29th June 2018 will always be a hugely significant date in the life of Community Catalysts, as it marks the day when we took responsibility for the Local Area Coordination Network and for the development and growth of Local Area Coordination in England and Wales.
Community Catalysts and Local Area Coordination are two of a small group of organisations which work with the strengths and assets of people and communities. Where we have had the opportunity to work in partnership we have always been better together. Our shared values and complementary approaches mean that we add value to each other and make a much broader offer to people and to local areas.
In this formal coming together, 29th June 2018 was therefore a day of celebration with bubbles and a cake as well as the more mundane signing of documents. It was also the day when the work begins to make sure that the Network remains a source of valued support to its members and that Local Area Coordination is valued and adopted widely throughout England and Wales.
So now the work gets underway in earnest. I am spending July and August visiting members, for us to know each other, and so that I can understand their particular challenges and where the Network can help. We will also be busy recruiting a new Director for the Network recruiting a new Director for the Network, replacing the wonderful Samantha Clarke who has moved to become CEO of Learning Disability England.
In the meantime, Cat Thomas and Alex McNeill (well known to the Network from the training events that she ran on the Care Act) will be providing support to members. Ralph Broad, the founder of Local Area Coordination in the UK, remains an important friend and is generously taking responsibility for supporting areas that are just establishing their LAC programmes.
So much valuable learning is going to emerge from our closer relationship. Our celebration cake said ‘Better Together’ but I believe that we will soon find that we are also ‘Stronger Together’. Which can only benefit the people and communities we both care passionately about.