I had been wanting to visit our Wellbeing Centre, at Norfolk Park’s “Centre in the Park”, ever since being appointed to this role.
I finally managed to get there last Thursday and it fully lived up to expectations. After lunch a lady visited to sing some songs to the clients, and staff were nearly in tears as two men who don’t often interact started singing along, and even crooning into the microphone!
These are exactly the outcomes we must strive for at Age UK Sheffield, and they show what a difference we can make to people’s lives.
Unfortunately, we know the challenge to provide our much-needed services is getting ever more difficult. Last week we received letters from Sheffield City Council, giving us notice that two of our current contracts are ending on or around 31 March 2016. Whilst these letters were expected, they demonstrate how difficult it will be for us to plan for our future after this point.
The first of these contracts, for Independent Living Co-ordinator housing support, will shortly be re-tendered, and we are working hard to put forward a successful bid in the coming weeks.
The second area of provision, the non-dementia part of the service at the Wellbeing Centre, will in future be provided for via the Council’s new “Keeping People Well” programme. It seems that this funding will be targeted at local community partnerships, with the bidding opening soon.
There are three key things for us at Age UK Sheffield to understand about these new arrangements:
1) We must be aware of the Council’s growing preference for devolving money locally instead of funding city-wide services
2) Therefore we need to start developing a model of wellbeing provision which does not rely on clients being transported in to a central point – we must find a way of partnering with local groups to deliver wellbeing services in local communities
3) We obviously need to build up as many of these partnerships as possible, if we want to maximise our involvement in providing wellbeing services
Trying to build these relationships is going to be a key part of my work over the coming weeks.