Friday, 26 March 2010

A worthwhile project?

I blogged about the big project I was doing for Uni and THINk last semester, The Community Profile on Housebound People, so I thought I would share what I'm currently working on....

First a bit of scene setting...

The NHS and Local Authorities have a responsibility to inform, involve, engage and consult the local population and current users of specific services including those on issues regarding healthy lifestyles and access to and improvement of health and social care services. As part of this obligation commissioners need to collect local information and ensure user and public engagement influences their commitment to driving up the quality of service's provided.

What currently happens is that they employ external consultants who paracute into the community and then seek input from overworked and under resourced community organisations who feel compelled to help them for little or no remuneration in the hope that it might lead to better services for their users. When the lucrative contracts end these external companies bugger off leaving little in the way of social captial or understanding.

(Social Capital is defined as the 'wealth (or benefit) that exists because of an individual's relationships. It's the value created by fostering connections between individuals)

My Project:

I am trying to set up a partnership of Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCO's) that have expertise in community consultation and engagement. I believe that a group of local VCO's could provide an effective alternative to what's currently happening by:

* Offering better value for money

* Obtaining more meaningful results

* Obtaining a higher number of respondents

* Reaching marginalised groups

The benefits of using this approach would be

* Capacity building takes place within the community organisations

* Local people gain new skills and feel empowered by the experience

* Money is recycled within the community

* Results are fed back to the community

* Ties are formed that can be utilised in the future

I believe, and it's been proven (I was involved in a similar project in Salford), that by joining forces the 3rd sector can bid for, and secure, larger pieces of consultation work which we would be discounted from if we acted individually.

And you want to know the best bit? THINk are actually willing to give me some of their consultation budget so that I can prove that the model works!!
I am so excited....

Whispers *and they may be able to secure some funding to pay me to implement the project*


Queenie said...

Ooh, Carol, that's great! I am also finding, here in the Midlands, that third sector organisations can bid for bigger pieces of work - and win - if they work collaboratively. I completely agree that the external consultant parachute model is NOT ideal - and I say this as an external consultant! But then I've never liked the idea of parachuting, whether out of aeroplanes or into communities. Fingers crossed for the funding, do keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Social capital is an interesting concept.

In Bhutan (big conceptual leap here, I know) they use a concept called GNH (Gross National Happiness) as better measure of wellbeing than GDP (Gross Domestic Product) I think they are right.


Carol said...

Queenie - I'm not keen the thought of parachuting either :-) (Why anyone would want to hurl themselves out an aeroplane is completely beyond me!).

From what you have said about your work, your one of the lovely consultants that work with the community rather than use them for your own gain!! It's skills like yours that are invaluable to community the model I am proposing there is room for all!

Mark - I don't know why you were having problems commenting. I think I've fixed the problem so, as you can see, I put your comment in :-)

I love the idea of Gross National Happiness...that is so much better than GDP...although I don't think the UK would fair very well!!

C x

French Fancy said...

Oh I am so pleased for you. How far you have come from just before the course began with your understandable wobbles to be the person we see here now. This could even be your post -MA future taking initial shape.

It's been worth all the time apart from the lovely Chris and I'm very very proud of you.

Carol said...

French Fancy - Thank you honey!! That is a really lovely thing to've made my day!! *grins*

I'm definitely feeling a bit more confident now that I'm kinda back into the swing of things but I'm not totally there yet! I am still loving the challenge of both Uni and the work at THINk (and still having the ocassional wobbles!) but it's really great to be able to put the theory into practice and gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn't.

Keep your fingers crossed that they get the would be lovely to be earning some money again!!

C x

Anonymous said...

Whoa there clever person! That sounds great (and complex).


Carol said...

Molly - I think it's going to be very complex!! We've identified 22 organisations and are sending information to them next week...that's potentially 22 different projects I will have to manage!! Yikes!!

C x

cheshire wife said...

That is wonderful news! I hope that it all works out.

LadyFi said...

What a worthwhile project!

DJ Kirkby said...

I'm very very very very VERY proud of you. xo

Carol said...

Cheshire Wife - I hope it all works out too!!

Lady Fi - If I can prove that it works then it will be :-)

DJ - Awww, your comment has put a big grin on my face hon Mwwah x

C x

HelenMHunt said...

Wow! That is amazing news. Well done.

Carol said...

Helen - It's good news isn't it!! Keep your fingers crossed for me :-)

C x

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