Pre Christmas Report

With the end of the year approaching I’ve been taking stock of progress made so far. In a short space of time, what has become clear is that there are numerous opportunities available for peer support related funding with the Free to Live group and that my networking push over recent months is now starting to show real promise.

The Free to live group have had productive meetings with John Lennon and Councillor Lucinda Yeadon who both have responsibilities for overseeing Social Care. Whilst the overall Adult Social Care (ASC) budget is being maintained, group members were able to give numerous realistic “boots on the ground” examples as to how that wasn’t always trickling down to individuals. Rather than me blathering on about it, I recommend reading the group’s latest blog entry.

I’ve also had a productive chat with individuals interested in establishing a wider peer support network in the Leeds and West Yorkshire region, not only for personal budgets, but carers, parents and children etc. the list goes on. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what individuals types make up a group, what to do is show them how Free to Live have formed and operate so that they can replicate this blueprint for themselves.

Support groups can only work if the individuals within them want them to and trust each other. By showing them the way it will be far more effective than us telling them what they must do all the time, whilst avoiding forming larger groups which achieve far less because of their size. There is plenty of funding available to develop this, so we will be looking to drive this through an extensive expansion of the existing website to support the network idea.

This week through a combination of a John Lennon contact referral and a mutual friend to have a chat with Phil Jewitt, the Senior Communications Manager for Leeds City Council. After a thoroughly productive meeting what became clear is that there are active plans for significantly revamping the council’s online services, due for launch next June. They do seem to be embracing more modern technology, as staff will be encouraged to set up social media pages to engage with service users more quickly and directly. The site will also be mobile and tablet friendly. Big thumbs up from me! They are clearly aiming in the right direction and if I can get involved in any crossover opportunities that we identified between us, then there is certainly going to be plenty for me to do over the coming year.

With that, I’m now looking forward immensely to the next 10 days off as I can’t remember the last time I had a decent break. Hopefully the rest will do me good to come back fighting fresh in 2012 with these new opportunities.

In the meantime I wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy new year. Hope Santa brings you something nice and see you in 2012!


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