by Maria Arnold (Senior Development Officer – Adult Health and Wellbeing).
How to best spend public money is a topic fraught with tension, and for good reason. Too often the processes used to decide how to use precious funds seem so bureaucratic that they feel like they are missing the point. The various qualities of a written submission seem to become more important than… whether or not it’s the best thing to support the communities in question. Small organisations often lose out, and high level commitments to tackling health inequalities often fall short. It’s all done in the pursuit of transparency and accountability but many people in the voluntary sector have for a long time (loudly) wondered if we can’t find a better way. These discussions have certainly been a consistent part of my 6 years at EVOC.
So now we have a really exciting opportunity to put our (well, actually Scottish Government’s) money where our mouth is. £1.255 million to spend on community mental health and wellbeing in Edinburgh. An emphasis on supporting those communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and those experiencing multiple marginalisation. A focus on upstream initiatives – early intervention and prevention. A recognition from Scottish Government that people with lived experience need to be at the centre of the process and that there is a role for community commissioning. Definitely exciting.
But it’s also pretty nerve wracking too. The hardest thing is that the timescales are very tight and not ideal to have this kind of conversation in the way we’d like. We’re going to try our best but I’m worried we won’t be able to be as inclusive as we could be with more time, and I’d appreciate any support with this. It’s also really hard to prioritise early intervention and prevention when we are so painfully aware of so much need at all levels, and there is so much crisis to respond to. But we all know the strength of evidence in terms of early intervention and prevention being the way to address health inequalities.
It always feels much safer to continue with a known (even if known-to-be-flawed) system, rather than take the risk to try to change it. So I’m really putting a big plea out to all our partners to have a leap of faith, jump in, and see how much we can improve things this time around. Let’s see how far we can go to replacing competition with collaboration, and devolving decision making to communities. I doubt we’ll achieve the perfect system but I do think we can make progress, and keep building on it each chance we get.
Some things are set by Scottish Government, but there is a lot left to decide locally.
There are 4 meetings* set up in the second half of November, please register and contribute if you can:
- Tue 16 Nov, 9.30-11.30am (MS Teams)
- Wed 17 Nov, 1.30-3.30pm (MS Teams)
- Tue 23 Nov, 1.30-3.30pm (Zoom)
- Thu 25 Nov, 11am-1pm (Zoom)
Please get in touch if we can support you to contribute to these in any way, find different ways to get involved, or support people with lived experience to contribute: email@example.com
These events are just the first step in the development process, so make sure that you sign up to our e-newsletters and keep and watch out website news page for the latest updates and further opportunities.
*Please note there is 1 event with 4 different dates – choose the ticket option with the date and time of your choice.