Change that leads to better lives

What does an Inclusion Plan look like?

Completing the Inclusion Web at two different times enables us to see changes which have occurred during the intervening period. A key to success is building an Inclusion Plan with the person.

1. Get to know the person
A detailed knowledge of the person’s ambitions and aspirations is essential for an effective inclusion plan – not just what they want, but why it makes sense for that person in particular.

Steve loved the animal sanctuary for its fields – time to be quiet under the sky.

2. Get to know the community
We need to be as sophisticated in our understanding of the community as we are of the person. This is the mainstream community beyond the helping agencies.

The City Farm is very busy and crowded, so it might be better to link into the huge allotment area near the ring road. One plot is held by a local conservation group.

3. Build capacity in health and social care
Sometimes helping agencies inadvertently block progress in inclusion by failing to prioritise life beyond the service or placing barriers in the way. Work with colleagues in the care system to ensure that everyone is working together on the same agenda.

Steve’s psychiatrist wanted to refer him to specialist mental health gardening project, rather than support his participation in an ordinary community activity. Other staff talked to the psychiatrist about the value of inclusive activities and informal relationships, and the multi-disciplinary team booked a trainer to speak to them about how to promote inclusive lifestyles.

4. Build capacity in communities
Whilst some community organisations already offer everyone a respectful welcome and opportunities to participate, others require some help. Work with both formal and informal community groups, networks and organisations to help them change what they do so everyone can be included.

Over the past year, the team supporting Steve have been developing a training event on inclusion, mental health and wellbeing. Whilst the conservation group at the allotment did not want a formal presentation, the key messages have been woven into a few conversations with the chairperson over the past year. She is now visibly more relaxed and accepting about people with mental health issues in the community. None of this has identified Steve as a person who has used mental health services.

5. Support other aspects of life
It is damaging to ignore the social inclusion goal – but efforts are likely to fail if social inclusion work is done without paying attention to other parts of life that might otherwise get in the way.

Steve had experienced real difficulties in the past making new starts because his partner and son were so anxious about how things would work out. A very informal Circle of Support was set up with Jim and another person from the church called Rose. The Circle generated some great ideas about how Steve could cope with his anxiety in new social settings, and this reassured his family. As a result, joining the conservation group became a real possibility.

6. Get there and settle in
A careful analysis of the process of joining the new group or activity will help, particularly if the person needs intensive induction and coaching for the first few visits.

Conversations with the chairperson of the conservation group revealed that there is a little-used side entrance to the allotment site quite close to where Steve lives. He can have a padlock key and so walk to the site on Saturday mornings. It turned out that there was an unwritten routine in which the first task was to offer everyone a cup of tea – even if everyone appears to have a drink already. Because the support worker helped Steve discover this rule, he was confident to go straight to the kettle and then connect socially through the tea-making ritual. This really helped him to feel at home.

7. Sustain participation
This is the stage where people deepen their participation from simple attendance to real belonging. People care for one another, take action if someone is absent and value each person’s contribution.

One member of the conservation group seemed aloof and, on the face of things, unfriendly. After a few weeks, he brought Steve some cuttings from his garden at home. There wasn’t much conversation, but it made Steve feel he had been accepted.


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