CQC’s new strategy for engaging with the public up to 2021

The CQC have today published a new strategy for how they’ll engage with the public to help make them a strong, independent regulator that is always on the side of people using care services.

They engaged lots of people, including people who use services, organisations that represent them and their staff in its creation.

They heard the following challenges:

  • CQC can’t do this alone and in some cases, are not best placed to do so – they should leverage what others do well in the system.
  • People, and organisations, do not always know what happens when they share views and experiences of care with the CQC.
  • The public struggle to find the information they need about care services. They are not always seeing the ratings.
  • People do not always know what changes their feedback or participation has led to.
  • The “public” are not a homogeneous group – they are diverse and have many needs. Over the next five years, these needs and the way people use health and care services will change.

They will address these challenges by:

  1. Working with organisations that represent people who use services to help improve the quality of care.
  2. Encouraging people to share their views and experiences of care with them, improving the way they use this information and reporting on the action the take.
  3. Producing and promoting simple, clear and concise information for the public that explains what good care looks like and supports people to make decisions about services.
  4. Improving the way they work by involving and engaging the public in their policies, plans and processes.

Thank you to those who helped them to develop their new strategy. They look forward to working with you to turn it into reality over the coming years.

You can download the summary version of the strategy here.

The UK no longer has a national public library system

Since 2010, hundreds of local libraries have been handed over from councils to be run by the local community. One estimate is that 500 of the UK’s 3,850 libraries are now being run by local volunteers. Despite talk about empowerment and community involvement, the reality is that local people face a stark choice: take over a local library or it faces closure.

At the Library Campaign, the national charity that supports library users and campaigners, we have seen this story played out again and again.

Local councils have seized on the volunteer idea as an easy answer to budget cuts. Each local authority has struggled to find its own solutions, with local residents doing whatever they can. The commitment of volunteers is wholly admirable, but the result is that as a country, we have been left without a coherent library service and we have seen no real attempt to find out how well community-run libraries work.

Even a recent report from the government-funded taskforce looking into the effectiveness and sustainability of community-managed libraries has been unable to draw any firm conclusions.

This is not the fault of the research team, which contacted 442 community-managed libraries of various kinds. The problem is that there is no coherent picture to find.

The new style of community-managed libraries vary wildly in what they offer, how they are staffed and financed, and how likely they are to survive. Few community-managed libraries have been around long and most have had council support for at least a couple of years.

But the nature of that support varies wildly and across the country, it’s a chaotic picture. Councils might provide some professional librarian time or none at all. In Lincolnshire, for instance, 35 community libraries share a single development officer.

Financial support could be thousands or nothing, and mightcontinue, or not. The 35 Lincolnshire libraries are to each get £5,167 a year until 2020, but no-one knows what will happen after that. They are also getting funds from all kinds of other sources. Alford’s community library, for instance, has been funded £1,000 from the local town council in its first year and £2,000 for its second year, but does not know if that will continue. No two libraries are alike, and that is just within one county.

Another example is Castle Vale library in Birmingham, which got £50,000 in funding from Birmingham city council for 2014-15 and 2015-16, part of which was used to pay city council library staff on temporary secondment. But now, although it gets a lot of support from the council, including stock, use of the council’s computer system, a van service, peppercorn rent on its building and some professional support, the library has to raise its own funds.

It is now pot luck whether your local library is a full service or some nice people with cast-off books
Councils may count these libraries as part of their provision under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, which requires the 151 English library authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service (although there is no legal definition of what comprehensive and efficient might mean, and the government has intervened only once, in Wirral in 2009).

What does emerge is a nasty secret that few people and least of all the government talk about: we no longer have a national public library service.

Until very recently, every local public library was part of a joined-up national network. In even the smallest library, people could be sure to find certain basics such as books and PCs, plus trained staff able to provide a gateway to national assets, including standard online reference works, national newspaper archives, a link to the British Library, access to the summer reading challenge for children in the summer holidays, and much, much more in terms of books, educational resources, reference material and contacts.

The whole point was to provide a standard service nationwide. But that has now gone.

It is now pot luck whether your local library is a full service, or instead, some nice people with cast-off books donated by other nice people. Or something – almost anything – in between.

There’s no way to tell if this ramshackle provision can survive. It has been common for community-managed libraries to have problems finding enough volunteers, or funding. Most residents have been grateful to have any kind of community facility.

But volunteer libraries have already ceased to provide a full, national library service. The taskforce did not ask about the quality of service in community-run libraries, so there is little information about the range and depth of books being stocked, or what kind of IT facilities are being provided. The research team could not even use a basic measure: the number of books being issued.

The government has sat back and watched the most drastic change in decades to an essential frontline public service. In an affluent country, with key needs for information and human connection, this is unforgivable.

Source: Guardian Voluntary Sector Online

Oxfam sacked 22 staff over sexual abuse allegations

The aid charity says it dealt with 87 claims of sexual exploitation and abuse involving its workers, 36% more than in previous year.

Oxfam has dismissed 22 members of staff over allegations of sexual abuse in the last year, according to figures released by the aid charity.

Two staff members resigned before investigations were complete, with concern rising about the organisation’s management of its overseas network.

Oxfam has faced criticism following a renewed focus on sexual exploitation in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

Last week, Lesley Agams, Oxfam’s former country director in Nigeria, told the Times she had been assaulted by a colleague in 2010. Agams said that a few months after reporting the attack, which took place after a visit to the charity’s headquarters, her contract was terminated.

Oxfam said it dealt with 87 claims of sexual exploitation and abuse involving its workers in the year ending April 2017, which was a 36% increase on the previous year.

Oxfam told the Thomson Reuters Foundation it had referred 53 of the complaints to police and other services, while 33 were internally investigated, with about three-quarters resulting in disciplinary action.

Oxfam has 5,000 staff and thousands of volunteers in the UK and overseas.

A spokesman for Oxfam said the charity was “not unique”.

“We continue to learn and seek to improve not just in how we handle complaints but also in changing the culture in which we work to prevent the abuse of power in the first place and support those that speak out,” said a spokesman for Oxfam.

“Oxfam is not unique. Sexual abuse is a serious problem in society. We all, including Oxfam, need to get better at preventing and dealing with sexual abuse but as an international organisation fighting for women’s rights we have a special responsibility to practise what we preach and protect our staff, volunteers and beneficiaries from sexual harassment and abuse.”

Megan Nobert, a campaigner who set up the Report the Abuse NGO, which gathered information about sexual abuse in the humanitarian sector, said she was not surprised by the Oxfam allegations.

She said: “I have seen this sort of behaviour in any number of NGOs and other organisations.

“If anything, it’s good that Oxfam is admitting to these figures, because at least they are not sweeping them under the carpet. There is a serious problem with abuse across the humanitarian community.”

Nobert, who set up Report the Abuse after being attacked herself, said that charities had improved their management of allegations.

“There has been a lot of silence and stigma, but it is being reported more now,” she said. “There was a lot of retaliation over whistleblowing, even though it is 2017.”

Nobert said that, in several examples, alleged attackers had been transferred to different countries, rather than facing discipline procedures from their employers. She also said that abuse of local people was a serious problem.

In a survey of more than 1,000 individuals, Report the Abuse found that 87% of people working in the humanitarian field knew a colleague who had experienced sexual violence in the course of their work.

It found that 41% of aid workers had seen an incident of sexual violence against a colleague, while 72% of the individuals who responded to the survey said they were survivors of sexual violence.

The Charity Commission said it had contacted the trustees of Oxfam over the abuse claims.

A spokesman for the charities’ watchdog said: “We are in contact with the charity to establish both how the trustees are responding to the individual allegations, as well as to reassure ourselves that they are taking steps to ensure the charity is appropriately safeguarding all people who come into contact with it, including its staff and volunteers.”

