West Berkshire Council

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New community based support service up and running

2020 - Eight Bells Community Navigators logo

West Berkshire Council is pleased to announce that a new community-based service run by Eight Bells for Community Strength will be in place for the next three years. The service officially started on 1 April 2020 following a successful tender via the Voluntary Sector Prospectus 2020-2023, but will take time for to be fully operational given the current rules on self-isolation and social distancing around COVID-19.

The service, which is part of an integrated approach which includes working alongside other support services, such as NHS social prescribing, to prevent and reduce social isolation and loneliness, is funded by the council's Public Health and Wellbeing Team.

Eight Bells for Community Strength is a separate service to Eight Bells for Mental Health, which some residents may be familiar with but will be delivered under the Eight Bells umbrella. 

They have recently recruited a Scheme Coordinator who will start on 1 June 2020. Once in post, one of their key areas of responsibility will be to recruit volunteer Community Navigators who will support people with a range of social, emotional and practical needs, making onward referrals to other organisations where necessary.
They will also help to connect people with local services, groups and social activities to prevent and reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing. 

Individuals will be able to self-refer or be referred through existing pathways such as adult social care, housing providers, parish councils, voluntary sector organisations and healthcare.

Howard Woollaston, West Berkshire's Executive Member for Public Health and Community Wellbeing, said:

"We are pleased to be able to offer this new service. Eight Bells will work proactively to support communities by setting up local initiatives and promote activities help communities to further develop their social networks. 

"This is a practical plan that will reap long term benefits for both individuals and communities, by building resilience and keeping people connected to reduce isolation, a key cause of many mental health and wellbeing issues." 

For further information please email community.strength@eightbellsnewbury.co.uk.