Agenda item

Age UK Barnsley – ‘Better Together Service’ contract update – Debby Bunn (Sac.02.09.2022/4)


Natalie Stokes, Senior Social Inclusion Work was welcomed to the meeting, in place of Debby Bunn.  Also in attendance was Lorraine Hunter, South Area Social Inclusion Officer.


Members were provided an overview of the Better Together Service, which had recently reached its 1st Anniversary. Those present were reminded that the service had launched as part of the Age Friendly Barnsley Festival, and a leaflet drop had taken place and with an associated communications campaign. Members noted the links made with organisations within the area, including community groups, schools, local businesses, and other commissioned services.


Within the year 132 one to ones had been held, against a target of 100. 158 services users had engaged in groups, and 9 new groups had been established. 17 groups had also received support.


The Information and Advice service provided by Age UK Barnsley had helped clients to gain an additional £41,292.20 in benefits through one day a week of advisor time.


Members heard of the variety of events and celebrations arranged, and taken part in, including winter wellbeing events and jubilee parties.


It was reported that four new volunteers had been recruited and that 19 volunteers could be working at any time. It was noted that the recruitment of volunteers could be difficult as many people were unaware that they could volunteer for just small amounts of time.


Members heard of the key challenges faced by the service, which included issues of access and with transport faced by many, and the reticence of some residents to engage due to the risk of Covid. Also challenging was identifying those most excluded who would benefit greatly from the service.  Members heard of a leaflet drop in the area asking neighbours and friends to suggest who may require support, and these individuals could then be approached in the most appropriate way. 


Members noted the next steps suggested by the service, which included further training and development for staff, supporting post-covid recovery, and supporting digital inclusion, as well as recruiting and supporting volunteers.  It was acknowledged that promotion of Age Friendly Barnsley and Dementia Friendly groups also was planned.


Questions were asked around the age limit of residents to access the service,  and it was noted that the service supported those over 50.


In relation to benefits advice, questions were asked whether there may be capacity to extend the Information and Advice service, as many residents were already concerned about increasing costs of living.  It was noted that this service was funded separately to the Better Together service and only supported those over 65.  Members acknowledged other support in the area from such as CAB and DIAL.  Members were made aware that an informal group of information and advice providers was in the process of being established, which would consider any gaps in service and how these could be responded to.


Members noted the work done to map ‘warm places’ where residents could go to keep warm. This involved a wide range of partners, and it was suggested could help to identify potential beneficiaries of both the Better Together Service and of advice services. It was also noted that neighbours also needed to be encouraged to identify those struggling and many may also need support to attend these venues.

Members acknowledged that that some community venues may also require support in order to remain open in the face of increasing fuel prices.


It was noted that the Better Together service had been useful in providing intelligence about the needs in the area. It was noted that the service had also responded to many of these, with examples such as the digital inclusion work or work to promote health and fitness being given.


Noted was the impact of early help on the wellbeing of people, and the corresponding positive impact on the demand placed on health care services.  It was suggested that discussions could take place through the Executive Director Place Health and Adult Social Care and Executive Director Public Health and Communities to stress this and suggest more direct support from health care services.  


It was also suggested that greater collaboration could be undertaken with Berneslai Homes in order to support tenants.

Praise was provided by a number of Members for the work of the service, following their attendance at events or groups in which the service had been involved.


RESOLVED that thanks were provided for the attendance at the meeting, and for the continued hard work of the service.

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