Next month Connect Hackney will be holding an event ‘Finding and engaging with older people through street outreach’. Details to follow – watch out for our news pages.
The event builds on our Connect Hackney publication Outreach and Engagement – Older People. This publication featured tips from over 25 projects, funded by Connect Hackney, which work with socially isolated and seldom heard people in the borough. It reflects learning from the experiences of project staff and older people, as well as including formal evidence from the evaluation of our projects by the University of East London. Some of the key findings are shown below.
1) Outreach is skilled work• Outreach is a specialist skill – staff who are excellent at working with older people still need support and training to develop outreach skills.
2) Be clear about who you want to reach and how• When designing your project, create descriptions of the types of people you want to reach, where you might find them, what their barriers to participation might be, and how to mitigate them (include specifying in what circumstances the project is not appropriate).
3) Create an ‘on-the-ground’ outreach plan• If you are aiming to reach isolated people, promote your project in spaces beyond the voluntary sector (e.g. cafes, launderettes, pubs, supermarkets, private care homes, etc.).
4) Have a strong communications plan• Create a strong brand for your project using images and language that will appeal to the people you want to attract.
5) Be flexible and responsive in order to retain people once you’ve engaged them• Offer drop-in sessions as well as structured activities so that people feel able to come back after missing sessions.
See all the recommendations in the report, Outreach and Engagement – Older People.