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FLNG: Our Journey

Read our latest blog from our Programme Manager Lindsay Henderson summing up the Fulfilling Lives Newcastle Gateshead annual event 2019.

Friday 8th November: our fifth annual event was finally here at FLNG and what a day it was!
By Lindsay Henderson, Programme Manager

I don’t think I realised just how powerful the day would be when we began to plan the event many months ago and it was amazing to see so many people join us. Standing room only with over 80 people from Statutory and Third Sector organisations; many of whom I had never seen at one of our events before, proving how effective our new model is in engaging different parts of the system!

Supported by Sir Paul Ennals who chairs our Strategic Group and Brendan Hill, CEO from Mental Health Concern, representing our Core Partnership, who really helped to set the tone for the day by sharing open and honest reflections of FLNG’s journey so far. It was an honour to chair the day and I followed their lead by sharing my own honest reflections about leading a programme of system change. I aim to continue this reflection with all you leaders out there next year…..so get in touch if you want to join me in some peer research!

Now it goes without saying that we had some equipment glitches, whose event doesn’t? We even had to contend with a fire alarm in the middle of my presentation but do you know what, they just didn’t detract from the day. If anything I think it helped and was a perfect reflection of this unpredictable system we are trying to change – you never know what it’s going to throw at you, just keep on keeping on and try to bring people along with you!

The voice and experiences of people with multiple and complex needs was always going to take centre stage and oh boy did they do that! People were quite rightly blown away by the Alphabetti Theatre piece which took us on a roller coaster ride of emotions with one attendee saying that it was – “one of the most moving things I’ve witnessed” and I would wholeheartedly agree. What a fitting and beautiful way to remember all those wonderful people with hopes, dreams, and talents that we’ve lost since our programme began and who knew we had so much thespian skill in the team too! I’m so looking forward to our continued partnership with Alphabetti Theatre so watch this space for more in the new year…..

The Experts by Experience did such a great job of sharing all their fantastic achievements so far. They’re a force to be reckoned with and I was so proud to hear people from other areas say how we were ‘really doing co-production up here’ – what better validation is there for all that hard work?!

Ang and Vicky brought our initial learning from the CTI pilot to life with case studies and sharing how we embarked on the CTI journey to prevent a cliff edge for the people we support and to help them move on positively before the programme ends. We are seeing promising practice and are looking forward to developing our learning with other organisations planning and delivering CTI. You can read our interim report here.

Ray shared the findings from our Interim Workforce Development report (available here) and reflected on the importance of co-production and for the workforce to adopt a trauma informed approach to better support people experiencing MCN.  After lunch and networking we offered everyone the opportunity to sample our Workforce Development programme sessions and they went down a storm!

We offered tasters in Co-Production, MCN Awareness, Peer Research, Systems Thinking and Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) and the buzz in the room was brilliant. People were so engaged in the discussions and the Experts by Experience who were present on each table provided valuable insight. Two of the sessions were co-facilitated by Experts Sheila and Ged and they did a great job!

In the MCN Awareness sessions people explored how ‘endings’ will be difficult in most services because deep bonds and attachments can be formed with people being supported and discussed the need to prepare staff and service users for this. In the Peer Research sessions participants developed fishbone diagrams to explore the root causes of and how to prevent workforce ‘burn out’.

Peer research taster session

So many interesting findings were elicited so we will use these in our future Workforce reports but it comes as no surprise that providing space for reflection was one of the preventative measures identified. What I really liked was highlighting the need for praise and recognising achievements which can be really hard to do when people are immersed in such challenging work environments.

I really wanted our annual event to reflect the programme we are; to reflect our mission, our values and to encourage hope for change and the future. I am so proud of the team because I reckon we nailed it and truly felt that people were in the room because they wanted to do something different, to better support people experiencing MCN and believe they left with hope and inspiration.

If a person leaves your event saying….”it made me leave determined to do better” then I say job done (for now) and bring on the next one!!!