Posted on: 25 March 2021

In conjunction with Brent Health Matters, CNWL have set up a Health Inequalities outreach team which has created a new job role for Community Connectors, in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and feedback from the local community over the past 8 months.

The aim is to create a new way of working that focuses on empowering the community to shape and own its health and wellbeing services, through active participation to build stronger, better connected local communities. 

During engagement with local communities and residents in Brent, residents had asked for more joined-up services, and a workforce that reflects the cultural diversity of the community.

Community Connectors will encourage collaborative working, help to reduce health inequalities, and offer people more accessible support right at the heart of their community. They have been recruited from the community  and employed by the NHS. Initially working with communities worst affected by the pandemic, they will be working with communities from Church End and Alperton before expanding across the borough. All the community connectors are members of the local communities or have strong connections to these communities in Brent.  They have an array of skills that will be beneficial in creating trust between services and the community, responding to their needs and co-producing new interventions with mental health practitioners in partnership.

The new development is also in line with the NHS Long Term Plan to provide more integrated, community-based healthcare, as outlined in the NHS’ Community Mental Health Framework for Adults and Older Adults

What the community asked for

Feedback from Brent residents, community champions, voluntary sector organisations on what the current mental health service could do to improve services included:

  • More coproduction with local organisations
  • More culturally appropriate services
  • Making the service more visible in the community
  • Having a service that reflects the diversity of the community

Employing Health and Wellbeing Community Connectors is one of the ways that CNWL as part of Brent Health Matters can meet these needs.

Learning from Grenfell

Through the lessons of Grenfell, CNWL adapted the Community Connectors role in the borough of Brent, following an outbreak of covid-19 among ethnic minority groups. The outbreak was partly attributed to some cultural barriers to accessing health services and information. The Trust followed the Grenfell model, adapting it to Brent, and worked with community and local faith groups to offer tailored health and wellbeing services to residents, at local mosques, temples and community centres.

Brent Health Matters programme is a working partnership between CNWL, the London Borough of Brent, Brent CCG, CLCH and London North West University Healthcare Trust.

There are many national and regional documents that informed this new approach, in particular: