Connecting People on Film

The NIHR School for Social Care Research has funded the creation of short films to accompany training materials for the Connecting People Intervention.

The films have been created by Trafford Community TV, a social enterprise spun-off from the Trafford well-being centre blueSCI who are participating in the Connecting People Study.

The films have been developed to assist training sessions about the Connecting People Intervention model. They feature practitioners talking about aspects of their practice within the context of the model. The different opinions expressed by them are certain to provoke discussion in training sessions when workers explore what they think about the practice involved in supporting people to develop or maintain their social connections.

All the films can be viewed via the menus on this website.

An introduction to the films can be found by clicking ‘training‘ in the menu above.

Drop-down menus from this link take you to the following 12 pages:

Question 1. How should I view the person that I am working with?

Question 2. How can I manage boundaries with an individual?

Question 3.How can I keep building on my own community knowledge?

Question 4. How do I overcome barriers faced by working in this way?

Question 5. How do I identify in what areas I can best help an individual?

Question 6. How can I get someone to try something new?

Question 7. How can I help someone to move on?

Question 8. How can I link an individual to someone new?

Question 9. How can I help the individual to overcome barriers?

Question 10. What kind of environment works best?

Question 11. How does this fit with our existing practice?

Question 12. How can our agency form better links with our community?

Each page has a short film and a PDF document with some suggested exercises for use in the training session. They can be used in sequence or dipped in to as required.

Additionally, we created videos, animations and case studies to illustrate what the Connecting People model is all about. These can be accessed via ‘the model‘ link in the above menu. For example, the film below features workers talking about their thoughts about the model:

Finally, the research team talk through what the model is all about:

Click this image to watch the connecting people intervention model

Click image above to watch the Connecting People Intervention model video

We are keen to hear what you think about the films. Please leave us a comment to let us know what you think about them.


International perspectives on Connecting People

Sierra Leone Flag

Sierra Leone Flag

Krio proverb meaning: one tree does not make a forest

Researcher Meredith Newlin has just returned from a two-week visit to Sierra Leone where she was evaluating the feasibility of adapting the Connecting People Intervention model to address the mental health treatment gap in low and middle-income countries we first spoke about here.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University of York via the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2), this visit allowed Meredith and colleague  Dr Susie Whitwell from King’s Centre for Global Health, to visit Sierra Leone in July 2013 to explore how social interventions can help to meet the needs of people with mental health problems. During their visit, Meredith and Susie conducted interviews, focus groups and observations in a variety of mental health service settings and with a number of key stakeholders in the three largest cities, Freetown, Makeni, and Bo.

University of Makeni

University of Makeni


Like many post-conflict societies, Sierra Leone lacks capacity in its health and social care workforce. Where an estimated 13 per cent of the adult population suffers from a mental disorder and there exists only one trained psychiatrist for a population over 4 million, the lack of mental health training and supervision represents a significant barrier to addressing mental health needs.

Although training has begun for 21 psychiatric nurses, focus has been placed on the medical model, which is problematic in a country with poor access to medications. Upon graduating this autumn, the nurses will be based in district hospitals across the country with referral pathways reaching into the rural communities. Training in psychosocial approaches is greatly needed both at district and community levels in order to strengthen the care available to adults with mental health problems.

Psychiatric nurse training at Enabling Access to Mental Health (EAMH)

Psychiatric nurse training at Enabling Access to Mental Health (EAMH)

Meredith and Susie joined the psychiatric nurses for three days of training where they discussed principles of social capital and strategies they currently use to build relationships with patients, and spent time reviewing difficult cases. This gave us an opportunity to analyse the difference between actual symptoms of mental disorders and stereotypes associated with unusual behaviour in a context where people with mental health problems are highly stigmatised and vulnerable. Time spent with the nurses also enabled us to better understand the manifestations of illness from a sociocultural perspective. For example, the nurses explained they see young women suffering more from “frustration” (Krio for depression) due to the immense pressure placed on them to marry and have children, which may be over-diagnosed as psychosis given the prevalence of stigma in the community.

Susie discussing case studies with the psychiatric nurses

Susie discussing case studies with the psychiatric nurses

Feedback from stakeholders on the adaptation of an intervention model was positive, highlighting specific elements of social capital within the cultural context:

  • Building of trusting relationships between the health worker and service user
  • Deepening connections in the community, particularly with family members
  • Enhancing public awareness of mental health thereby minimising stigma
  • Traditional beliefs of mental illness impacting perceptions of recovery
Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital in Kissy

Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital in Kissy

From the data collected in this feasibility study, the research team will continue to collaborate with stakeholders in Sierra Leone to enhance the psychosocial skills of mental health workers through adaptation of the intervention model and development of a training programme.

