• Supporting those affected by the misery of stigma and exclusion

Developing a social support network

Qultura is working to develop a social support network which will address two specific issues found in many local communities and society in general. The first is the lack of general social mobility and the second is to develop an alternative safety net which can connect people who need support but are failing to get it with people who can provide that support.

Whether we like it or not there are people who, for whatever reason, just don't have access to a reliable or safe social support network. Many people are estranged from their families, have few friends and even fewer friends they can rely on to come through and provide support or short term assistance when they really need it. While there are organizations such as The Samaritans which provide crisis support and other organizations such as Turn2Us, and the Citizens Advice Bureau who provide advice, there are very few if any organizations who provide effective and sustainable social support with all the follow through and follow up.

There's a lot of different organizations and charities out there, not just advice services and charities for the homeless, food banks and many others. But there are still numerous ways that people can still fall through the holes in the safety net and much of the reason why they are still able to fall quite easily through any social safety net is because they don't have access to a social support network.

This is not about competing with or replacing any of the many organizations or charities out there many of which are doing sterling with ever decreasing resources and in spite of ever increasing demand. This is about developing a new level of support which can 'catch' people early enough in the process to ensure that people are getting the support they need and not falling victim to bigger issues and ending up destitute, homeless, suicidal or prematurely dead.

This is why Qultura is working to create a new layer within its organization and structure which is based on participation and reverse participation. How this works is that people sign up to our social support networks as participants to create a new network of people who have some sort of connection with each other. Then when people need the support for whatever reason they can become reverse participants and receive support from other participants. This gives the network, and a local community an effective and reliable means of being in a position to support people who need it. By support here we are referring to emotional and practical support. As an example let's think of someone with a disability who is about to be assessed by the Department of Work and Pensions. These assessments generally tend to create a lot of anxiety and fear among those who have to attend them. However if the person with the disability was part of a network they could probably find someone who could accompany them to the assessment and they wouldn't feel so anxious and they would also have the practical support from someone who can accompany them to the appointment.

This is also why Qultura has developed a new way of support known as pledge and appeal. Pledge and appeal is a new way of sharing resources which is designed to be more extensive than support offered by food banks but also far more. We have set up a facility where people can support Qultura by pledging their support which can be an offer to share space, make a donation, cover expenses, or donate items, goods and services. Then people who have become reverse participants (who need support) can write appeals and gather the resource3s they need. We are working to bring businesses and companies into our pledge and appeal strategy by encouraging local retailers such as supermarkets and grocers to bhost our appeals.

This would work as an alternative to food banks. Reverse participants would write appeals which could be displayed in local stores for people to donate to items in a list which the reverse participant would later be able to collect from the store. The system is designed to be cashless, quick and efficient and enable people to obtain essential items during periods when they have been left without income and experiencing financial hardship. This is a type of support we are looking to provide in addition to food banks, who we also support.