Transcript: In Control Scotland

In this episode, Michael McEwan speaks to Keith Etherington, Director of In Control Scotland about the services the organisation provides.

Podcast Episode: In Control Scotland

Category: Social work (general) 



What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.

MM - Michael McEwan
KE - Keith Etherington

MM Ok, now on we are in the In Control Scotland office and we are speaking to Keith Etherington, who is the director of In Control Scotland. So, first of all Keith, can you tell us more information about what is In Control Scotland?

KE Yeh, In Control Scotland is a small independent charity that’s been going, been running as an organisation since 2009, been around since 2009. What we do is help people to think about self-direct support, how they can be in control, how they can manage any resources that are available to them to get a life that works for them. So, we help people to think and plan about how they use their support and we help organisations to think about self-directed support, local authorities, provider organisations, and anyone, really, who gets in touch with us. What we are about is supporting the development of a sustainable system of self-directed support in Scotland that works for people, so it needs to work for those people who are thinking about managing and directing their own support.

MM So did In Control Scotland start off the back of…?

KE Yeh, so we’ve been around for quite a long time, we actually started doing some activity in late 2006, in early 2007, promoting what was then called the In Control Approach, using some ideas that were around about how people could have more choice control and flexibility in their support. So, it was before, obviously, people (… unclear) were around at that time, but it was before the National Strategy came out, before the legislation came into force, that we were around. We were promoting that idea, that people should, irrespective of how they choose to do it, should have choice control and flexibility in the way they organise things for themselves..

MM Is In Control Scotland in England?

KE So there is an In Control in England, yeh, there is an In Control England. They were slightly ahead of us, em, and we are linked to them but we are a separate and distinctly Scottish organisation. So, we only operate in Scotland but we talk to them about things, we use some of their resources, they talk to us about what we’re doing and, yeh, we just help each other out like that.

MM And is that the only 2 organisations in the UK or…?

KE So yeh, so it is the only 2, there are some people who are interested in these ideas in both wales and Northern Ireland as well. There aren’t specific organisations that are called In Control Wales or In Control Northern Ireland, but there are people there who are following the same sorts of ideas. In Wales, they have developed things slightly differently, there used to be something called In Control Cymru then they changed, the policy in Wales developed slightly differently, so they would talk about citizen directed support and there are different organisations that support the development there.

MM Yeh. So, how important do you feel about the organisation, is there a need for this kind of organisation?

KE Yeh so we think it’s, so, as we have said, what we are about is helping people to get a good life, so how that happens doesn’t really matter, but what we want to promote is that idea of flexibility and using all the resources that are available to you, including resources that you would get from your local authority or integrated joint board, as it is now, with Health and Social Care Integration. So, we are about people being able to use those resources flexibly, in the way that works best for them. What makes sense to them, as an individual or as a family. So, we think there is lots to do still, still lots of potential for self-directed support to work better and, realistically, if we look around Scotland at the moment, then we can see that there are patches of good practice and patches of things where it works really well, but lots and lots more scope for it to be more easily understood, for it to be simpler, for people to really be in control, lots of scope, so lots more work for us to do, and support really, because lots of other people are supporting the same agenda, but I think we also have a clear and distinct voice in that.

MM Looking at your website as well, we are going to speak about what you have been up to over the years, but you also run different events and you’ve got some events coming up, so tell us a bit about that.

KE Yeh, we run quite a few different events. So, the way that we are funded is, we are funded partly from membership fees from organisations that choose to join In Control Scotland and pay us a membership fee and then we provide support to those organisations, including local authorities, and we also have funding from Scottish Government to support the implementation of the strategy and legislation around self-directed support. So, we do run lots of different events and activities and one of the things we are involved in is the Partners and Policy Making programme, which is a family leadership, family and individual leadership programme, that’s just about to start at the end of September for the second year. We have something called our Individual Service Fund Programme, we have a bit or work where we are working with 3 local authorities helping some people to think about how they prevent young people from either being placed out with their authority or helping them to return safely back to live at home or near to their home. We have a bit of work which is about personalised human resources that we work in a number of different organisations, so quite a spectrum of things that we do, and then we just run some one-off things that we think are really interesting, just in the near future we’ve got a workshop about including people with autism, got a workshop about creating community circles, got a workshop about circle of friends, they are also coming off in the next couple of weeks. So, we do a broad range of different things that are all to that same agenda, how can people be in control, how can people get lives that work for them, how can people get support and services that make sense.

MM You ran a workshop, I think it was last year, or something…

KE Probably did, yeh.

