Helping people to discover, connect and mobilise for healthier communities

25 October 2023

Hi, I’m Marion, new in post with Community First Yorkshire as Health Connector Co-ordinator in Craven.

It’s possible I could get an award for shortest retirement ever! I left my post as Stronger Communities Delivery Manager with North Yorkshire Council on 30 June, and had the luxury of the summer months to recharge my batteries before starting this new post mid-September.

So what does a Health Connector Co-ordinator do?

To be honest, the title isn’t much of a clue, but it’s helpful to have that focus on health in it. Our health system is fragmented, it’s hard to understand, hard to navigate and it can be difficult for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) to find its place and voice within it. This is despite the fact that I see and hear so many great stories of how VCSE organisations are making huge positive impacts to people’s lives, and at the same time reducing the need for (expensive) health interventions that people are glad they don’t need.

This role is in part an exploration of how together we bridge this divide; helping VCSE colleagues better understand the health economy in which they work, supporting them to tell their story in ways that really capture the essence of work in communities: building trust, providing safe and welcoming places for people to meet, share with others, tell their stories and find practical and emotional support.

Community connections are key

Whilst writing this blog I’m listening to the podcast, ‘The Connected Community’, with Cormac Russell. He says: ‘the neighbourhood is the unit of change’, and this is a great link to the other area of my role: working with Community Anchor Organisations (in Craven as the funding for the role comes from West Yorkshire Integrated Care System) to support them to develop connections with their local grassroots community groups and organisations.

In our very rural part of the county, the vibrancy and creativity of these small, usually volunteer led, groups are the fuel of connection and care, enabling local people to give and receive in ways that benefit all. You and I know so many examples.

Another phrase of Cormac’s is: ‘discover, connect, mobilise’. So this role encompasses supporting our Community Anchor Organisations (CAO’s) to discover, value and support this very local social action, developing relationships with local leaders and activists, and providing them with the information and support needed to connect people in their community with other more specialist sources of support when they need it.

So the ambition of the role is, in many ways, about building different types of connection: between CAO’s, between CAO’s and their local communities, and between the VCSE and health. All in the service of happier healthier communities, a thriving VCSE and a less pressured health system.

Get in touch with Marion by email.