A PILOT project which aims to boost neighbourliness, encourage community enterprise and increase local volunteering has achieved national recognition.
‘People at the Heart of Scholes’ is one of six local authority projects selected to move into the second phase of the Creative Councils programme run by the national leaders in innovation NESTA and the Local Government Association.
The project aims to address the acute challenge of how the council meets rising needs in the provision of adult social care, at a time when the population is ageing and budgets are diminishing.
It will link closely to forthcoming arrangements for personal budgets for adult social care, which will give service users and families greater control over the way in which their personal needs are met.
The scheme will explore ways in which to connect those people in the community with health and social-care needs, with the vast under-utilised resources resource of neighbours, local people, volunteers and groups who want to give something back.
It will also help to develop new local business and enterprise – helping to provide services for social care needs.
The scheme will prototype a number of key ideas including a community credits scheme to encourage community contributions, volunteering and local business development. Lessons learnt from this pilot scheme will be used to benefit the rest of the borough.
Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council, said: “These are challenging times and we need radical innovation to realise our vision.
“Our project is focused on one of the key social policy challenges for government nationally and here in Wigan.
“The immediate benefits will be felt by local people, and in particular vulnerable and isolated people who rely on social care services. In the long term, the benefits will have a broader social and economic impact generated through community-led renewal of the social care economy.
“We are committed to this work and have the capacity and enthusiasm to turn good ideas into real solutions.”
Donna Hall, Wigan Council Chief Executive, added: “Personalised services are at the heart of the way that this Council works.
“We have to make sure that people get the support they need but we also have to recognise that the best kinds of care is that which comes from within the community – from families, friends and neighbours.
“Our work with NESTA on this innovative scheme gives us the chance to trial some radical ideas for how we can work better in communities”.
NESTA chose six projects but Wigan Council’s work is unique in focusing on social care. Other ideas include ones from Cornwall, Derbyshire, Monmouthshire, Rotherham and Stoke.
NESTA is an independent charity which acts as the UK’s innovation foundation.