As the tragic impact of trauma and addiction is revealed today with Drug Death figures for 2019, we send our heartfelt thoughts to each person, family, and community affected. There will no doubt be political tennis and finger pointing! To help move forward with solutions, required at pace, we wish to share our experiences since lockdown stopped our recovery café, forcing us doing things differently and the positive impact this has made for vulnerable communities and people in recovery. We hope this generates thoughts, questions, emotions, which we would welcome any feedback you may have.
Person – always at the centre, always informed, always advised of and supported to realise their control
Community – where the person lives, works, socialises whether a physical or theoretical
Recovery Enterprises Scotland – providing support to the person and community to build their strengths, assume their power and challenge for control.
Public, Third and Private Sector – currently holding power and control such as budgets, people, information, properties, relationships.
Recovery Enterprises Scotland- a new way of operating; “Filling In The Gaps” in who’s best interest?
Filling in the gaps for people, for communities, with services and with funding allocation…. We have identified a route into people left behind and abandoned because they do not play by the rules (and who says those rules are the right ones)?
Filling the gap in their hunger, their communication with services, their value as humans.
Filling in the gaps between funded projects that are channelled and focussed on delivering on what they are funded for. Filling in the gaps as funding is not forthcoming.
We are holding up a mirror to the system, we wonder if this will this be welcomed or ignored? It is like the Truman Show when you are outside looking in. Loads of activity for minimal impact. These are our experiences and those we support; they must be shared; voices must be heard.
Perhaps we require a strong and growing sector that is not statutory and mainstream third sector whose focus is maintaining the status quo with tweaks at great expense? This fourth sector or however we describe can hold a mirror upwards and holds a line of protection for communities and people to minimise the worst excesses of intervention.
If this makes some sense, if you are interested in honesty and passionate about change, please keep reading…
As a follow up to blog in April, questioning the nature of our historical thinking and approaches, from the perspective of a small business, along with wondering if the harsh lessons through the pandemic would influence new ways in where resources are allocated. This is a reflection on our journey since then: we could not have envisaged what has taken place: the growth, the impact, the logistical and emotional challenges, and developing relationships within disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
East Ayrshire communities are faced with an unprecedented need for food; an existing challenge, prior to the coronavirus crisis, in addressing food insecurity and people living in poverty. We witnessed the direct demand within our weekly Foundations Café; along with Foodbanks and community drop-ins.
At Foundations Café, we were highlighting those unmet needs, people in lower socio-economic and marginalised groups experiencing additional barriers to support through stigma and discrimination, increased isolation, and inequalities.
It was extremely difficult for all involved, volunteers and customers alike, when closing the recovery café in mid-March, particularly as momentum was growing. By providing low-cost food in a welcoming and supportive environment we served 900 meals during initial 5 months and supporting development of 20 volunteers; mainly people in recovery; thriving with newfound meaning, hope and opportunity by contributing to the well-being of the community, gaining an appreciation of their self-worth and the ethos of ‘giving back’.
This was changing lives for many, recognised by several stakeholders, including local and nationally elected members, as a valuable community asset, offering a unique service. An approach valuing lived experience through peer support, making a social and financial impact in reducing future demand on services and enhancing people’s quality of life. We delivered a significant social return on investment and demonstrating value having gratefully received 18 months funding in October 2019 through the Alliance Scotland Self-Management Fund and Lottery Awards for All allowing us implementing the recovery cafe.
Impact of lockdown
Within a short space of time in lockdown, those positive outlooks and support networks changed significantly. Those connections and purpose becoming isolation and a new set of challenges in managing mental health and maintaining recovery. A group of people now increasingly vulnerable and being on the margins. This pandemic placing a unique experience on us all though impacting greater on certain social groups.
