that illustrate the range of support available.
  • Address fluctuating referrals.
  • More support for advisers in a mental health crisis is required.
  • Tackle policy and underlying issues together.
  • Undertake training together to support high demand.

In conclusion

The interviews found that what partners are experiencing right now is how more complex need requires more skilled intervention and is therefore pushing down the capacity of organisations to respond to those with lower-level needs, where often they can be most successful. There was concensus that helping people to help themselves is a strong theme and a common strength-based approach from ALL services is needed.