Connecting communities in Elmbridge
Elmbridge Council agree the future of community support in Elmbridge
If it takes a village to raise a child, how many people does it take to support the most vulnerable in our community? Support can take the form of advice on financial matters, a warm place to meet people or a listening ear. It can be help with uniform costs, a hot meal or respite from caring for a loved one. Above all, support needs the commitment of a connected community; a network of groups, organisations and people, coming together with the common goal of helping and supporting residents.
Ultimately this is our vision for the future of community support in Elmbridge, allowing for a thriving community, driven by the power of community.
A recent benchmarking assessment showed that Elmbridge Borough Council spends more on Community Support Services (measured by revenue spend) than any district council in the UK. However, this is not financially sustainable, and we cannot maintain this level of investment in Community Support Services in its current form. Following months of discussion and debate with officers, residents, voluntary sector groups and health partners, a roadmap for an affordable, connected communities approach will be considered by Elmbridge Cabinet; one that positions Elmbridge Borough Council as an enabler for action.
Elmbridge can be a community connector ensuring our vulnerable residents get the support they need, not just from the council, but from our community, health, and public sector partners too.
Within this connected communities approach we will enable delivery through collaboration with community partners, we will focus on prevention, we will build on the existing energy of the community to collaborate, and we will ensure the service responses to the needs of our community.
As we consider the longer-term needs of connected communities, there are some immediate opportunities which would support these changes.
- We will continue to run our excellent dementia services, and this service will relocate from Thames Ditton to another Elmbridge building. At the same time, we will engage with the local community to consider future options for the Thames Ditton Centre.
- Our Cobham Link team support adults with learning disabilities and is a true success story. We can see great potential for this service and will work to enhance its offering.
- The meals on wheels service is vital for over 170 of our residents and we will work to consolidate the process of preparing and distributing the meals, centralising the service in one kitchen for example.
Over the next 12 months we will use the data we have, and we will work in the spirit of our vision for Elmbridge, to establish a connected communities approach to community support in the borough. Most of all, we need to ensure our services are reaching the right people.
Estimates are that only 2% of residents directly benefit for our current community support services, but there is wider need in the borough, largely among families who are being affected by the cost-of-living crisis. There are almost 137,000 residents Elmbridge and 9.3% of households are financially stretched (according to Acorn data). Single parent families are particularly vulnerable.
Citizens Advice is reporting an 80% increase in the number of clients approaching with a financial crisis issue related to debt. Childcare, food costs and fuel costs are all a challenge for a growing number of our residents.
Now is the time to work together with our voluntary, faith, health, and public sector partners to work for the most vulnerable in our community; to adapt our services to meet the needs of community.
Elmbridge is a caring community, people look out for each other and want to support each other, and Elmbridge Borough Council can help them, can enable them and can bring them together. We can connect our community and help improve the lives of our most vulnerable residents.
Cllr Gill Coates, Portfolio Holder for Community Care
Read the Cabinet report