Our care and support services are always trying to make sure they can help as many people as they can, especially those in more rural areas. It’s all very well and good to offer services but if people can’t access them they won’t be able to get the help they really need.

So, when Laura Kemsley, floating support co-ordinator, and Grant McManus, floating support officer, were discussing different ways to promote their Outreach Support service within the rural areas of Essex, they came up with a great plan.

The service has the use of a van which they felt could be utilised much more effectively by being driven to locations where there was a low referral rate, remote areas where they hadn’t been able to secure a drop-in session or that don’t have a direct bus route into local town centres.

The project was launched in mid-July with Clements Hall Leisure Centre in Hawkwell being the first venue. This is a popular leisure centre that attracts lots of local people and on this first session the staff offered information and advice to four people. At the second session, in Billericay, the staff had another five enquiries including arranging support for a very distressed man who was in crisis with no idea where to turn.

The service currently supports around 190 customers and works across Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Brentwood, Rayleigh, Harlow, Waltham Abbey and Uttlesford and has over 50 staff. It is split into different streams ranging from a one off drop-in service up to six months support for people who have more complicated issues to resolve.

Having the flexibility of the van means that staff can access rural communities and explore potential new areas. The aim is to run this as a pilot during the summer months, due to the sessions being held outdoors. However, if these sessions prove to have a high capacity of referrals then the service will look to identify potential drop-in surgery venues in these more remote areas.

For more information about this service, please click here.