Keeping the Vision in a time of trouble

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.

John Dixon PhotoI 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.

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