Working in environments without buildings

The earliest description of a PIE - the first examples given, in the DCLG/NMHDU guide that adopted and popularised the term - tended to assume that the environments where this new thinking was to be found were mainly within buildings.

Even so, the working social and practical links and pathways between buildings, in 'move on', in 'core and cluster' models, clubhouses, Key Ring models, and in supported accommodation and 'networked housing' of all kinds, were seen as part and parcel of the same careful attention to on-going psychological and emotional needs.

We also found gardening projects, and workers holding keyworker session in coffee bars, or in their car, or groups in a local park - and staff describing how changing the environment they worked in, could to help 'change gear' in the relationship with the service users.


Outreach and entrances

This was the territory where outreach workers spent most of their time; and the arrival in the UK of new thinking in the form of Pretreatment, and especially the work and writings of Jay Levy and his colleagues, began to help us find common ground between the PIE idea and work on the streets. Or in the woods.

In particular, the entering and exiting of a service were seen as key moments - as they are in many more explicitly therapeutic settings, such as therapeutic communities - and it was important for staff, and systems, to be aware of the whole trajectory of people's lives, and the limited role of any one service in that flow.


Working with the whole pathway

Meanwhile, the idea that exclusion was in some ways systemic, and the need for system change, and system brokerage, began to acquire some momentum.   Accordingly, we began to adopt a term already in use in health and social care, and speak of working with or managing 'pathways', or of creating 'a PIE of pathways'.

The revised, PIEs 2.0 account therefore treats all these as aspects of a whole; and attempts to find the common ground between all these ways of working, as expressions of the original PIE idea, in new forms. Here we talk now of creating - or simply finding - the 'spaces of opportunity' to engage, whether they may occur in buildings, on the street - or in the systems of services.

The Pizazz Self Assessment and Service Specification  framework therefore has a whole area devoted to outreach work, networking, and what we had called 'a PIE of pathways', as one of the more specific 'practice elements'.  Here we keep them all grouped together, as one inter-locking but open system.


A PIE approach in community work

For some services and activities, however, this whole area will have greater prominence; and for some, it may be valuable to be able to 'drill down' and focus in closer detail on particular aspects. For local commissioners - and what are now called, in the US, 'Central Organising Structures", managing barriers and bottlenecks between local  services may often be a central concern.

With the pen-and paper version of the Pizazz, there is limited scope for this - except by adding extra sheets for such detail. But the newer PIE Abacus software version does allow greater freedom to expand into and explore this territory.

For the comparison of the Pizazz on paper or on screen, see: 'The Pizazz on paper or on screen' : HERE



Further background reading/listening/viewing

Open spaces

A PIE of pathways; the work of REACH in Western Massachusetts HERE

Brendan Plante on outreach and community : HERE

Camp Take Notice :  HERE

Into the woods - a video exploration of Camp Take Notice now;  HERE

Louise Simonsen on the Street Buddies team : HERE


Evolving systems

Alex Smith and Ray Middleton: system change brokers : HERE

Gerry Dickson on Groundswell's Peer Health Advocacy : HERE

Steve Robertson on the Big Issue as a psychologically informed business environment : HERE

Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Services : HERE



Making meaning; the art of common language construction : HERE

Car, bus, tram or unicorn; why my car is a psychologically informed environment : HERE

Think swearing isn't big and clever? Think again HERE

On using the word 'you' to engage - or disengage HERE  

Loving beggars; how to escape stereotypes about street people :  HERE

A PIE of pathways; on attachment, relationship, witness, and continuity : HERE

For the rest of the 'spaces' collection:

  • Introducing the PIE approach : HERE
  • The built environment and adaptations : HERE
  • PIEs, scattered site and networked housing: HERE
  • Using the whole environment: HERE
  • Outreach, pathways, and environments without buildings : HERE
  • PIEs, communities and a sense of belonging : HERE
  • Clubhouses, cores, and campus models : HERE
  • PIEs in therapy settings : HERE
  • 'Psychologically informed business environments' : HERE
  • Whole system PIEs  : HERE
  • PIEs and ‘exclusion-informed research’ HERE