MM And it was called the Inclusive Education Workshop. I found that was very interesting, I was watching the video on your website, so tell us a bit about that, how it happened and…

KE Yeh, so that was Professor Mary Schuh from New Hampshire, wasn’t it, talking about inclusive education. So, I suppose the first thing I would say is that in all that we do we would talk about a bias inclusion, that we would want to promote things that helped to develop, to create, to stimulate and to support a more inclusive society, so people doing things together, people being involved and sharing and not segregating, not separating, not looking at the difference between people, looking at the things that make us all more similar and the same. The Inclusive Education workshop was something we ran in, I think it was January or December last year, and it was on the back of a weekend at the Partners and Policy Making Programme, where we talked about inclusion, inclusion in education, inclusion in higher and primary and secondary education, and we thought that there would be more people interested in that than were on the programme, because that’s only 40 people who attend that, so we set up some workshops with one of the speakers, who was over from the States. We set up two different workshops just to invite people to have a conversation and to hear about their experience of inclusion and that idea that all means all and we should look at ways that we can think about how that becomes the reality for more people in Scotland. So, that’s what that was about.

MM And it was a good event and…

KE Yeh it was a good event, really, really interesting, very powerful stories, terrible rainy day. We went between Glasgow, we did one in Glasgow in the morning and one in Edinburgh in the afternoon, I remember.

MM Oh, busy, busy. So how can people join In Control Scotland if they are just hearing about the organisation for the first time and want to join, how can they…?

KE That’s very, it’s a really interesting question, Michael, because up until recently, up until now, in fact, really, In Control Scotland has only had membership for organisations. So, if you were a local authority you could choose to join In Control Scotland and we would then think about how we provide support and resources for you. If you were a provider organisation you could join In Control Scotland, we do something similar, but there wasn’t really a way that individuals could join, we have been, in the last few months, talking about this idea. It isn’t a new idea and it’s not something that we haven’t thought about before, but bringing to the fore the idea of, what we call, citizen membership, so individuals who can join In Control Scotland and then be linked in more closely to what we do. So, maybe with a regular newsletter, maybe with podcasts that we do, so we are still working up what that citizen membership actually would include, but we do hope, or we are planning to launch that at out AGM this year, in November. The idea is that anyone who is interested and who shares our values and aspirations, can then join up to be a member of In Control Scotland.

MM Tell us about your individual service fund? How does that work?

KE So, one of the things that we’ve got Scottish Government funding around is thinking about what’s described as option two in the legislation, self-directed support legislation, but more specifically for us, what an individual service fund, i.e. when a provider organisation manages budget on behalf of someone but the person still has choice and control, what that actually means in practice. So, we have set up what we call our Individual Service Fund Programme, which involves a series of events, three days that people come together and share and discuss experience of other organisations and using individual service funds to think about, what does this mean for our own practice? For example, in the way that we recruit staff, in the way that we manage the finances and make sure that we give people accessible information back about their own budgets, what does it mean about our own practice and how we have that bias for inclusion, for example, across all the different areas of practice. So, we have that Individual Service Fund Programme, so it’s three days’ events for what we call Change Teams and Organisations, and then we also provide onsite support backing those organisations after the events so that the momentum isn’t lost, to help them think about, yeh just really about integrating and making sure that happens with them, so that’s what the Individual Service Fund programme is.

MM So now it’s your opportunity to tell us a bit about your website and how people can get involved and, you know, stuff like that. So, what’s your website address and phone number?

KE Yeh, so the website is So, quite a long address, don’t forget the hyphen and don’t get mixed up and put In Control because you will get the English site. We are always thinking about ways we can improve the website, specifically and particularly, we would really like to get more stories on the website, more films on the website. We’ve got a little tab on there which says SDS cinema, the plan is that will have lots and lots of different films from around Scotland of people who are directing their own support from wherever, from the Shetlands to the borders, from Dumfries to Galloway to the Western Isles. All across Scotland, just stories, because we think that’s a really powerful way that people can help, can really understand what being in control and what directing your own support an actually mean. So, we want to do more of that, we are hosted by neighbourhood networks in Glasgow, so we are out in Govan. The phone number is: 0141 440 5250. So, you phone us up, that’s the way to get us, you can email us through the website, at an info @email address, or you can call in and see us if you like. If you are at all interested get in touch and we are really keen to do lots and lots of different things, but with the citizen membership, more films on the website, the different programmes that we are running and really just hearing from what other people are doing as well, so that we can share that practice. Part of what we do is try and share things that are working between different people around Scotland so that more people can experience that in their own life and work.

MM Ok, well thanks for your time and good luck.

KE Thanks.

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