Spring Update March 2021

Very best wishes to everyone in these tough times. We hope you find this movement update brings a little Spring Cheer!

You can also watch and listen to it here

What is Social Care Future? – a reminder

Social Care Future is all of us reading this newsletter. We have come together freely as a movement because we are determined to make big change happen in what we currently call social care. We have gathered around a vision as our north star:

We are not a funded organisation. We have a host organisation, the charity In Control, that supports us and at this stage of our development, four “convenors” co-ordinate things on a voluntary basis – Anna Severwright, Martin Routledge, Julie Stansfield, Neil Crowther. Lots of other members of the movement get involved in action in support of achieving the vision and offering support including sharing their skills, taking forward projects, funding for initiatives. Our movement runs on this mutual and collective spirit. We have a chance of a big impact and need to build our movement strength, numbers and action over the next twelve months. See below for some of the “how” but please also share your ideas and offers of contribution

We have a blog site: socialcarefuture.blog

We are on twitter: @socfuture

We are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/socialcarefuture/

Towards a Brighter Social Care Future Festival

Lots of us came together in November for our first on-line festival. More than 400 people signed up for the three-day gathering. 30 sessions combined presentations, debates, interviews, theatre, music and conversation. Lots of the sessions were about key issues and initiatives or to help steer our ideas and plans for next steps. Members of the movement shared inspiring and exciting projects and action. We were delighted that our first on-line gathering still managed to capture the spririt of movement togetherness and equality

You can find recordings of all the sessions and slides here: Catch up with the #socialcarefuture online festival – Social Care Future

The Pledge

On social media, Anna Severwright has led calls for people to say “enough is enough” to conferences and events about social care with no or only token presence of people who draw on social care themselves. Its hard to see social care changing towards our vision if people keep being talked about not with. See Anna’s thoughts here, with a little video and the Pledge – not to attend or organise events without people #oursocialcare – Social Care Future. The good news is that hundreds of people have “signed” the pledge including some prominent national figures who say they will speak to organisers to try to change things. We are meeting with representatives of major “sector” groups to see if we can agree a joint protocol that they will follow and promote.  If this is something you feel is important please consider signing and share the pledge and asking other people to agree. We are using the hashtag #OurSocialCare. If you have practical ideas and examples that can support a protocol please share them. We will bring interested members together soon on this.

Influencing things

Members of the movement look for opportunities to work with and influence others to support our Vision and take practical action to support it. As part of this, our convenors and others have worked on using relationships and connections and seeking particular groups and initiatives that can help. We have spoken at many events and had discussions and meetings with lots of groups.

Our vision is starting to gain traction and starting to be used by lots of groups. We have had a significant influence, for example, over recent statements and principles put out by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association.

Every two weeks we meet informally with a national “Strategic Leaders” group to ensure that our movement’s issues are heard by the most senior statutory, provider umbrella body, and other national leadership groups. This also offers an opportunity to meet with senior government officials.

One example recently is that we had the chance to co-ordinate writing to the Treasury on behalf of most of the main social care leadership groups at the time of the Spending Review. The letter that went was different from most such letters as it put our vision right upfront and rather than just asking for money for more of the same – instead asked for investment in a better future. You can see it here: Priorities for the Comprehensive Spending Review – Social Care Future We plan to build on this as we move towards the more important review in 12 months,

Another example would be our challenge to ensure people with lived experience of social care are heard in reviews and plans about it. For example we ensured witnesess with lived experience at the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee and a commissioner with lived experience for the Demos Commission

The Whose Social Care Future is it Anyway Inquiry 

However, most inquiries or discussions about the future of social care ignore the wealth of knowledge and expertise people who draw on social care bring, so as Anna Severwright says  “our inquiry is led by us, a group of people who all have direct lived experience of social care ourselves or for our family. We have established The Whose Social Care Future is it Anyway? inquiry. A diverse group of 12 people with lived experience from across the movement have come together to help to identify what needs to change to enable our vision to become a reality in people’s lives” Meet the #socialcarefuture Inquirers – Social Care Future

We are just finishing the first phase, gathering people’s experiences and ideas for change, and have had a great number of responses – over 500. Then with support from academics in the movement we will read and analyse the responses and the inquiry group will consider the big issues and ideas arising. We also plan to have some events – debates and online gatherings to look in more detail at some of the main themes and hear from a range of experts across social care. From everything we have heard we will then produce recommendations for how to progress the SCF vision and how we can take this forward into action for our movement and others. This will shape the future work plans of our movement as we work together to try and make these changes happen.

