A Message from the Chair

Hi I am June, I am the Chair of Southwark Carers and have been in post since December 2010, when David Le Bon stepped down due to ill health. I am a carer for a friend and in the past was for many years a carer for my husband. I have been a member of the management committee since 2005. I am passionate about Carers and their rights and am always willing to listen to your concerns and issues, I can be contacted on june.hollands@southwarkcarers.org.uk

In some respects I have taken over at a time of great uncertainty, funding crisis, contracts coming to an end and the uncertainty over when building works at Cambridge House will be completed and whether we would be able to stay on at Cambridge House.

It is fair to say that the last year has been challenging in the extreme and that I have had a steep learning curve. However, I have attended training sessions for Trustees at CAS and PRTC and am confident in my role.

It has been sometime since the last newsletter, May 2011. The delay in the newsletter has been due to a number of reasons firstly we were awaiting a decision from the Council about the future existence of Southwark Carers and in the interim period we had a largely reduced budget, for a short period of time we had no funding from the Council at all and had to rely on our reserves to operate. Therefore, we had to make a number of cutbacks, reducing the number of editions of the newsletter being one of our many cost saving exercises.

I am delighted to report that after many months of negotiations with the Council that we have secured a three year contract with the Council, the start date of the new contract was the 8th August 2011. In securing this contract we have taken over the work that was originally carried out by TAIFA and Ellen Mgbenwelu at SLAM. We were able to work with the council to ensure that the cost savings were identified from back office costs and that direct services for Carers, for example, FYAB, Transport Grant, and respite grants were not affected, eligibility criteria for these grants will however change, also they will now be known as personal budgets.

I would like to thank you all for your patience over the last few months whilst we have been carrying out these negotiations. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the various organisations that support Southwark Carers in its single provider negotiations, Community Action Southwark, Cambridge House, Contact a Family, Repaying the Kindness, KIDS, PRTC, and TAIFA.

I would also like to thank you all for the support that you have provided Southwark Carers in the last year and for you patience whilst we have negotiated and finalised the details of the personal budgets with the Council. I look forward to working on your behalf in the future.

Some of you have raised concerns over the closure of surgery groups, what I would say to you is that it was necessary to cease some of the groups as at that stage we were fighting for our survival and had received 25% cuts across all services. Also the attendance at groups was decreasing steadily making them unviable. I note that carers wanted the groups to be reinstated as they felt that they did not cost anything to run, the groups actually cost approximately £10,000 per annum to run. These costs are hidden costs, staff time, cost of mail outs and it is these hidden costs that we have to cut back on.

For those of you that took part in the Thames Walk in July 2010 and raised the princely sum of £1115.65 you will be assured to know that this money was earmarked to purchase IT equipment for the Rainbow Room, as we now have an identified Rainbow Room we will be purchasing this equipment and it will be available for you to use. The Thames Walk this year so far has raised £218.00 and these monies will be used for a pamper day for carers.

We have been extremely innovative in these times of austerity and have just started a pilot of a social enterprise, our activity groups when they make jewellery, candles and other crafts will be asked to donate the items that they make so that we can sell them and the profits will be reinvested into Southwark Carers. We will use the £1000 left to Southwark Carers by Mary Marshall to launch this venture. Our activities are extending their reach, we now have regular events on every third Saturday of the month.

Our AGM is scheduled for 2nd December and will take place at the Walworth Methodist Church from midday onwards. You should have received paperwork about this recently if you have registered as member with us. It looks like it will be very interesting meeting we have Anna Raeburn opening the meeting, we also have in attendance Dora Dixon Fyle Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care and Simon Hughes MP. I look forward to seeing you there.

Whilst we have been at Cambridge House for a number of years we are now moving, we will be moving to the Walworth Methodist Church and will be based on the 3rd floor. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Cambridge House for hosting us for all these years and look forward to retaining close links with them.

We would like to thank the Walworth Methodist Church for making us feel so welcome and hope to have a long association with them.


June Hollands,