During lockdown, we were ‘checking in’ on a regular basis with the volunteers. We sourced small amounts of funding, enabling us passing on supermarket vouchers to support accessing food, toiletries, and other essential items; at a time presented with increased financial challenge. We also shared mobile phone credits supporting volunteers accessing online support groups and resources, maintaining vital connection during isolation. These small gestures were warmly welcomed and uplifting for all the volunteers; knowing they mattered and valued. Their feedback was truly humbling whilst reiterating their vulnerability, feeling excluded within the community and others having little interest for their wellbeing.
As a small business, a Community Interest Company, our operations were already precarious as reliant on grant funding, with minimum income generated as our approach of low-cost food was a mechanism of enhancing engagement, on a weekly basis. We appreciated Alliance Scotland confirming funding would remain in place. This was gratefully welcomed, giving us a level of security during those initial pressures and uncertainties.
Lockdown & community outreach planning
Most of the team ‘met’ weekly through Zoom, and thankfully, many volunteers remained involved and committed to serving their communities. We take great pride in approaches being co-produced, with volunteers having ownership and passion in the model and aspirations of a daily recovery hub.
Like most businesses, we required adapting and innovating. The team agreed we would align approaches by providing a mobile food provision, with the initial location established within café volunteers’ neighbourhoods. 40 households were identified through unique local intelligence and the opportunity to hear views of welcoming food support. These areas classed in the top 5% within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation; and tragically, seeing the largest numbers of deaths during COVID-19; reinforcing the underlying health needs and risks within marginalised communities, as people living in socioeconomic deprivation have poorer health outcomes and most affected by the pandemic; and likely further exasperated.
Through annual membership with FareShare, food redistribution scheme, which paused for a few months during lockdown, this supported us, along with pockets of local and national funding, to supply food items, complemented with other essential, and basic, toiletry and household necessities.
We required purchasing a medium sized van. A large amount of time was spent applying for financial support. Unfortunately, despite our impact to date and meeting criteria, we were unsuccessful in applying to the Scottish Governments Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund, and Wellbeing Fund. These funds set-up for viable but vulnerable small and medium sized firms vital to Scotland’s economy: reflective of our status. Despite seeking an explanation, we were unable being provided with anything near satisfactory. With limited options, we applied to the Government Bounce Back Loan £10,000, demonstrating our commitment moving forward. We acknowledge this presents a further financial challenge to a small business; though the loan was vital having been refused multiple grant applications. We hoped funding would have been forthcoming in respect of proposed approaches reaching the most vulnerable groups, whilst preventing the need for a loan. Is this right, a small business, aiming to support the most vulnerable communities, require taking on a loan opposed to being supported with a grant?
It is demoralising, offering unique approaches and positive feedback, we were not deemed worthy of national funding support! It was disheartening when being rejected, as desperately trying to make a difference, with limited resources and seeing many struggling. We move at pace where we connect where others cannot.
We expressed disappointment of not receiving funding to the MSP responsible for communities along with concerns relating to local third sector interface arrangements as no support offered or heard anything during lockdown. How is this evaluated and how can the collective third sector voices be heard within community planning and resilience groups when resources are being considered?
When commencing community outreach, we were technically homeless, as the Howard Centre, where our refrigeration and storage is located, remained closed. However, this did not stop the team in our endeavours, as deciding to pack hampers underneath a flyover, despite the pouring rain. This was a true demonstration of adaptability, flexibility, determination, and innovation: making up packages for families and individuals, with contents including food items, toiletries, cleaning products, drinks, and snacks through the Cash n Carry and FareShare. We accessed further pockets of funding through the local community support grant and Lottery Awards for All. It was humbling witnessing the passion in the team being committed to supporting their communities.
Following the first week, we gratefully received an offer from Celebrate Kilmarnock of utilising their meeting room for packing; an arrangement lasting over three months prior to recently accessing the Howard Centre again. There was no doubt, this was a logistical challenge having no storage, where we passed on food to volunteers and the young person’s hostel. Some weeks would require lifting a quarter of tonne of food and drink items.
