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.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Healthy Debate

Tina Walton, the Norfolk LINk Host Manager and one of the “goodies” in my opinion has responded to my last posting ‘Slippery Syntax.’ I have a lot of respect for Tina and believe this kind of exchange can only be healthy so I have posted her comments below:

“Dear Mike
I am quite alarmed at the content of this blog, and the inaccuracies within
Firstly the Norfolk LINk Host was not employed until October 08, and a number of staff left due to uncertainty of post and took up posts within the PCT, two of which were PPI engagement posts.
I have only on Tuesday this week received the email from you regarding the Older Peoples working group and the access to the website, which I may remind you was only launched 9 days ago.
Firstly I have been in touch with the website designer to find out why the email link was not working as before the launch it was, this has been rectified by the IT engineer at Voluntary Norfolk (This I am afraid a technical hitch).
Member at Drugs and Alcohol meeting, she was upset by another member as she felt that her investigation work had not been believed, I have sorted this out and she is working hard within the group which now has more members.
I the person facilitating the working group take exception to you implying that the IAPT focus groups I arranged were propaganda for the PCT, I distributed the invitation as wide a net as possible, in fact on the day I received a number of apologies. I have since held another meeting at which new faces were present. If questions are raised I request the information from the PCT and distribute to all members of the working group and those who attended focus groups and are still on the data base.
A number of individual’s  have attended other IAPT focus group meetings, so therefore feel they have contributed already and are informed, as you know this is a continuous process and now the website is up another method of communicating.
Age Concern Norfolk, are indeed our partners on the consortium and the relevant community development manager is our link. Age Concern Norwich and Norfolk were both involved in the Older Peoples working group via 2 members of their staff, Help the Aged were also at the table as were MIND and Rethink. Due to their busy schedules they are not always able to come to meetings but still receive any paperwork to make comment.
Engagement with the public, adverts have gone into the press, the newsletter is distributed widely, and surveys have been conducted and consultations are distributed widely also. The first of all strategy group meetings will be held in public from now on moving around the county. The next will be in the South.
The Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust, members have not only been involved with the meetings with Gwen Ford, but have conducted PEAT inspections and attend the service governance meeting every month. The Annual Health check invited comments from members of the working groups, Carers Council and the service user’s council and individual members who had conducted the PEAT inspections.
Again the Host has a working relationship with the Trusts which is kept at arms length, I know that each member of the staff team are dedicated and will challenge the Trust but in a professional way. The HOSC reports produced by the members and Host clearly demonstrate this. The recent news item in which the GT Y & W PCT were slammed I believe was as a result of the LINk work demonstrating they weaknesses.
As you have not been an active member for the past 3 months you are unaware of the internal/external developments, which is unfortunate. We have engaged with the public and we now have a membership in excess of 250 members. This number excludes the numbers of people within a patient support groups, forums and voluntary organisations like Nth Norfolk older peoples forum, Big C, RING, 25% etc. who we invite to comment on specific issues.”

I hear what Tina is saying and she and her staff do work their socks off to do their best within the dictates of the ‘Star Chamber.’ (and the Host was the Interim Host before October 2008)But the fact of the Star Chamber remains; and it remains that those 250 members cannot do anything without Star Chamber approval - stifling any initiative; and it remains that Norfolk LINk is failing to talk to service users and carers in their communities. Public meetings and PEAT inspections are inadequate. As the SCIE Practice Guide: the participation of adult service users... says:

“Participation can be hindered by structural barriers, such as formal meetings or a lack of technological support. Organisations need to consider how they can avoid practices that may make people feel excluded,...” “Avoid using one model of participation. This increases the likelihood that some service users are excluded. Specific strategies may be needed to ensure that the voices of people who are ‘seldom heard’ such as service users from Black and minority ethnic groups, and service users with communications difficulties are included.”

And the only way to include those ‘seldom heard’ is to reach out into the communities where they live - go to them - tramp the pavements - sit in cafes, supermarkets, day centres, libraries, pubs etc. Don’t expect everyone to come to you and your meetings.

One more point. I’ve still not seen or heard anything around this community which tells me the Norfolk LINk even exists, let alone what it’s doing.

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The Tough Tenor (when I could walk)!

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In a Mellotone
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