I am writing this blog as the new Chair of In-Control, as of
January this year. This is a time when what we stand for is needed
by people more than ever before, as resources become scarcer than
they have for as long as people can remember, and it is still more
important that the decisions over those resources are in the hands
of those who need them.
I am by no means new to
In-Control, as I was, along with Jo Williams, one of the two first
founder Trustees. The local authority where I was Director of
Social Services was also one of the six which took part in the
first In-Control pilots. I still remember the extraordinary sense
of exhilaration we got when the results came through of the changes
in satisfaction levels expressed by those who were surveyed before
and after those pilots: from satisfaction in the mid 40% across all
the life domains at the beginning of the experiment, to over 90%
two years later.
The key variable was not how much resource was spent by the
local authority: for us in West Sussex, in part because we were
working with a group of people and their families who have severe
learning difficulties, there was in fact a 12.5% cost saving
overall. The satisfaction reflected what a difference it made for
people to be making their own decisions (and yes, that they were
believed to be able to make decisions, with whatever support was
needed) alongside their own families and wider circles of support,
with the local authority and others concentrating on supporting all
this to happen...and with some pretty committed work all round.
In-Control was then a source of huge inspiration to those who
believed these changes could happen, that the social movement was
getting under way, and that it was our job to put in place the
arrangements which would allow this to happen as safely and as
smoothly as possible. Since then the In-Control approach to
personalisation has spread from Adults' Services to Health to
Children's Services, with a growing emphasis on a whole life course
approach. And we are really pleased that this government is as
supportive of personalisation as was the last, as for example the
very recent Green paper on Special Educational Needs shows.
This is a difficult time for all organisations who, like
individuals, need resources to survive, and In-Control is focussing
on how we can continue to bring in the necessary income to keep our
work going at pace. What is quite certain is that our survival
depends on a relentless focus on what we came into being for;
people need an organisation which they can trust to stand up for
them and support them in decisions and in making an informed
choice. To achieve this we must also be an organisation which
values all of its members and its staff. That people are heard and
valued is a hallmark of civilised society, and now more than ever
we need to keep that Vision alive.
John Dixon OBE, Chair of Trustees.