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


An account of an agency’s experience of being part of the Connecting People study.

n-compass North West Ltd is a charitable organisation with a range of localised services across the North West of England which aim to enhance life opportunities of individuals by using an  innovative and responsive approach. n-compass completed their Connecting People Intervention training in January 2013; their enthusiasm was evident in their application to the activities completed over the two days. Since the training, they referred a remarkable 19 participants to the study in just a few months.


This is what the Lead Health Trainer at n-compass, Rachael Bailey, had to say about the overall experience of n-compass workers and individuals using the services they provide:


“The quality and clarity of the training delivered and the ease of accessibility to make the referrals to Sharon has been a bonus for workers, and customers have reflected and fed back to the Outreach Team about the positive experience which they have found when being interviewed.

We found that approaching customers to take part in the study has not intruded into regular work practices, nor has it been seen as a burden.

As attendees of the training sessions we have disseminated our learning to our colleagues and the Volunteer Co-ordinator has made use of the information and methodology to deliver training to our volunteers who previously had no concept of how the relationships between customers and professionals/services came together. The PowerPoint provided by the Connecting People Team has been an exceptional learning and training aid giving clarity to the overall position of the support mechanism and how the agency, the worker and the customer overlap. The format of the presentation in pictorial form was seen as a major benefit for everyone and highlighted barriers which potentially exist and it opened up opportunities to discuss how as individuals we would overcome them. Throughout the training days we felt valued and there were no discernible barriers preventing the best learning opportunities from the sessions.

Overall, the experience of being part of the Connecting People Study has been positive, both for n-compass staff and their customers.”


We would like to thank ncompass for all their hardwork and this wonderful account of their experience as part of the Connecting People study.

Moving through phases of the Connecting People Study

p>We have now completed the recruitment phase of the Connecting People Intervention Study! We want to take this time to thank all of the agencies and workers involved in the study for your continued support toward the success of our recruitment and completion of the interviews themselves.  We have received some very positive feedback from a number of sources and we hope that this reflects your own experience of the study to date.

Making progressWe are pleased to announce that we completed more than 140 baseline interviews across the three subgroups: adults and older adults with mental health problems or learning disabilities. This would not have been possible without the support of all of the workers at the agencies.  We recognise in the changing climate of health and social services that there is tremendous pressure and we truly appreciate the time and hard work that everyone has put forth to support the success of the study.

It’s hard to believe but we will already be starting nine-month follow-up interviews with participants within the next couple of weeks! In addition to interviewing the individuals again to capture any changes during their time in the Connecting People Intervention, we will also be conducting semi-structured interviews with managers and workers in each agency. Through these interviews we aim to evaluate the process and experience of working within the CPI.

Thank you,

Sharon and Meredith

blog thanks

Connecting People goes global!

This week the Centre for Mental Health Social Research at the University of York announced funding for a new project to explore the feasibility of adapting the Connecting People Intervention model for use in Sierra Leone. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University of York via the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2).

The grant will fund the Connecting People study researcher, Meredith Newlin, in collaboration with 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. The study will use ethnographic methods to evaluate the feasibility of adapting the Connecting People Intervention model and developing a sustainable training programme.

Early discussions with the Government of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, service providers, NGOs, and the Mental Health Coalition, indicate the need to strengthen skill training in Sierra Leone to support existing services with evidence-based solutions. Findings from the study will be used to enable us to co-produce interventions with collaborators in Sierra Leone, which will ensure that Western approaches are not imposed where they may be inappropriate.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the application of knowledge in developing countries is failing. A gap exists between what is known from research and what is done to apply it. To address this gap we aim to evaluate the knowledge transfer of psychosocial interventions for adults with mental disorders in low and middle income countries using a systematic review and preliminary data from this feasibility study in Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organisation has long been concerned about the gap between the high numbers of people with mental health problems and the limited availability of medication. This treatment gap is particularly large in low and middle income countries. However, Western medicine and therapy is arguably not universally appropriate.

Social interventions can help to fill the treatment gap for people with mental health problems in low and middle income countries. They receive a low priority from funding bodies, but have the potential to improve the quality of life, social participation and well-being of people experiencing mental distress. Our exploratory work will determine whether or not it will be possible to adapt the Connecting People Intervention and co-produce a version for the local context in Sierra Leone. Working with collaborators in Sierra Leone led by Dr Carmen Valle (University of Makeni), we aim to see if this is possible.

This first project for the new Centre for Mental Health Social Research at the University of York is an international collaboration involving Dr Elizabeth Hughes (Mental Health and Addictions Research Group, Department of Health Sciences, University of York), Dr Oliver Johnson (King’s College London), Professor David Morris (University of Central Lancashire)  and Dr Lynette Joubert (University of Melbourne, Australia).

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

Latest Recruitment Figures…

We have now conducted 119 interviews with participants from 13 different agencies. As previously confirmed, our recruitment target for the study is 240 interviews to be conducted by the end of April 2013. With the continued support of the agencies, we are hopeful that the final 3 weeks of recruitment can take us much closer to our target!

The recruitment stage is critical to ensuring the CPI study can produce meaningful results of health and social care practice in England.

Once again a massive thank you must go out to everyone who has been involved with these interviews up to now; participants, agencies, interviewers and study administrators. Your continued support with this process is greatly appreciated!

