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Meet the team


  • Stephanie Isherwood
  • Clare Burgess
  • Louise Halloway
  • Safron Simmonds
  • David Wimblett
  • Lisa Mardell
  • Rudy De Belgeonne

What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

During lockdown, all face-to-face emotional wellbeing and mental health support activities and groups were suspended.  Providers rapidly moved those that could be to virtual and a project to provide digitally-excluded individuals with technical support and access to devices was mobilised.

Surrey Heartlands partnership, comprising third sector, health and social care, commissioned a one-stop-shop website enabling anyone in the county to view, register and access online activities either by self-referring or via a third party.  Surrey Virtual Wellbeing was launched in just 5 weeks.

In 3 months, the website has had 5,000 visits, publicised 450 activities and registered 165 new people.  Feedback tells us that it has supported people to be less destructive, be more connected and less anxious.

Following the proof of concept, for winter and the second COVID peak we are now iterating the website, extending the activity base and expanding the reach ahead of developing a permanent solution.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Evidence suggests that mental illness is closely associated with many forms of inequalities driven by complex/interrelated factors such as social isolation, deprivation and lack of support to access care.

Supported by our equality impact assessment, we will strengthen the offer for disabled, isolated and deprived people and carers.

By developing a stable community asset we will –

– reach more vulnerable citizens that find engaging with services more difficult due to transport, their dependency on carer support, or anxiety about physically joining group discussions.

– offer a wider choice of support options (face-to-face or virtual) means that our services are more person-centred.

– provide a more accessible ‘front door’ for people to discover what support is available at a community and primary care level.

– easier time management for the providers and less travel resulting in a more robust offering.

– retain the volunteer workforce that third sector partners have recruited over many years.

How will the project be delivered?

There is an established project team and governance in place. Over winter, we will iterate the site to support the second COVID peak, improve the usability, expand the offer and reach and further prove the concept.

We have just run a vision workshop for the longer term permanent solution and are currently developing the proposal and specifications for system sign off.

User testing will be key to developing a robust and fit for purpose product.

Impact will be measured through a continuous cycle of user engagement led by the commissioned owner and will inform future content provision to support addressing inequalities.

The owner will also ensure content consistency and quality as well as activity monitoring to ensure relevance and take-up.

We are exploring the value for money measurement through our partnership with the Academic Health Science Network and University of Surrey.

How is your project going to share learning?

The website has already been well publicised through social media and comms and continually attracts new providers interested in featuring their activities.  The comms campaign repeats regularly.

We are networked in across the Surrey Heartlands ICS with a particular focus on the VSCE sector, mental health, social prescribing and social care fora.  Provider partners publicise the website through their professional networks.

Our first 6 months proved the concept and we are focussing the next 6 months on improving reach to hard to reach and underrepresented communities, driving traffic up and improving the conversion rate of visits to bookings.

Subject to determining the evaluation methodology, any academic write-up will be shared through our networks, AHSN, the Q Exchange and other relevant fora.

How you can contribute

  • Outcome measurement
  • Evaluation methods
  • Similar projects, especially any off the shelf technology to support
  • Targeting hard to reach and underrepresented communities

Plan timeline

2 Nov 2020 Commence development of v2 website
7 Dec 2020 Launch v2 website
2 Apr 2021 Evaluation of v2 website complete
30 Apr 2021 Sign off permanent website business case
28 May 2021 Website developer commissioned
28 May 2021 Website owner commissioned
30 Jul 2021 Permanent website launched

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