Connecting the theory with the practice

Up to this point, our research has been focussed on gathering evidence from extensive fieldwork to form the base of our intervention.  We have travelled to projects all over the UK and consulted with a wide range of people engaging with different services including workers, volunteers, linked organisations, individuals accessing services, and funders.  This has aimed to ensure that the model is grounded in practical examples, and accurately reflects the processes that occur when a worker and a service user work together to increase the individual’s social capital.  Have a look  to understand in more detail the different components of the model.

Whilst we are still conducting fieldwork within several agencies, we are starting now to draw on our model to form the basis of a user-friendly, comprehensive guide of how to utilise the intervention.  We understand that whilst it is all well and good to have produced the model in the diagrammatical form you see in here, or if you prefer a more detailed explanation of the components on Martin Webber’s blog here, the professionals using it to guide their practice will need a more complete and practical set of materials to work from.

To do this, we are taking information from the fieldwork and using it to ‘flesh out’ the model – providing real-life examples at each of the stages.  For example, at the ‘building relationships’ stage on the worker side we will discuss points learned from interviews with service users as to what a worker can do to make them feel comfortable, including the importance of keeping to regular meeting times, remembering names and key facts.  We will also add suggestions that were given by workers at the projects we have studied on how to build rapport – for example sharing a small amount of information about themselves, or discovering shared interests to create an equal footing for the relationship to be based upon.

In order to supplement these practical ideas, we will also be producing a version of the model containing the procedures of a fictitious ‘gold standard’ organisation.  This takes the elements that different organisations from the study excel at and combines them to provide the ‘perfect’ example of how the intervention will work.  We hope that by combining the practical hints and tips, as well understanding how all of the processes fit together within this ‘gold standard’, professionals will be able to use the intervention to suit their own working style and the strengths and limitations of their organisation.

By continuing to conduct fieldwork as this process occurs, the model stays fresh and dynamic and ensures that the practical guidance that we offer from it does the same.

Once we have completed this process, we will be sending out a draft of the model and accompanying guidance to a wide range of individuals for their opinions.  If you are reading this post and feel that you would like to offer your perspective, please do get in touch with one of us at the study and we can talk about how you would like to contribute.

Next week, we will be visiting a project supported by Hestia in Kingston called Kingston RISE.  This service user led group is big on co-production with other organisations and should help us to discover more about how best organisations can link with external agencies to increase their members’ social capital.  For more information on Kingston RISE’s work, please have a look at this article.

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