Don’t we all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, doing what matters to us in communities where we all look out for one another?   Isn’t that what great care and support should help to protect and promote for everyone?

To achieve this, we need to invest together.  Government must find a way to increase the amount of funding available. But to be sustainable, reforms are needed to unlock the already abundant resources and power to make change that exists in communities across our country.

This is the emerging vision that binds together the diverse network of individuals and organisations that have united under the banner of #socialcarefuture. Unfortunately, our new research, ‘Talking about a Brighter Social Care Future’, published today, finds that our vision isn’t the story of social care being told to, heard by and understood by the public today.  That is to say, our vision doesn’t fit in the current frame.

Why is this important? As Professor George Lakoff has explained ‘Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. In politics our frames shape our social policies and the institutions we form to carry out policies. To change our frames is to change all of this. Framing is social change.’ If we want to achieve the structural and systemic changes needed to move our vision from the margins to the mainstream, we need to change the way social care is talked and thought about.   In short, we need a new frame.

This is why, alongside our report, we are today also delighted to be launching a major new project to research and develop a new way to talk about the social care future we are striving for, with financial and in kind support from a number of partners.

Today’s report is a modest first step in beginning to understand current thinking and contemplating how we might go about this task. In ‘Talking about a brighter social care future’ we have explored how a sample of campaigning organisations and networks talk about social care in their campaign materials, we’ve looked at how the print media has talked about social care over the past two years and we have looked at evidence of how the public thinks about social care. Doing so has revealed a number of common themes and patterns, pointing to some dominant ‘frame elements’ in the way social care is discussed and thought about and the values embedded in such framing.   We have then contrasted these with the key elements of our own vision.   For example:

  • We start with the idea of social care as a solution. The dominant narrative presents it as a problem to be fixed.
  • We regard social care as a springboard, while the dominant narrative presents it overwhelmingly as a safety net.
  • We see the growing value to society of great support. The dominant narrative presents social care as a growing social and financial cost.
  • We see our fellow citizens being supported to live lives that they choose to lead, as part of a reciprocal web of community based support. The dominant narrative is of a one-way street, with regulated personal care service ‘looking after vulnerable people.’
  • We see people with gifts and potential to be nurtured. The dominant narrative sees people with needs.
  • We believe everyone is set to benefit from there being great care and support. The dominant narrative presents social care as exclusively benefiting older, disabled people and ‘vulnerable people.’   Moreover, the print media most commonly now describe people using or needing social care as ‘patients.’
  • Crucially, we believe great care and support transforms people’s lives and we want to see exciting new approaches grow and spread, through a reformed approach and greater financial investment. The dominant narrative presents social care only as in crisis and broken with more funding to maintain the status quo the only answer.
  • We root our vision in intrinsic values of equality, justice and reciprocity. The dominant narrative flip-flops between a highly paternalistic form of benevolence or, through emphasising threats, invoking extrinsic values around security and social order.

The research will now follow four stages: defining the change we want to see and the audiences we need to reach, mapping the current landscape of discourse and thinking, looking deeply at the mindset of our target audiences and working out how best to persuade them to support and be involved in pursuing our vision.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be publishing an invitation to tender to enlist expert support with carrying out the research ahead. We’ll also be working with our network to refine #socialcarefuture’s long term and intermediate goals and to identify who we need to influence to achieve them, as the crucial first step in this process. You can get involved in this work at our meetings in Birmingham on 28 November 2019 and Manchester on 4 February 2020.

A special thank you to all of our partners, whose generous support is making this project possible (we’ll update this blogpost with a list of them all later). Of course, further resources – financial, technical or other in-kind – would allow us to expand and deepen this research project. We also want to work with organisations to apply and helping us to test potential new narratives and messages. If you would like to support the work or to be involved please do get in touch.

In the meantime, please do share your thoughts and reflections on our new report.

Download the report Talking about a brighter social care future

Download an easy read summary  

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By Claire Gleeson & Charlotte Crabtree, Keyring

Whilst there are record levels of employment in the UK, there are nearly 715,000 work-capable yet unemployed people with learning disabilities. While 6% of people with learning disabilities are in work, 65% would like to be. In our Oldham service we currently have 14.65% of Network Members who are in employment.

Building independence is the key focus for KeyRing and we investigate with Members (the people we support) what this means for them. Working gives people a feeling of belonging, of usefulness, of meaning. It gives them increased financial independence and a larger network of connections. It reduces reliance on ‘serviceland’ and benefits.

