Skip to main content

NCAS 2015: Answers may lie in our communities

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support

Chair of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) Lord Michael Bichard opens his debut blog with a bold statement: “As a commissioner I am satisfied if community-led groups can demonstrate that they are identifying, engaging and benefiting people at risk. That’s enough for me – that’s sufficient evidence to support a commissioning decision.”

Join Lord Bichard and SCIE colleagues, including Joe Fowler and the Skillnet team for their session: For communities, by communities: breaking down the barriers to community-led care and support.  Thursday 15 October, 11.40am, Bayview Suite
Join Lord Bichard and SCIE colleagues, including Joe Fowler and the Skillnet team for their session: For communities, by communities: breaking down the barriers to community-led care and support. Thursday 15 October, 11.40am, Bayview Suite

I’m quoting Joe Fowler, director of commissioning at Sheffield City Council and speaker at SCIE’s session on community-led services at the National Children and Adult Social Care Conference (NCASC) in Bournemouth. Community-led services can help to break down the differences between people who need, and people who provide, care and support.

In contrast, statutory services can sometimes fail to provide what people want and need, whereas community-led services are often closer to the client, more trusted and can release the real potential in our communities. I think we need to reignite that potential.

For example, Kent-based community interest company Skillnet Group is a collective of people with and without learning difficulties, working together to achieve equality, supporting people to gain opportunities and become more independent. It runs co-produced social businesses – such as a music studio and café – offering paid employment and work experience to people with learning difficulties. The service was developed because young people didn’t necessarily want the services they were being offered, such as day centres.

When it comes to community-led support, this is about spreading out, not scaling up. These types of services are likely to remain small and local – but they can be numerous. The move towards genuine community-led support is about challenging the accepted wisdom of delivery of services – including statutory services. But it’s not about a simple replacement – it’s about complementary services.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Brian Hudson posted on

    There is definitely an isolationist society creeping into our country Everything we used to go outside for is now self contained in our homes: we can shop and socialise on our laptops, tablets and phones. We can get our entertainment from a 1,000 tv channels, download music, online streaming of live events, We can get our exercise from video game software. We don't need to leave our homes or speak to our neighbours and children don't need to play out. Years ago inside the house used to be boring but it isn't now. And the need for a 'community' to network with, find solidarity and support with, just isn't there. anymore The pub on the corner of the street isn't there, the youth clubs aren't there, the endless little shops at the 'top of the road' aren't there. So where do we meet? How do we speak to each other? Unless we make the effort, unless we 'get involved', there is no earthly reason to make contact with anybody That is why being part of a church community is so wonderful. It's like being part of the old fashioned communities. You and your children know everyone, you feel safe and welcomed, you have a reason to get together and socialise, you have friends who can support you. I knew no one in my street until I started delivering Christian Aid envelopes on behalf of church - that was 15 years ago and now I know everyone. Many people, believe it or not, even look forward to seeing me! lol The old habit of the priest knocking on the door checking on why you've not been to church and getting a donation out of you has passed that's true, however if he were to randomly knock on his parishioners door now I doubt he'd even get an answer or be sent off with a flea in his/her ear. Churches are moving with the times very slowly but it's happening. Those churches still in operation are vital components of the community and ALL are welcome. If you miss the old fashioned sense of community, belonging and welcome I recommend your local church. I'd be very surprised if you didn't enjoy it.

  2. Comment by Gordon posted on

    I have endured years of depression and anxiety for much of my adult life, being on several different medications during that time that have only succeeded in taking "the edge" off the worst of the symptoms. I asked at the psychiatric clinic for a deeper understanding of what was happening to me, but whether through constraints of available time, or an unwillingness to at least try something different, I was refused blood tests to identify if any brain chemicals were not as they should be - even though I offered to pay for them myself. I then complained to the senior consultant that in my opinion in the absence of any scientific tests I could only conclude that the treatment being offered was based solely on educated guesswork. I was then "discharged" from the clinic, being informed there was nothing further they could do for me. I have not been back since, though I still have the depression and anxiety that is much worse during the winter months (aka SAD).
    At no time have I ever been steered towards any other agency, statutory or voluntary, for any further help with my struggle with mental illness, and now at the age of 71 probably never will be. There is a lack of disseminating information about what is available - not from my GP, not from the hospital clinic and seemingly not online - or it may be that the information is there, but has escaped my notice. Therefore I say that communication is key to developing services for the mentally ill, not just between involved agencies and the voluntary community sectors, but directed to the patients themselves by all available means in this "connected" age.
    No one involved, the professionals, the community volunteers and the patients themselves should be afraid to try new approaches - even if unsuccessful at least it has been tried, and it may be of help to some, but not others.
    In conclusion, a patient's experience of a mental illness - however it has been classified - is unique to them. One size does NOT fit all. .