Searching for simplicity

I gave evidence to the Joint Committee which is scrutinising the draft Bill this week. You can watch the session here: I found watching it back a little excruciating – it was my first oral evidence session and I was fairly nervous – but hopefully managed to get our ideas across.

I also had a really fascinating evening at the invitation of Stepping Out, the spin-outs support organisation which brought together five successful social enterprises delivering health and care services with the care Minister, Norman Lamb MP. The spin-outs in the room gave you a really good sense of what is achievable and the difference which shared ownership and mutuality can make to an organisation. Spectrum Community Health CIC, for instance, has spun out some of the most challenging areas of health care in Wakefield, including sexual health services and health services for offenders and homeless people. The organisations in the room were all social enterprises and all in some way mutuals or co-operatives which had not only shared ownership with employees, but were also exploring how to share ownership with communities, citizens who use health services. We talked about organisations which thrive on the complexity of broken systems, but are bamboozled by the complexity of ordinary humans and their relationships. And we talked about the virtues of ‘not fitting in’, a position which Shared Lives folk can relate to. Perhaps when you are an organisation which doesn’t fit neatly anywhere in the system you can be better at understanding the joins, clashes and gaps between services. Perhaps you can model your organisation around human relationships rather than ossified service systems…. When you start working with people’s families, relationships and communities, you can sometimes find abundance, even if everywhere you look in the traditional service system you find scarcity.

Norman Lamb committed himself to exploring how the draft Care and Support Bill and the implementation of the White Paper could create a space for this kind of innovation, and ensure that legislation, regulations and rules weren’t working against people’s creativity.

Meanwhile, Andrea Sutcliffe, CEO of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, went to visit Newham in London to see the Shared Lives scheme, some local micro-enterprises and the work of our sister organisation, Community Catalysts. Andrea seems to have been very impressed:

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