Going Above and Beyond: Building Change towards a Brighter Future

By Tim Cooper, United Response

Last week we celebrated Social Care Future’s online festival Towards a Brighter Future; taking part in three days of presenting, discussing and sharing new ideas and collective goals for care. As a network with shared goals for positive change in what is currently called “social care” #socialcarefuture is leading the way in creating a vision for people to support and for future reform to aspire to.

Not for profit care providers shared stories of innovative work they are doing in local communities based on a special ethos we share. This belief is that providers should not only deliver good care but go ‘above and beyond’, transforming and improving lives for people we support. We do this by campaigning, influencing and above all bringing people together as ‘inclusive and aspirational’ communities to generate ideas and engage allies.

Macintyre presented the Our Voices Platform how people inspired and instigated positive change in the face of Covid19 to keep communities coming together even in the face of job losses and forced isolation during lockdown. We have thrived, provided solutions and sought opportunities to learn.

Certitude demonstrated different ways of setting up workshops, creating art and perhaps most fabulously bringing people together with ‘laughter yoga’, not only in traditional day centres but with groups in leisure centres and libraries to bring people from different walks of life together. There were some fantastic examples of providers finding new funding for laptops and tablets, rising to the challenge of Covid-19 to digitally link up people during the pandemic.

Camphill Village Trust showed new models to build skills for support workers around the concept that ‘Every Day Matters’ for people we support. It was fantastic to hear how staff are trained that listening, understanding, asking the right questions, explaining facts tactfully, extenuating the positive and focusing on the future can make such a difference not only for care but to transform confidence and improve lives.

Most importantly we heard passionate, articulate and powerful voices of people we support setting out their ideas for their future; that they should not be seen as disabled nor as independent adults be treated like children. The ethos that they are at the very centre of decision making on the best care for them was one of the loudest messages to come out of the festival.

Another clear theme from the festival was the need to rise to the challenge of how our shared vision for positive change can be articulated to the wider public. How to engage people who perhaps have no direct experience of social care with the opportunity to join our cause, contribute and share ideas, and build support for inclusive services to benefit everyone in the local community. We heard from expert campaigners Kat Sladden and Paul De Gregorio, who have empowered other grassroots organisations such as Grenfell United to grow campaigns that bring about real change. There was enthusiasm for the aspiration for #socialcarefuture to transition from a network with shared goals to a national movement for change.

It strikes me that this issue of growing a movement for national support of positive change care comes at a particularly relevant time. This month marks the 25th Anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, which outlawed unjustifiable disability discrimination. There has been huge progress and better opportunities for disabled people since that time, but perhaps this change has not developed at the same pace, or been delivered as comprehensively for people with learning disabilities and Autism.

Growing the vision we share with #socialcarefuture by articulating positive messages to the wider public is a perfect way to mark this anniversary. Building new ways of delivering innovative and inclusive services for everyone brings us all together as people regardless of disability or any other label. At United Response we will continue to support this path towards a brighter future.

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