On 8th of November we hosted our 4th annual AGM and conference, Complacent About Christie, which featured two keynote speakers, David Greig, Director of the Lyceum Theatre, and Alan Ainsley, Consultant & Deputy Chairman, Cancer Experience Panel and Transforming Care After Treatment.
Five years ago, at the request of the Scottish Government, a commission was founded to look at the future delivery of public services. Chaired by Dr Campbell Christie, the commission released a report calling for a radical overhaul of the Public, Private and Third Sector approach to service delivery in order to tackle systemic inequalities. The purpose of our conference was to question whether the outcomes from Christie’s report are still at the forefront of Third Sector approach to service delivery, or whether we are still caught up in rhetoric.
The conference was introduced by EVOC CEO, Ella Simpson, who used an extraordinary image to highlight the importance of taking the time to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges facing the Sector, and the need for action through collaboration.
The image Ella showed (left) is of an article in a newspaper from 1947, with the headline, “Loneliness makes life so hard”, and reports on issues such as lack of housing, money and friends – issues that people are still facing in society today. So how do we ensure that these issues won’t still be endemic in another 69 years? Christie’s report laid the foundations for action, and it is vital that all of us working in the sector take up that action, create new actions, and progress against the ambitions.
We understand the continuing challenges that face the Sector, but we also understand that these challenges are not going to go away, we must collaborate to find solutions, new directions, and create the space where creativity and communication can happen.
“Through theatre or the constructed space we can encounter each other with empathy, conviviality to counter fragmentation in society.”
Our first speaker David Greig explored the importance of the constructed space as a means to bring people together, share experiences and stories, and allow for creativity. His adaptation of Aeschylus’s The Suppliant Women, which documents the plight of 50 women from North Africa seeking asylum in Greece, highlights the huge leap of empathy, across 2500 years, across culture, time and space. For David, empathy is a muscle, theatre is the gym.
He also read a poem, The Constructed Space by W.S. Graham
“To spark a movement you need to tell a story.”
Alan Ainsley also spoke of the importance of sharing stories, and not losing sight of the human connection between all of us. Alan shared a very personal story of the death of his own wife, and the impact her blog had on the lives of others. He talked about inspiring others in to action, and the role that the Sector has in driving that movement and creating that supportive space where stories can be told. We were treated to a selection of video examples of how its possible to craft a powerful and lasting message.
In the afternoon we held four workshops for attendees:
Prevention – All Talk and No Trousers?
We had a lively discussion around prevention and early intervention, focusing on practical actions which attendees felt could help to push things forward. Ideas were discussed around the difficulty of evidencing the benefits of a preventative approach – how do you describe what didn’t happen as a result of a service? We need to get better at describing the value of prevention but processes such as procurement and contract management need to be asking for the right kinds of information. Inspired by the earlier sessions we also discussed the possibility of using stories to describe the real impact of cuts, and the real value of services which are too often dismissed as fluffy.
Third Sector Manifeso – Local Elections
At the Third Sector Manifesto workshop, participants were asked to consider their contribution to develop a coherent document that will outline the changes we want to advocate for over the next 1-25 years. Twelve organisations were represented and suggestions from quick-fixes to strategic structural change were recorded. This workshop is the first event in a two-week exercise to develop the document and then seek submission to political party branches and proposed candidates.
Future Proofing Governance
We looked at how the foundations of good governance such as good communications, good relationships, and efficient processes can help organisations to be resilient and dynamic. The main points of the discussion formed around getting recruitment right – the need for trustees to understand what the role entails before they take it on and that the realities and rewards of committee work are as opposed to directly working with service users. Also, the need to determine what an individual’s motivation is in wanting to volunteer as a trustee, and a willingness on the part of the organisation to redirect people to other ways of volunteering if committee work isn’t right for them. There was a discussion about how we, as EVOC and amongst Third Sector organisations, ensure that trustees are aware of their legal duties as well as good practice in fostering healthy boards.
Strategic Partnerships – Building Influence and Making an Impact
This workshop looked at how Integrated Joint Boards are charged with leading the shift in the balance of care models, and how the Third Sector can be a key player, moving organisations beyond service provider to become strategic partner.
We wrapped up the conference with our AGM which saw changes to the EVOC board. You can full details here.
We wanted to thank everyone who attended for their contributions to the day and for their ongoing support of EVOC.