TOWN DIGITAL HUB
Manage life issues with local help
The free web platform for volunteer supported wellness planning
Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England, 2014
Whether seen from an economic or social perspective, volunteering is big business, with annual turnover well into three-figure billions. But it is a well-hidden jewel, whose social worth is rarely the subject of a public valuation.
Social Care Institute for Excellence, 2016
Taken together, [the Care Act, Children and Families Act, and NHS Five Year Forward View in 2014] form a policy programme which promotes citizenship and community as the foundation on which local health and social care systems are built. Volunteering and social action are at the heart of this programme.
Help others learn to self-manage their wellness
Show people how to create a holistic wellness plan from local resources and share it with their personal support network
Problems such as isolation, weight/fitness, criminality, and employability often have complex underlying causes that people cannot redress unaided. Social prescribing and other public sector outreach schemes may recommend community assets such as coffee mornings and clubs but, without addressing such causes, clients in the most need will continue to have poor quality of life and make extended use of public services.
The problem is particularly acute for people who are transitioning from a major life change such as bereavement or discharge from an institution (armed force, prison, hospital, children's home, detention centre, or educational establishment). Services to aid such transition have limited resources, which they could make better use of by focusing less on delivery of one-off recommendations and more on coordination of sustained volunteer support.
Social Return on Investment from advocacy is 3 times the maximum from social prescribing, but professional advocacy is expensive. Town Digital Hub is a web platform that unlocks the massive potential of volunteer resources by enabling peer-to-peer support in self-management of wellness. Volunteer advocates, with professional coordination and safeguarding, help others create a holistic personal wellness plan from community assets and other resources including professional services, share it with people/organisations that support them, track progress using standard self-assessment tools, and provide feedback on the effectiveness of resources for specific purposes.
People need less and less support over time, in many cases going on to coach others in wellness planning. Data from wellness plans is aggregated/anonymised to inform smart investment into local infrastructure. Community, professional providers, and commissioners become part of a virtuous circle of community engagement, resilience, and regeneration.