Training Community Health Officers in Bo

Training Community Health Officers in Bo

Social work perspectives on Connecting People

Earlier this year the Connecting People study team successfully obtained an additional grant from the NIHR School for Social Care Research (who are funding the study) to produce training materials and short films about the Connecting People intervention model. The films and training package will be made available on the this website in the early autumn for anyone to use.

In the course of the filming, we have captured the perspectives of practitioners and service users about how the Connecting People intervention process works and what its outcomes are. We are finding out more about this in the study itself, but the films vividly capture individuals’ experiences of the impact of the model on their work and lives. The first of these films will be uploaded shortly to YouTube as a taster of what’s to come.

Anticipating the release of these film clips, The College of Social Work interviewed Rob Goemans (Professional Social Work Lead) and Jackie Stallard (Mental Health Social Worker) for the July edition of their online magazine Social Work Matters. Rob and Jackie both work for the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust where they are piloting the Connecting People intervention model.

Rob described Connecting People as “more than just an intervention. It’s an overall framework of how social workers, other professionals and services work with people with mental health needs”. He went on to speak about his hopes for the model in providing an overarching framework for mental health social work backed up by research evidence.

Jackie spoke about how the model provides hope to mental health social workers who, in many places, have become disillusioned by mental health trusts obsessed with targets and squeezing out social perspectives. “My priority is the person I’m working with and helping them achieve the best quality of life they can,” she said.

The full article and clips from the interview can be viewed online in Social Work Matters (flash is required).

Alternatively, a PDF version of the magazine can be downloaded here.


Social Work Matters is a magazine for members of The College of Social Work, but is reproduced here with the kind permission of its editor, Mark Ivory.

Issue 4 Connecting People Newsletter

Here is issue 4 of the Connecting People newsletter. In this issue we have updates from the team as well as news about the International Issue 4Centre for Mental Health Social Research (ICMHSR). We also take a closer look at one of the agencies involved in the study, n-compass.

Please let us know what you think of the newsletter. Also, if you have ideas for things you want to see in Issue 5 please get in touch.

Many thanks

The Connecting People Study Team

Issue 3 Connecting People Newsletter

Here is issue 3 of the Connecting People newsletter. In this issue we have updates from the team as well as news of the development of a new training package encompassing video footage of the Connecting People Intervention in action. We also take a closer look at one of the agencies involved in the study.

Issue 3 Connecting People NewsletterPlease let us know what you think of the newsletter. Also, if you have ideas for things you want to see in Issue 4 please get in touch.

Many thanks

The Connecting People Study Team

Issue 2 Connecting People Newsletter

Here is Issue 2 of the Connecting People Newsletter. In this issue we are looking at the Connecting People Intervention in Practice, recruitment to the study and the process of interviewing participants.

Issue 2Please let us know what you think of the newsletter. Also, if you have ideas for things you want to see in Issue 3 please get in touch.

Many thanks

The Connecting People Study Team

International reach of the Connecting People Intervention

I am very fortunate to hold two roles with the Connecting People Intervention: one, as the full-time London based research worker on the pilot study, and two, as a part-time PhD student exploring the international scope of the intervention model.  To address the wide gap in global mental health implementation research and to promote capacity building of researchers in lower-and middle-income countries, I am working on expansion of the Connecting People Intervention to under-developed contexts that currently lack critical resources and skills.

Juggling two roles is not unfamiliar to me, for several years I have pursued my career in psychology research whilst also serving as a director for the small African development charity, SpanAfrica.   But until very recently these two passions for me—the drive to inform evidence-based research and to support meaningful change in underdeveloped countries—have not converged.  This is precisely the reason I jumped at the opportunity to explore the feasibility of taking the UK-based Connecting People Intervention to low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs).

I believe the Connecting People Intervention model has great potential to enhance health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations in LAMICs, especially with its focus on social participation.  I see the intervention as an opportunity to enhance social relationships between individuals whilst also developing the local community through existing services.  But most importantly the intervention model we have developed in the UK cannot simply be imposed on communities across the globe, instead my PhD will explore the ways that the CPI can be adapted to fit the local context.

