Connecting People in Nepal

Connecting People is an evidence-informed approach to supporting people to connect with others


Bonded labour, a form of modern day slavery, is the subject of widespread international concern and action, yet it still persists on an alarming scale, affecting more than 20.9 million people globally. Bonded labour causes significant psychosocial distress, a disintegration of communities and the ways people interact through human contact and trusting relationships. Amid a resource-limited system, there is an urgent call to address the psychosocial needs of individuals, families and communities living in bonded labour in order to help them move sustainably out of exploitation.

This study aimed to adapt Connecting People, and develop and evaluate a training programme, to assist community workers support those living in bonded labour enhance their social connections.


The Connecting People model was adapted via stakeholder consultation into the Bharosa intervention. This provided a practice framework for non-specialist community-based workers to support people with mental health problems to enhance their social connections by engaging in social activities, building trust with supportive people and drawing upon existing resources in their community.

Based upon the intervention model developed in the first phase, we then co-produced standardised practice guidelines and training materials in manuals. Through ongoing communication between members of the research team, CMC in Nepal, and our partner organisations we contextualised language, activities and theory to ensure the manuals are culturally sensitive, thus enhancing retention and sustainability. The intervention model was designed for training-of-trainers, so we trained local NGO staff to deliver the intervention in the bonded labour communities.

We recruited bonded labourers (60 intervention group, 40 control group) to participate in the pilot. We administered measures at baseline, post-training and 6-month follow-up to test the hypothesis that higher fidelity to the adapted CPI will be associated with a reduction in psychiatric symptoms and enhanced quality of life and social relationships for people currently in bonded labour, and increased confidence in skills for NGO staff delivering the intervention. We will also investigate how the various components of the complex intervention interact to inform future iterations of the model and training.


The study is currently underway and the findings will be reported later in 2018.

Research team

This study is being led by Meredith Fendt-Newlin and supervised by Professor Martin Webber (University of York).

Partners in the study are the Freedom Fund UK (, The Centre for Mental Health and Counselling (CMC) Nepal, and the University of Melbourne.

This project has been funded by the University of York ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and the Freedom Fund UK.