Networks and surroundings

The broader ‘Spaces of opportunity’ theme is about how people move through a service - quite literally, in the case of entrance ways, rooms and corridors; and more metaphorically, in the networks, pathways and 'service eco-systems' that we create, to come to any service by, and to move on to. Here we address specifically working with the wider environment, outside the service.


Networks and surroundings*

.....But the actual buildings that service providers own - or rent – and manage are not the only physical spaces we can use. Thinking more laterally on how we use the availables spaces might include a spontaneous decision by a worker, or even a team philosophy or policy – written or un-written - on using local social spaces, such as a café or a park; or deciding to use ordinary local venues, such as a coffee bar, for meeting with clients.

In the case of outreach work, there may be no actual 'core' building to the service at all. But still workers must take great care over how they enter another person’s space; and how they can use that space. One perceptive blogger writes about her use of her car, as a space where relationships change. There is a whole skillset here to explore (HERE).

Comparable in flexibility is something more like the 'Key Ring’ model, where there may be no central building that people have lived in and moved on from, as a core-and-cluster creates. But still there is a conscious effort here to develop, in ordinary, dispersed housing, a supportive community network of people who have shared some other bonding experience, both to avert the risk of isolation, and to provide group support and a new kind of belonging.

NB: It is noticeable that many services have responded to this need for on-going relationship by developing a different project to move on to, as part of their own service, such as a range of 'move on' housing, with lesser levels of support. In some cases, it may be something quite different, such as an employment or training project.

The advantage of such a project, integrated within one single agency, can be that it keeps the link with peers, the others in the same boat, whilst requiring a referral process, and so retaining making the relationship, and the common bond, whilst moving on. There seems to be some real value in the sense of continuity that comes from moving on, whilst remaining within the same agency.

For work on how the service works with the wider network, to create more effective pathways, see also 'Pathways, systems and system coherence : HERE


*NB: this page is an excerpt from an earlier draft of 'Psychologically Informed Environments frm the ground up: service design for complex needs', by Robin Johnson. Read more in the 'PIE pubications' pages : HERE

Further background and links

Case studies and practice examples : HERE


Library items (NB: currently inaccessible online, through a technical fault. To access specific papers, please contact the editorial team)

Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces : HERE

The Zone : HERE

Queens GardensHERE

Seattle : HERE

Ypeople's clubhouse : HERE

Paula Corcoran on creative use of the environment: HERE


Psychological awareness ; HERE

  • Empathy and emotional intelligence : HERE
  • Approaches and techniques : HERE
  • Psychological models : HERE

Training and support : HERE

Learning and enquiry : HERE

  • Reflective practice : HERE
  • A culture of Enquiry : HERE
  • Sector engagement : HERE
  • Evidence- generating practice : HERE

Spaces of opportunity : HERE

  • The built environment : HERE
  • Networks and surroundings : HERE
  • Pathways, systems and system coherence : HERE

The Three Rs : HERE

  • Rules and procedures : HERE
  • Roles and relationships : HERE
  • Responsiveness : HERE


Where are relationships in PIEs 2.0? : HERE

A lived experience view of PIEs : HERE

What's the Big Idea?  : HERE

From PIEs 1 to PIEs 2.0 : HERE

Will there be a PIEs 3? : HERE