The hampers were the lever for initial engagement, and through developing trusting relationships, we have created something totally unique, which has become far greater in anything we could imagined, along with the significant challenges and hardship when establishing numerous unmet needs over prolonged periods where communities feel worthless. One tenant during the first week telling the team ‘it was a lovely gesture what we were doing, though were wasting our time’. All we knew we were committed to making a difference, which required the community embracing us and engaging alongside.
It is now 25 weeks providing a community outreach approach, engaging with over 140 households, providing 1648 hampers: with many of whom not known to services despite the level of need. We are engaging with 150 people within 80 households each week, double since commencing. The increase and demands are a result of being directed by the community looking out for each other, highlighting people who require support.
We recognise operating beyond capacity though unable declining the offer of much needed support when learning of such desperate circumstances. We were being approached from all areas of East Ayrshire, and even as far as Glasgow. We attempted delivering packages across a vast area, but it became impossible to continue, deciding our resources required being within specific areas identified. Where those approaching us from out with, we refer them for support through the local authority.
It is quite ironic these neighbourhoods and people are deemed ‘hard to reach’, though we demonstrate positive outcomes when proactively reaching out to people opposed to expecting them to come through service doors! To consider addiction related issues, local prevalence figures estimate 800 people in East Ayrshire experiencing alcohol or drug problems are not in touch with treatment services: demonstrating unmet need. Our approach is one solution to reducing the disconnect!
Therefore, we require considering the needs of all communities, and this new way of life; not as an emergency response though based on a whole set of revised operational delivery; focussed on social recovery; maximising resources and empowering communities. The further challenge though, is considering groups at the margins not being reached, and the detrimental impact, exasperating existing inequalities. The Scottish Governments Rights Respect and Recovery Action Plan 2019 – 2021 include developing and implementing a programme of work to improve access to treatment and recovery services,
particularly those at most risk and implementing guidance on assertive outreach. This is what we are doing: is there interest in learning and delivering more formally?
Furthermore, we were humbled being selected as a partner of a local established restaurant, Bar Luca, who were aiming to support the community. Our partnership commenced in early November where the Bar Luca team produced 90 food portions, then our team distributing in the community. Due to the demand and interest during the first week, the Bar Luca team increased food portions to 150 on subsequent weeks. We have also benefitted from formal support by Brownings the Bakers from early October, donating 100 packs of rolls and 100 packs of tattie scones on a weekly basis, which residents have welcomed those additions in the hampers, stating these being luxuries.
Having received initial funding through the Alliance self-management, we were humbled being shortlisted within 3 categories: Project of the Year; Employability; & Community of the Self-Management Awards 2020. We were also recognised in October as one of East Ayrshire High Street Heroes. The Alliance People at the Centre Insights identified our current approach for inclusion as A Community Resilience Best Practice Case Study. It is worthy recognition of everyone’s efforts and impact!
Whilst there are regular plaudits of our work and impact, there appears scant recognition in the efforts this requires to offer ongoing support and managing increasing demands. We never set-out to provide the level of support we offer! We are continually working flat out to make this work with limited resources, we are on our knees! There are many facets behind the scenes, particularly ensuring ongoing support and guidance for volunteers, and logistical challenges of moving the volume of food we provide in the community. Our team efforts require in the region of 98 hours of staff time each week. Is there really an appreciation of what is taking place? This is never about numbers though the significant level and ripple effect of unmet needs certainly requires being acknowledged!
Our work is reliant on the goodwill of volunteers as funding does not equate to the nature of demands presented. In addition, the demands keep on increasing where partner agencies are referring to us for support. We find our engagement and support are a result of service gaps, along with services unable to reach people with many unmet needs? Do we assume individual failure opposed to not having accessible support as the true issue?
Therefore, what is the ongoing expectation of our service delivery? Isn’t this worthy of being commissioned? Are we comfortable sitting on the side-lines when resources are going elsewhere? Services existing for multiple commissioning cycles yet still blatant gaps and unmet needs? Is it the services or is it the planning frameworks requiring addressed? As we are filling many gaps, when does this become exploitative when volunteers are providing support of other services? Our approaches are recognised on a local and national level as offering value and innovation yet not formally supported with resources to reflect demands?
