People's Centre for Change started in 2010 as a group of family carers of adults with severe learning disabilities, autism and complex needs who to campaigned against the closure of Shoot-Up-Hill day centre. In 2012, we won a reprieve from Camden Council.
People's Centre aims to fill in the gap in provision and set up a modern alternative to the traditional day centre where local people with support needs can find excellent, adapted and flexible activities and support in a friendly, small scale and inclusive environment.
We work with and support family carers and friends.
We are developing our service model, capacity and business plan to scale up our activities.
We are a Charitable Society for the Benefit of the Community and an exempt charity under HMRC.
Our values are based on friendliness, approachability, personal contact, dedication and openness.
Our vision is for a world where everyone is valued for who they are and supported to fulfil their individual potential and works together because we are all interdependent and connected.
We are successfully piloting services with a mixture of charitable funding and income raised from sessions. We are preparing to be organisationally ready to provide full time services, and own and manage a building. We are investigating options to raise the money if needed to buy the building at Shoot-Up-Hill.
Our membership consists of people with disabilities, their family members, friends and allies and is open to anyone over 18 who shares our values and aims.
We encourage and listen to all our participants. We understand the importance of using different means of communication to eliciting the views of all our members. We use easy read formats where appropriate but we also rely on the understanding, observations and deep knowledge of our members by those close to them (family carers, friends, advocates and support workers)
People's Centre is managed by Trustees who are elected annually by the members at the Annual General Meeting. Currently we have 5 trustees with different skills and backgrounds, and three of whom are also family carers of people with high support needs and share activities with members on a weekly basis. Our trustees are:
Volunteers play and have played a crucial role in our existence both for daily operations as well as strategic planning and governance. Thanks to charitable funding we have recently employed our first members of staff to work on service development and volunteer recruitment.
A group of family carers got together to try to improve services and to campaign against the closure of a council day centre for adults with severe learning disabilities in Shoot up Hill, Camden. A much loved day centre which offered people excellent services and where around 45 people with a range of impairments formed friendships.
The council decided the day centre service should be turned into a “portable” service. Day centre users would no longer have a place to meet and do adapted activities, rather they would have to “go out and about in the community” where their needs cannot be met. The council wants to sell the building and build a mega centre for other people with disabilities, Greenwood Place, and to house a local Centre for Independent Living.
Family carers put forward to the council a proposal to run the day centre as a social enterprise and transform it into a vibrant and inclusive community resource and a place of excellence for vulnerable adults filling a gap in provision of services.
Camden Council Cabinet voted to keep the day centre open until the new Greenwood Place is up and running and acknowledges the need for a “building base” service for people with learning disabilities using New Shoots. The group set up a charitable society, negotiates a licence with the council to use the building outside day centre hours and inspired funders (Co-op Hub, Lloyds School of Social Entrepreneurs) to support the start of pilot sessions.
All this was made possible thanks to funding from Comic Relief and Camden Carers Service. Big Lottery Fund pays for work on business case which demonstrates we can be a sustainable organisation and we continue to build capacity.
In January the Independent Examiner's report confirms that there is community at 96-98 Shoot up Hill on a par with the other facilities on the Neighbourhood Development Plan list (Localism Act). The council agreed in March 2015 and the Plan has been formally recognised at a referendum in July 2015(see section on the building). People's Centre continued to run Wednesday sessions, we held our 2nd AGM, our 3rd certificate ceremony where all our members are celebrated for who they are, their achievements and contributions; we held a special Children and Families Summer Fun Day , and a Health Check Day for Carers with Camden Carers. We run some smaller project and in partnership with other organisations
People's Centre families support the personalisation initiative but are critical of a narrow interpretation which, coupled with financial cuts, has led to day centre closures nationally. Mencap describe the results in their "Stuck at Home" report: people with learning disabilities become even more isolated, dependent on their carers, friendships and community lost, without meaningful occupation. The market development referred to in the Care Act 2014 to accompany personalisation in recognition that universal services are not enough, has not taken place as planned, the costs of setting up alternative services and of premises (especially in London) being a strong factor.
People's Centre is determined to make a practical and positive difference to the lives of the most vulnerable group in this society. We will keep alight the aspiration for a full life for all, defined by their individual wishes and enabled through the individual support and personalised learning they may need. We also believe that “the community” needs to change so that people with learning disabilities participate as full members of society and not just as observers.
Our business case demonstrates that we can be a sustainable proposition incorporating a programme with a wide range of activities and diverse participants, social events, a cafe/restaurant, spaces and volunteering and employment opportunities.
Sustainability is based on modest assumptions about number of participants and other factors as well as novel and flexible ways of working and connecting people and seeing people as interdependent. We are refining our own service model, having visited different learning and community centres and researched ways to meet local need through a mix of staff and volunteers.
People's Centre will produce a detailed business plan based on the principle assumptions in the business case in the near future to ensure accurate up to date costings are available for the trustees and supporters.
The board continues to build capacity and aims to be ready for a scale up to coincide with the opening of Greenwood Place to ensure that current and new members have choices in their lives and we are able to offer a diverse group of participants the excellent services they need.
People's Centre works with council officers and members from all the main parties and has made contact with members of the local community, several sister organisations and local community organisations, schools, colleges and universities. We network with campaigning groups to raise awareness of issues affecting the lives of people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs.
People's Centre is networking with other organisations to develop partnership and sharing the building as well as the range of options to secure its use (from leasing to buying the building.)