In March 2017, Community Catalysts hosted the first community micro-provider networking event in Knowsley. Nine providers were able to attend and were joined by Elected Members responsible for Adult Social Care, a range of specialist Local Authority officers and colleagues from Adult Social Care, Commissioning, the Social Growth Team and local partners.
The event was designed to benefit community micro-providers to allow them to network with each other, make contact with key council officers and managers and raise the profile of the services they offer or plan to offer. Each provider used the event to tell their story, describe the life events that had prompted them to either set up their own community micro-enterprises or become involved in services that help people live better lives. The stories held the audience transfixed and the level of expertise that people had was extraordinary, both in terms of the practical response to problems faced by families and individuals with health and social care needs, and the technical knowledge and detailed understanding of conditions such as dementia, fibromyalgia and poor mental health. It became abundantly clear what drives people to set up an enterprise that delivers innovative and attractive services – knowledge and experience combined with a strong desire to care for and make life and communities better for other people.
The level of expertise that people had was extraordinary
This was an action-oriented event, designed to allow providers to create, extend and expand services and to this end, there was a furious exchange of names and contact details between providers and council colleagues. A number of providers came together to discuss how they could collaborate and work together. Two people developed a plan to support each other to set up a new enterprise to provide support to older people in their own homes. Another provider was in demand because of her experience and deep understanding of caring for people with dementia.
The event also provoked lively discussion, especially around austerity and the shortage of resources for adult social care. It also presented the opportunity to describe the service transformation currently underway in Knowsley that recognises the need to really do things differently, not just do less of the same. It was agreed that for community micro-enterprise to flourish there needs to real system change.
The event also provoked lively discussion, especially around austerity and the shortage of resources for adult social care
Perhaps the greatest testament to the success of the event was that nearly everyone stayed for up to 2 hours after lunch to continue to make connections, seek advice and discuss ways to work together. One provider reported that she felt much more confident going forward after listening to the experiences of others, whilst another believed that having the opportunity to raise the profile of her work would be critical in developing her offer. Another sent an email shortly after the event:
Just a little note to say thank you very much for today, I was inspired and can’t wait to progress. It’s good to reflect and see the bigger picture
Within days, Knowsley Council made contact with a number of community micro-providers with a view to introducing customers or making referrals– a clear demonstration of the commitment to this way of working. Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group have also showed significant interest in incorporating community micro-providers into their commissioning portfolio.
It’s great to see so many ideas being put into action to create a rich and diverse offer for customers and to realise that there is so much rich experience, knowledge, expertise and talent across all our communities in Knowsley
Sean Cook, Head of Early Intervention and Prevention at Knowsley Council
Future events are planned that will focus on specific issues identified by community micro-providers, however in the meantime Community Catalysts will continue to work to raise the profile of community micro-enterprises, support them to design and deliver services that meet the needs of people in Knowsley and continue to identify others in the community that want to help people live better lives.
Community Catalyst Knowsley