Birmingham Community Navigators

For this project the Birmingham City Council (Adults & Communities directorate) is working in partnership with Turning Point, to develop a service which will connect people with the help they need in a timely and effective way.

Community Navigator Service - Engagement and Develop

Birmingham faces an unprecedented challenge in adult social care with significantly reduced resources and growing demand. Birmingham City Council is committed to transformation and has set up a whole systems council-wide transformation programme - one of the most ambitious in Europe. The Adults and Communities Directorate are exploring and developing alternative models of provision which move front-line services from traditional support and care models, delivered by the local authority, towards alternative models of delivery outside of the local authority.

A Community Navigator Pilot is one strand of how the transformation programme will make social care services more user and carer led, providing support early on so more costly, intensive support later on can be reduced.

Turning Point was commissioned to research and develop the Community Navigator Service by engaging and consulting with local residents of Kingstanding and Ladywood wards. Turning Point's methodology delivered a programme of community engagement in order to help develop, test, prototype and refine the model. This process, as well as ensuring the final service model is responsive to local need, also built capacity within the community to co-produce the service e.g. as community navigators, volunteers and providers of care. This ensured the community had a say in the transformation of social care and so helped address fear and resistance to change.

Recruitment and training

Twenty-one local people from the pilot areas were recruited to become Community Researchers, their role being to engage and administer an audit of need amongst other local people from the targets groups namely; older adults, people with mental health issues, physical and/or learning disabilities and their carers.  They were specifically recruited because they lived in the areas, knew the areas well and/or had good local contacts. 

A further key element of their role was to identify and make links with local organisations that provide services to people living in Ladywood or Kingstanding.  This started the process of developing a database of local contacts for the Navigator Service.

Analysis and findings

Following the engagement with 570 local residents using a range of methods and many networking links with local groups and organisations, the findings from the research stage were collated and analysed and fed directly into the development of the initial pilot of the service. 

The full report here provides further information about the background and development of the service along with findings from the research and engagement with local people.

Set up of the service

Recruitment and set up of the service took place in late 2012.  All the Community Researchers were given the opportunity to apply for positions in the service and three of the Community Researchers were subsequently employed as Community Navigators. The service began taking clients in the summer of 2013 and ran as a pilot for a year to test out the model and adapt where necessary. The service has since been extended and looks to be commissioned fully later in the year. Further information about the service can be found here. The Navigator Service Overview document provides insight into the first years outcomes and successes.