York MCN Meeting

24th October 2019

Guest speaker: Alex Bebb, Gateshead Council

In his previous role as a council tax recovery officer he had to follow rigid steps – and dealt with the same people every year.

In 2012 he started listening in to calls and read the incoming correspondence, which started a process of improved communication.

In 2017, Alex repeated the same exercise – and discovered the same problems.

There are two definitions for ‘council tax recovery’:

  1. retrieval

  2. recovery.

Council tax payers were divided into four groups:

  1. perfect payers

  2. non-perfect payers

  3. not organised

  4. non payers

Our aim was to move 3 and 4 into the payers category.

Now they have changed their approach to something much more person centred.

Look out for subtle signals of hardship. One woman suffered a stroke and her partner had to take time off work to look after her. At the meeting she was given tea and biscuits and asked: ‘Can I take the biscuit home?’

After a home visit, the same woman now claims universal credit and her partner carer’s allowance. It adds up to £700 more a month – a 360º turnaround in six months.

‘You have to build up trust with people. You’re a human being, not just someone taking money off them.’

Guest speaker: Amanda Kilroy, CEO CoLab Exeter

A cultural evolution to support complex needs working.

Amanda joined the CVS. But it wasn’t working, and had to change.

They created a community of influence. There was a need to focus, and not try to do everything.

They focused on:

  • better recovery

  • social justice

  • wellbeing – ie health/mental health/physical activity

  • belonging – ie homelessness/socially isolated.

They sourced £450K of Public Health England capital funding for recovery centres.

They moved away from war metaphors (‘the war on drugs’) to centre on wellbeing.

‘We were not doing a collaboration but becoming a collaborative’

Did away with job titles. Everyone was a creative doer, from the commissioner of public health to the homeless person who was giving their input.

CoLab is a ‘social A&E’ – with its own triage workers.

It brings together 38 agencies, receives 1,200-1,400 visits a month and has been open three years.

Service users are ‘visitors’ – ‘we wanted to be hosts and offer hospitality’.

CoLab did encounter resistance because people had been let down so many times before.

Amanda recommended people read Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges by Otto Scharmer.


What hit home?

The power of lived experience.

What one thing can we ask for / see from this network?

To coalesce around one prototype project or idea.