A spokesperson for the Department for International Development said the government required a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual misconduct.

“We expect our partners to have robust systems and processes in place to prevent such behaviour,” the spokesperson said.

“Oxfam have informed us that they are investigating these allegations and we expect this to be carried out as a matter of urgency and in full compliance with the Charity Commission.”

Source: Guardian Voluntary Sector Online

Local Charities Day 2017

After a successful launch last year, where people and organisations from across the UK got involved, I am delighted to announce that Local Charities Day is returning this year on Friday 15 December 2017.

by Tracey Crouch
Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage

Building on the success of 2016’s launch, this year’s Local Charities Day will highlight the work of small charities that are making remarkable differences in their communities. It will also shine a spotlight on the unsung heroes and celebrate the commitment of those amazing volunteers who devote their time to improving the lives of others.

Get ready to get involved and show your support

To help us celebrate the work of local charities and make Local Charities Day bigger and better this year, we need your help, and there are lots of ways to make yourself heard!

Over the next three months as we countdown to Local Charities Day we will be showcasing the work of a range of local charities from around the country via this blog.

Do also keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for more information and news about the day. Just like last year, we want as many local charities involved as possible, with everyone sharing content with the hashtag #LocalCharitiesDay.

However you are involved, I am looking forward to celebrating Local Charities Day with you in 91 days time.

New guide to help small charities manage their finances

Here’s the NCVO’s new practical resource, as voted for by their members, but what is the purpose of financial policies and procedures?

The Charity Commission’s guidance Charity finances: trustee essentials (CC25) opens with the sentence:

Good management of a charity’s finances and other assets enables it to succeed in delivering its charitable aims

The purpose of creating a set of finance policies and procedures is to provide the framework to help you to do that, so that you don’t have to waste time making small routine decisions on finance and can focus on your real work.

There is no off-the-shelf manual, what matters is to have a set of policies and procedures that work for your organisation. Written best practice procedures may appear to offer control but will be useless without communication, acceptance and leading by example – therefore you need to create procedures that will match the culture of your organisation and that everyone can adhere to easily.

The template and guidance give you a head start, with wording to adapt, along with questions to ask yourselves so you can shape sections according to your need and values.

Read more notes and the guidance manual.


Citizenship and civic engagement: Share your views

What does citizenship in the UK mean to you? What barriers are preventing people from being more involved, locally and nationally? Join in with UK Parliament Outreach and Engagement Service inquiry and let them know what you think. 

The big issue  

British society is changing. Technological, economic and cultural changes are leading to shifts in how people live and work together.  

The Scottish independence and Brexit referendums, low levels of confidence in the political system, and concern from people who feel left behind are all signs of a need to find new ways of building bridges within and between communities.  

How you can help 

What does being an active citizen mean to you? Can you tell them about what will help you play a more active role in in public life? 

The House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement would like to hear your thoughts on these areas: 

·         The meaning of citizenship and civic engagement in the 21st Century 

·         The rights and responsibilities attached to citizenship 

·         The state of citizenship education and the role that it plays in creating active citizens 

·         The role of voluntary citizenship schemes such as the National Citizen Service 

·         The ways society can support civic engagement and the role of Government and Parliament in supporting that 

·         The values that all of us who live in Britain should share and support 

·         The relationship between civic engagement and social cohesion 

Your answers don’t have to be long, and they don’t have to cover all these points. 

Send a written submission on the inquiry web page 

Let them know your thoughts by Thursday 8 September 2017. 

Informal submissions 

If you’d like to send a more informal submission, you can email videos, blog posts, poems, posters, postcards, cartoons or even music to [email protected]parliament.uk by 30 November 2017. 

What are select committees? 

Find out more about select committees, how they affect government policy and how you can get involved.  

Learn more about select committees  

Stay in touch 

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