Cooperative Working FAQs

What is Cooperative Working?

People living in Stoke-on-Trent have significantly poorer health and lower levels of wellbeing than in many other areas of the country. The city has an increasing number of contacts and referrals into children's social care, increasing personal debt levels, and high levels of rent and council tax arrears.

There is a clear focus at the community level to target and engage communities who are most in need, and due to their position are consuming disproportionate amounts of public service.

Cooperative Working places the individual or family at the very heart of service delivery. It focuses on the service user from the point at which they ask for/are recognised as needing help, right through to the delivery of what they actually need to help them to solve the problems in their lives, so they can live their lives well.

A multi-agency pilot project called Rebalance Me took place in the northern locality of the city, and the Cooperative Working service delivery model is based on the findings of this initiative.

How will Cooperative Working improve the service?

The benefits of Cooperative Working will be:

  • Ensuring that individuals or families get what they actually need to help them to live better lives by determining what the 'real' problems are to solve.
  • A reduction in bureaucracy and unnecessary delays in accessing help, which currently exist both within and across organisational boundaries.
  • Reduced duplication, being more effective and timely in responding to problems, identifying and responding at the earliest opportunity to emerging problems and potential un-met needs.
  • Alignment of service delivery with the potential removal of waste and repetition within current operational practice.
  • Commissioning service provision to ensure we have the right service provided at the right place and time for the customer.
  • Better outcomes for local neighbourhoods and value for money for the taxpayer. Over a three-year period, the programme is estimated to save the city council and its partners in the region of £36 million.  

What support and services can people get through Cooperative Working?

  • Help and support managing their council tenancy.
  • Specialist support to manage relationships.
  • Advice and information about housing options and homelessness.
  • Sheltered housing provision in the city.
  • Teenage pregnancy support.
  • Education welfare support for young people missing school.
  • Youth services.
  • Help addressing anti-social behaviour in the local area.
  • Independent domestic violence advice.
  • Access to children’s centres and parenting programmes.
  • Drug advice and information for young people.
  • Support for young carers.
  • Access to emergency funds for food, clothing or other necessities.
  • Information on early years provision, including childminders and nurseries in the city.

Currently the programme only includes city council services, but in the coming months partners including health, police, probation and voluntary services will be testing how their services could be included in the tailored support packages provided by key workers.

What will this mean for service users?

Instead of individuals accessing help from a variety of sources to address a range of problems, those with complex needs will be assigned one key worker who will work with them to find solutions. This key worker will pull in expertise from other agencies to work with individuals and families if needed, including the police.

Service users will only need to tell their story once and will then receive bespoke support and advice which meets their needs, at the right time and place. Co-operative Working will also result in better outcomes for local neighbourhoods and value for money for the taxpayer.

How do I refer someone to the Cooperative Working programme so they can have a key worker?

Call 01782 232200 or email  for early help, information, advice and support for individuals and families.

Will anyone referred to Cooperative Working get a key worker, or do they need to qualify for the programme in some way?

We will consider each case individually, taking account of all of the household or individual circumstances. If we find that the service users do not require a specific key worker we are still able to provide information and advice to support them to address their issues. We can also provide signposting to more appropriate services.

How long will the key worker support an individual for?

The key worker will work with individuals or households for as long as necessary - there is no set time frame for cases. The length of time a key worker will support an individual or family will depend upon the level of need and the complexity of issues.

Is Cooperative Working already operating?

This new way of working was 'rolled in' across the city, May 2015 - February.

How do you know this approach will work? Has it been tested anywhere else?

The pilot programme in the Little Chell & Stanfield ward has delivered significant reductions in problems, including a 16% reduction in rent arrears and a 28% reduction in anti-social behaviour. Co-operative Working is also due to be evaluated further by Sheffield Hallam University, which will report back on its findings.

Which public services are involved in the partnership behind the Cooperative Working programme?

The Working Together for our Stoke Communities Strategy Partnership Board, which oversees the programme, includes representatives from:

  • Brighter Futures
  • Department for Work and Pensions
  • North Staffs Combined Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner Staffordshire
  • Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • Staffordshire North & Stoke on Trent Citizens Advice
  • Staffordshire Police
  • Staffordshire and Stoke National Probation Service
  • Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust
  • Stoke and Staffordshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) Ltd 
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Stoke Clinical Commissioning Group
  • YMCA North Staffordshire

Where can I get more information about Cooperative Working?

Visit or contact the programme team on 01782 234658.