Clients must use their own network more when they have a request for help or support. That is the mores that applies from New Style Welfare and building a participation society. But what is important when using your own contacts? And is it always possible to use your own contacts?
Much is changing in the social domain and some clients have had support for years. In many cases, the long-term support is shortened. It is the role of the professionals to prepare the clients for the changes, for example through The Kitchen Table Conversation.
Points for attention using your own network
What are the most important points for attention when you want to use your own network:
The importance of reciprocity: asking for something is easier if you can also give something back.
Ask at least 2 questions: ‘what do you mean to others’ in addition to the question ‘who supports you’.
Literally map the contacts
There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Find out carefully with your client what is going on, what the desire is and which strategies are most likely to succeed.
Sometimes network-oriented working also means teaching clients skills, such as social skills.
As a professional, consider your own experiences, values and norms about ‘your network’. Ask yourself: if you are in a dependency situation, what is it like for you if the other person proposes to involve your network.
What are own contacts
Own contacts are not only family members, but everyone with whom someone has contact; neighbors, friends, acquaintances, hobbies, contacts from clubs, church, sports, casual contacts in the neighborhood or supermarket, via contacts, social media, mothers from school, contacts from courses. And also volunteers, social workers and other professional contacts. Where someone lives also influences this. In some communities there is much more informal contact than in urban areas, for example. The quality of contacts can also be very different. You can go through This review by Douglas William from Value Network and Collaboration and understand how it is done.
Many professionals have the experience that when they ask about their own network, the answer is that there is no one there. Experience also shows that when you search together, there turns out to be much more than people think. By taking careful, small steps, this network can become involved in the situation. But professionals are not always used to asking about the network. One organization searched the registration system to find out what they had recorded about relationships. This turned out to be very limited: only family data in most cases. They now intend to systematically map out the network with all clients and identify the relationships.
In the district
Organizations that entered the neighborhood from an intramural setting learned that this process takes a long time. Sometimes it took years to open doors and organize activities from the inside out and vice versa. Ultimately it did lead to an exchange with the neighborhood. It doesn’t happen overnight.