Become a Strengths-based Area

Who is missing out on public services?

Despite the pressures of austerity, rising demand and workforce shortages, public services still work well for many people, much of the time. But current approaches consistently fail some people:

  • People who experience societal inequalities like poverty and racism get poorer access to support, and worse outcomes from services
  • When people are in contact with multiple services, those inequalities multiply

So, for some of the people who have the most contact with public services, that support system stops helping and can become part of the problem, keeping people stuck in dependence or crises. Individual services attempt to create better support pathways, but what good looks like to the service isn’t always important to people, particularly people from groups and communities who weren’t part of designing that pathway. And people on multiple service pathways get pulled in different directions.

These dysfunctional relationships with services can lead to people being labelled as having ‘Severe and Multiple Disadvantage’, being ‘hard to reach’ or becoming ‘High Intensity Users’ of emergency services. Some people are repeatedly offered services which don’t work for them, or remain stuck in services designed to ‘move them on’, others, often out of frustration, stop engaging with services, stop paying their council tax, or engage in anti-social behaviour.

How can we take a different approach, and get different results?

The ways we describe that unequal distribution of help tend to locate the problems as being with the person that services aren’t helping: they are ‘complex’, ‘challenging’, or have ‘severe and multiple disadvantage’. But people’s lack of fit with services is never one-way.

We can never simplify service pathways enough to be easy for people who need to navigate lots of them, and who are likely to encounter prejudice, exclusion or oppression in those services and their wider lives. So, the ‘integration’ agenda can’t fix these issues on its own. Instead, we need to tackle inequalities from the ground up. The core elements of our Strengths-based Area Strategy are:

1- Use equalities data & deep listening to identify who’s being most let down. With community organisations, find individuals from those groups. 2-Use Coaching to build trusting relationships, identify meaningful goals and co-design support that enables people to move on. 3-Use System Convening to identify themes from individual work. Bring the learning - and people themselves - back into service design and workforce development.

Read our Strengths-based Area Strategy Explainer or download our complete slide pack.

For communities to thrive they need services and systems that not only meet the needs of local people but create a sense of ownership.

If you would like to explore bringing strengths-based practice to your area, you can work with Mayday through our strategic advice offer. We will work with you to build a bespoke consultancy package that suits your needs, but some of the typical elements of our offer are outlined below.

How Mayday can help you

If you have any questions or would like more information on how you can work with Mayday then please get in touch.

Useful reading

Four Steps to Becoming a Strengths-based Place: 2022 What next for strengths-based areas? Report from the Social Care Institute for Excellence, Mayday Trust and Think Local Act Personal

Human Learning Systems: Public Service for the Real World (2021)