Notes of meeting on 5 August 2015

Wandsworth Advice forum 5 August 2015

Note of meeting

Present:

Philippa Burns – Age UK Wandsworth

Richard Butlin – Staying First (part of SBHG)

Alan Clark – Springfield

Reuben Colton – WBC

Nicky Cooper – Single Homeless Project

Sitta Dayi – WBC

Alex Dimond – VoiceAbility Wandsworth Advocacy

Phil  Jew  – Citizens Advice Wandsworth

Alan Lawrie – Mellor & Lawrie Management

Patrick Marples – SWLLC

Helen Meehan – WBC

Jenny  Purkis – Disability and Social Care Advice Service

Sarah Rackham – KLS

Andrea Owen – Alzheimer’s Society

Tina Champion – Lifetimes

Jayne Ayris – WHARF

Hiliwona Solomon – Healthwatch Wandsworth

Andy Mead – WBC

Emily Day – Wandsworth Advice

1. Minutes of last meeting and matters arising
No matters arose.

2. Big Advice Survey Wansdworth Data
The survey data presented generated a discussion about housing issues being noted as a high local issue, and that carers were a number of mixed range ranges. Other areas included conversation on email advice and whether organisations used email advice to responds to clients. Organisations generally used email advice to email information out or for booking clients in but not as a channel for offering advice.   The forum felt that there was a need for a London-wide data for comparison; useful to present results in some format e.g. Executive Summary with National, London and Wandsworth comparison.

Action: WA Project Coordinator to create an executive summary with Wandsworth, London and National data side-by-side.

3. Wandsworth Advice Website
Patrick provided a demonstration of the website, highlighting the search functions and links page.
– There were questions about public promotion from forum members who asked if there would be a promotion prior release. Patrick and Emily did advice that there would be promotion.
– Forum members asked if this platform will be able to provide live advice. Patrick pointed out that the website would be unable to do this and that this would require further development and funding.
– The forum wanted to know what quality control and feedback evaluation the website would have to prevent it being out-of-date. Patrick advised that would this be via forum, and could be an agenda item for each meeting.
– Forum members asked how the general public could contact the website administrator; Patrick pointed out that there is no functionality as of yet but it could be added by the developer in the future.
– It was generally felt that the forum would need to monitor how website goes.

Action:
1. Forum members to populate to populate the website.
2. Promotion of website via Brightside / WBC magazines, and via Flyers and posters.

4. Care Act Overview Group as part of the WA forum and the Memorandum of Understanding for the WA forum
WBC provided an update on:
– The Care Act, advising that the 2nd phase of the Care Act has been delayed from April 2016 to 2020 due to financial changes. This may change the role of the overview and scrutiny group in the WA forum.
– TWA project coordinator put a proposal to the WBC on behalf of the WA forum regarding funding to support the forum; this has been sent to senior WBC for review.  Andy Mead is still positive regarding the role for the WA forum and a decision may be provided as soon as September.
– DESS looking at how it engages with public – public engagement separate, maybe useful to put this to the forum.
– The forum discussed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and it was felt that the wording needs to be amended to sound more affirmative i.e. replace “may” and “shall” with “will”.

Action:
1. WBC to respond to WA forum proposal for future funding.
2. TWA Project Coordinator to update the MoU wording and send to forum members for confirmation.

5. Legacy results from the evaluation and the Future of the WA forum
Alan discussed the evaluation of the ATSF project and WA forum; illustrating that an aspect of looking back also required looking forward to the future.
The headlines of the evaluation included:
1) We have achieved our targets,
2) Model has worked,
3) Still feels like a work in progress – two years isn’t sufficient to bring a sector together,
4) Operational focus i.e. providing training, rather than strategic (e.g. shaping advice).
5) Collaboration will be a future issue.

The partnership’s legacy– What’s left after ATSF?
Alan discussed the legacy of the forum and its value, explaining that it can be positive (something of value) or it can be negative (i.e. an expectation that has to be maintained). Alan noted that in the case of the Wandsworth Advice these included:
1) Sector better connected
2) Website
3) Higher profile
4) A model for advice settings – now seen as relevant in health outcomes.
5) Training – a really appreciation of training and will become essential to meet future needs.
6) A mechanism for joint bids / joint projects.

