Wells launches CLARE Project

Launch 1Health Minister Jim Wells today launched the ‘Creative Local Action Response & Engagement (CLARE Project) in Belfast.

The project is a community led initiative that aims to build on the ability of local people to support vulnerable adults to live independently in caring and responsive communities.

The Minister said: “This is a ground-breaking project – empowering individuals to shape and manage their care and support and at the same time drawing on skills from within local communities.”

The CLARE Project is part funded through the Public Health Agency (PHA) and is the first project in Northern Ireland to receive investment from The Big Society Capital.

CEO of Big Society Capital, Nick O’Donohoe, said: “Projects like CLARE demonstrate that charities and social enterprises can come together with investors and commissioners to deliver innovative solutions and tackle important social issues. Big Society Capital is very pleased to make its first investment in Northern Ireland, through the intermediary DERiC, and hope to see many more organisations take on social investment and deliver services for the community.”

The project aims to address social isolation, improve health and well-being and promote independence by empowering individuals to shape and manage their care and support, drawing on skills within local communities.

Laura Feeney, C.L.A.R.E Programme Manager explained: “The C.L.A.R.E model is a seamless approach, assisting people to connect to appropriate services and community resources that will improve their lives for the better. Our focus is on enabling people to maintain their independence and live socially connected lives within their homes and communities by utilising the skills and goodwill of local community champion volunteers.”

Many aspects of the CLARE Project resonate with a key aspiration of Transforming Your Care – promoting home as the hub of care. In seeking to empower individuals and communities it is also a clear demonstration of the agenda for collaborative action outlined in the public health framework – ‘Making Life Better’.

‘Making Life Better’ aims to improve health and reduce inequalities in health through action on the wide range of factors influencing health and wellbeing. It commits to creating the conditions for individuals, families and communities to take greater control over their lives, and be enabled and supported to achieve their full health potential.

Acting Chair of the PHA, Julie Erskine, said: “The PHA is keen to explore new ways of working with communities in order to improve health and wellbeing and target inequalities in health. We have been instrumental in establishing and supporting the CLARE programme as we believe that this innovative approach can make a real difference, achieving better outcomes for vulnerable people, for volunteers, for communities themselves, and for health and social care organisations. This programme shows the benefits that are possible when we work in partnership and harness the energy, skills and neighbourliness of local people.”

Concluding the Minister said: “Support from families and friends are associated with better health and wellbeing, and the links that connect people within their communities can promote resilience against difficulties. This innovative project will help vulnerable adults and older people to live with dignity and independence in their own community, avoid social isolation, and have a feeling of control over their own lives.

It is a timely initiative in response to current challenges faced by adult health and social care services and provides a unique opportunity for statutory services to work in partnership with the community sector to maximize skills and resources and achieve better outcomes for vulnerable adults and older people.”