The Older People Provider Led Group (PLG) met on 9th June and 4th October 2016. The 9th June was very much an introductory session at which we learnt a little about each of the organisation’s work and explained in more detail the role of the PLG and why we believed it was important given the changes in relationships between the public sector and VCS.
By bringing smaller more targeted groups together, the ambition was to build a more effective network that could share learning, expertise and knowledge and respond more quickly and constructively to outside developments including changes in local and central policy by providing a coherent voice.
The PLGs would provide a space for open and free dialogue on issues that the members were most interested in. It was important that this was a voluntary sector space and was fully independent of the Council.
The members made the point that the Consortium of Older People’s Services in Southwark (COPSins) existed to support older people in Southwark to access high quality services to support their independence and promote their wellbeing. All of the partners in the consortium were also members of the PLG.The Council run Older People Partnership Board (OPPB) was also still in existance. As a result the members were keen to establish what the group would add to what was already in place and not lead to duplication.
Following the main business of the PLG, members took part in a short focus group on the development of "Southwark Giving" – a place-based giving campaign which loosely follows the model of the successful Islington Giving and Hackney Giving campaigns. People had a natural affinity with their local working and living environment and giving campaigns capitalised on this local interest by offering easy-access opportunities for people to invest in their community in whatever way they want or can: by giving time, talent or money.
The matter of duplication of group roles was further discussed on 4th October. It was acknowledged that both COPSins and the OPPB had close links to the Council. A PLG would be able to provide VCS organisations with a safe space for open and free dialogue on sensitive issues that might otherwise be uncomfortable. However, it was thought that with some reform, a safe space could be provided at the beginning or at the end of OPPB meetings to meet this need.
It was agreed that the Older People PLG would cease to meet on a regular basis, but that the group would remain open as a "virtual group" for the dissemination of information by email that might be of interest to the wider membership. The PLG could be reconvened in the future if efforts to bring about reform of the OPPB was unsuccessful.