Community connectors help tackle loneliness and isolation

New partnership supports adults with learning difficulties or autism to engage with communities.
A group of six adults - three men and three women - standing outside a red brick building.

An innovative partnership from Newcastle City Council and Skills for People is delivering a new kind of social care support for local people with a learning disability or autism (aged 18+) to help them engage with their local community. 

The new approach uses "peer community connectors", who are people with lived experience, who work with community connectors based at the council to jointly help people make the most of the support, activities, and places available in their community.

The team works together to ensure people are offered a range of tailored opportunities outside of their regular social care support. Whether it is attending a coffee morning or a simple walk in the park, to taking part in community education offers or volunteering, the team work hard to understand where each person’s interests lie and personalising the service they receive.

Helping people lead the ‘best life they could possibly have’

Michael Watts, a community connector said: “We help them get out and about and engage in the community by volunteering, attending activities, and going along to courses. 

"It all has the primary aim to help reduce loneliness and isolation within the community. 

"I want them to be happy and content and having the best life they could possibly have.”

The small team support individuals to access support networks within their communities in a way that gives them the best chance of finding what they need and recently won a We Are Newcastle Staff Team award in recognition of their work.

Cllr Adam Walker, Cabinet Member for a Healthy, Caring City at Newcastle City Council said: “It is fantastic to hear of the positive impact this team are making for our residents who can sometimes feel the most isolated. 

"This new approach of delivering social care is improving the life chances for people with learning disabilities or autism. 

"It allows them to try new things which they may have thought were out of their reach and we are committed to continuing to seek co-production opportunities such as this that can improve the lives of our residents.” 

Skills for People is an organisation based in the east end of Newcastle which supports people with learning disabilities or autism and their families.

Find out more about our participation work with people who access Adult Social Care services by reading:

Co-production week

1 to 5 July is Co-production week, a celebration of the power of co-production to design and develop better ways of doing things in social care, hosted by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

It celebrates the benefits of co-production, shares good practice and promotes the contribution of people who access care and support in developing better social care.

Find out more at: