Local councils are desperate to make the most of community assets in the delivery of public services. Drawing on this social capital means that public services can be fully integrated, including tackling isolation and loneliness which are central themes of many strategies. This includes charities, co-operatives, self-help groups and faith-based organisations.
Faith groups can naturally take a person-centred view. They often have access to the more marginalised, isolated and lonely in our society who formal service providers find hard to reach. They therefore make up a big proportion of the ‘social capital’ community resource.
Last week, I attended a meeting on the impact that the Church makes on health and care. I chaired the Cinnamon Network’s research group. At the Advisory Group meeting, we had a fascinating discussion about the two-way conversation between faith groups and the public sector. There is a clear language and understanding gap and we are simply not getting the best out of each other. We are miss countless chances to work better together.
Jon Rouse (Chief Officer for the Greater Manchester Health and Care Partnership) hosted the meeting and shared his perspective on the biopsychosocial model at the heart of the much-watched Great Manchester devolution project. Sandie Keene, past president of ADASS, also shared how faith groups in Sheffield are coming together in a more co-ordinated way.
There is fantastic work going on at local level, but it is not enough. I personally believe a transformational and national shift in how faith groups and the health and care sector work together is both possible and could unleash one of the biggest changes in health and care for 70 years.