When does the change rhetoric move from a place of theory to actual practice? What is it will be done to support our work and that of other smaller projects getting to the heart of communities and reaching those at greatest need, reflective of those inequalities and equities of opportunity we are desperate to improve as a nation?
What is our collective engagement and attitudes to supporting areas with high levels of disadvantage?
What does it mean when we talk about marginalised communities and people experiencing discrimination and stigma? What does it mean to be living in poverty, to be living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, to experiencing isolation and worthlessness? What does it mean for those areas being classed in highest levels of multiple deprivation? Have those levels reduced, and life chances improved? If not, why not?
How are we addressing the underlying causes and changing perceptions? What are the actual solutions and tangible actions? Is this about nice words and soundbites, and something we can conveniently detach from? We have the data, the research, the detrimental impact, yet actions not supporting public health priorities!
How are we really challenging ourselves?
Is it too easy to generalise communities and ignore what these experiences and daily challenges mean? Our service certainly does not claim to know though have witnessed a range of unmet needs, which are entirely unacceptable!
Issues include poor physical health, poverty, isolation, poor housing, poor mental health, addiction, fuel poverty, domestic abuse, legal matters, benefits, medical assessments, housing provider, food insecurity. People affected by brain injury, learning difficulties, mobility, trauma, and literacy issues. We hear the rhetoric of us all ‘being in this together’ and ‘every person matter’ though our experiences would suggest otherwise when seeing and hearing the hopelessness of people’s plight. People genuinely feel worthless where they have given up trying to navigate the system, as repeatedly failed.
How would it feel living behind wooden windows for months, having no gas or electric, no cooking equipment, significant rent arrears and debt, feeling petrified to leaving the house, lack of bedding, towels or clothes, not knowing where to turn for support, being failed repeatedly you give up trying, to feeling like an underclass, to being told to access online services though not having the means, or unable to read letters which accumulate in a carrier bag as so anxious and distressed to deal with, to unkempt gardens as unable affording gardening equipment, to piles of bin bags and areas being set on fire, graffiti on walls, to cracked windows and doors, not having sanitary products, no floor coverings, no fridge, no washing machine (told to wash clothes in the bath), doors not closing, families scared asking for help in case social work is involved.
These are examples of what we have been presented with. Do we try to understand such hardship? There are services in place to address these matters therefore why do we have so many unmet needs? Why the disconnect?
The range of unmet needs we are identifying really does question people’s rights to health, to food, to work, to housing, to facilities, to being heard, to safety and security… There is talk of participation and human rights-based approaches, strengthening responses to mitigating the unintended negative impacts within disadvantaged communities; therefore, we must acknowledge basic living standards and rights are not being met. We know those areas of high deprivation within SIMD though question the proactive meaningful engagement taking place? Are equalities legislation being applied; along with inadvertently discriminating against those very communities requiring our greatest level of compassion and support?
Can you try and consider what that feels like? It is certainly more challenging to consider those finer details opposed to talking about inequality and resilience: these are words too easily banded about with little understanding of the impact. Sadly, the communities we engage with normalise these unacceptable circumstances. ‘That’s just how it is round here’!
A volunteer explained ‘many people in my community not interacting with services, as many are low-income parents with addiction or mental health issues. They refuse any support available outside their own community in fear of affecting their children or losing them. This is leading to needs going unmet, as not wishing to leave the security of their own community; they have little trust. These people do not deserve the stigma or fears they carry in life, the only way these folks, are going to reduce those challenges is through being supported by people they trust, turning up and offering them support. I am familiar with supports in the area, which are all good and well-meaning, but they do not reach those requiring support’.
Whilst several of the team reside within those neighbourhoods, this has been an ‘eye opener’ for all, including team members working in the field for over 20 years, experiencing some harrowing circumstances. It is extremely hard knowing there’s so much needing done and recognise these needs are far greater than what we can address though we begin through offering worth and being alongside.
