Micro-provision of social care support for marginalized communities - filling the gap or building bridges to the mainstream?

Catherine Needham, Sarah Carr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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As English social care services reconstruct themselves in response to the personalization agenda, there is increased interest in the contribution of micro-providers – very small community-based organizations, which can work directly with individuals. These micro-providers are assumed to be able to cater for the ‘seldom heard’ groups which have been marginalized within mainstream social care services. This article reviews recent literature from the UK published in peer-reviewed journals from 2000 to 2013 on support provision for people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. It considers the marginalising dynamics in mainstream, statutory social care support provision, and how far local community, specialist or small-scale services are responding to unmet need for support and advice among marginalized groups. The review found that there is a tradition of compensatory self-organization, use of informal networks and a mobilization of social capital for all these groups in response to marginalization from mainstream, statutory services. This requires recognition and nurturing in ways that do not stifle its unique nature. Specialist and community-based micro-providers can contribute to a wider range of choices for people who feel larger, mainstream services are not suitable or accessible. However, the types of compensatory activity identified in the research need recognition and investment, and its existence does not imply that the mainstream should not address marginalization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)824–841
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number7
Early online date5 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2015


  • Social care
  • Personalization
  • Micro-enterprise
  • Seldom heard
  • Black and minority ethnic
  • Lesbian
  • gay
  • bisexual and transgender


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