Lowestoft Rising is a radical approach to integrating public services, bringing together Suffolk County Council, Waveney District Council, Suffolk Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office and Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group.
- Project: Lowestoft Rising
- Objectives: A significantly improved quality of life for everybody growing up, living in, working in and visiting Lowestoft
- Timescale: October 2013 – present
- Cost to authority: Redirection of existing resources – investment to ‘unblock’ barriers
- Number of staff working on project: one ‘change manager’, plus existing staff time from Suffolk CC and Waveney DC
- Officer contact details: Chris Bally
Originally developed from discussions between public sector partners in the area, Lowestoft Rising addresses the root causes of the town’s social challenges rather than only tackling the symptoms.
Lowestoft Rising is unique in its approach, which focuses on building relationships between organisations and individuals, rather than discussing governance arrangements and pooling funding.
Suffolk is a pilot area for community budgets; we had a successful neighbourhood budget in Haverhill. We have learned from this that resources and time were consumed identifying budgets within a locality and putting in place the governance necessary to manage pooled budgets.
With Lowestoft Rising, we wanted instead to build on existing relationships and the knowledge and experience of those who deliver services. We engaged with frontline staff and local managers and listened when they told us that service delivery could be improved by cutting out duplication and making better use of the collective resources in the town. We knew instinctively that if we took a more integrated approach, we would save money while delivering better outcomes for the community.
Further, Lowestoft Rising differs from other collaborative council work in that it is developing integrated approaches involving the breadth of public sector agencies in Suffolk alongside voluntary organisations and the Department for Work & Pensions, while in other areas this might be restricted to health and social care or organisations supporting troubled families.
Lowestoft Rising works from a set of principles that set the tone of the relationship between partners as one of trust and collective ownership and which is less reliant on governance, differing from many other forms of collaborative working.
The principles are that partners will:
- Collectively make decisions about how services are delivered that are in the best interests of local people.
- Ensure at every level that officers consider themselves as part of a public sector family rather than operating within their individual organisations.
- Be respectful of the constraints and responsibilities of partners but work together to establish better ways of delivering services.
- Be mindful of the implications on service delivery in other parts of Waveney, Waveney and Great Yarmouth or Suffolk.
- Take every opportunity to reduce duplication and make best use of collective resources.
- Accept that the financial benefit of working together will vary.
- Allow what makes sense to the frontline to inform the evolution of a new delivery model and be comfortable with the ambiguity of this at the outset.
We also used a ‘change maker’ to work across the four organisations with permission from the chief executives and chief constable; this individual is tasked with asking questions, building relationships between organisations and challenging practice.
Achievements and goals
Ultimately the ambition of partners is for a single integrated public sector organisation for Lowestoft, and to build on the strengths Lowestoft offers as a place to live, work, visit and invest in, delivering long-term and sustainable change for the town.
To better achieve the desired level and pace of change, we have been working closely with Community Action Suffolk and Lowestoft Vision (a private sector organisation). This has already reduced service demand equating to over £640,000 in savings between April and August 2014.
An example of this is the complete redesign of drug and alcohol and mental health services in the town.
Lowestoft Rising addressed a disconnection between services in this area, most evident in the issue of street drinkers, whose number had grown to some 35 people. Police were receiving regular complaints from the public as well as shops and businesses about the anti-social behaviour linked to the group gathering in town, sleeping on benches and being aggressive. The hospital had an increase in admissions from this group. Despite this, there was no cohesive response and some agencies were ducking responsibility.
We created a multi-agency task force bringing together all relevant statutory providers and the voluntary sector to tackle the street drinkers in a holistic way using a case conference model.
From this, we launched our Reducing the Strength campaign to limit alcohol sales. We educated off licences selling to the group, while the police enforced a designated no-drinking area in which they seized and tipped away alcohol. Housing and social care teams, supported by voluntary sector outreach workers, started to find solutions and alternative housing options for some of the street drinkers. The courts supported with issue of criminal anti-social behaviour orders on the most disruptive. The group, chaired by our Lowestoft Rising manager, has brought in numerous voluntary organisation to offer a range of options and support to those wanting to change their lifestyle.
The holistic approach was very successful and reduced the number of street drinkers to just four.
Another project borne out of Lowestoft Rising is the integrated out-of-hospital team, which has had a significant positive effect on the quality of services delivered to patients.
The team, made up of health and social care professionals working together in a co-located and collaborative model of care, has improved services delivered to patients/customers and reduced the number of urgent admissions to our local district general hospital since its introduction at the beginning of April.
The service operates around the clock, seven days a week and is based in the most deprived part of Lowestoft. Because people are looked after more actively at home, patients are not admitted to hospital as frequently. When they are admitted, they spend less time in hospital because discharge arrangements and support in the home, appropriate to their personal needs, is provided.
In the first four months of 2014-15, emergency admissions fell by 9% and the reduction was even greater in people aged over 75 years. This was against a backdrop of emergency admissions rising significantly (10%+) in the rest of the east of England.
The holistic partnership approach to Lowestoft has seen crime and anti-social behaviour reduce by 381 offences and 725 incidents respectively between April and August 2014, equating to reductions of £283,000 in economic terms.
As a result of Lowestoft Rising’s influence, public consultation is being approached in an innovative way, using Community Action Suffolk as the main voluntary and community organisation to co-design and deliver the community engagement elements of major projects in the town.
We are continually working with local communities and businesses to promote and celebrate the achievements of Lowestoft as a town. The Queen’s Commonwealth Baton Relay in June 2014 was a spectacular success with a day of activity for people of all ages and backgrounds on Lowestoft beach.
This is about whole-system change and it is a long-term commitment. It is about the public sector in Lowestoft speaking with one, unified voice. I am proud to say that, together, we are making steps towards achieving this.
Chris Bally, assistant director, IT and business, Suffolk CC