Hearing from people who know…and an invitation to collaborate
Hitting the ground running
Hello! In my first blog for the Comm Cats newsletter I thought I would share what I have been up to since joining 3 months ago and give you a flavour of what I have discovered and how this has informed my hopes for the future.
Joining Community Catalysts and following Sian as the Chief Executive is a huge honour. I have always admired what Comm Cats does and the difference it makes. Getting out and about visiting members of the team, community enterprises and community businesses and speaking to health and care system leaders and policy makers over the last few months has reinforced how important our work is and how much it is valued, by the people we support to set up their own businesses; by the people they walk alongside and support; by the communities they work in and by the people who invite us in. What we do makes a difference to people’s lives, provides jobs for local people and boosts the local economy. Step by step each project and conversation is bringing our vision for inclusive, resilient and compassionate communities to life.
In Rotherham, I met the amazing DEXX LifeSkills Centre and Parity Care. Both offering exceptional personalised care and support to people with learning disabilities. Both have broken the mould of traditional day provision. In Sheffield, I visited Heeley Trust a community anchor organisation that started out to improve derelict land and is now delivering so much more, instinctively enabling a neighbourhood approach that is improving the health and wellbeing of local people.
We often talk about the need to reimagine social care and to enable community action. In Rotherham and Sheffield I saw this in action.
The founders of these organisations are going the extra mile to ensure people have the opportunities so many of us take for granted. To do the things that matter. To have purpose and fulfilment in our lives. I was truly bowled over by the passion and dedication of the people behind these initiatives. They are not alone. There are great examples like this across the length and breadth of the UK. I intend to seek out more and to continue shining a light on the great work that they do.
I have also heard from our fantastic Local Area Coordination Network members in Swansea, Derby and York. Hearing how the implementation of this approach has radically changed the way that the local systems work, enabling people to take control of their own lives and unlock their potential with guidance and support of Local Area Coordinators who skilfully walk alongside. The publication of Power and Connection by Eddie Bartnik and Ralph Broad with contributions from our very own Nick Sinclair and Local Area Coordination Network will I hope bring the benefits of this approach to many more areas and people.
At the heart of Community Catalysts is a team of really fantastic, dedicated people. Despite being spread across the UK, there is a real sense of connectivity and shared purpose. At the root of this is a strong connection to our vision and values. Feedback from the team shows how much these mean to each and every one of us:
We cannot do this alone. We need to work with others to reach further and achieve the full potential of our ambitious vision. I am committed to continuing to build on and develop partnerships with organisations and individuals who share our values, passion and ambitions. Never has this been more important than now. The continued issues facing the health and care system need us to think differently and find new ways to address them. We must rise to this challenge, work together and use our combined expertise and experience to ensure policy, funding and practice enables innovation and puts people and communities in the driving seat so that we develop solutions people want and not more of the same.
It’s time to reframe social care, change the narrative and work towards a vision that we all believe in and know works.
This week I took part in Caring Places: Building Healthy Communities 2021 hosted by Buurtzorg Britain and Ireland. This was the first in-person event I have attended since the start of the pandemic and it was a great opportunity to connect, share experiences and unleash our collective curiosity and creativity! I am optimistic for the future. There is a collective desire to move forward, to make the changes needed. I will ensure that Community Catalysts continues to be a part of that future. Championing the voices of people and communities and showing that the art of the possible is just that… possible!
CEO at Community Catalysts
Bringing Local Area Coordination learning up to date
In collaboration with key contributors from across the Local Area Coordination Network, international leaders of Local Area Coordination Eddie Bartnik and Ralph Broad have co-authored a new book “Power and Connection”.
Power and Connection celebrates and brings up to date three decades of learning, evidence and stories, showing the positive impact of Local Area Coordination.
If you’re interested learning more about Local Area Coordination join one of the free webinars running next month:
- 2nd November 8:00-9:30 – A book launch question and answer session exploring what Local Area Coordination is, why it’s important today and what the future holds. Book your free place
- 11th November 11:00-1:00 – A more in-depth look at Local Area Coordination and how it can help local areas with some of the big challenges they face e.g. rebalancing services, building on natural strengths and assets in the community, aligning strategies and resources across health, social care, housing and beyond! Book your free place
Hearing from people who know
Over the last few months, Community Catalysts has been approached by the organisers of several care conferences or events. We were pleased to be invited to join a panel, run a workshop or speak about the work we’ve been doing.
In a couple of instances, we agreed to get involved but then took a look at the other speakers and thought perhaps the voice of people with personal experience of social care was missing. We asked the organisers ‘are people who draw on social care speaking’? and were disappointed to realise that people hadn’t been invited. One organiser told us they had approached people with lived experience to speak (at what stage wasn’t clear) but that the people they had approached were too daunted to accept. That led to a conversation with Anna and Martin at Social Care Future about the issues and how we might all be able to help raise up and promote these unheard voices.
While we don’t have the answers quite yet, Social Care Future and Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) have kindly offered to convene a space for those conversations to take place.
If you are interested in getting involved there will be a Zoom discussion on October 21st 2021 for people with ideas and are up for taking and supporting practical action. Book your free place
We know from experience conference organisers, especially those organising the bigger, shinier, more corporate events, don’t always look for the voice of personal experience early enough or see it as a priority.
Angela Catley, Director of Development – Community Catalysts
Voices for colourful lives – connecting in a disconnected time
Through our partnership project with Borough Care we’re supporting care home residents and their families to give a strong voice in the way services are designed and run.
We are now almost a year into the project. Care homes are understandably still maintaining very strict protocols about visiting and family and friends cannot see their loved one so easily as they did before the pandemic. Recently, indoor visits have now been allowed (with some restrictions) and Claire Slatter, our Project Worker, has been able to meet some families and staff face to face for the first time.
It felt quite strange when I was finally able to meet and to talk to people who I’d only ever seen on my computer screen.
Claire Slatter, Project Worker – Community Catalysts
The recent discussion theme with residents and their families has been about moving into a Borough Care home. People have had a lot to say and it has been really interesting listening to them.
One of the most powerful messages was what an emotional experience this can be, even when people feel that it is the best decision for them and their loved one.
Claire Slatter, Project Worker – Community Catalysts
This is a ground-breaking and exciting project for us and we are so pleased to be working with Borough Care and the people it supports to learn, create, and develop new ways of working together.