Murton, County Durham; Murton Mams
A co-produced social group for single parents called ‘Murton Mams’. Single parents in the village were found to be particularly at risk of isolation and low wellbeing, so a focus-group of single mothers worked with our partner the East Durham Trust to design a club that would be accessible and enjoyable to those who needed it. The group has grown from strength to strength over the past 18 months, with several of the participants having re-entered employment and reported improvements to their mental and physical health. Some of the participants are now volunteering to support other people in the local area, and there are now plans to reproduce the ‘Murton Mams’ model in other villages in the area.
Knowle West, Bristol; Social Mirror
After research revealed that some people were relying on GPs for social support, the RSA worked with the Nominet Trust and the Massachusetts Institute for Technology to create Social Mirror, the world’s first digital social prescribing tool. Administered by health volunteers in GP surgery waiting rooms in a pilot project between 2013 and 2014, Social Mirror is a tablet app that asks users questions to determine if they might be experiencing social isolation.
If necessary, it then suggests local activities and clubs that might be appropriate for that person to attend in order to help them feel more socially included, like walking groups and local history clubs.
- Watch videos about Social Mirror on Vimeo and YouTube.
- Find out more on the Nominet Trust website and The RSA Social Mirror.
- Social Mirror in the news: The BBC
Tipton, Sandwell; Community Chest
We worked with our sponsored RSA Academy in the town to help identify and bring forward local groups active in the area to work together. By creating a ‘community chest’ of funding available to groups who had project ideas that responded to our research findings, we were able to support a range of initiatives ranging from a peer-to-peer youth training scheme in car mechanics to an inter-cultural cooking competition. Since then, the groups have worked together on a brand new community newsletter that aims to raise the profile of civic and community activity in the town and enable more people to get involved.
Toxteth, Liverpool; Treasure your wellbeing
Following research that revealed that certain ethnic communities typically experienced lower wellbeing than others, a group of Black African people who had worked with us as community researchers collaborated with the local NHS Trust to develop a wellbeing outreach programme appropriate to the varied and diverse communities in the area. The resulting online tool ‘Treasure Your Wellbeing’ has been paused after a brief pilot run, but valuable lessons about civic engagement have been learned all round. The original group of researchers are now formally organised as a BAME campaign group who work to ensure local ethnic minorities are better connected to important local services.
Bretton, Peterborough; Local Nets
We worked with a researcher from the Royal College of Art to further develop an online tool originally piloted in our Community Mirror project in Hounslow. ‘LocalNets’ gathered data from local blogs and social media from the Bretton area to identify individuals and institutions who were particularly civically active, or interested in community issues but not yet engaged. These individuals were invited to a public meeting where they were facilitated to discuss the assets and weaknesses in the area related to social isolation, and they are now collaborating to help migrants integrate in the area with local students offering translation skills and a leisure centre working with local networks to promote outreach days.
New Cross Gate, London; Talk for Health
We recruited a mix of isolated people, particularly well-connected people, and individuals working in frontline local community services to undergo basic mental health counselling training. After 32 hours of ‘Talk for Health’ training, the participants formed a peer-support group where they offer each other regular emotional support and hold structured conversations that are intended to have a positive effect on their mental health. More recently, they have been working with a local community-run library to take these skills out to a wider audience and pass on the benefits to others in the local area.
Wick, Littlehampton; Community organising
Volunteer community researchers from the Wick housing estate have joined forces through the local Residents Association to run a broad range of community activities that provide social support, bring different generations together, and promote local pride in the area. These have included planting community gardens, running children’s after school clubs, creating an arts and crafts group for socially excluded people, and running an annual festival. The group has acquired a café on the estate which they are now using as a source of income, a social space, and somewhere that residents can buy affordable food in a social setting.