This is incredibly challenging and frustrating, particularly for volunteers in recovery, people who are vulnerable. We ensure ongoing support through pairing with a more experienced peer and providing opportunities in being able to share emotions through regular individual support and team meetings. The level of support and compassion demonstrated by the team is humbling as witnessing how people grow to trust and approach us for assistance.
What is unique in what we do and why do people engage?
Initial community engagement has only been possible through unique local intelligence and relationships with volunteers. The team being sensitive to needs, conscious many people in the community are proud and may have difficulty seeking support for fear or shame. They are assets we are grateful being able to maximise.
Our community approach is far more than reaching and providing food or helpline numbers; its connecting on a human level, raising self-esteem and worth through proactive measures, opposed to abandonment and detrimental impact on wellbeing, resulting in future demands within acute settings. Our team is viewed as a trusted provider of assistance. We are establishing community needs, advocating for people by liaising with services to address, and highlighting the need for new approaches.
We are developing relationships by getting to know people, returning weekly and carrying out actions agreed. We are enabling community connections, empowering by ‘walking alongside’, and responding quickly to emerging needs as people now feeling comfortable raising sensitive matters without fear or judgement. We are humbled with tenant and volunteer feedback x 3 (insert link), which should be considered in learning of experiences and impact. People advising this is the first time they feel valued and having somewhere to turn for support. To know we have created safe systems where individuals feel connected, preventing people from falling through further gaps and not feeling invisible.
Our engagement is always about treating people with respect, who have rights, strengths, and aspirations. Through directly engaging with communities, many who feel seldom heard, we are sharing their views and needs to strategic partners and service providers. These communities are the experts in their own lives, living with daily challenges; not from an external perspective of knowing what’s best, or generalising community engagement approaches and embracing the need for adapting service provision.
We see our main role in making that initial connection and building relationships, and then acting as the conduit with appropriate services. Without our engagement, those marginalised people will continue feeling worthless, with inequalities exasperated and ongoing cycles of despair. We are conscious of not being a statutory service provision where barriers are reduced. Our focus is direct operations, not complicating with paperwork, bureaucracy, or silos. Our approach is dictated by the community for the community.
Furthermore, we have distributed 45 Naloxone kits. This reaching some of the most at-risk groups; particularly as the neighbourhood experiencing a high number of drug deaths.
The added value of peer support cannot be understated in how this increases the likelihood of initial engagement, more successful outcomes, and improved quality of life, through a relationship of trust, empathy, and motivation. People engaging with peer support describe the importance and value of support from others who have had similar experiences; barriers immediately being reduced. The inspirational and aspirational impact this can have on people in active addiction and early recovery is something we require building upon in addressing those many inequalities.
Our approaches are driven by people with lived experience where their views, passion and life experience are central, giving insight into the needs of the local population. By reaching out to where people are, there is a likelihood in reducing the risks to the individual, families, and communities.
There are many people reliant on the nature of our services, as not provided elsewhere. We are creating unique opportunities to marginalised groups, we are reducing demands on services, engaging with ‘hidden populations’, improving health and wellbeing, and supporting social recovery.
We contribute to a whole population approach in the truest sense, particularly engagement with marginalised members of the community, demonstrating value of all citizens at these challenging times. We must ensure those people at the margins are also actively, safely and connected to their neighbourhoods, and mutually inclusive local networks.
People just want to know someone is there, we know at times it is enough to listen and we may not have the answer or immediately need to fix. We know this is about relationships, about offering value and worth, and creating an environment where people start to find a new belief. Through taking innovative ‘bottom up’ approaches this demonstrates what can be achieved when proactively reaching and engaging with those with multiple barriers.
We are an example of a community-led initiative where we are attempting to address inequalities. We are prioritising engagement, reflective of local demographics, where we support basic needs first, creating a sense of safety and belonging. We demonstrate effective action which require being scaled up by those with the power in aligning resources. Our achievements even more remarkable as operating without a base.