Not only that but it also gives them a positive and influential role in society. It demonstrates the wide variety of skills and potential that people have. It changes perceptions.

Simon has escaped the benefit cycle

Before joining KeyRing, Simon had been using recruitment agencies to help him. They were unable to provide any advice about finances and Simon soon found himself visiting the foodbank. We supported him to budget and helped him to apply for roles that were commutable and used his skill set. We talked about how a role on the continent would be a tricky commute from Oldham!

We arranged to accompany him to interviews and enabled him to plan his bus route. We gave him the confidence and helping hand that he needed to make his desire to work a reality. Simon was able to escape the benefit cycle and achieve financial freedom.

Susan found a role that fit with her health needs

Susan dreamt of becoming a maths teacher but her long-term health condition made a full-time position unlikely. She was doing voluntary work at a local college but longed for more. We supported her to access a Jobcentre Plus Work Coach. We also contacted SMART START who support Greater Manchester residents to grow and sustain their own business. The New Enterprise Allowance and advice received all gave Susan the confidence to start her own maths tuition business. She sets her hours to suit her health needs and is enjoying seeing her students achieve success in their exam results.

Lily is too busy working on her dream to present at A&E

For Lily, her lack of meaningful activity led to her frequently presenting at Accident and Emergency. She had a mountain of debt, a lack of motivation and mental health issues. By starting with her most pressing issue, the mountain of debt, we were able to help Lily find the motivation to seek meaningful activity. As with anyone we support, we helped Lily to think about what her skills are. This turned out to be nail art, which she loved. We helped her investigate how she could turn this hobby into a job. She is now attending a course through Oldham Enterprise and drawing up a business plan. She is making plans to contact HMRC to register as self-employed. She doesn’t have the time to go to A&E, she is just too busy working on her dream. Any time we see her mental health slipping, we help her to refocus on her business goals.

Dan works for KeyRing

Dan tells us: ‘’Just before I became a Member with KeyRing, my life was completely upside down. I was lost, scared and very lonely. I had a massive alcohol issue and was petrified of everything. My confidence was at zero. After two failed detoxes, three hospital admissions and about 12 years of drinking, I finally admitted to myself I needed to seek help. I can quite honestly say that without KeyRing’s support I don’t believe I would still be here today.’’ The confidence he gained, his lived experience and empathy have meant that he was able to get a voluntary role with KeyRing. This then progressed to paid work. He has now been working with us for three years and is a valued member of the team.

Introducing our new employment agency working with people who have learning disabilities

We still felt that we could do more. We are better than many and proud of our successes. It just never felt like enough. So, our successful application for support to develop an ethical employment agency working with people with learning disabilities almost had us dancing on the ceiling. This is being developed with the generous support of Catch22’s Incubate, Accelerate, Amplify programme.

It is more than getting people into work. It is preparing them for it. It is promoting the benefits of employing people with learning disabilities to wary and inexperienced organisations. It is replacing the myths with truths. For example, statistically the people we place remain in role longer and are more present than the general population.

We will provide work–ready candidates, support to both the management teams and the employee (if it is needed) and help secure funding for any necessary adaptations or ongoing support. This is about finding the right people for the right job and doing everything we can to make it sustainable. This is about changing mindsets and proving that the 65% of people with learning disabilities who want to work can do so.

If you are interested in learning more about our employment agency you can read more here: https://www.keyring.org/what-we-do/our-recruitment-agency

Authors

Like much of our work, this article is a collaboration.

Charlie Marketing and Communications Manager at KeyRing enjoys sharing stories about Members and challenging the language we use in social care. Other meaningful use of her time includes being a mum, gardening and slapping paint on furniture.

Claire Regional Manager for Oldham, Wales and Warrington loves to see the difference her team makes in the lives of the people they work with. She is always busy and loves it that way. Outside of KeyRing Claire loves her dogs, high impact exercise and socializing with her friends. She recently completed the Tough Mudder challenge.

 

By Professor Bob Hudson

 As howls of betrayal, dishonesty and untrustworthiness reverberate around our political system, there is renewed interest in the idea of ethical behaviour – what it is and how it can be better embedded in public and business life. New ideas are coming from unlikely sources: many of the largest US businesses are now pledging to rethink the purpose of their companies away from profit and towards ‘improving society’; and in the UK there are over 200 ‘B Corps’ similarly committed to giving equal weight to ‘planet, people and profit’. At the front line there are developments around ethical leadership in schools  and calls for computer engineers and scientists to be required to take responsibility for the possible applications of their work .