With a background in health psychology and experience working in severely disadvantaged areas of Africa, I am often challenged by the varying approaches to addressing health inequalities through sustainable development.  We see blanket approaches where non-governmental organisations and international institutions will address seemingly similar issues exactly the same across vastly different countries or regions.

A story comes to mind of an NGO who visited a small rural town and asked male leaders what they needed most for their community. They responded, “a water well” because the women had to walk miles each day to access clean water.   The well was constructed but shortly after installation many people in the community fell ill and they determined it was the new well. What the male leaders didn’t understand was how important that daily walk was for the women.  It was their time for socialising, peace, and exercise.  One woman missed that time so much that she began contaminating the well water just to have that time back.  This is a story that reminds us the importance of truly addressing the needs of the entire community. Whilst the NGO had good intentions, and even worked with the local leaders, it wasn’t sustainable to the entire community.  Of course clean water is vital but perhaps the NGO could have consulted the entire community and in addition to providing clean water also considered opportunities for social participation.

Integral to conducting research in LAMICs is the need to establish strong relationships with key stakeholders to capture a realistic description of the challenges faced by vulnerable adults in the community.  Recently I have been collaborating with individuals from the King’s Centre for Global Health to explore the possibility of piloting the Connecting People Intervention in Sierra Leone.  The connections we are making now will enable us to reach individuals across health and social care systems in Sierra Leone to engage with community-based organisations, medical professionals, religious and community leaders, other mental health researchers, policy makers, and importantly, service users.  Connecting with these individuals in the research development stages, we seek to find the critical balance between addressing local needs in Sierra Leone with the innovative approaches that have been found effective in the UK.

We have developed a multinational research network that draws expertise and skills from diverse disciplines including social work and social policy, social and health psychology, medicine and nursing, global health policy and international development.  As a team we are scattered across the United Kingdom, Sierra Leone, and Australia with connections around the globe in these diverse fields of research and practice.

In order to assess the feasibility and acceptability of the CPI in Sierra Leone, we are arranging travel to Sierra Leone to engage with local stakeholders and gain a better understanding of the mental health services available as well as identify where significant gaps exist, forming the foundation for a needs assessment.  Drawing upon the extensive network of our international research team members in Sierra Leone we will use ethnographic methodology to gain a comprehensive description of the local context. This work will establish the potential for the model to benefit the outcomes for service users and inform the planning the protocol for a future pilot study.

The Connecting People Model in Action

The following case study is an example of the Connecting People Model in action within a Third Sector Service, working with individuals with learning disabilities, shown from the perspective of both the worker (Eric) and the individual (Jack).

Third Sector Service, Learning Disabilities


When Jack first approached us, he wasn’t doing much and was outwardly angry and frustrated. He was bullied at school and had no friends and said it was because he was “different”. He had no self-esteem and was even alienating his family. We needed to put Jack at ease straight away because he was visibly upset about the state of his life, we thought  the best way to tackle Jack’s issues was to identify some opportunities for him to develop his own networks and then identify further resources. At first we tried to build a relationship by simply talking to Jack openly. We wanted to find out what he enjoyed doing and discovered that football was a passion for Jack. Someone I knew was already part of the local football team, so I utilised this contact and this person became a buddy for Jack and took him along to a football session. This proved to be a meaningful place for Jack to be and his confidence grew and grew, not only that but others started to see the assets in Jack. He has made friends and has discovered he is a good leader and teacher so has been looking into become a coach. This success has led to Jack seeking out more opportunities to become involved in the local community, and a new idea that Jack identified was going to a reading group. To begin with we weren’t sure what reading groups were available that Jack would be able to get to easily, so we contacted the library who knew of one that had just started a couple of months before. At first the leader of group seemed reluctant about Jack attending and seemed to have incorrect perceptions of what he would be like, however after talking with them and agreeing to go with Jack to the first session, the leader agreed and when they had spent some time with Jack, their attitude changed completely and they could see the great potential in Jack and were inspired by him. Attending this group enables Jack to be included in a totally different environment to the football club and we can see that it is turning out to be marvellous for his mental capacity and has led to all sorts of people realizing that he isn’t “different” at all!


