Reasons to be cheerful

By Martin Walker, Think Local, Act Personal

Music has played an important part in my life – and I’m sure I’m no different to many. Lots of us have a ‘soundtrack’ that maps out our lives. I guess I’m a man of eclectic tastes – Classic FM is always on in the car, I love getting lost in David Gilmour’s soulful guitar playing – and a bit of Boney M with friends always gets us shuffling our feet.

Words from songs say what I want to say better than I can – ‘rip it up and start again!’ for the first version of this blog, for example.

Maybe it’s too early to be positive, but it feels like spring is signalling a new beginning for us here in England. Places are opening up, life as we knew it is starting again.

For me, it’s been a hopeful year in which we at TLAP have been able to remind government policy makers about the importance of supporting  people to live independent lives.

We’ve united people and their supporters to talk about direct payments and how they could work better – whether they are working or not working.

We’ve convened councils, the LGA and ADASS to work on how to fix difficult systems and processes of our own making – watch this space on reducing bureaucracy!

So, of course Ian Dury and the Blockheads spring to mind when I reflect on all these reasons I’m feeling cheerful this spring.

Innovative care provision springing into action

As colleagues ask me about the difficulties community providers of day opportunities have with restarting their services, my instinct is to always ask the inspiring local people I’ve worked with in the past. For example, people like Steph Birkinshaw and her Fun Filled Days ranging from making crepes for brunch and toasting marshmallows over a firepit (very safely) to visits from ‘reiki sue’ to give lessons on skin care and adapted dance sessions from a local dance troop, all based at Edlington Hilltop Centre Their vibrant person-centred and led activities are restarting.  Like many providers, technology played a part in staying connected this last year. Unlike some providers they managed their insurance issues successfully.

Unthinkable outcomes now a reality

The cup that is always half full that is Katie Clarke letting her friends on social media know that Team Clarke, a group of Personal Assistants will be getting her daughter Nadia into that perfect bluebell lined glade on a hillside in Halifax one way or another – sounds like a wellbeing outcome to me. Unthinkable a few months ago when we heard about the lengths Katie and Nadia needed to go to with cleaning and safe use of PPE to stay safe whilst shielding.

Personal Assistants – critical to mum’s happiness

My mum’s personal assistant Jayne will be taking her to the local garden centre today on her 87th birthday. She was proud as punch about walking to the hairdressers last week – it’s 400 yards down the road, but that’s a victory for her and us after months of perpetual challenge to maintain her mood. Jayne ‘s daily visits and my chats, which usually involves IT support, are critical to her wellbeing.

What’s next for self-directed support this spring?

Feels like we should be doing something positive and moving forwards doesn’t it? I’ll be doing that this year with TLAP’s work around self-directed support.

Join me at Socialcarefuture on 27th May taking a look between the covers at Direct Payments: working or not working and how the voice of recipients could be strengthened.

You can also hear how some councils have already begun a journey to address those system and process issues and get back to the roots of self-directed support.

Why not join us this spring as we head towards a brighter future – book now here. What’s the soundtrack that maps your life right now? 

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