A new comprehensive scheme is being launched to provide practical support for vulnerable people in the Sudbury area.
It is hoped that it will enable them to build real friendships and relationships that will support them and make the most of what their community has to offer, contribute directly to that community and ensure that support comes in a more co-ordinated way.
Called ‘Local Area Co-ordination’ its network of experts does exactly that by getting out of the office and ensuring that the right support is there for groups who may feel isolated, lonely or marginalised.
This could be people with learning or physical disabilities, mental health problems for all ages as well as specific age-related difficulties.
The scheme, drawn up by Suffolk County Council, is designed to work alongside existing help groups and charities to provide an effective system in which everyone who needs or wants help can ask for it - and will get it.
The first two schemes have been launched - one in Sudbury and the other in a spread of villages to the North and West of Sudbury - each with its own dedicated coordinator.
And that is just the start – the council hopes to have three more similar schemes in place over the next two years. Funding has already been allocated – two in Ipswich and one based on Saxmundham.
“Our teams will be based in the communities they cover - you’ll see them in village halls, cafes, parish council meetings - anywhere where people will meet them and they will meet people,” said Stephen Watt, the council’s business development specialist for public health and protection.
“The support is open to anyone at all and they will have direct access to the coordinators. We don’t want anyone who needs help to slip under the radar - it’s about relationships, forging links and tailoring help and support to individuals.
“The social service system is under severe financial pressure and it has until now often been difficult to secure a good outcome to every case - but we are determined to improve the quality of life for everyone we help.
“The people may be struggling financially or with their health and are not living the kind of life they want to lead but it’s not just them - it’s across the whole of society.
“We are there to give advice and support to everyone.”
Sarah Stamp, county council cabinet member for communities has given her enthusiastic backing to the scheme.
She said: “We are delighted to be implementing this scheme and the additional support to individuals and communities is already making a tangible difference in some areas.
“It delivers against many of the council’s priorities by making our communities even more welcoming than they already are and supporting people, who would find it difficult otherwise to access support, fully engage and contribute to their community.
“This work exemplifies how we wish to work in the future; working in partnership with other statutory, private and voluntary sector organisations and supporting people to live the lives they want to lead.”
Imogen Sherwood is looking after Sudbury while Cally Boardman is working in the villages of Acton, Alpheton, Brent Eleigh, Chelsworth, Chilton, Cockfield, Great and Little Waldingfield, Lavenham, Lawshall, Long Melford, Monks Eleigh, Preston St Mary, Shimpling and Thorpe Morieux.
Mrs Boardman said: “Think of a friend or family member who is having a tricky time - perhaps it is someone you work with or maybe you could do with some additional support yourself.
“We want people to come forward so we can put them in touch with the right person who will take the time to listen and can work towards helping them achieve a good life.”
The church is also involved in the scheme - and local clergy like the Rev Carol Mansell who looks after five parishes in and around Monks Eleigh is delighted to play a role.
She said: “It is a terrific scheme.
“We can knock on anyone’s door and we are in the community and approachable - there is no need for any kind of referral.
“The aim is make sure that no-one who needs help slips through the net.”