The ‘Let’s Keep on Supporting People’ campaign in Wales was established to raise awareness of the Supporting People programme, the people who benefit, the preventative nature of the programme and how the funding is spent.
The campaign was run by Community Housing Cymru, the membership body for housing associations in Wales, and Cymorth Cymru, the umbrella body for organisations working with marginalised and at-risk people in Wales.
The aim of the campaign was to secure continued investment in the Supporting People Programme Grant and ensure that people who are marginalised and at risk continue to be protected.
The Welsh Government announced in its draft budget on Tuesday 8 December that Supporting People (SP) funding will be protected for 2015/16, in cash terms, at the same level as was delivered in 2014/15. We are delighted that this vital fund is being protected and this announcement marks a success for CHC and Cymorth Cymru’s joint campaign - Let’s Keep on Supporting People.
Campaign summary – how did we get here?
The campaign was officially launched in May with a well-attended launch event at the Senedd. One of the highlights of the event was the cross-party support it generated, with representatives from each of the four main parties delivering passionate speeches in favour of the programme. Delegates also heard from Lisa Pritchard, a Cadwyn tenant, who has received life-changing support funded by SP and who spoke powerfully about the importance of the services available to her when she was undergoing significant trauma.
Since the launch, the campaign has seen CHC, Cymorth Cymru and our members building on this cross-party support to emphasise the crucial importance of the SP programme. Members were key to the success of this element of the campaign, using templates provided by CHC and Cymorth Cymru to flood local representatives with information about what SP means to local people in their constituencies.
Throughout the campaign numerous politicians have visited members’ projects and offices, meeting staff of SP funded services and learning from the people who use those services just what a vital layer of protection they offer. In addition, the issue’s political importance was raised in a debate at the Eisteddfod at which members quizzed representatives from the four main parties about their commitment to SP.
As well as supporting our members to lobby locally, we have also been lobbying on a national level. Co-signed letters from Stuart Ropke and Auriol Miller were sent to housing representatives in each party, all AMs received an overview and each party leader received a letter from Cymorth Cymru, CHC and other leading housing and support bodies in Wales. Briefings on the impact of SP were sent out as the budget decision grew nearer, and we applied greater political pressure following the Comprehensive Spending Review.
A further breakthrough came when the Welsh Liberal Democrats took to the floor of the Assembly with an opposition debate, following discussions with CHC and Cymorth, which used data from members to make the case for protecting SP. Crucial to this were the responses to the survey completed by CHC members on what further cuts to their services would mean for both service providers and service users, following Lesley Griffiths’ plea for evidence at the launch event in May. The debate also drew on case studies compiled by Regional Development Coordinators at Cymorth’s request.
An important boost to the campaign came in the form of the Welsh Government data-linkage study which indicates huge potential to accurately demonstrate the significant savings the Supporting People Programme makes to the NHS in Wales. We have long known that SP saves money for other areas of the public purse, and this study is a significant step forward in being able to effectively evidence this impact.
Support from councils across Wales
Councils across the country have supported the campaign, with 6 passing a motion in defiance of further cuts to the SP programme following contact from CHC, Cymorth and our members.
Another key area for the campaign was the petition run by Lisa Pritchard, with support from CHC and Cymorth, which generated over 1,000 signatures and showed the Welsh Assembly the human impact of the SP programme. Lisa’s input to this campaign has been invaluable .
The campaign has seen huge social media success, particularly on Twitter and in the blogosphere. The #supportingpeoplewales hashtag has landed on nearly 700,000 timelines during the year! Pictures of AM visits and services in action, blogs highlighting personal stories, and videos provided by members have helped to spread the word online about the types of services that are funded by SP.
Crucially, the Welsh Government announcement has bought CHC, Cymorth Cymru and our members another year in which to demonstrate the impact of the SP programme. Following the successful data-linkage study mentioned above, both organisations will work with members to ensure that the case for future funding is so well evidenced that cutting it again would be politically dangerous and demonstrably disastrous.
CHC and Cymorth Cymru would like to thank our members and partners for their enthusiastic involvement in what has been a collaborative and, ultimately, successful campaign.
Member resource pack
Download this member resource pack for further information on what the campaign consisted of: A member's guide