100th organisation joins ReferKent to support vulnerable residents

Social enterprise Beam, which helps homeless people and refugees to find jobs and accommodation, is latest partner in Kent County Council’s successful collaborative platform for support services. 

ReferKent is an online platform that aims to streamline referrals of people needing support with issues ranging from debt to mental health and well-being. The aim is to encourage partnership working between different organisations across the voluntary sector and local government, including schools, to best meet the needs of vulnerable residents.

Kat Illsley, Delivery Manager at Beam. Photo courtesy of Kent County Council.

Kat Illsley, Delivery Manager at Beam. Photo courtesy of Kent County Council.

Since the platform was launched in September 2022, 1,000 such referrals have been made – meaning that residents get the help they need more quickly and in a more joined-up way. 

The service is free to any organisation that supports Kent residents and can be accessed from mobile and desktop devices. The platform has been funded by Kent County Council’s Helping Hands Scheme. 

The system was established in response to the Covid pandemic, during which many people were directed from one organisation to another without getting the support they needed. The platform makes the process quick, easy and secure, with referrals tracked and monitored so that an organisation can be sure that the clients it refers receive help  

Organisations who sign up also receive support, information and networking opportunities, with a dedicated ‘Strengthening referrals’ channel hosted on MS Teams, regular meetings and a newsletter with latest updates. 

Beam is the 100th organisation to join.   

Kat Illsley, Delivery Manager at Beam, says: ‘Beam’s casework team shared how wonderful it has been to have a resource which allows them to instantly signpost a client to another service if for any reason Beam can’t help. This collaborative approach is really comforting for both Beam’s caseworkers and service users. Beam is excited to become an established ReferKent partner and is looking forward to accepting referrals from the ReferKent community in all the Kentish councils we are working with. 

‘Signing up to was really simple. The team offered plenty of support with completing the forms and beyond signing some paperwork, all Beam had to do was send our logo. I then completed the training, an easy to attend 20-minute online session which explained the platform and left plenty of time for questions.” 

Roger Gough, Leader of Kent Country Council, adds: ‘These are challenging times for many people and what is most important is that those seeking help get it as quickly as possible and are supported by the right organisation at the right time. 

‘ReferKent is already proving to be an effective way of signposting people who need help by referring their needs directly to the correct place without unnecessary delays. It is also proving successful in ensuring that people don’t miss out on crucial additional support that they may not already be aware of. 

‘It is great to see that this excellent example of collaboration and partnership working. Feedback already shows that people in Kent feel that they are being listened to and supported with their issues.’

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