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Coming To Terms With Austerity

Posted on 22nd December 2011 by

The recession is starting to bite deeply in Brighton and Hove now.  Protection for grants and preventive services have been promised by the City Council but this is only a proportion of the income of the voluntary sector. There is significantly more competition for the reducing pool of funding and ironically more voluntary sector resources are expended in chasing it.

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Cloud Computing – Adventure or Nightmare

Posted on 21st November 2011 by

We are about to embark on the next generation of our IT strategy. Following a major server problem we (that is me on this occasion  have decided to use Google’s servers instead. We will be using Gmail using our own email addresses, Google Docs to store all of our documents and Google Calendar for our diaries and meeting room bookings. There will be a phased move away from Outlook although by adding a synchronisation application (sync app) those who want to will be able to continue using Outlook.

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A Personal Message from Steve Lawless

Posted on 17th November 2011 by

Since the announcement that I will be succeeded by Jo Ivens a lot of people have asked about my plans. So here they are for what they are worth!

I’ve been at Impetus for over 7 years now. It has been a fabulous job working with highly committed and motivated staff and trustees. It was my mission from the start to turn Impetus, or Brighton and Hove Community Initiatives as it was then, into a highly professional and successful, values driven third sector organisation. I hope that is what I have achieved. It has been an interesting journey with the need to respond to constant policy changes and yet still hang on to the essence of what Impetus was and is all about. Achieving Silver Investors in People status was a reflection of the work we had done and the distance travelled.

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The Future for Personal Budgets?

Posted on 19th October 2011 by

Demos have published a new report, Tailor Made. It discusses how far personal budgets deliver personalisation and concludes it is not a silver bullet for empowerment of service users. It does have some good suggestions about how to empower people. I have always been a big supporter of Direct Payments and Personal Budgets and set up the first Direct Payments scheme in Sussex in partnership with the Federation of Disabled People. I argued 20 years ago that “key quality standards” should be set by service users and not professionals. There is no doubt that giving people control over their own resources, thereby turning them into mini commissioners, will give them the potential to have far more say in the way those services are delivered. This argument has now been won and is enshrined in legislation and practice. However the Tailor Made report does qualify the optimism and quite rightly so. The partnership that Adult Social Care has with the Federation for Disabled People is a good example of how service users often require appropriate support to be able to use direct funding properly.

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Big Lottery Fund voting again.

Posted on 3rd October 2011 by

The BLF are going to be giving away £10M to the “good causes” that the public votes for. Last time the BLF ran one of these scheme we were short-listed. However, in the end a number of factors scuppered us. We were directly competing with a children’s charity which gave us no chance. We were trying to raise funds to support people with mental health issues into volunteering and that is not very sexy as far as the public are concerned. Animal charities also have a great deal of success.

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Caroline Lucas to attend Pensioner Action Public Meeting on Fuel Poverty

Posted on 7th September 2011 by

Dear All

Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Pavilion. Copyright news!  I didn’t mention it at our Friday PAC meeting because I didn’t think it too likely, but I had invited Caroline Lucas MP to our 26 September public meeting and her secretary has now confirmed her attendance.

I am planning to request that she does a brief, formal chat and then take questions from our members.  I am hoping this will garner some Argus publicity too, so would ask you to focus on generating buzz re the event as much as you can.

I will be sending through publicity etc this and next week.


Myfan Jordan
Group Facilitator
Pensioner Action

Smaller Contracts One Option if Competition is to Work

Posted on 12th July 2011 by

A new research paper published by the Kings Fund today argues for, amongst other things, contracts for smaller packages of care for the NHS.  My view is that this needs to be transposed to social care as well.

When the “purchaser – provider split” was first introduced in the NHS there was a real problem with large units of service provision such as hospitals. They did not fit into a competition model as you did not have the flexibility to buy service from one hospital one year and another the next.

Although what hospitals could offer was negotiated by PCTs the reality was not a lot different to the pre competition days. To have behaved any differently would have resulted in hospitals going bust and a loss of essential services. Continue reading…

Council and Third Sector Together Against the Cuts

Posted on 8th July 2011 by

Brighton’s new Green Council has publicly opposed the spending cuts. Cllr. Bill Randall, the leader of the Council has said that the Council’s first priority “will be to protect children, vulnerable adults and those at risk of social exclusion.” He has stated that he sees the voluntary sector as a key partner in doing that work.

As I have pointed out before on this blog, it is the most vulnerable people in Britain that are being made to pay the most in the Government’s austerity measures. (Ironically, or some might say predictably, it is those most responsible for the economic deficit that are paying the least.) Obviously this is not just. This Government has fully accepted the role of the voluntary sector to campaign on behalf of our beneficiaries.  This is a legitimate activity, particularly for organisations like ours that have an important advocacy role. Cuts to the voluntary sector will also have a negative impact on volunteering opportunities and therefore the capacity of the sector to support the most vulnerable people.

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Older People better cared for in Brighton?

Posted on 20th June 2011 by

A survey carried out by The Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that a large number of older people receiving home care are being emotionally and physically neglected resulting in an abuse of their human rights. Care for ageing people is a major part of any council’s budget. I carried out the consultation as for Brighton and Hove over 10 years ago as part of the Best Value Review of Domiciliary Care. As a result two important voluntary sector initiatives were set up.

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Posted on 27th May 2011 by

This is a new scoping report for the EU with a number of recommendations. Some of it is comparing the state of volunteering in EU member states. The UK is seen as having a relatively high level of volunteering. It reinforces a number of the points that we made in the B&H Volunteering Strategy. The executive summary is 20 pages long which is about the size of our whole strategy! But if the recommendations are taken seriously we may see an increase in EU funding opportunities for cross boarder learning. That would definitely be an opportunity for Brighton and Hove.

The Study on Volunteering in the European Union

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