Posted on May 30, 2016
Posted on April 6, 2016
I suppose I should have realised that when I was invited to a meeting titled “Market Engagement” something about business would follow.
This was in fact a meeting to brief organisations who were hoping to be involved in providing services to refugees in our county under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme (SVPRP). As a representative of a welcoming organisation I went with a “listen and learn” brief, our organisation was there to ensure that any refugees arriving in our town were appropriately welcomed and supported.
The meeting was introduced by two members of the procurement team who explained the need for governance in the selection of bidders for tenders that would over the next few weeks take place competitively. So from the start the market was well engaged but were we?
We were welcomed (but only introduced after a prompt from the floor) and questions were taken but when we asked for some engagement (being represented on some of the panels involved in making the decisions), we were told that was not how things were done. But why not, wouldn’t it be sensible to engage those voluntary organisations present whose only concern was to ensure the refugees had a decent welcome by friendly faces? No, because it would represent a conflict of interest. Why? Because it would be like “having your sister-in-law on the panel.” So not much engagement there.
We sought further engagement more informally following the meeting, trying to work out who the front-runner might be and who we would see as adding most value to our work. There had been an audible gasp in the room when the procurement team explained that the weighting criteria for selection of providers, would be 70% on cost. Talking to people afterwards about this revealed that this was higher than elsewhere in the country and suggested that there was some pressure to keep costs down to (or below?) the minimum, in order to win the tender. Which led to other concerns being voiced about local authorities who were putting themselves forward to receive refugees in order to benefit from the widely recognised generosity of the £8250 capitation being offered by the SVPRP for every refugee received under the scheme. The whispered story was that early-adopter councils had found that they could provide all the necessary support to refugees and make a tidy “profit” too; surely an element of the market-place which should be, if true, nipped in the bud. Perhaps this attitude is encouraged by the tenders being awarded to providers with Performance Related Pay which may encourage running a dangerously slim operation by providers keen to win contacts; with low costs demanded and surpluses available to be spent elsewhere on hard pressed budgets. If true; dirty business.
I came away feeling very un-engaged and wondering why the market was relevant here at all. After all this is a fairly simple operation driven by compassion and humanity (where markets have no particular expertise). Undoubtedly a market based procurement approach is how the modern local authority manages its business in the search for best value. But isn’t it just another example of markets hitting the target but missing the point, by creating conditions in which there is a race to the bottom when good citizenship and generous communities should rule the day?
Posted on March 20, 2016
This weekend, three of my Growing Points customers are working hard to slay the dragon of the NHS application form. They are 3 of 11 refugee women who are hoping to take the Nursing Apprentice programme to become Clinical Support workers under a scheme Growing points has established with the help of Leeds Hospital, Health Education England and City of Sanctuary. That is where they hope to arrive in a year’s time and, if they wish, they can graduate onto a course which will ultimately give them registration.
Posted on March 10, 2016
“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?“ (My emphasis)
Updated on February 4, 2016
Updated on February 4, 2016
Updated on February 4, 2016
Posted on January 23, 2016
We launched in 2013 with Alan Milburn making the key note speech and have recruited 16 Guardians who are working with 33 customers we plan to increase to 150 over the next 3 years
We have created a safe and sustainable model of work with supervision, confidentiality, evaluation and customer feedback as priorities
We have established a network of referral agencies across the country in Leeds, London and Leicester who spot customers for us and refer them to our secure process for allocation
We are working with a large northern hospital to establish a programme for refugee nurses from Africa who are seeking to practice in the UK; a programme we call Hidden Talents
We work with two headhunting organisations who give us pro bono advice and help on placing customers and feed-back on CVs
We have recruited three great Patrons Lord Philip Hunt, Marina Lewycka and Elizabeth Bayliss who speak well on our behalf (Marina a successful author was herself was a refugee, Elizabeth worked all her life in the East End improving lives and Philip has consistently campaigned for better and more caring health services)
We have run a successful Ambitions Auction through ebay last year which raised £2,500 for grant awards and running costs and attracted many generous “lots” from donors
We attracted a donation of £10000 to further our work on learning and networking.
And we are getting great feedback from our exit interviews…
We have not been standing still….!