On a dull, damp and grey day in the wake of Storm Ciara, around 100 people came together at Worcester Arena to find out more about the new funding for Meeting Centres which has been made available by Worcestershire County Council.
For people who were less familiar with Meeting Centres there was an initial session to provide a bit of background and make sure everyone was on the same page. Approximately half of the attendees made use of this optional session, learning more about Meeting Centres. Following a short break to enable the rest of the attendees to arrive, Professor Dawn Brooker welcomed everyone to the main part of the day and gave an overview of the Meeting Centres work so far.
Richard Keble – Assistant Director for Adult Social Care at Worcestershire County Council – set the scene from a Worcestershire perspective to say why Worcestershire County Council feels there is a need to establish Meeting Centres. There was a strong feeling that this is a county-wide initiative with a focus to “prevent, reduce or delay the need for funded adult social care”.
To help the group appreciate what a Meeting Centre looks like on a day-to-day basis, our own Mike Watts swapped hats to share his experiences as a Trustee of Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre and their rollercoaster journey. We heard about how the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre came into being, how it has evolved over the past few years, and how it overcame the challenges it has faced – particularly around funding.
Following on from this, Dawn gave an overview of the UK Meeting Centres Support Programme (UK MCSP) more widely, considering how the work being done nationally is relevant for Worcestershire. For example, the National Conference which is taking place 5th May will bring together people from the nine existing Meeting Centres and will be a great place to share their experience and gain knowledge.
As part of her role on the UK MCSP, Dr Shirley Evans – who is also a Trustee at Leominster Meeting Centre – can provide support to people looking to set up a Meeting Centre, and is an invaluable source of information. She invited people to get in touch via email@example.com and also provided information on the ‘Bring Your Own Lunch’ webinar series where Meeting Centres share their experiences.
Senior Lecturer Mary Bruce then talked about the two-day training courses for new Meeting Centre staff being offered by us at the Association for Dementia Studies. Several dates have already been scheduled over the coming months, and the training will be an important resource for all potential Meeting Centres.
Funding was obviously the main focus of the session, and Dawn set out some of the ground rules and our initial thoughts on how the funding application process may work.
There was also the opportunity to meet other attendees from the same areas within Worcestershire to find out who else is interested and to make useful connections to take ideas forwards. Based on some of the conversations taking place – and the networking that followed over lunch – there should be a lot of activity across Worcestershire in the near future. We’re looking forward to receiving a flood of applications from potential Meeting Centres.
Watch this space!
If you would like any information about the UK MCSP or the potential to access the new funding, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org