In the first half of 2017, at the very start of the Hub’s development, we undertook a community consultation, to understand more about local perspectives on the needs, concerns and priorities of people in Feltham.
We spoke to students, parents, community groups, Local Authority professionals, and senior staff from other local schools, using surveys, focus groups, interviews, meetings and workshops. The research was co-led by three Reach Academy students who were paid for their roles.
The main findings of the consultation are summarised below.
Priority needs of the local community
The priority needs of the local community most frequently identified by respondents were:
- Family support
- Support for the earliest stages of life: antenatal and 0-5 support
- Careers & University guidance, information and support for young people
- Mental health & wellbeing support
- Adult education & parental employability
Common themes in conversation
In addition, a number of common themes emerged in the consultation which – whilst not representing priority concerns – seemed significant for respondents and for our thinking about the Hub:
- Mutual support & community spirit: some respondents suggested that a major strength of the local area is its community feeling, and a culture of mutual support
- Multiculturalism & inclusion: many respondents suggested that Feltham’s multiculturalism is another strength of the area
- Government cuts bite: the effects of cuts were mentioned by a large number of respondents
- Feltham’s reputation & standing: many respondents discussed how the local area is sometimes negatively perceived by people from other parts of Hounslow and of London
Reach Academy’s position to deliver this work
We received feedback from respondents on our early ideas for the Hub. The response to the overall vision for the Hub was overwhelmingly positive, and respondents suggested that the school is well-positioned to embark on this work. The feedback we received also included a number of important considerations for our planning:
- Signposting: respondents stressed the vital role the Hub can play in linking people with the right support services, where they cannot be provided directly in the Hub
- The look and feel of the Hub: respondents emphasised the importance of how the Hub building appears and how it is perceived in the local community
- Frontline staff: respondents made the point that recruiting the right frontline staff is key to the success of the Hub
- Peer support: respondents advocated for peer support as a way of ensuring that there is a community development aspect to the Hub, and people do not feel that help is imposed on them
The key conclusions that we reached on the basis of this consultation were as follows:
- Reach Children's Hub is needed in Feltham
- The Hub should work to improve school readiness; improve family stability and capacity; and improve local post-school outcomes (among other objectives)
- The Hub should focus on both senses of early intervention work: both in the sense of starting work with children at the very first stages of life, and in the sense of operating "beneath the threshold" of crises or statutory intervention.
- The Hub has to be based around the principles of inclusion, reliability and excellence – effective community work in Feltham requires accepting and working with a diverse range of people with diverse needs; providing a reliable service on which people can depend; and pursuing excellence in provision, to ensure that multiple and complex needs are addressed effectively.
- One key part of the Hub’s work should be fostering effective peer support networks. Where possible, the Hub’s programmes should involve training peer mentors and/or developing supportive social networks.
We continue to engage the local community in ongoing conversations about the development of the Hub, including running a series of workshops to help shape our Early Learning Community project with Save the Children.
If you live locally and would like to discuss the Hub’s work with us, please feel free to arrange a visit by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org