How to build public support to transform social care

Thanks to the financial and in-kind contributions of many movement members, we’ll soon be publishing our findings and recommendations from research carried out with strategic communications experts Equally Ours and public opinion researchers Survation into how we can build public understanding and support for our vision of social care.  Excitingly, the research has found that a reframed narrative can lead the public to express stronger support for investment and reform and that talking about #socialcarefuture’s vision and approach provides a highly effective route for doing so.  Moreover, the research found that after exposure to our new narrative, people were far more likely to associate social care with themes such as independence, relationships and community and far less likely to associate it with paternalistic ideas such as vulnerability and compassion.  We are doing a small, linked piece of work looking at influencing local elected members. We will be publishing a summary of the research and guides on using the new narrative in March including a major launch. 

Challenging the unacceptable, offering solutions

Our focus is on positive action to bring about a better future – wherever possible finding common cause across people who draw on social care, their families and those charged with offering support or commissioning it. This does not, of course, mean we won’t be part of challenges to the rhetoric-reality gap between policy and people’s experience. The Be-Human movement have been offering people the opportunity to register their experience of social and health care and other public services during the pandemic and where requested receive assistance. This took the form of direct advice and support to people and families and a series of practical webinars and guides. Their report from this register is called Building Personal Power. You can see it here: iC-Building-Personal-Power-report-2021-SINGLE-FINAL.pdf (in-control.org.uk)

A number of movement member groups, people and families have been meeting recently, concerned about one of the issues that came up significantly in the register – cuts and extra charges even during the pandemic. Movement members may have seen the recent National Audit Office report anticipating significant cuts and increases in charges. This group has decided to gather more information and challenge what some have called “adding insult to injury”. A survey is underway which we are supporting and we will assist with attempts to draw this to media attention. Here is the survey: Charges for social care and cuts to provision during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Building the movement into a powerful force for change

It feels like we have made a good start this past two years – it’s vital though that we now build on this and turn our movement into a very strong force for change. This is being explored in a number of ways:

Leadership development

One is to look at supporting additional members of our movement with lived experience of social care to be the powerful spokespeople and influencers that can ignite the power of a movement for change. We have started discussions with a national leadership development organisation to explore a potentially large scale focussed leadership development programme over the next few years. Movement members have helped by identifying potential funders of such a programme. The next stage will be to see if we can secure funding and if so, the co-produced design of a programme. In the meantime we want to pull together and grow the number of willing and available people with lived experience up for things like speaking to media, attending events and joining influencing groups. We welcome ideas and suggestions and in our next phase start to take this forward.

Increasing Impact

We’ve also been fortunate to be benefiting from free support from a group called the Impact Accelerator who have identified Social Care Future as a “high potential grassroots movement” to support. These are experts in supporting movements to have big impact, via media and communications, campaigns and influencing policymakers – some members for the last three years have been supporting Grenfell Families in their campaigns on cladding and beyond for example. They are advising us and the inquiry group about how to exponentially increase our reach and impact and helping put a plan together for the next 12 months (see the request for funding support on this).

A long-term framework for the transformation of social care?

Most thinking and action concentrates on making a case to central government. Though this is important it is very unlikely to lead to the kind of change we are looking for on its own. As we develop our movement strategy we will have to think beyond this. Neil Crowther has offered some initial thoughts here A long-term framework to transform social care? – Social Care Future What do you think? Anna Severwright shared some of the things she has been saying to “system leaders” as well – thinking about what we want to emerge as we move from the worst of Covid – certainly not more of the same Social care after Co-vid-19 – Social Care Future

A movement programme for 2021-2

Throughout 2021 we will be running a programme of activity aimed at supporting action to turn our vision into a reality. The programme combines:

  • Sharing approaches and practices that can help build towards the future vision.
  • Updates on movement action and opportunities to get involved.
  • Key debates on issues identified by the Whose Social Care Future is it Anyway inquiry group.

The programme will have core sessions every two months starting in May with supplementary additional activity as appropriate. The bi-monthly sessions will run 11-3pm each day. The detail of the programme is open to development and contributions and ideas are invited from movement members. It will be vital to support the inquiry and practical action flowing from our strategy development with the Impact Accelerator. Some of the activities and big issues looking likely to emerge from the Inquiry deliberations include:

We will run our annual larger, 3 day gathering again in November to coincide with the National Adults and Children’s Social Care Conference

A programme is currently under preparation – please get in touch to share ideas and offer contributions.

How to support Social Care Future

Both donations and “In-kind” support are welcome and needed to sustain and grow our joint movement.

Social Care Future receives no core funding in order to act independently. Some initiatives are sponsored by movement members “without strings”. Income from this programme will be used to sustain our movement activity – in particular co-production, movement building and administration. All programmes are run on a “pay if you can” basis in order to ensure no financial barriers to participation. Donations from groups able to support the movement are welcome. Please see the attached note for more information:

Making Our Contributions: Webinar

We are holding a webinar on April 15th at 2.30-3.30 to discuss our strategy ideas and movement building proposals for members who may be able to offer in kind or funding contributions.

Please sign up for the discussion here

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