Here’s a guest blog from Simon Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org), who supports our micro-enterprise members:
A fresh view
Today I received the full inoculation against my annual outbreak of cynicism. The ingredients were simple: youthful curiosity and micro-enterprise. As Shared Lives Plus’ Micro-enterprise support officer I had the opportunity to host three Department of Health graduate trainees, just out of university and embarking on careers in the Department of Health.
We visited two of our members, micro-enterprise providers of support services. This highlighted how micro-enterprises can be professional, personalised and beat the odds to meet lifestyle and welfare outcomes for the people they support. Bringing really fresh views about the need for change in health and social care services the three graduates found inspiration from the two provider’s kind enough to host us.
Space Inclusive was set up by two enterprising former teachers with a background in special education. Seeing former pupils struggle to access post-19 provision, they set up on their own and now deliver transition services to young adults with learning disabilities. There the graduates saw a group of people using Spaces’ support services to develop design skills, we toured their garden designed and developed by the users and then bumped into a member of staff returning from supporting someone to access the local gym.
Their clients are funded by local authority direct payments but having successfully argued their case with the local authority they can also support clients on authority managed budgets. They link to other local health services, such as occupational therapy and psychological support and have created a personalised service with a very relaxed atmosphere. This means they can meet the requirements of people with very complex needs, some of whom have moved on into employment: including a department store and the local hospital.
We then enjoyed a coffee in Rumbletums’ excellent café. Their story is one born out of frustration. A small group of students with learning disabilities, reaching the end of full time education discussed, along with their parents, how underwhelmed they were by options for day services and training.
They concluded that they would have to find their own solution and quickly resolved that a café would work. The graduates explored the facility which offers a public space and working environment that breaks down the barriers between people with learning disabilities and the public.
They open five days a week and are thriving by selling excellent coffee in first-rate surroundings and are doing a roaring trade in homemade cakes. The café is now self-sufficient and they also provide work experience, receiving income for these placements. They also build social capital through social events in the wider community, such as open-mike performances, picnics in the park and cinema evenings.
Strength to beat the frustrations
Both visits stimulated lots of questions and possible options for the graduates, exposing them to the frustrations of developing small local services but also seeing the strength of people that has delivered what is really wanted from support services. As for me I was left, for the day at least, feeling confident that the future of the health and support services could be in good hands all-round.
You can find out more about these two enterprises and others at our website: www.sharedlivesplus.org.uk/en/services/microenterprise/case-studies/