Can Do Health & Care - How Do We Heal? System Learning Summit

Theme One: Children and Young People (CYP) should be a priority Restrictions have created significant barriers to growth and development for CYP. Examples of this include small children not being used to interacting with others and some even seeming scared to do so. Many children were stuck at home with reduced exposure to things that help build social skills and literacy, and many had limited (or no) toys, books or spaces to play. Some children are struggling to grasp basic skills like using a knife and fork. Locally based services such as libraries can help children to catch up with play and socialisation. The Summer Reading Challenge will be a key part of helping CYP to catch up on early years literacy and school visits to libraries can also help to broaden and extend the learning environment and offer a change of scenery from school. Theme Two: Workplace wellbeing has never been more important Understanding and listening to how people feel as we come out of the pandemic has never been more important. Inevitably there will still be a wide variety of opinions and concerns. Some will naturally feel ‘suspicious’, regardless of where they work, about their organisation’s motivations and how their organisation will implement Government guidance on Covid-19. Some people feel stuck between a rock and a hard place: they want to bring back normality, but what was normal before scares them now. Suffolk Libraries have worked hard to listen to what colleagues think and understand their perspectives. They’ve maintained a constant dialogue with a view to over communicating future plans and being flexible about how they deal with different situations. Theme Three: Understanding and tackling anxiety, hostility and poor behaviour People are fed up with restrictions and particularly the limits on their personal freedom. A lot of people do not want to wear masks and there is increasing hostility towards government guidelines and rules which can lead to poor behaviour. Behind some of the hostility is a groundswell of people who have new pressures in their life and these can sometimes lead to rude, overbearing and demanding behaviour. Some of the things Suffolk Libraries have learned from tackling those anxieties are that simple, clear and non-confrontational signage outlining the current rules/restrictions can be helpful. Stay calm in the face of hostility and try and understand that there is a lot going on for people and be pragmatic if possible. Theme Four: People feel disempowered by the ‘new normal’ For some people a lack of certain skills is becoming apparent and it means they can’t engage with services in new ways as they don’t understand how to. This is particularly the case if they don’t understand digital technology or don’t know how to read. Mis-and-disinformation increases that burden as it can be difficult to know where to go for the right information. A lot of people described how play and fun have disappeared, and people feel life has lost joy because of the restrictions and limitations on what they are able to do, and people feel muddled by the ever-changing information and guidance. Suffolk Libraries has talked about ways to address disempowerment: using safe and neutral spaces, like libraries, to ensure that clear and accurate information is available in an accessible format; and additional support for those with specialist needs – particularly to help people that may struggle with literacy and develop better ways to introduce people to new opportunities. Theme Five: Older and vulnerable people reengaging with society It’s been a long haul for the most vulnerable and they face a whole series of new barriers on top of traditional challenges in their life. Suffolk Libraries has a specialist phone befriending service where they talk to older members of the community a lot, and many of these older people are showing a reluctance to go out. They’ve lost a lot of their confidence and maybe don’t engage with some of the activities and social networks they did before because social contact is a threat. Some of the things Suffolk Libraries are doing to re-engage vulnerable older people are looking at informal mechanisms for monitoring 2 | How do we Heal? System Learning Summit Reconnecting our Communities Bruce Leeke, Chief Executive – Suffolk Libraries Suffolk Libraries had undertaken two workshops to gain reflections on ‘How do we Heal?’ for communities across Suffolk; one for colleagues who work very closely with members of the community and another with parents from one of their specialist perinatal groups. 2. How do we heal? Our local communities Suffolk Libraries has a community driven model. There is a charitable governance structure that incorporates 44 community groups who support each of the libraries across the county. They work with empowered local managers that develop services, activities and experiences that meet community need. Five themes emerged from the workshop: