Discussions were based around a previous document detailing the Declaration on Formation of a CIC. In this instance Love Barrow Families. In this document Love Barrow Families had set out its purpose by statements and activities. The discussion was to find out if these statements and activities were still held true and if not, what the new declaration would entail.
Previously LBFs activities would provide benefit to the most excluded and isolated families in the borough of Barrow-in-Furness. In August 2018 this has been revised to ‘the community of Barrow-in-Furness’, with a radius wider than vulnerable families. The bigger picture is “putting hope and goodness back into Barrow”.
The document of 2017 stated that the company was set up in part to invite local families to act as experts in what they need. At present, the mission is to give local families a voice, a voice that is being heard and acknowledged by evidenced outcomes. What needs to be said has to be said, thereby setting a precedent for others and hopefully bringing people together in a collective voice. Being a part of ‘something’, supporting and directing your voices progressively can have an impact on the community. It has a direct impact on what happens to your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
Being a part of something has to start somewhere, at some focal point. The Love Barrow Families building is that focal point. A place of safety and expertise where relationships are made. Relationships are made ‘here’ to encourage the next step ‘out there’, turning negative outcomes into positives. Love Barrow Families is in a position where it can have an impact on the way things are done by listening to the voices of families.
Families can begin to help each other, possibly by a program of ‘matching up’. Word of mouth, increased participation from current and other families, (watching, listening etc) can lead to a much healthier and safer community but one that also breaks the inter-generational cycle of vulnerable and forgotten people trudging the same path and the same agencies.
Certain guiding principles remain the same but will need to be examined in light of the changing mission. It’s become essential to recognise our own humanity if we are to do our best to understand families. Understanding families is to be broken down into training, learning, theory and experience. Encapsulating all of this will be a values framework which will help each of us to live up to the values of the mission. This is pioneering work, often thought of, rarely done. Values never stop; there is no finishing line and a medal for taking part. The reward is knowing that you have done the best you can for all concerned with integrity and respect and therefore feel good about what has been achieved.
Co-production, complexity and continuity are words often cited in this field. However, what do they mean and what do they look like, sound like or feel like? What do we know of co-production in action? How do we understand the complexity of family structure and evidence continuity of care?
These aspirations are not only for the families. How do our aspirations measure up to each other? Can we honestly say that we are important to each other, support and help each other? Do we use roles and masks instead of saying what needs to be said? One of the guiding principles was to be honest with our families; do we honour that principle with ourselves and each other?
The way that we are to work is non-prescriptive, to think outside the box, finding the next step, one that works practically and is evidenced in the outcome. These steps are out there in the families, neighbourhoods and communities that we are all a part of. We are each other’s answer, resources free to us and beyond the grasp and understanding of statutory services. How do we use our experiences and instruments like the AAI and play-therapy to inform and apply? Is this how we successfully challenge bureaucracy? We get on with what needs to be done rather than stand at the side and criticize.
We work and live at the grass roots. We know the truth about what is happening instead of being a participant in the frenzy of delusion. We know this because of our families, feedback, team meetings, core groups, case reviews and the media informing us so. We can continue to use our voices to shout at a sound-proofed service or we can use our voices to help each other, to become a demonstration to others of what can be achieved. It only takes a whisper.