News - June 2020
Blimey.....two years to update my website and this News page!! Tells you a lot about how things have been ...busy, difficult at times, rich beyond words and ever challenging. And now, with Lockdown coming to an end finally a chance to catch up with myself and update the website. I started updating this at the beginning of the lockdown and then I became so busy with work it wen t on hold ...again!
What follows are some highlights of the past couple of years, some of the work ended and some in progress and a bit just kicking off. For me the core remains working alongside children, young people and families with complicated lives and support needs ...however there are some fun and really interesting other bits of work that have come my way and am really enjoying learning new things and meeting many new values driven people.
Wishing you all well,
Ever since first working with the European Network for Independent Living in 2017, working with them and others in Europe has become a part of my working year. I attended the Freedom Drive in Brussels last year and marched with 300+ others through the streets campaigning for the end of institutionalisation and independent living for all. It was great to meet a delegation from Japan (pictured), to catch up with some good friends, to make new friends and to feel part of such a great movement with no borders!
Our twelve month shift running the European Coalition for Community Living (myself and Ines Bulic, Deputy Director ENIL) came to an end in January 2019. We continued to gather some interviews with key stakeholders, the ones from Cerasela Pedescru (Pro-Act, Romania) and Milan Sverepa, CEO Inclusion Europe and others are all available on the ENIL YouTube page.
My links with the team at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia have continued and am now a member of the Steering Group for a five year project to close down two institutions, am really looking forward to meeting up with everyone ....when travel becomes possible again!
In one of the interviews I did for ECCL the phrase 'less talk more work' featured many times, its become central to much off what work now means to me, it challenged me to think about action; consequently to date I've written almost nothing and done loads of work alongside many amazing people and its been brilliant. Am going to hold to this phrase for many years! (Thanks Milan!)
The Plymouth Octopus Project (POP+)
Over the past ten months I've begun doing some work with a local community network support organisation. The work has been about supporting people in local networks take up leading change in their local areas and communities; it's not been without challenge!!
POP+ is based in Plymouth, it acts as a support to many different community organisations, allocates funds to new groups and works really hard at supporting and not leading or imposing. Funding from Esme Fairbairn has enabled it to grow and run a 'Street-to-Scale' project that seed funds initiatives like Adeliade Street Angels a group of residents who have come together to organise their own street get-togethers, plant flowers and tackle some of the very issues they face.
Most recently I was asked to complete a set of graphics for POP+'s new offer of support to Neighbourhood Care Networks; as part of this offer I, with Stephane Kolinsky are hosting a 'speak easy space' where people can come together and talk about their work as volunteers reaching out to different people all over the city of Plymouth
Transforming Care - with Lumos
In July 2019 I joined a team at Lumos taking forward a small scale project in London. The work focused on supporting children and young people with learning disabilities or autism and with mental health support needs who were either accommodated away from home or at risk of being placed away.
Lumos was founded by J K Rowling (Harry Potter....?) and works globally to end the institutionalisation of children and young people. The work in London continues, it centres on radically changing the planning and support offer, developing plans with three young people and delivering changed funding arrangements and workforce development training. Working through COVID has given us an amazing chance to explore the use of video calls and graphic media - WATCH THIS SPACE!!
SDS in Scotland
Working with Keith and the In Control Scotland team, now for the last ten years has been just brilliant....from Taking First Steps in 2010 to Rights and equalities for care experienced young people a couple of years ago and most recently developing workforce surveys and starting to build a new network of children's services...meeting familiar faces and many new people ...all just great. I look forward to what is next and continuing to support all the efforts of those north of the border!
Positive Cake Support
Not so much a programme or piece of work but something that has grown from working alongside different young people and others in all sorts of difficult situations. I did some planning with my partners son over Christmas; he made cheese scones and they became a central and very humorous feature of the meeting ...particularly the competition between support worker and him for the last one! I started planning with a young person a couple of weeks later, his mum told me about how much he loved Cherry Bakewells and so I took some along. It really Brough it home to me how weird we work as services, hope we expect young people to fit into our idea of meetings and how wrong this was.....so Positive Cake Support was born. Even though its unlikely to ever be a national campaign, this ethos of ordinariness and 'doing the simple things like having a cake and a cuppa and a chat about life' will be at the core of all I do.
And finally ...something new and exciting!!
In the past year I've been asked to facilitate all sorts of different meetings, in particular in Plymouth with local community networks and I've started graphic facilitating them all....and its worked an absolute treat. At the same point as part of the Lumos work we introduced young people to zoom and started doing some planning on line in video calls. I'm now using a graphic tablet and software along with Zoom to plan virtually with a growing number of very different young people (read more about this here).
I've also been commissioned to provide a complete library of graphics for the new neighbourhood care networks being set up across Plymouth, this is very new. COVID has had a devastating impact on so many people's lives; for me the challenges it has presented have challenged me to adapt my work and how I continue to support young people, it is really exciting to be taking some of this forward now with local and other organisations and exploring ongoing online virtual planning!!
The year ahead!
....more work in Plymouth, more work with Lumos, more work with the team in Scotland ...more zoom moderation and training, more bid writing and nail biting and new work planning virtually with young people. All isn all its been a eventful three years, I wouldn't be without any of the experiences however difficult at times and the work I am doing continues to challenge me, for this and the growing company of people I get to work alongside I am very thankful.
Looking forward to catching up with you maybe ....just drop me a note and hope to speak, mail or message soon, good wishes, NIC