New Year CEO Blog
While it is February and 2022 feels like the distant past, John explains some of the key events at Response last year.
‘As usual, Response is at the forefront of building new services’
We had some outstanding achievements in 2022. One of our paramount successes was establishing Settled Oxfordshire in partnership with Resonance and the City Council. This is our new housing service for rough sleepers, contracted by the City Council. Settled Oxfordshire was a bit of a slow starter; however, things have been moving more swiftly since the New Year. We hope to see 47 people in the city facing homelessness move in before the end of the financial year.
Another highlight is Response’s provision of Social Prescribers in Tier 4 CAMHS services. The aim is that Social Prescribers will accelerate the discharge of young people from hospitals and increase community integration. As usual, we are at the forefront of building new services. We are not only leading in Oxfordshire, but believe this is the first time Social Prescribers have worked on young people’s wards in the UK. This, and other great work we’ve done this year, is supporting very stretched statutory services. Response’s Mental Wealth Academy (MWA) is also evidence of the relief we provide to other services. The stats from the MWA lay bare how we are helping young people change their lives. That leads me onto some devastating changes within the MWA.
‘The ending of funding for the MWA’
We move into the New Year with a tinge of sadness in the air. One of the key things about 2023 is that some of Response’s current contracts come to the end of their commissioning period in March. I want to touch upon the terrible news that commissioners will no longer be funding the MWA come March, and the service will be closing its doors to referrals in Oxfordshire. Myself and many others are very disappointed about this…
We know that NHS organisations are all stretched for money, but this is a service which actually saved money and freed up the time of other services like GPs. And our data doesn’t lie about the invaluable impacts of our services on the lives of young people. We saw a high pattern of getting young people back into education, employment and training from the service.
The age group of 16-25 continually fall down gaps in services at a critical time in their development, and we were doing a great job in giving young people stability.
But we can say a similar version of the service will now be picked up in Berkshire, focussing on care leavers. Response won’t falter- we’re confident that the service will come back in the future, as people will see how essential it is for this age group.
‘Some people go beyond what their job description says’
I also wanted to honour Dawn Tarry, who won the Kay Sharp Award this year. Those who were nominated this year should feel proud in knowing that they go above and beyond their job description. Kay would have been proud- well done Dawn.
‘The staff in Home Care provided a specialist service, and Response’s support will be missed’
Now we hear of the sad news of our Home Care Service closing. Our service employed people with expertise in mental health to work in Home Care, a two-pronged specialism which did not exist before.
The service is dissolving due to its business model and is absolutely nothing to do with its brilliant staff and managers. The staff have been exceptionally dedicated in what can be a difficult working environment- they’ve shown a lot of flexibility in working weekends, evenings, bank holidays, and were consistently given good ratings with CQC.
Our model for Home Care was catering to a low volume of clients for a higher cost: and this model didn’t sit easily within Home Care commissioning environment. With the ending of the OBC contract in March, we could no longer continue running it without it taking away from the rest of our services. We are however assured that our service users will all still receive the same amount of support.
‘Response has come through bad times, and we will come through it again’
While one service closes, we have the opportunity to focus on improving the quality of our current services. Excitingly, our fundraising activities will enable this.
We are stepping up to 2023 with a fundraising strategy, which is something we have never done much of before. While our contracts provide funding to run basic services, the money raised by fundraising events can be used for ‘extra’ things for our clients to improve the quality of their life.
Our Quiz at The Tap Social is our first big fundraising event and I’d love to see as many of you coming along as possible. The event will be excellent exposure for Response! The Youth Network is hosting the quiz, illustrating how involved young people are becoming with the organisation. This a great start, and I can’t wait to see what the network goes on to achieve over the next year.
It’s definitely no secret that we are in difficult times at the moment as we are hit by the cost-of-living crisis. While this may allude to a cost-of-giving crisis in the charity sector, I assure you that Response has come through hard times before, and we will do it again. Some of us who’ve been knocking around longer at Response (mentioning no names) have seen cycles of austerity before, but Response always finds new opportunities to get excited about. Things do work out. As said before, we are at the forefront of new opportunities and services in our area.