By comparison the relative absence of any real debate on the place of ethics in adult social care is something that requires explanation. It may be that (like medicine and nursing) it is seen as a domain so suffused with ethical principles that any further introspection is unnecessary. At an intuitive level this is probably true in the sense that most people employed in the sector are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. However the debate on the place of ethics in social care has to go deeper into the realms of ideology, policy and practice.

  • Ideology: We have now had almost forty years of the incorporation of market values into traditionally non-market public sector domains – indeed adult social care was the canary in the ideological coal mine back in the early 1980s. This has not been an easy relationship for any of the parties and there is now good reason to question the place of ethics in the market model of service delivery.

 

  • Policy: At the policy level the marketisation of social care provision has resulted in a sector that is fragmented and unstable – the regulator described it as being at ‘tipping point’ three years ago and contracts are now being routinely handed back to local authorities as companies either fold or choose to exit the market . Indeed, even the notorious Yellowhammer document detailing concerns about the impact of a No Deal Brexit identified significant consequences for what it described as ‘an already fragile market’ in adult social care. At the same time the trend is towards a concentration of ownership in larger companies many of whom are happy to increase dividend payments by loading their business with debt. This creates further uncertainty and threat of closure. The consequences of this are borne by those who use the services (who risk losing their support) and those working in them, who suffer poor terms and conditions of employment.

 

  • Practice: The effect of all of this can too often be a complete or partial loss of moral compass at the front line. Some of the more publicised cases reveal such gross beaches of ethical behaviour that the transgressors are prosecuted – Winterbourne View, Whorlton Hall, Mendip House and Muckamore Abbey are just some of the recent examples. The more common breaches of front line ethical practice are things like lack of activities, insufficient time for eating, unduly long waits for help and the avoidance of difficult situations, as reported by Cooper and colleagues in their extensive survey of care homes.

What can be done about this? In posing the question we are essentially asking how ethical behaviour can be made more central to the way adult social care policy is formulated and services and support are delivered. A response would have three phases – understanding the inescapability of ethics; identifying ethical standards; and putting such standards into policy and practice.

The Inescapability of Ethics

Ethics is about the principles and values which, one way or another, guide our behaviour, our lives and the way we treat others. It is about questions of good and bad; right and wrong; just and unjust. It is hard to think of more fundamental matters than this, yet discussions on ethics and ethical behaviour in public life are surprisingly rare. On the few occasions that politicians acknowledge their place it tends to be in the context of distinct ‘moral dilemmas’ thought suitable for a vote of conscience, such as abortion, civil marriage and assisted dying. In reality the relationship between politics, public policy and ethics is much more intertwined. Ethical considerations are at the heart of what governments ought to do and ought not to do; they are central to the principles that should guide decision-making; they underpin how a problem is defined, how a response is shaped and how an evaluation is framed. In short, ethical neutrality by the state – or business – is not an option. The question then is not so much whether or not ethics should be at the heart of adult social care but rather upon making clear the ethical assumptions and principles upon which it is based.

Identifying Ethical Standards

Moving from the general to the specific is not straightforward but is essential – ethics has to be capable of application to practical situations. This was the Victorian tradition, for example with Bentham’s concern with prison reform and J S Mill’s campaign for women’s suffrage. In England the most notable attempt to address the place of ethics in public life has been the creation of the Committee on Standards in Public Life by the then Prime Minister, John Major, back in 1994. This led to the drafting of the seven principles of public life, now often referred to as the ‘Nolan Principles’: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. These provide a useful starting point but still leave out of the equation many other compelling ethical concepts such as respect, concern, responsibility, competence, trust, wisdom, kindness, justice, equity and service.

These sorts of considerations are already strongly entrenched in the academic literature on the ‘ethics of care’ and the vexed discussion on professional standards in social work that is currently underway in relation to the creation of Social Work England. This, however, leaves out of account a whole swathe of activity in the sector including those involved in commissioning, those working as social care workers and those shaping policy.

For a sector that originated with a moral mission there is surprisingly little discussion of the place of ethics in policy, planning, commissioning and practice in adult social care – indeed as Julia Unwin has forcefully argued in her Carnegie Trust monograph, kindness, emotions and human relationships tend to be the ‘blind spot’ in public policy. There is then an important consultation needing to be undertaken to develop a code of ethical practice and associated standards that applies to leaders, managers, commissioners, front-line staff and care providers. Such an exercise should breathe life into putting the humanity and dignity of others at the forefront and into the promotion of social justice.

