WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

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Thursday, 17 January 2008

PCX Poll

In addition to PPLOG I also write a monthly blog on the NHS Centre for Involvement Patient - Citizen Exchange (PCX) website: http://www.pcx.nhs.uk

But as that site is membership access only (registration is free) and some people don’t want to take the trouble to register, I am, from now on, copying my PCX blog to PPLOG.

Here is my January PCX blog:

PCX Poll

The Poll says: Have you been offered any support to get ready for LINks?

Now where’s that response button that says “YES and NO”?

Let me explain. On Tuesday 15.01.08. I found this in my in-box:

“Dear Mike,

I understand that you are interested in LINks.

We are having a briefing and workshop session at Sprowston Manor on Friday 18 Jan 08 to which you would be very welcome.”

I replied:

“Hello David.

Your strong bow arm is unerringly accurate. Smack in the centre of the gold that is one of the major challenges in `What will the host have to do to enable this?`

I am unable to get to the briefing and workshop session at Sprowston Manor on Friday 18.01.08. for these reasons:

1. I have a physical impairment which means I cannot guarantee getting to any events before late morning. Events starting at 9 - 9.30 some distance away disable me.

2. From here, the event is probably an hour away by my own car and 75 to 90 minutes away by public transport. That fact alone excludes me and certainly compounds the difficulty above.

3. While I am retired from full-time work I have other voluntary commitments around disability rights, PPI and service user involvement. Three days notice for an event is both sad and laughable.

Might I offer some initial suggestions then: What is the function of LINks? and What will it (sic - should be `they`; `networks` is plural) do? - There is a very good DoH paper, `Getting Ready for LINks - Planning your Local Involvement Networks.` available from the DoH website or, more straightforwardly available at http://www.ppeyes.org.uk/ready4LINks.html

What will the host have to do to enable this? is also partially answered by the above document but the aspects here I would underline are those leading to my exclusion from Friday's briefing and workshop. You have some of the essential standards the host will have to meet closer to hand.

The three Norfolk County Council `Accessibility Matters` documents can be found at http://tinyurl.com/275h3j

The Norfolk County Council standards relating to Disability, Race Equality, Gender Equality and Local Government Equality can be found at http://tinyurl.com/3yzljl

As Chair of the Norfolk Police Authority and Constabulary Disability Equality Duty Forum, my central interest is disability equality and may I suggest that looking at what Norfolk Police are doing in terms of Neighbourhood Policing (see http://www.safernorfolk.co.uk) could provide a modifiable template for a LINks host.

Thank you for the invitation to the briefing anyway. As you say I am interested in LINks being a member of the National Association of Patients' Forums and a regular contributor to the past lengthy debate around the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, including evidence to the Parliamentary Health Committee Inquiry into PPI. I also write a monthly blog on the Patient Citizen Exchange section of the NHS National Centre for Involvement site (http://www.pcx.nhs.uk), which is aimed at a service users' view of LINks developments, especially those relating to Norfolk. However, as the PCX section requires registration to view the forums and blogs there, for full accessibility, I have also started to duplicate those blogs on my own pplog (see below).

Please keep me in touch with developments and events. Heddwch, Mike.”

Setting up LINks Hosts and LINks in a vast rural area is a totally different task to setting them up in towns and cities. It is a problem which the government largely ignored in the drafting of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, preferring to say “Sort it out yourselves.” The sizeable conundrum which faces rural local authorities is very different from any questions that arise in urban and metropolitan areas. In my opinion, the main difficulties can be traced back to the Maud local government re-structuring of 1974 when smaller county councils were amalgamated to form large clunky ones, all in the name of economies of scale. Perhaps there could have been an argument in the case of LINks which are going throw up massive problems around geographical accessibility for counties like Devon, Northumberland, the Yorkshires, Suffolk, Cumbria, Norfolk etc. enabling the setting up of the LINks hosts to be the responsibility of areas with much smaller socially excluding geographic distances. That argument might have been to consider re-designating (and re-funding) district councils to take Social Services and Social Care responsibilities.

Here in Norfolk it is the same for PCT, County Council, and PPI Forums alike. They all think “Norfolk” is an area within a ten mile radius of Norwich. Their reach into the rural areas is either non-existent or pathetic. I’ve heard nothing in the area where I live (the Loddon neighbourhood, below) from or about any of PPI the Forums (and there are four supposedly relevant to this area) since early last year - just an empty nothingness!!

For one public service in Norfolk though, the majority of problems are well on the way to being tackled. As Chair of the Norfolk Police Authority and Constabulary Disability Equality Duty Forum (run by service users and facilitated by the Authority), I’m in the throes of encouraging our forum members, who come from all over Norfolk, to contact and liaise with their own new Norfolk Police Neighbourhood. As part of a five year plan the Police have split Norfolk up into 52 distinct police neighbourhoods, each of which “...provide communities with a dedicated team of officers who are visible, accessible and known to local people. They work closely with partner agencies (statutory and voluntary) and the local community to tackle the crime and disorder concerns and issues identified within the neighbourhood.” The distribution of the neighbourhoods is (courtesy Norfolk Safer Neighbourhoods):

In each neighbourhood a Safer Neighbourhoods Action Panel (SNAP) is being appointed which, as an integral part of a public meeting every couple of months decides on policing priorities for the coming period. One example of a SNAP (Loddon) is:

“... a typical SNAP should not exceed 12 people in total and should consist of:

Sergeant Norfolk Constabulary
District Councillor (Chair of South Norfolk Area Forum)
County Councillor
Town and Parish Councillors
Head of the High School
Business Representative
Member of a Residents’ Association
Member of a Faith Group
A Representative for Young People”
(source, Sgt Joanne Walmesley, Loddon Safer Neighbourhood)

The opportunities for local networking here are patently obvious. For example, as Chair of the Norfolk Police and Authority Disability Forum, I go to every meeting and at the first, gained the ready agreement of a county councillor on the SNAP, who is also a member of the Police Authority, to act as liaison for the Disability Forum. Further to this, at a very positive meeting with Sgt Jo Walmesley, we agreed to meet regularly after each Disability Forum meeting, for her to receive the Forum minutes and for a sharing of information about local community organisations, including our databases. Jo’s requests include disability awareness training for her team involving service users.

At the forum we are asking forum members, who come from various parts of Norfolk, to do the same. It will take time to build and will be a continuing process but it seems to me to be one positive template for rural LINks.

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