A new evaluation report, produced by the charity Helpforce, has found that a network of community hubs in Cornwall has helped to reduce increasing pressure on NHS services by providing local support to local people.
Survey data collected from 6 hubs from a network of over 40 in the region, has shown that without the support of a hub, 50 % members said they would have approached a healthcare provider, with 38% saying they would have contacted their GP had support from a hub not been available to them.
From over 400 people surveyed across 6 community hubs, the evaluation report found:
- 50% of hub members said that they would have approached a healthcare provider for support if the hubs did not exist with 38% saying they would have contacted their GP had support from a hub not been available to them.
- People’s confidence in managing their own health increased from 59% to 76% after using community hub services.
- Community hubs provide support that improves emotional wellbeing – in terms of improved mood (93%), reduced feelings of loneliness (88%), and improved self-esteem (85%).
- 99% per cent of members had their expectations met or exceeded.
Community hubs are places and spaces that act as a central point of voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) contact and support for their communities. They are connectors of people, communities, local groups and voluntary sector organisations and activities.
Between November 2022 and March 2023, the hubs received more than 50,000 attendances (children, adults and elderly attendees), who were supported in many ways, including access to a heated environment, refreshments, social activities, practical support and advice, as well as signposting to other services.
At a time when the cost of living crisis, cold weather and rising energy bills had gripped the country – the report found Cornwall’s network of hubs to be a vitally important community asset, providing essential local support that can respond to health and social care strategies to keep people well, connected and supported close to where they live.
One hub user, Eric*, said: “I don’t know where I’d be without them… They go the extra mile as well… I’m just scared, if they (the hubs) ever close down I don’t know what would happen, not besides me but to a lot of people.”
The report was produced by Helpforce, in partnership with Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board (ICB), Volunteer Cornwall and Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF). The evaluation was co-designed with hub leaders and VCSE partners.
We are delighted that our work evaluating the hubs has been well received and may play a part in sustaining this vital community asset. Cornwall’s alliance of voluntary sector collaboration and ICB support is a great example of how integrated care systems can support VCSE-provided services that can help people stay healthy and well where they live.
This evaluation demonstrates the impact that local, community-based anchor organisations have in supporting people in their place. It also demonstrates the benefits of collaboration between the hub network, wider VCSE partners and our ICB.
Cornwall VSF is delighted to support the community hub network as a vital part of the essential local and thematic VCSE support available across Cornwall.
Cornwall Voluntary Sector Forum (VSF)
*This case study is based on an interview with a hub member and has subsequently been anonymised. The image is used for illustrative purposes only.