I was so annoyed when my family said they didn’t know how to be around me anymore, and I should “go see someone”. I thought they wanted to get rid of me so was really scared when I first went to meet Eric but when he explained that I could meet with him whenever I wanted to I felt much more relaxed. I felt I could speak with him really easily because he was so relaxed and friendly, that first meeting all we did was chat about what I liked doing! Looking back I just think how lucky I was to get the chance to meet him, and all the other people who worked there! I love my buddy! He helped me so much when I was feeling like I had nothing to live for. He found out that I like to play football every day and have found that I’m even good enough to teach other people. I took a football book to my book group and everyone loved it! I feel so excited to be sharing my love for football with lots of different people. It feels good to be able to know more about something than other people! I’m reading a book about a farm now which is totally new to me but I’m actually enjoying it, my friend from the reading group told me to read it, I’m glad I listened to her! My Dad says I have grown up a lot and I’ve started to feel a lot closer to my family lately. I love waking up in the morning and getting excited for what the day might bring.took a football book to my book group and everyone loved it! I feel so excited to be sharing my love for football with lots of different people. It feels good to be able to know more about something than other people! I’m reading a book about a farm now which is totally new to me but I’m actually enjoying it, my friend from the reading group told me to read it, I’m glad I listened to her! My Dad says I have grown up a lot and I’ve started to feel a lot closer to my family lately. I love waking up in the morning and getting excited for what the day might bring.

The Connecting People Model in Action

The following case study is an example of the Connecting People Model in action within a CMHT, Older Adult Mental Health setting shown from the perspective of both the worker (Kay) and the individual (Deloris).

CMHT, Older Adult Mental Health


When Deloris first came to the service she had recently lost her husband.  She was coping reasonably well but several months after the loss her sadness had not improved and seemed to be getting worse.  At the time that I met Deloris she was clinically depressed but seeking change in her life.  Deloris has two daughters who live in London and Birmingham with their families.  They visit on occasion and have expressed concern over Deloris’ situation but are unfortunately unable to be involved on a daily or weekly basis.

Through our initial assessment and building a relationship of trust, I could tell that her depression stemmed very much from her loneliness and isolation.  At aged 72 and living in a rural area, her husband and the couple friends they had together were her main source of social contact for many years.  Although mobility was not an issue, she has deteriorating sight and is therefore unable to drive. When Hugh passed she found it difficult to leave the house and connect with others.

Because she was motivated to recover from the depression we initially worked on exploring her interests (past and present) and setting achievable goals for getting out of the house and connecting with others.

Many of the other service users I work with have mobility issues, making it increasingly difficult to leave home and get connected to others.  Aside from her inability to drive, she is still able to get out of the house.  She can walk to the local shop but the buses to larger towns only run once per day.  We had initial discussions of practical support because she needed to get to the GP regularly for vision exams.

Together we decided to look for activities in the area that Deloris could get to on the bus, and set goals initially to leave the house twice per week.  I was able to take her to some activities but wanted to be sure these were opportunities to meet new people so that she could continue getting involved without me.


From the beginning I really enjoyed my time with Kay.  She came round to see me every week or so and we’d have a cuppa and start chatting.  I never felt like she was just testing me, or asking too many questions.  You know how some support workers are, they seem to be ticking boxes rather than getting to know a person.  I never felt that way with Kay.  She was friendly and never pretended to have lived through my experience.  She let me share details about my life and I felt that she understood, without necessarily having lived it herself.

We started talking about my hobbies and interests and sometimes I don’t feel like I have many at all.  But she helped me to think back about what Hugh and I used to do together.  He was a farmer and was quite involved with the union of farmers in the county.  When they met together, I would go and see the wives, but hadn’t been since he passed away.  I wasn’t so sure that I could go back to this group without Hugh. Kay suggested we go together. Her brother is also a farmer in the area and we decided to go to the meeting together for a few times so that she could introduce me to a few people.

Well the first time I was really nervous. I hadn’t been out to see people much recently and I didn’t know how others would react to my being there.  Also, I worried that people wouldn’t be the right age.  Sometimes I feel that I have nothing in common with people from the younger generation but those in my age group have many more health problems than I do.  It’s all they talk about sometimes!  But at the first meeting I recognised a few people and was happy to have Kay there with me.  It took a few meetings before I felt ready to go on my own but I’ve met one woman who lost her husband too and we’re now able to go to the meetings together. Next week we’re planning to go to the travelling cinema that comes to the area once per week.

I’m still seeing Kay regularly but with meeting new people I feel less anxious about leaving the house.