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Our highlights from 2014

A young man from Scotland being allocated an individual budget that enabled him to buy an accordion and lessons, which subsequently led to him being offered a place at the Glasgow School of Music, is just one of the team's highlights from 2014.

When we asked the In Control team to reflect a little on the past 12 months and what their highlights were, we weren't short of responses, here's just a brief selection on what has made their year.

The young man mentioned above, attended special school all his life. Enrolling in the Glasgow School of Music will be his first experience of mainstream education. He's also just started composing his own orchestral pieces of music - he's 16-years-old.

Of course, there was also our 'Making the Future' event in April which saw several hundred champions of change come together to renew their personal and collective commitment to the rights of disabled people and their own lives. Their shared vision was perhaps best articulated in the words of Gavin Croft who said "I want a life, not a service".

April's event took place amidst unprecedented and growing pressure on public finances and evidence of councils 'talking the talk' on personalisation and self-directed support while walking a very different walk indeed it also came in the wake of some influential people expressing genuine doubts about whether self-directed support could be meaningful or survive at all in such circumstances. Yet people's abiding mood at the event was to seek to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

The presentation from two mothers - Lynne Elwell and Nicola Dalgarno from Partners in Policymaking was particularly emotive. They spoke movingly about their experiences as mothers of disabled children - separated by 40 years - but not by the hopes and dreams they have had for their children, nor by the many challenges faced. They quoted the Canadian disability rights activity Judith Snow:

"Ultimately our goal can be nothing less than total transformation of our culture. Only when the most vulnerable of us is valued and appreciated for his or her gifts will everyone be safe and supported to be a fulfilled person."

For a reminder of the day watch our slideshow.

This year we also launched Inclusive Change which brings together In Control, Inclusive Neighbourhoods, Inclusion North, Community Catalysts and Shared Lives Plus. Under the banner of 'Inclusive Change' we will be working together to support people and leaders to have new conversations which can identify their area's strengths and resources as well as its needs, and to pursue together the simple goal of 'good lives in good places' rather than focusing solely on 'service efficiencies'.

And in our highlights how could we not mention the Care Act? Personal budgets being brought into law for the first time is a huge stride forward, and not just that but the formal guidance from the Department of Health states that they should be delivered according to the principles of self-directed support and links to our 'seven steps'.

Despite all of the challenges of implementing personal budgets properly which are linked to the continuing power of the professional gift model and the awful consequences of local government cuts - there is no going back - people will keep chipping away to shift the power towards those using public services and build different, more equal relationships with professionals to get much better results all round. Enlightened professionals will join this movement which reflects why they came to be public servants in the first place.

Another big achievement for the team with regards to legislation was seeing indicative funding for children, young people and families get a clear mention in the Code of Practice enabling families to know how much money is available before setting out the detail of the support plan.

And how about more than 4,000 people sharing their views and experiences on what's working and what's not with personal budgets and education health and care plans across adult social services, health, children's services and health? This collective voice - which now takes the national data set for our Personal Outcomes Evaluation Tool (POET) to more than 8,000 across all sectors creates the largest evidence base to date on personal budgets and EHC plans giving us, councils, clinical commissioning groups and others a very clear insight on where efforts need to be focused in order to improve people's experiences and outcomes.

We'll be publishing an annual review and forward look in the New Year, which will also include more detail on the conversations and ideas captured during Making the Future.

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Last Updated : 19 December 2014. Page Author: Laura Bimpson.