Welsh government examines different approach to social services with pilot projects

Six pilot projects from the Welsh government will look at new ways to deliver social services in communities. In association with the Wales Co-operative Centre and Social Firms...

Six pilot projects from the Welsh government will look at new ways to deliver social services in communities.

In association with the Wales Co-operative Centre and Social Firms Wales, the initiative will use both co-operatives and social enterprises to examine a different approach to council-run care and support offerings.

The projects are part of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act which introduces a duty on local authorities to promote social enterprises, co-operatives, user-led services and the third sector to deliver care and support.

Mark Drakeford, minister for health and social services, said: “Exploring new ways of working with people is a really important part of securing change in social services. People must be supported to take ownership of their well-being where they are able to and to be at the heart of designing services. People know what they need and what matters to them.

“Providing hands-on business support to these projects is important and offers exciting opportunities for us all to learn what works. I am really pleased to see we have a broad range of projects which will innovate and really move the agenda on.”

The six projects will receive six months of support.

  • Anglesey County Council will develop an existing facility in Heulfre, which is currently run by its social services department, into a social co-operative. The site, near Beaumaris, will provide community-based services and employment opportunities. It will also provide real working and training opportunities for adults with learning and physical disabilities living on the island.
  • The Aberdyfi project is using a redundant primary school to provide respite and day care facilities for older people. Its plan is to run a social enterprise through the Aberdyfi Enterprise Trust, answering the needs of older citizens and addressing the issue of employment in the area. Providing respite and day care for older people is regarded by the project as a first step on a journey of a social/community enterprise on the site.
  • The Down to Earth project will work with very vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ groups through activities in the outdoors. Its pilot project will develop and scale up previous activities delivered around the Swansea Bay area. These will include enabling participants to choose their own learning pathway and design and build their own community infrastructure.
  • The Vale of Glamorgan will lead on a project which will address options for providing care to older people and ensuring that the support on offer is flexible enough to meet their changing needs.
  • The Solva Care Project is a community generated social enterprise, which aims to improve the health and well-being of the residents. It plans to establish a non-profit care company which will provide care packages at a number of levels to meet the needs of individuals and households.
  • The Mary Dei Trust was set up by two sisters in Denbighshire who were carers for their disabled parents. The trusts will develop and build on a number of elements of its existing service, from developing its recycling and retail business strands to delivering help and support to carers within the community of Denbighshire.

Derek Walker, chief executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “Thinking differently is the key and we’ve encouraged these pilot projects to tear up the rule book. They are utilising a business-based approach to the delivery of quality social care which will empower service users, carers and people working within the sector.”

As part of the consultation exercise, lessons learned so far from these pilot projects will be discussed at a conference to be held at the Lysaght Institute in Newport on 4 December.

The conference offers a practical one day event for local authorities, social enterprises, co-operatives and other third sector organisations to explore the implications of the Act.

For more details, visit: www.walescooperative.org

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