Ethics in Policy and Practice

A consultation on ethical principles and standards will be meaningless unless it is both put into practice and shapes policy responses. In the case of social care workers this implies professionalisation and registration of the bulk of the workforce along the lines recently proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Care – the position of those working as personal assistants and as small micro-providers may need separate consideration. In the case of care providers it means binding agreement to a code of ethical practice as a prerequisite to the award of contracts – the trade union, Unison, has already made progress on such a code and its adoption. And in the case of commissioning it implies professionalisation of the discipline and the application of inspection and regulation procedures that reflect and reinforce ethical approaches..

While all of these changes amongst commissioners, the workforce and providers are necessary, they will be insufficient without different policy responses. For too long we have had policies on adult social care that go against the grain of ethical principles rather than supporting them. A new model of adult social care needs to challenge the established paradigm of marketisation and consumerism – we have already moved too far from having a ‘market economy’ to being a ‘market society’. The contours of what this different approach might look like have been widely discussed and include:

  • Risk-pooling as the underpinning principle for funding long-term care to overcome the current inequity and unfairness: This is based upon John Rawls ‘veil of ignorance’ argument – that in a situation where no one knows if they will need care and support it is in everyone’s interests that it is funded by a progressive taxation system to ensure it is there when needed. Meanwhile funding for local authorities should meet ethical standards of adequacy (sufficient to meet reasonable expectations of need being met) and equity (distribution of funding to the points of greatest need), neither of which are currently met.

 

  • Public value as the guiding principle of commissioning: a much more robust version of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, one in which the right to deliver public services would be dependent on the discharge of clear economic and social obligations.

 

  • Co-production as the guiding principle underpinning the shape of services and support: a shift in power and control so that people who use services are actively involved in all aspects of designing, commissioning and delivering services.

 

 

  • Valuing the Workforce: The bulk of expenditure in adult social care goes on the workforce and it is through a professional and ethically driven workforce that high quality support will be delivered. However the sector is characterised by low pay, insecure employment and low status, resulting in high turnover and a high vacancy rate. An ethical model would need to value and reward the workforce rather than see it as an asset to be ‘sweated’. This also has to encompass the informal workforce of carers, to protect them from unreasonable expectations – a resolution of the moral debate about the respective roles of the state, family and individuals.

 

  • Commissioning Small and Local: There is evidence to suggest that those on the receiving end of services and support prefer a model that operates at what Fox calls ‘human scale’. The people most likely to design such arrangements are front-line workers and the people and communities with whom they work – the co-production principle in practice. This could, for example, involve commissioners being encouraged or required to prioritise the development of third sector organisations and community businesses to develop preventive support as happens in Wales under the 2014 Social Services and Wellbeing Act.

 

  • Retaining Local Wealth: Adult social care is a big local business but much of the wealth created locally ends up elsewhere in the hands of national and international provider chains. A policy on local wealth retention would prioritise provision by local small and medium enterprises with strong ties to the locality. Some parts of the country are already demonstrating achievements along these lines, notably in Preston, Manchester, Barnsley.

 

  • Legislation for Wellbeing: If ethics is important to policy-making it should be at the centre of public policy rather than the periphery. Some attempt is being made in Wales and Scotland to give the concept of ‘wellbeing’ a place in legislation. In England the concept of wellbeing – in principle – underpins the 2014 Care Act but this has been overwhelmed by austerity and is largely an aspiration rather than an outcome. Perhaps the most robust model is now underway in New Zealand where the principle is hardwired into budget allocations and there will be much to learn from this experience.

The case for explicitly putting ethical principles at the heart of policy and practice is not confined to adult social care – there is a wider loss of trust that requires some radical rethinking of the place of ethics in public and business life. Back in the 1980s adult social care was the first of the pillars of the post-war welfare state to be marketised and privatised, and few can be happy with the results. The time for a new paradigm is long overdue and whatever the details of this fresh approach it needs to based upon ethical principles, standards and outcomes.

 

Professor Bob Hudson,

Centre for Health Services Studies,

University of Kent

 B.Hudson-278@kent.ac.uk

By Simon Stockton and Natasha Burberry

 

Recently the CEO of a large health care provider shared a story with me which summarised why coproduction matters so well it almost felt like a ready made urban legend.

The story went something like this… A care professional is talking with a local resident describing how a smoking cessation service is aiming to help address health inequalities and raise the life expectancy of men in the area above 65 and the man, a heavy smoker, says in response ‘why would I want to live any longer than that?’

