Kingston Voluntary Action – Building a connected community

Connected Kingston aims to help residents of the Royal Borough of Kingston find support and activities within their community

Working collaboratively

At Kingston Voluntary Action (KVA) one of my primary goals is to focus on working with voluntary and community sector partners in Kingston, to continue to build a strong, resilient and connected community and to work in a collaborative way that is focused on our communities.

As part of this commitment we organise an annual health conference. The conference started in 2015 to bring together statutory partners, CCG’s (Clinical Commissioning Groups) and Public Health  at a time when new strategies in health and social care were being launched, providing a new platform to collaborate, network and build lasting partnerships.

The annual health conference has grown each year and on 6th  March we held our fifth successful health conference at the Everyday Church in Kingston. The theme this year focused on Connected Kingston and Food Poverty.

Food Poverty

At the conference we presented a report, ‘Food for Thought – Food insecurity in 21st century Kingston’ which was produced at the end of 2018. Data for the report was gathered from respondents over a period of 5/6 weeks in August/September 2018 and was designed to capture the ‘real-life’ food needs of people in Kingston. The report found that in 2017/2018 the Kingston Foodbank provided 4,741 three day emergency food supplies. In a borough where 1 in 8 young people live in poverty what can the voluntary and community sector do to reduce food poverty?

Food poverty is complex and its causes are complex. As a result a number of organisations, both local and national were invited to present to the conference including: Save the Food Club, The Community Brain, Kingston Foodbank, Kitchen Social and the Frameworks Institute.

The voluntary and community sector can do much to address the symptoms of food poverty in Kingston but the causes are systemic and need to be addressed across society, through education, through planning and through employment and all aspects need to be addressed. The messaging and vocabulary that we use is also important when we talk about the broader issue, something that came through strongly in the presentation from the Frameworks Institute.

Connected Kingston

With social prescribing being a huge focus across the sector we, along with our partners, were proud to present the Connected Kingston digital tool at the conference.

Connected Kingston aims to help residents of the Royal Borough of Kingston find support and activities within their community that will help them to make positive changes to improve their health and wellbeing.  The aim of this programme is to link residents to voluntary and community groups and public services enabling them, to meet new people, become more involved in their communities, and feel more connected with the area they live in.

Connected Kingston champions are drawn from staff and volunteers in the borough who have regular contact with residents. These could public health employees, council officers, library staff, housing support staff, voluntary and community groups and GP practices. They have said:

Connected Kingston Champions


Making a pledge

Both themes of the event were welcomed with many attendees pledging to undertake further actions following on from the enthusiasm and interest sparked by the event.

For Connected Kingston, this meant promoting the site, signing up to the Connected Kingston Champion training programme – which provides champions with information about Connected Kingston and the benefits of using a social prescribing approach to help signpost residents to local services and activities and how to refer someone through the Connected Kingston website.

For Food Poverty, pledges included a willingness to find ways to address issues raised in the Food Poverty Action Plan by, for example joining the Kingston Food Partnership, as well as following up with some of the organisations that presented.

A lot of hard work and effort has gone into it making the conference a success year on year but the value it provides  to all partners, along with the difference that we can make together to the wellbeing of local people along with harnessing everyone’s strengths and assets makes it all worth it.

More like this

Here at London Plus we have collected case studies from CVS’s in London regarding the importance of social prescribing and highlighting some of the brilliant projects happening across London. You can take a read of them by clicking the links below:

Community links social prescribing project 

Redbridge CVS: Health and wellbeing buddies