We are educating the public that people can recover; and people on the margins deserving the opportunity being involved in meaningful activities, feeling valued as part of the community whilst demonstrating strengths and skills.
We believe working together and bringing the experiences and voices of marginalised communities and groups can provide renewed understanding, empathy, and fresh approaches to demonstrate action in addressing inequalities and injustices. There are numerous systemic, structural, and personal barriers to seeking support. Through direct action we can break those cycles leading to mistrust, trauma, and fractured relationships with disadvantaged communities.
We are supporting and empowering people by questioning approaches, which helps to consider alternatives to connecting and resolving unmet needs. It is heartening seeing the tangible differences we are making to people’s lives. The consequences of not meeting these needs is a prolonging of current circumstances, affecting levels of health and social inequalities.
From a strategic perspective, we were engaging regularly with senior managers of statutory providers who advise of welcoming our feedback, and the local authority chief executive expressing appreciation for the work of Foundations Cafe and activities during COVID; recognising the added value of supporting marginalised communities, in particular families and individuals disconnected from mainstream services.
We participate in the Wellbeing and Recovery Renewal Group, the Stigma to Respect campaign, and Community Larders network; encouraging partners in considering engagement with marginalised groups and accepting general outreach and service provision require aligning approaches to reflect diverse and more complex needs; not assuming people freely walking through service doors in the community. Our approach is meeting each of those areas within the Recovery Plan; and hopefully helping shape future approaches.
We have been liaising with a range of services to address needs. We raise outstanding matters and query why the onus is placed on vulnerable tenants to make contact, such as respond to calling cards, phoning another department, not attending an appointment, or completing an online form etc. We ask what could be done differently, opposed to cancelling lines, closing cases, or assuming all was sorted when not hearing back from tenant; to proactively assisting when there has been no follow up and matters clearly not resolved?
The priority must be around ongoing proactive engagement and establishing support needs? We cannot write people off this way, as only serves to reinforce their unworthiness and not mattering- it is only amplified when this is happening throughout marginalised communities. We also must reflect in how situations have been able to reach such a critical point when aware of vulnerabilities yet failing to intervene earlier.
Are processes more important than people, particularly when there are concerns for wellbeing? Do we operate in a manner placing the persons needs as the priority, or is it about people fitting in with what suits service criteria? We must move from ‘what gets measured is what matters’ to considering quality of those we seek to serve, not seeing them as a number having to meet a target: if not being met it’s the person seen as a failure.
Our goal, and aspiration, of delivering a recovery hub has been brought into sharper focus, as we know people we connect with in the community, would proactively engage with us, along with the recovery café customers; where needs would be addressed more promptly, opposed to waiting for us appearing each week.
We were delighted being issued with a lease by the council in mid-November for premises within a central venue. There is a great deal of renovation work required where we are seeking initial capital and operational investment, along with sustainable funding.
We aim for a launch in the early new year. We have intimated the potential of delivering something totally unique in East Ayrshire, reflecting value for all citizens, particularly enhancing inclusion by engaging with stigmatised and marginalised community members.
The Hub and spoke model will be provided 7 days per week, offering activities and opportunities to enhancing recovery; delivered beyond normal core hours, including evenings and weekends. We are directed by people telling us they require occupying themselves at these times, as supports are not readily available.
The Hub will support volunteers in their own recovery journey, giving them a further sense of identity and ownership, enhancing mental health, increased skills, and social networks, demonstrating ongoing commitment to supporting the community. They highlight the need for a daily focus and having access to premises will reduce isolation and anxieties.
In supporting the hub implementation, the Lottery Improving Lives Fund awarded £126,813 over 3 years. We are grateful and recognise this is a significant amount of money, whilst realistic of what can be delivered for £42k per year. The renovation of premises and delivery of a 7-day hub, over 3 years, does not go far when budgeting for an operational service with salaries for 2 posts amounting to 30 hours per week. We clearly require seeking match funding: the ongoing efforts in applying for funding, feeling like you are constantly begging and at the mercy of others, even when you are bringing solutions!