It’s a pointed rebuttal to a well intentioned offer and it raises the question – how well do we really involve people in defining the problem we are trying to solve and in designing the approaches we use to improve people’s wellbeing.

Taking Coproduction seriously enables us to focus on building a deeper understanding of what really matters to people and communities and to use that understanding to build services collaboratively as well as strengthening the capacity of people and communities to help themselves.

That may feel like a no-brainer but in the harsh financial climate which continues to plague social care it can be challenging for the leaders of Care systems to invest in Co-Production.

Exploring how best to engage people takes time and effort and isn’t always a smooth ride but some areas, Eastern England being one, are acknowledging that this just makes the challenge all the more critical.  After all, if we’re not using resources to address what matters most to local people and communities how can we really say resources are being used effectively?

Over the last few years Directors across the East of England have been developing a programme to acknowledge the importance of coproduction.  Directors across the region have signed up to the  Count Me In pledgecommitting themselves publicly to supporting and investing in coproduction. Alongside that the Count Me In Network which produced the pledge has developed a simple  RAG rated self assessment for people involved in coproduction activities to reflect on their experience and whether it felt meaningful and productive.

This month sees that work take another significant step forward in its ambitions. The East of England is now aiming to become a centre of excellence for coproduction and is holding a series of events starting on 23rd September to bring together system leaders and people involved in coproduction to design an improvement programme to fulfil those ambitions.

The network itself has also grown and is now supported by NHSEngland and  MacIntyre Charity extending its reach to the health and provider sectors. In the context of the Long Term Plan and the move to Universal Personalised Care this makes significant sense.

Our hope now is to develop a cross sector support  offer which can nurture local coproduction activities across the region, share what works and test out new ways of working in ways that feel safe and benefit everyone involved. How we do that is an open question and one we will explore together but a core part of the programme over the next year will be focussed on building capacity for people to engage in coproduction and in testing approaches which we think are scaleable.

If you’re interested in getting involved in this work, sharing your stories of coproduction with us or simply hearing what happens next you can get in touch with us by emailing simonstockton@me.com or natasha.eastsli@gmail.com

 

By Elaine James, Rob Mitchell, Hannah Morgan, Mark Harvey & Ian Burgess
You may wonder how rocket science has a role in social work. For us, rocket science is a metaphor for the new world of complex technologies, reshaping our lives and our understanding of the social world we live in. It is also a way of describing how understanding the complexity of human lives and relationships is far more complicated than being able to take apart the inner workings of a rocket ship, yet in many ways social work is so much simpler and more beautiful.
We each have over 20 years working in social care, and during our careers we have come to conclusion that social work practice isn’t technically complex, like that of a rocket scientist is, but it requires working with the complexity of human relationships.  Social work is deep in the messy stuff, the grey areas of life, which become intermingled with the social worker’s interpretation of what we think we see during our smallest snapshot of a glimpse into someone’s life during our “assessment”.
Since the 1970s successive UK policymakers have proposed a role for social workers in meeting the wider needs and aspirations of citizens by acting as a source of advice and connecting people into wider circles of support to sustain their independence and wellbeing.
However, social workers cannot meet and uphold people’s hopes, wishes and ambitions for their lives if social workers do not first have a strong understanding of the social model of disability and the blocks which prevent people living their best life.   It is almost 40 years since Mike Oliver developed the social model of disability as a way of explaining the new approach to disability.  However in 2019 we still see that power and control over how support is planned and paid for is very firmly within the hands of  professional staff within health and social care.
2011, Lord Justice Munby, at a speech given to social workers, asked the question – at what price did social workers ‘safeguard’ people by restricting their freedoms? His observation, that the local authority is a servant, not a master and that vulnerable adults do not seek to be controlled by the state, should be a mantra for all social workers.  Reminding us that we are there to uphold the inherent dignity of the people whose lives we become a part of. We are not there to displace their decision making, their control and confidence, imposing a set of outcomes which we feel good about, but which steamroll their views and ignore their rights.
People tell us they want some very simple things from the social wormers who are invited into their lives.
Home, Work, Love and Hope.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get that these 4 things are the foundations of a good life. But it might take a tonne of high octane rocket fuel to inject the energy needed into social care to make these 4 things the mission of all social workers. Let’s go for main engine start and reach for the stars!

