The Early Action Task Force was brought together by Community Links in 2011 to address the question of how best to build a society which prevents problems rather than coping with their consequences.
We believe that early action in public services yields a triple dividend – individuals and communities leading thriving lives, costing less, and contributing more. To achieve this we need a radically transformed system that ensures we are ready to deal with setbacks but also ready to seize opportunities. In the world of employment support this means people in fulfilling work that is appropriate to their skills and ambitions, enabling them to be more self-reliant and contributing more to their community and the economy.
In order to deliver an early action system which truly makes us ‘secure and ready’, it is clear that we need a complete overhaul of the principles on which our current system is based. However, in order to make that change, it is essential that we highlight examples proving that such an approach is effective. We’re therefore asking you to tell us about your experience of early action so that we can share inspiration, encourage others to deliver early action, and influence local and national policy agendas in the process.
We’re interested in stories at any scale, from national initiatives to community centres. We’re also interested in stories at any stage of prevention, from universal services to timely interventions targeting specific groups who are currently overlooked. We’re seeking examples of projects or systems that are taking a different approach from mainstream services, acting earlier and producing better outcomes as a result.
One example we’ve already found is ‘Jobs, Friends and Houses’ – a construction community interest company established by the Lancashire Constabulary which trains up recovering addicts, many of them ex-offenders, through renovating derelict properties which are then either sold or rented out to the “recovery community”. This not only provides useful skills and material gains, but creates supportive social networks and breaks the cycle of re-offending that such individuals often find themselves in.
In the face of public spending cuts and political crisis, we recognise that early action may currently seem utopian or even naïve. Yet it is increasingly clear that our current system is unsustainable, and the National Audit Office agrees with us that an early action approach “has the potential to result in better outcomes, reduce public spending over the long term and achieve greater value for money.” That’s why we need your stories to inspire people that another system is possible.
Whether it’s only partially implemented or piecemeal in its success, we’re interested in your experience of early action to help us deepen our understanding of what makes prevention effective and to share great stories that illustrate the financial, social and economic benefits of acting earlier.
To get in touch, please email Rosalie.Hayes@community-links.org. Even if you’re unsure whether your experience demonstrates early action, I really want to talk with you. As we want frontline experiences of early action, I’m keen to know your opinions on their effectiveness, longevity and any changes you’ve seen in how services are delivered.
Over the coming months we’ll be highlighting the most interesting examples of early action and commenting on their policy implications via our blog, keep abreast of our work here. If twitter is your medium, follow us @Comm_Links.