On a positive note, we were awarded start-up funding support and salaries from Corra #ShiftThePower Coronavirus Response Fund, and the SCVO Communities Recovery Fund amounting to £17,500. It would have been a welcome relief commencing the service, focussing entirely on operations opposed to seeking funding and the uncertainty of sustainability at initial stage. However, we are making positive strides and look forward to the further impact we aspire to have within the community, complementing and enhancing our community outreach and recovery café models.
What is the role of Community Planning? Do they identify specific investment to enhance the nature of activities and capacity to supporting areas of disadvantage, opposed to focussing on funding specific services; as we have done historically? Is it those current funding frameworks preventing this from happening? We appeal resources are directed at the heart of communities through thorough impact assessments, inclusive of community voices.
We wonder what could be achieved with the suitable level of resources in place. The length of time required on funding applications is obscene and only detracts from enhancing service delivery. This is about people’s quality of life, not number crunching or processes. We are not looking for charity or handouts but rather, looking for collaborators that recognises and understands what we are about and can get behind by supporting our efforts: opposed to the constant pleading. What about those with resources proactively offering us support? We want to be seen for providing a massive return on any investment, benefiting the community as a whole, not one of grovel to survive.
We are operating beyond our means and resources, though extremely difficult turning people away or ‘switching off’ when they feel comfortable in sharing sensitive issues. Without our engagement, those inequalities and underlying matters are being exasperated.
Final thoughts and questions?
We can only hope the recognition and value of our unique approaches, generates resources reflective of needs and aspirations to improving the lives of the most marginalised community members. We desperately require support in achieving our vision, enabling us planning for ongoing support, opposed to uncertainty of limited funding. We highlight approaches required in the longer term, not as an emergency response with short term funding, where the value of approaches should be reflected in formal commissioning.
We are generally concerned in the level and nature of support we are providing, and continually growing, with a view to shortly introducing a daily hub provision. We know other services are better placed, however, if we can make the connection when others cannot, there must be merit in shaping approaches and funding to reflect people’s choices and needs not in silos or duplicating efforts.
We know many people do not actively seek support from mainstream services where there are gaps and unmet needs: we can contribute and reduce those barriers identified though being recognised and respected with resources. When we consider the allocation of funding and services along with plans for capital builds and statutory hub; we do wonder what we require doing to receive formal funding support and question the value being provided within current commissioning arrangements.
We must grasp this opportunity to reflect, think and act differently through strong leadership, not tinkering. Why does it feel like a constant battle for support? Why do we feel excluded? Is it because we are challenging the existing structures and status quo? Why are there many people not being supported by those services set up to meet those needs? When will the change rhetoric be demonstrated in practice? We sincerely hope structures and resources will look to realign based on community intelligence as this is likely being ‘tip of the iceberg’ when hearing from those hidden voices.
We offer innovation, we have operated on a shoestring, yet proud of the impact to date. Opposed to swimming against the tide and feeling like a nuisance, why don’t we see collective buy-in?
We are delivering part of the solution to many of the local issues and can only improve if resourced appropriately. We have demonstrated a valuable community asset, which is meeting many gaps and demands. Sadly, there appears to be more focus on vanity projects and public image.
Is it right we allow people volunteering excessive hours when they deserve the option of being offered payment for the service provided, as doing the job of other services!?
The level of funding we are operating within is inadequate, the expectation of continuing to deliver approaches without suitable resources is unacceptable and exploitative. Through sharing our challenges and insights can only bring benefit to a collective approach across numerous agendas engaging with those most in need.
The closing question, therefore, do we offer small investment expecting a massive return where a service requires working themselves into the ground? What would statutory services deliver with the same level of funding? To put this into perspective, we are providing a service equivalent to the salary of one middle manager! Or do we adequately support preventative approaches, reflective of demands and impact, instead of continually reacting when people are pushed further to the margins and present with more complex needs within acute settings? Resources are desperately required on the ground- this pandemic has demonstrated this more than ever!!