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Blog: Threading the Needle – how we connect

Martha Lester-Cribb, Evaluation Support Manager who worked on Threading the Needle in Fife and North Ayrshire shares a pictorial illustration of ‘the layers of support in our society’ which was developed during the programme

As someone said in their feedback about Gathering the Threads, the learning event of Threading the Needle programme:

A project on evidence actually is a project about how we connect with each other 🙂  Opens up conversations.”

One of the most powerful aspects of Threading the Needle for me has been witnessing the value of people from different sectors and backgrounds coming together and establishing a common understanding of each other’s perspectives. It probably can’t be overestimated.

In Fife we (meaning befriending services, the local authority and the third sector interface, facilitated by ESS) worked together to develop a model showing how befriending services could help the Partnership achieve its strategic priorities.

We were grappling with how the different types of support within society (from organic unofficial networks through to strictly structured statutory provision) fit together. The following diagram emerged (click on picture to download):

It suggests society could be depicted as being made up of three layers of support: the wider community, then the third sector, and finally the public sector. Each in turn acting as a safety net for people who need more support than the layer above can provide.

From everyone’s perspective, and for many reasons, the goal would be for people to remain safely on the uppermost net. Inevitably some people will slip through this community level of informal support, hopefully to be caught by a third sector service, which will then strengthen them and lift them back to the community level. The public sector is there as an essential final safety net for those whose needs can’t be met at other levels.  This model not only represents prevention, early intervention and acute service provision; it also shows how people may be able to be kept safe and restored to the highest possible level for them. 

Where we have shared it, the diagram seems to capture people’s imagination. A further insight came from someone outwith the original working group who observed that ideally over time (as a result of true health and social care integration?) the triangle will morph. The community layer will become broader and broader, the third sector layer following suit with a smaller proportion of people therefore needing acute support from the public sector.

So, please feel free to take this illustration of how society’s layers of support connect now (developed as a result of people from different layers connecting) and use it wherever you think it might be helpful. We’d love to hear about the conversations it opens up for you. 

For more about evaluating prevention…

More information about Threading the Needle here

Threading the Needle resources:

Three learning points:

How to explore decision making and the role of evidence

From the source to the sea

The story of Threading the Needle in:

Reviewing the pathway (Anticipatory Care Plan, Glasgow)

North Ayrshire Monitoring and Evaluation Form