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HOW TO… Support a vulnerable person in your Green Community Hub

Successful Green Community Hubs are able to fully engage their local communities and this will often mean welcoming and supporting members of the community who might be considered vulnerable.

It can be difficult to define a ‘vulnerable person’ -after all, everyone is vulnerable to harm at some point in their lives, but some people could have a range of past or present experiences that make them more vulnerable to harm or exploitation, than others. Such experiences could include poor mental or physical health, neurological concerns, learning disabilities, and many other issues.

Vulnerability is also often linked to health and social inequality and as such vulnerable people can often experience further issues such as social isolation, poor housing, poverty, and lack of access to support.

To help Green Community Hubs welcome and support vulnerable people into their spaces, we’ve prepared a short guide:

Do they feel safe?

People coming to your Green Hub should feel emotionally and physically safe. This will be achieved by how you work with someone. It is really important that you create a safe working environment and you can achieve this by:

  • Ensuring that you have appropriate risk assessments
  • Being aware of your safeguarding policy
  • Creating accessible spaces. -Think about access and movement around your site, including for people with sensory issues
  • Creating an induction for newcomers, including site rules to give clarity to expectations
  • Keeping people updated and informed on any changes to your site

Give people a choice

It’s important that everyone has a sense of agency and control over what they do. This means giving people choice. You can ensure this by:

  • Listening to what the person wants
  • Being clear about what will happen and what they have control over
  • Adapting activities to enable people to take part if they wish to
  • Always explaining clearly the task at hand
  • Giving people the opportunity to say no, or to opt out of an activity without any shame or embarrassment.

Build trust

Building trust is crucial for continued engagement with vulnerable people. You can do this by:

  • Being open and honest with everyone.
  • Fostering a relaxed, friendly, and open atmosphere
  • Managing expectations and never over-promising
  • Making sure you do follow up on any promises that you make
  • Allowing people to develop a role within the group. -Give people roles of responsibility within their capabilities.
  • Ensuring people are consistently supported.

Work together

It can be helpful to work in a person-centered way. Spend time with your volunteers and get to know them.  What are their likes and dislikes? What are their passions?  What are their skills? Actively listen and be positive. Work together by:

  • Asking what volunteers need
  • Making sure that people are clear about their roles and responsibilities within the group
  • Signposting volunteers when they need extra support -Work together with local agencies and other support organisations or community groups.
  • Designing activities that can be tailored to a range of vulnerable people

Empower your volunteers

Feeling part of a community group is about feeling empowered to contribute to it. Empower your volunteers by:

  • Validating their feelings and engaging with them in a non-judgemental manner
  •  Actively listening to what they need and ensuring they are signposted or referred to the correct support

Embrace cultural differences

Everyone is different and we can each bring something unique to the table, so, when combined, it’s our differences that can help us achieve our shared goals. Embracing difference means considering and giving space to differing cultural values. You can do this by:

  • Having an awareness of your own cultural values and an acceptance of cultural differences
  • Empowering all volunteers and staff to challenge any discriminatory language or behavior
  • Being aware of, or familiarising yourself with the worldviews of cultural groups other than your own
  • Having an open and non-judgemental attitude

Useful Training

To further support you in your work with vulnerable people, you should also explore specific and formal training on:

  • Risk Assessments
  • Equality and Inclusion Training
  • Safeguarding
  • Understanding DBS, Disclosure, and Barring Service
  • First Aid, including Mental Health First Aid
  • De-escalation Training
  • GDPR
  • Other more specific training for example, on the Autustic spectrum, mental ill health, addiction, dementia, and abuse.

You will also find lots of helpful guidance about safeguarding on the NCVO website here:

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