Taking action on service cuts in NS.

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    Hi all,

    So we met today and discussed how to go about voicing our concerns over the closure of so many support services and how it even further it isolates and removes the safety nets for people with MH problems, as well as removing many recovery possibilities.

    We agreed three main things.

    1) To support the save WGHA&E campaign by attending their campaign meetings and finding out how we can support them, as there’s no point reinventing the wheel with our own separate campaign.
    2) To support the save 1in4 campaign by doing the same, with the proviso that they move forward in a way that engages with service users and their needs in a meaningful way (i.e. significant service user involvement in shaping the future of the service).
    3) To voice our concerns over the decimation of support services in NS, and the gulf between primary and secondary care – both by writing a press release for the media outlining our concerns, and by petitioning North Somerset Council and what is now BNSSG CCG to hold meaningful dialogue with service users over the future of funding and the shape of services in the area.

    In the next post I’ll list various points raised to be pulled together into a press release.

    1. The letter informing service users that 1in4 is closing mentions similar services being available. What are these?
    2. The letter also mentions the commissioning of a new advocacy service. What functions will this fulfill?
    3. What SU consultation will there be in the design of the new service?
    4. Letter mentions going to GP or Care coordinator with concerns / problems while the new service is commissioned. GP can do nothing except refer to Positive Steps or Secondary care, most people do not have a Care coordinator and getting access to Secondary services is practically impossible in NS. Neither Positive Steps nor Secondary care are relevant to most people and the problems they’re likely to face due to service closures.  There’s now a huge gulf between the two, with no service provision for the people who fit between the two.

    Wider points about services in NS.

    1. Part of a wider pattern of open access social support services being closed over the past 3 months. VANS buddy scheme & SAVVY course, Second Step pulling out of NS, CAB having it’s funding cut and home taken away, vast cuts to social support budget (from £2.4m to £800k). All of these services provided safety nets and possibilities for growth and recovery, without them people will hit crisis and have little or no support to find ways out of it.
    2. People with MH and vulnerable groups in general require greater social support to live meaningfully in the community. Removing these social inclusion and support projects will have a severe knock on effect on their overall wellbeing.
    3. Prevention is cheaper than cure. People in crisis need much more intensive and expensive support, higher contact with GP, secondary care and emergency services.  No real net cost savings, just increased pressures on different budgets.
    4. Every person going into crisis is a safeguarding risk, with no access to meaningful support and options for recovery, people are likely to die preventable deaths.
    5. There was a low level equality impact study done by the council for the social support budget cuts. This study acknowledged that the cuts would disproportionately effect vulnerable groups and recommended a full equality impact study be done by Jan 18. This was never carried out, but the cuts were done anyway.
    6. There has been no public consultation carried out over the cuts, in every case it’s been a done deal before the public even found out.
    7. There has been no service user consultation over the shape of new tendered services and what is needed. Effective services need meaningful consultation with all invested parties involved.
    8. Single providers for support services to vulnerable people creates it’s own problem. Choice is important. Alliance holding so many of the cards, particularly as so many people’s landlords creates a conflict of interests. If someone falls out with Alliance for whatever reason, and there are many, then they’re excluded from accessing services, even if only perceptionally.
    9. All tendering processing seem to be based on a 100% business-centric model, support and recovery are people focused processes. There has to be some middle ground.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by Ben.

    So we managed to put together a letter for the Mercury about 1in4 and the closures. Since then Gemini have said that they cannot afford to keep providing a domestic violence support service on the money NSC are commiting to the tender, so they will be closing at the end of May. That is another statutory service to the council will have to re-tender, but the budget is so small it’s difficult to see an effective service being provided.

    I would suggest that we need to write a fairly comprehensive article on why social care is important, and why lack of services is a real problem. It needs to include a whole bunch of things such as what’s closed, what they offered, and why what’s left isn’t good enough, personal experience, statutory duty, safeguarding, impact reports etc.

    I would also suggest that from this needs to come an open letter that is sent to all decision makers and influencers in NS, so that includes the CCG, the Council, and all councillors and MPs in NS. Maybe even in a format that other people can use to send themselves?

    It may also be worth thinking about a petition, which a friend of mine has expressed interest in running.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by Ben.

    Petition could certainly be one part of effective campaign. Think person would be best visiting monthly meeting or a subgroup meeting to discuss petition wording and establish mutual trust? Would that be possible please Ben?

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 5 months ago by JK. Reason: Wrong word

    She will be coming, childcare allowing. Emma, the person in question, happens to be one of my closest friends. 😉

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