By Angela Catley, Community Catalysts

People ‘doing it for themselves’ report and stories launched by Community Catalysts

We work in a bit of a bubble – the world of health and social care. It’s a sector that is always complex and often baffling, one which on the face of it is all about people…but you don’t have to dig too deep to see that the people who are supposed to benefit are rarely in the driving seat.

I find myself challenged because I really want people – the ‘general public’ whoever they are – to understand my bubble…and get frustrated when they fail. I talk to family and friends who move in different circles and have different experiences to mine and cringe when they use language like handicapped and elderly; despair when their only view of my world is care homes, day centres and hospitals. Frustration and despair felt by someone who only works in the sector, I dread to think how it feels for someone who experiences it regularly in person.

I understand where the lack of insight comes from. A media obsessed with ageing as a ‘timebomb’, portraying older people with images of wrinkly hands and zimmer frames. An austerity driven Government viewing disability largely in terms of the impact on costly services. Both of these combined with some care and support models that have evolved very little in the last 30 or more years. The whole thing creates a kind of negative fog into which the creativity and strengths of people, organisations and the sector as a whole slides out of view.

The whole thing creates a kind of negative fog into which the creativity and strengths of people, organisations and the sector as a whole slides out of view

So where to start. All of that negative stuff has a core of reality, for some people in some places sometimes. But, and it’s a big but, it is really not how it is for everyone, everywhere. Community Catalysts has the privilege to work everyday with people, communities and organisations that want different and do different. Imaginative, energetic people who are challenging the dated stereotypes and creating a different reality for themselves and others. A quiet, and quietly satisfying, little revolution.

Imaginative, energetic people who are challenging the dated stereotypes and creating a different reality… A quiet, and quietly satisfying, little revolution.

I take heart from colleagues and peers leading this revolution within organisations. Organisations like local government, small and large businesses, charities, social enterprises and community groups. A good example is the Social Care Futures initiative, started by a ‘change agent’ or two and evolving into a multi-faceted movement made up of everyone and anyone who experiences, offers or plans social care. Another is Personalised Care, an initiative started by NHS England, picked up by local government and health organisations and now snowballing into something that might, just might result in a very different system in the future. All working together to make things different and better with people who need care and support to live their life, their way firmly in the driving seat.

But the folks whose story I really want to tell are the individuals and small groups of people who have personal experience of time in the health and care bubble. People who need care or support to live their lives. People often portrayed as being little more than wrinkly hands, wheelchairs, benefits recipients, service users…needs. People who live with challenges every day – usually placed on them by the system or society as a whole.

Community Catalysts supported by the National Lottery Community Fund developed a project to focus on these people. In particular those individuals who refuse to disappear quietly into the fog of negativity. Our project is called ‘people who are doing it for themselves’ and its whole purpose is to shine a huge spotlight on the positives. Strengths instead of needs, citizen instead of service user, can instead of can’t.

Strengths instead of needs, citizen instead of service user, can instead of can’t

We know there is real value in finding out what helps these people (and the folks around them) to value their strengths and believe in themselves. We think it might be possible to distil some of this stuff and use its essence in other areas for other people – spreading good ideas and good practice far and wide. Exciting stuff but more than a bit scary too.

We made a start by writing a list of all the people we knew who are ‘doing it for themselves’ People who are running their own enterprise or group and/or affecting change within their community. People who shine a light through the negative fog in a small, medium or huge way.

We grew the list by inviting people to get in touch, searching on line, using social media and talking to people we know about people they know. The results were amazing. 56 individual leaders running enterprises or businesses or groups in their community and another 15 run by groups of people working together. And the list keeps growing. We found people in England, Scotland and Wales; in cities and villages. Men and women, of all ages, who live with conditions like dementia or autism or epilepsy; those define themselves as disabled and others who experience challenges with their health. All of whom are actively, intentionally and gloriously leading positive change for themselves or others. Strengths at the forefront with needs still there but well out of focus.

  • We spent a good few weeks talking to people and learning from them, bringing some people together into a coproduction group to help us plan. We’ve realised there is such a lot to learn and also that we are only seeing the tip of this hugely positive iceberg as it juts jauntily clear of the fog of negativity. We then went on to distil what we’ve learnt, working with our partner Public Perspectives to write it down for sharing with anyone and everyone who might have the power and inclination to create the conditions for creative, talented citizens to shine. The result is:

We’ve realised there is such a lot to learn and also that we are only seeing the tip of this hugely positive iceberg as it juts jauntily clear of the fog of negativity

To learn more contact Project Manager, Angela Catley on 01423 503937 or email on angela.catley@communitycatalysts.co.uk