SoLO has had some really hard decisions to make, in the past six months, as a result of the withdrawal of funding for adult social care. This money, which for the past 17 years has formed the foundation of our funding for all of our adult social activity programme (Night Owl, Thursday Crew, Funky Fridays, Open Door, Icebreakers, Leisure Links and Get Active) was withdrawn on the basis that the money would be channelled through direct payment and individual budgets to those who meet social care funding criteria.
In making the decision of what to do, the Trustees and Senior Management have had to look at the bigger picture and ensure that any action we take will not destabilise the whole organisation and put all of our members at risk.
From October 2016 – March 2017, we have worked with staff to consider how we bridge the gap in funding and we have taken account of the fact that many of our members with more severe needs now have their own funding to pay for their activity programme. We have also recognised that, for many of our members with lower needs, the social activities that we provide through Night Owl, Thursday Crew, Funky Fridays and Get Active are the only opportunity they get to meet up with their friends. Many, due to no funding, have no other outlet at all.
We have had the benefit of a social return of investment report that has been carried out on Night Owl, Thursday Crew and Funky Fridays and the evidence, that for every £1 we invest in these programmes delivers £14 worth of social value, has given us confidence that we should concentrate our efforts to ensuring that these are kept running.
In April, we took the decision to discontinue support for Leisure Links as most of the volunteer partnerships had naturally ended and we were able to direct others to the Personal Assistants Service.
From March – June, we have consulted with staff, parents/carers and/or members, and volunteers at Icebreakers and Open Door to see what else we could do to bridge the gap and the final decision which will be actioned in July is:
- Open Door will finish on Wednesday 19th July
- Icebreaker Groups will meet for the last time in July
We will continue to fundraise to keep the other adult social care projects running and are still campaigning for some of this funding to come from local government.
This has not been an easy decision for any of us to make and we are working hard to enable those who have individual funding to be able to access other opportunities and ensure that those who don’t will continue to be able to enjoy low cost social and leisure activities.