The Citizen Panel for Social Services in Wales secured the input of people who use services, carers and people with an interest in services. They fed in their views at a strategic level in the transformation agenda set out in Sustainable Social Services for Wales.
Participation Cymru is a partnership of public and third sector organisations that is hosted by Wales Council for Voluntary Action. Participation Cymru work for better engagement in Welsh public services. The project has four members of staff.
Social services are crucially important services for the 150,000 people who use them every year. There are pressures of demand on social services, which are growing all the time. The task of the Welsh Government is to make social services sustainable, to make sure they are there when people need them.
The Welsh Government must reshape services to meet the changing needs and expectations of service users. This needs to happen in ways that draw on people's and communities‘ strengths. Social services need to be able to respond to significant increases in demand. These include a growth in the number of looked after children and larger numbers of older people who are frail.
The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services gave a commitment to involve service users, carers and other citizens in this agenda. The Welsh Government procured and commissioned the services of Participation Cymru to facilitate a citizen's panel.
Panel members reported that they have felt genuinely involved at a strategic level. There are lessons to be learnt to ensure that Welsh Government produce accessible information for panel members and the public. This is crucial for equality of opportunity to participate. The panel consisted of a variety of people with varying levels of knowledge, skills and abilities.
As this was an initial one year contract this ‘pilot’ comes to an end this month. It has been evaluated and it is anticipated that the panel will continue. Panel members‘ views will mean that resources can be better targeted to people's needs.
Name: Mandy Williams
Organisation: Participation Cymru
Telephone: 029 2043 1757