Connecting People at Conference

The Connecting People study was presented to the European Conference for Social Work Research (ECSWR) in Finland in March. This international conference brought together social work academics from across Europe and beyond.


I (Martin) presented two papers on behalf of the research team. The first discussed the methodology of the pilot study and presented some baseline data (abstract below). It was sandwiched between a paper on Kellogg’s approach to programme evaluation from Germany and one on critical realism from Finland. I received questions about how we are measuring fidelity to the Connecting People Intervention, which has prompted us to review our fidelity measure in our next team meeting to ensure it is fit for purpose.

paper 1The second was part of a symposium on randomised controlled trials in social work organised by Jonathan Scourfield of Cardiff University. I spoke about the development of the Connecting People Intervention model, which is the first phase of the development, evaluation and implementation of complex social interventions. This was followed by three UK examples of intervention trials in social work and a glimpse of how they work in Australia. Although frequently problematic and pragmatic, these types of study are helping to provide rigorous evidence about the effectiveness of social work practice.

paper 1

Our pilot study is helping us to evaluate if the Connecting People Intervention improves outcomes for people using social work, social care and health services. Its findings will inform practice and future grant applications to conduct a randomised controlled trial, if it appears effective.

We are now in the final phase of recruitment of participants for the study – just one more month to go until recruitment closes. A huge ‘thank you’ to all the agencies, practitioners and service users participating in the study so far!


Pilot study progress and recruitment updates

Throughout the recruitment phases of the study we’ve had a great deal of interest amongst the participating agencies of how recruitment is going across the diverse agencies and target populations. We have heard from practitioners how recent changes in policy are reflected by additional pressures in their work and we acknowledge that such pressures impact the recruitment and implementation of the CPI model.  In spite of these pressures, 16 agencies across the study are doing fantastically well to recruit participants!

Data on the first 84 baseline interviews indicates we have recruited 60 adults with mental health problems, five older adults (over 65yrs) with functional mental health problems, and 19 adults with a learning disability.

We thought it would be interesting (and fun!) to break these figures down and look at how recruitment is coming along based on the goals we set with each agency at the start of the study.  Recruitment aims were based on the number of new referrals and capacity of staff when the agencies agreed to take part in the study. These aims are crucial to the success of the study, in order to find meaningful results in our diverse sample.

To date, one agency has exceeded their recruitment aim by 40%.  Six agencies are at least halfway toward meeting recruitment goals, four agencies have recruited 20-40%, and three agencies are at 10-15% of intended recruitment.  We have just over one month to continue baseline interviews with participants who are interested in the Connecting People Intervention Study.

Recognising the immense pressure that staff members are under, we are working with agencies individually to find strategies that support recruitment despite these limitations.  We are curious to hear from you, how do you think practitioners might be supported to recruit participants to the CPI study in next month?

Lights, Camera, Action! Connecting People Study Filming

cameraSince finishing travelling the length and breadth of England to deliver training to the agencies participating in the pilot of the Connecting People Study, the team have been discussing how to ensure that all of the knowledge that we learnt whilst doing this training was captured and did not go to waste.  We have had so many valuable discussions with workers and individuals from many different perspectives that we wanted to find a way to encapsulate this knowledge effectively.  We also wanted to ensure that other agencies and organisations could benefit from working using the Connecting People Intervention, without us going to train them personally.

We were recently successful with an application for an additional modest grant from the NIHR School for Social Care Research to help us take this work forward. The grant will enable us to create a training package encompassing video footage of the Connecting People Intervention in action, as well as training activities to allow an agency to train itself independently, which will be documented in a training manual

We have teamed up with Old Trafford Community TV to create the videos for the training package. Filming started at our   London Connecting People event in February, where we captured the views of workers both new to the model and already working within the pilot sites.  There were lots of really useful sound-bites and clips from the panel discussion, interviews afterwards, and the training sessions that we will be incorporating into the training package.

The next step is to travel between various agencies engaged with the pilot study and record footage of their practice as examples of the model in practice. This will range from tours of their facilities and interviews with managers about business issues to chats with individual and worker partnerships about their experiences, and footage of the stages of the model in action.  We are also looking to run another training day to help boost one lucky agency’s knowledge of the model, and capturing some of the harder to describe training exercises on camera.  In addition, animated case studies, presentations of the research and policy background of the intervention, and a detailed explanation of the model will all be included.

The aim is to create a package that can be viewed as short, standalone videos that demonstrate certain aspects of the model; but can also be used as a whole (along with training activities) to allow an agency to start training from scratch.  By adding in all of these elements we hope to produce something dynamic and impactful, which will fit with written training materials and the Practice Guidance to give the full picture of the Connecting People Intervention.

If you have any ideas of things that you would like to see included in this training package, please contact us on

A view from the inside

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are one of the 15 agencies participating in the Connecting People study. Social workers there are busily recruiting participants for the study until recruitment closes on 30th April.

The February issue of the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN) newsletter Mental Health Researcher, which provides news from the MHRN East Midlands and South Yorkshire hub, featured an article on the Connecting People study. It provides a valuable insight into what taking part in this study involves and what practitioners think of the Connecting People Intervention model:

Lincolnshire article