Current Trustees at Assist
Sue Gamble (Chair)
Chris Cordingly (vice Chair)
Between them, the Trustees at Assist bring a wide range of skills and experience to the roles they undertake. At monthly meetings and via a number of sub-committees (such as finance, HR, risk and safeguarding) they keep a clear overview of all functions and operations at Assist, making sure that the finances, aims and objectives of the Trust are maintained satisfactorily at all times. With backgrounds in social care, education, business, property and finance, the Trustees are able to provide essential support to the management team at the Trust, while taking a more direct role in all strategy and planning discussions.
Message from the Trustees – November 2016
As a body whose job it is to oversee and monitor the overall health of the organisation, the board of Trustees can once again express their delight in the successes being witnessed at Assist. Supporting the members in consistently honest and respectful ways is not an easy thing to maintain and it is a credit to everyone involved that this support remains so closely linked to the real needs of those attending. We share the pride that is evident in all levels of the Trust and remain committed to supporting its development long into the future.
- Supported Work Placements and Travel Training:
In previous years, we have detailed the demand within the Assist membership of having more opportunities in the workplace and more support to travel to and from work (as well as to and from home and around the community generally).
Fundraising efforts under this heading helped us to employ an in-house Occupational Therapist and allowed the launch of a whole new travel training initiative, as detailed earlier in this review. Extra staff cover also allowed an expansion to the existing Supported Work Placement scheme, meaning that more individuals are being helped to access the opportunities available.
- Improved Facilities and New IT Equipment:
After many years of making do with some very old and outdated IT equipment, funds have now been secured to improve the networking and communication systems across all sites at the Trust. On top of this, we have also been able to purchase 24 new tablets for the members to use in their groups, which are proving to be very popular and accessible for all.
At the same time, funds were used to improve all of the equipment and facilities at the Heath Gardens project in particular, replacing much of the old and damaged stock that was still in use. Members and staff are now busy putting those new tools to good use as they improve and develop the whole site for the benefit of all.
Plans for the Future
The members already enjoy a very wide range of groups and activities hosted and run by Assist, but plans for improvements are always being developed. Again, in direct response to their needs and wishes, Assist now plans to expand facilities in the following ways:
- Improvements to Heath Gardens
Demand has reached such a point at the Heath Gardens kitchens that current facilities are now struggling to cope. Existing equipment was installed over 10 years ago and a sizeable fundraising drive is currently underway in order to completely refurbish the building, to install new accessible kitchen facilities and to connect the whole site to mains electricity. We believe this will cost close to £50K to complete successfully, but we are hopeful that funders will recognise the clear need and help us reach our target
- Housing Provision
The 2 houses and 4 flats that Assist currently sublets to its members have been fully occupied for some time and a significant number of individuals attending are now keen to find other housing opportunities. A recently conducted feasibility study showed that Assist is well placed to both link in with other providers and seek to extend its own provision. Funds have already been set aside to work towards the purchase of suitable housing stock, while plans are in place for greater support for independent living to all the members attending.
- More Travel Training and Employment Support
Given the success of the travel training scheme already, we want to help ensure that this valuable service is maintained into the future. As well as approaching sympathetic grant making Trusts who might see the significant benefits this scheme is bringing to the individuals involved, we will also be talking to Norfolk County Council about continuing to meet the evident demand.
Assist has a long tradition of working openly and positively with Norfolk County Council and we hope to continue finding innovative, effective and affordable ways to support the member’s independence going forward.
We recognise the significant challenges faced by the Local Authority as further cuts are made to their budgets and we remain committed to showing how the Assist Trust model can provide affordable essential support, as savings are made to Social Service budgets. The travel training scheme is just one example of the ways that Assist can directly save tax payers money, as it enhances the independence skills of the members attending.