Message from our project manager
As social services shrink, particularly in the areas of adult social care and mental health services, communities need to step up to protect their most vulnerable members. We have seen through our Women's Welfare Ambassadors work how upskilling and supporting survivors of disadvantage through structured training and supervision builds a resource at a community level able to protect others and help them thrive. WWAs have led the way and we are now using this approach to support vulnerable men and new arrivals through a wider Peer Welfare Ambassador team.
PWAs are mission critical for FAST as they provide the one-to-one trusted 'other' which has proved effective in engaging people with little confidence or those who are anxious and scared. They know their communities and they know the difficulties their peers face. They provide the hand-holding which helps people into our support groups and therapeutic activities. The PWA's focus is on tackling the poor mental health which is the legacy of inequality and which isolates people.
Our experience has taught us that we have to help people with practical issues such as debt and housing if they are to sustain healthy lives. For this reason we make our IAG service available on demand. But we can't avoid the difficulties that poor language and lack of ICT skills create. Hence our work with partners to provide basic ESOL and ICT. It is essential also that we bring people together and encourage inter-community working so we can work together to expose abuses which are easily hidden in a fragmented environment.
Linda Malone, Project Manager