The official launch of the £10m Birmingham Changing Futures Together project on Friday 19th June was an inspiring event. The eight year project, led by BVSC, has just reached the end of its first year and is aiming to find new and better ways to support people with multiple and complex needs related to mental health, substance misuse, homelessness and offending behaviour.
Listening to the presentations, three things struck me in particular:
1. The powerful and positive impact that being involved in shaping future services is having on service users, who have been recruited as ‘experts by experience’ and ‘peer mentors’.
2. The beneficial approach of a commissioner or funder, in this case The Big Lottery Fund, working in partnership with those to whom funding is given to ensure that money is being spent in the best possible way.
3. The desire to involve as many organisations and individuals as possible in driving system change – and the willingness to overcome the inherent difficulties that involves, because the benefits of success far outweigh any perceived negatives.
The message which came across strongly is that EVERYONE with an interest in ‘SOS’ – improved Systems, Outcomes and Services – for individuals with multiple and complex needs is invited to get involved. The more views that are represented the better. It’s not too late to join in if you are not involved already. Contact Alana Gooden at BVSC on 0121 643 4343.
Learning and evaluation are key elements of this project, so the opportunity was taken to gather the views of the 120 or so guests at the event who responded to the question: What system changes would help make a greater difference to people facing multiple needs?
But undoubtedly the highlight of the event was the film about the ‘experts by experience’ made by Colonel Duck. It moved some to tears and a moment of silence at the end of it was followed by loud applause. Watch it for yourself [tip: it’s in HD — click the full-screen toggle for the full experience].