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It Takes 2 project reveals successes and limitations

The need for sustainable community engagement has been highlighted in the third discussion paper from the Avenues Big Lottery funded It Takes 2 (IT2) project. The most recent study reveals the successes and limitations of the project through findings gained from interviews with nine participating Service Managers.

 The IT2 project has taken place over the last three years, concentrating on the London boroughs of Greenwich and Bromley. It aims to connect those with disabilities to others in the community based around shared interests, hobbies or skills. It was designed to address evidence of loneliness and social isolation amongst people with a learning disability.

 Amongst things that worked well in the project included; Community Mapping, where the local community is researched and ‘mapped’. This is then used as a resource by support staff to connect the individual to what they are interested in. There is also anecdotal evidence that individuals who had connected with groups over the last two years had been welcomed into these groups and visibly missed if absent.

 Limitations or barriers in the project included; limited support hours and lack of continuity, an unfortunate impact of reduction in public spending on social care. There was also evidence that, as Avenues increasingly supports people with more complex needs, this needs to be taken into account.

 Key findings for discussion included the fact that there were more barriers to community engagement reported by those in supported living than residential settings. The issue of  the need for further discussion around the formation of relationships, was also highlighted. IT2 had visible successes in connecting people but questions were raised on people’s understanding of the dynamic of these relationships and how to take them forward.

 The IT2 project illustrates Avenues vision of giving everyone the opportunity to be active citizens and be engaged in the community where they live. A final evaluative paper is due to be produced in Spring 2019.

 The full Thematic Study #3 paper 'A short discussion paper based on interviews with participating Service Managers' is available to read here.