Alan asked the forum if the members had any thoughts:
·  Forum members pointed out that historically this has been done before by funders (PCT) as such are we reinventing the wheel? Are the health services still funding the advice sector post-ATSF? Members pointed out yes they are, but funding like this is cyclical and we will probably have to resell ourselves.
·   Wider recognition of the advice, we need to be more articulate about the outcomes of early preventative advice.

The future context for Advice Sector
Alan discussed the future environment that the advice sector would be operating in which included:
– Demand up
– Options fewer, more complex to resolve i.e. complexity and increased demand is having an impact on the advice for example generalist advisers have to take on more complicated cases.
– Resources down i.e. the demand will increase but resources are going to decrease (funding is reducing).
– More competition between organisations which will increase.
– Strategic focus
– Close down unfunded activity

Future collaboration: possible activities:
Alan discussed the future of the WA forum and what potentially could be achieved.
1) Influencing and shaping future local advice provision – Be the coordinating body to shape the advice sector.
2) A scrutiny and social role e.g. care act
3) A social policy campaigning role
4) Improving access to advice (better coordination between organisations)
5) Supporting a broader advice network – Not all organisations provide advice as their main function, some organisations provide just a small amount of advice therefore the WA forum can offer a network for these smaller organisations.
6) A joint bid mechanism “on the shelf” if needed.

A number of points were discussed, including:
– Forum members noted that a major legacy is the forum and how we keep it alive and the focus needs to be more strategic and evolve with the opportunities and mitigate the threats. Identify other gaps and looking for funding it.
– Most forum members felt that influencing and shaping future local advice provision & a scrutiny and social role were the most important.
– It was very much felt that campaigning was a lower priority, noting that it could be a diversion and the coordination can be lost. And that social policy campaigning role is effectively part of a scrutiny and social role therefore not a separate role.
– Improving access to advice is part of influencing and shaping future local advice provision.
– A joint bid mechanism is only relevant when the opportunity arises, and every Big Lottery funding requires partnership.
– Alan felt that points 2-5 will organically grow from Influencing and shaping future local advice provision.

Medium to longer term business model:
There was recognition that a slimmed down business model and with a defined description would be sufficient at present, and that a future idea for the WA forum would be to become a legal entity. However, there was a concern about when a bid vehicle becomes a negative? Forum members noted that this is when a funder starts to pay for the overheads.

What about the funding element?
There was a discussion about future funding and it was felt that funding is an issue but we need to acknowledge the resource issues. Alan noted that other ATSF projects have funded activities via:
– Subscription fee from partners
– Subscription fee from forum members
– Fees for specific activities
– Training on a break even basis
– Small grants to cover core costs.

The forum felt that it’s a difficult one, a subscription would have to be very small, but looking for grants to fund the training is more positive both for the forum and funder.

6. Housing Summit
The housing summit will be on the 9 September 2015 from 3pm-5pm and will be held at the Katherine Low Settlement, 108 Battersea High Street, London, SW11 3HP.

The summit will be an opportunity for the voluntary sector and council departments to discuss the housing issues in Wandsworth. Its aim will be to enable an open and honest dialogue about how the sector can meet housing issues. If you would like to attend the summit, please contact Emily.day@wandsworthcabx.org.uk.

7. Celebrating Wandsworth Advice
The Celebrating Wandsworth Advice event will be on the 24 September 2015 from 5pm – 8pm and will be held at Share Community, 64 Altenburg Gardens, London SW11 1JL.

The event will be a showcasing of the successes of the project and the new website. It will offer an opportunity for the forum members and staff to network and strengthen collaboration with other forum members’ organisations. If you would like to attend event, please contact Emily.day@wandsworthcabx.org.uk of fill in the Celebrating Wandsworth Advice event form.

8. AOB
GD services to be out-sourced
Wandsworth Council Learning difficulties are moving
SWLLC Moving to a new office on Falcon Road which will include 3 housing officers.
Voiceability providing Care Act Advocacy

The next WA forum meeting will be scheduled for November/December 2015 and a date circulated nearer the time

Thank you to Reuben Colton for kindly arranging the venue and refreshments for the meeting.

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