Earlier this month, Fulfilling Lives Newcastle Gateshead travelled down to Milton Keynes for the annual Multiple Needs Summit, organised by the MEAM Coalition. The annual two-day event brings together practitioners from across sectors to identify how we can collectively organise to better deliver integrated services, which can make a real difference and gain political traction for multiple disadvantage. Here, System Broker Richy shares his experiences of Day Two of the summit.
Our second day in Milton Keynes for the Multiple Needs Summit was opened by guest speakers including Alan Wallace (Fulfilling Lives South East), Steve Kahn (EBE Liverpool), and Karen Biggs (CEO Phoenix Futures). We were told that a 9 year contract in Southport for complex needs had just been commissioned, which went down really well with the audience (including national providers). Karen Briggs stressed the importance of having service users with you when tendering for a bid.
My first master class of the day was: “Better Care for People with Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions.” In this class, Public Health England presented their draft copy of guidance for supporting people with co-existing needs, which has been postponed because of the snap election. PHE gave a really honest and open presentation and really mirrored all the work we have been doing in Gateshead.
The NHS Foundation gave an overview of the updates to the NICE Guidance in this session too. I had a fair bit to say around this, as for the past 15 years I have been fighting against NICE and dreaming of a new version which allows better access to mental health services.
I gave an update on the work we are doing here in Newcastle Gateshead, and the barriers we have faced from services using NICE guidance as a tool to refuse access to mental health support to people with substance misuse issues, for them now, with the amendments to NICE in place, to state “It’s only guidance, not policy”.
The final workshop of the day for me was the ‘Influencing Policy’ workshop facilitated by Nicola Drinkwater (Clinks) and Ayaz Manji (Mind). For me this was the workshop I took the most out of. We looked at how we can influence national policy through campaigning and advocating for areas of work we are involved with. Nicola handed out useful tools that will allow us to plan, measure, and map out areas of work we are involved with, and gave some great tips on what and where to focus our energy on when influencing local and national government.
The two-day conference was finished off by Anne Fox (CEO Clinks), and we were treated to Terry Nelson on stage again, alongside Darren Murinas, emphasising the point of celebrating success and working with the person holistically. We were asked to make a commitment of what we are going to do/take away from the conference and I suggested that the next conference could have an awards ceremony for the best local authority of national policy that has embraced system change, something that could be incorporated into the evening meal they have on the first night.
Although there’s a big task ahead of us, it’s important to take a step back sometimes and celebrate the achievements we’ve had so far.
All in all I really enjoyed the conference. I would recommend more people from our local authorities attend as there is great work going on throughout the country they could imitate.