Social exclusion project in Kent receives National Lottery funding

A community project, designed to tackle social exclusion and support patients identified as high users of urgent care services in Kent, has been given £8,000 from the National Lottery.

As a result of the funding, the Frequent Service User Service – a part of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust – has set up a group aimed at having a positive impact on people who experience social exclusion or isolation.

The Frequent Service User Service first launched in February 2017, as a partnership between the trust and NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group. It was extended following a positive result in reducing the number of people unnecessarily accessing NHS urgent care services because support has been available in other ways. To date, 120 people have been supported.

Jill Whibley, the trust’s frequent service user manager, said “It (the service) is really about supporting people to self-manage, especially those with multiple complex issues. We identified people with the highest attendances at Maidstone and Pembury hospitals’ accident and emergency departments, to find people to work with.”

“We are delighted that our service has been awarded this funding.“This is an innovative step forward in addressing the needs of our patients. The additional funding will allow people to take part in different experiences and activities they would not traditionally be able to participate in, while also supporting the need to address social exclusion.”

The new scheme has been designed to be member-led, with a committee making decisions about what people will take part in from a variety of activities, such as tai chi, keep fit, cookery, arts and crafts and days out.

There are future plans to establish meetings in community spaces and ‘public living rooms’ in Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone. This part of the project will be open to anyone. A ‘public living room’ is a public space transformed into a communal area and designed to break down social isolation barriers.