The Idea Behind Knutsford Together

David BriggsDavid Briggs explains how the idea for Knutsford Together came to him and what the problem is that the initiative is trying to solve.

To understand what Knutsford Together is all about, you have to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes: Mary is a single mum with 3 children. She has suffered from domestic abuse and her partner has now left her with three children but with no money and in debt – the bailiffs are knocking on the door every morning and Mary is now under great stress, both mental and financial, frightened and alone.

Mary realises that for the first time in her life she has to go and find outside help and so she opens her front door and with 3 children in tow goes in search of help….

What is troubling is that in Britain in 2022 we don’t know where Mary will go. She might go to the local authority or to the Housing Association or to the Church – she might go to her childrens’ school. She might go to the Department of Work and Pensions, or to a foodbank or to one of Cheshire’s 4000 charities. She might well of course go to her local GP…

The good news is that Mary lives in a country where a lot of help is available – the bad news is that help is given by many different organisations which largely do not talk to each other and in my experience one organisation very rarely refers a client to another organisation – they each live in their own silo.

If Mary does go to the GP for example, In the time they have available he will discover that Mary is suffering from great stress and not sleeping and he might therefore prescribe anti-depressants or something to help her sleep better. The Doctor simply does not have the time to understand all Mary’s challenges.

That is where Knutsford Together comes in. The problem that we will address is that Mary needs help from several different organisations and there is currently no system for making sure that Mary gets to the right organisations which can help her. We want to ensure that someone sits down with Mary and spends the time to really understand and prioritise her issues to make sure that she gets to the right places. We plan to make sure that this happens and where necessary we will not only tell Mary where to go but we will take her there and importantly then be her advocate to make sure that she asks the right questions.
But this can only be achieved with the help of the whole community. Knutsford Together is modelled on a project which some of you may have heard of – The Compassion Project in Frome in Somerset, a town roughly the same size as Knutsford.

In Frome, they have managed to recruit a team of local connectors – people who simply look out for others in their community and signpost them to the help they need. In Mary’s case, this would be to the core team of Knutsford Together coordinators who will be able to take the time to understand Mary’s more complex needs, but for the vast majority of cases, simply helping people find right support for them can be done directly by others in the community.

It is to deal with this challenge, this opportunity, that we have set up Knutsford Together and we want as many people as possible to sign up and help us by becoming a Local Connector.  To become a Connector all you have to do is to take part in a one hour training course so that you know how we operate and in particular so that you learn how you can help Mary.

When you next meet someone in need we hope to give you the confidence to ask them if they need help. And if they do all you need to do is to give them an information postcard which will contain details of our new website and also details of how they can contact a paid Knutsford Together Coordinator who has the knowledge and skill to help people with complex issues.

In Frome they manged to recruit an amazing 1800 local connectors who on average have about 20 conversations each per year.  That’s 36,000 offers of help which people in the community are receiving!

That is why I decided to set up Knutsford Together and why I’m so excited to see this new initiative take off in our fantastic and compassionate town.

You may also be interested in

Popular articles

Join One of our Local Connector Training Sessions

Come & join us for one of our short Local Connector Training…

Meet Sarah, Our Lovely New Team Member

With a career spanning 25 years, Sarah now brings her considerable skillset to…

Why Knutsford?

Mention Knutsford and many people immediately associate the town with affluence. So…

Knutsford Together on social media