Liz Harper, trustee, believes others could learn valuable lessons from our approach to care
Why did you choose Field Lane?
I’ve been a trustee for three years. Having spent 20 years working in the supported housing sector, in particular working with people who were homelessness, I wanted to stay involved and offer my experience in a voluntary capacity. I was drawn to Field Lane’s long and fascinating history. I was particularly attracted to the work being done with homeless young women at the Andrew Provan House. When I visited it was clear that the project was well and compassionately run. As a project, it resonates with my own experience of working with organisations supporting homeless people and gives me a particular sense of connection.
What do you want people to know about the charity?
The personalised nature of the work is outstanding. It takes a special skill to achieve this consistently, in every project. From the quality of accommodation, which is exceptional, to the attention to detail in every aspect of client care. It’s not an easy job but Field Lane is good at it. Visiting the projects is an uplifting experience – the projects are bright, clean, and vibrant. Staffing levels are necessarily high, so project managers can’t ‘cherry pick’ who the trustees will meet when they visit. Everyone I’ve met on each visit has been good at their job and clearly enjoyed what they were doing. The families of our clients are also taken very much into consideration, as part of the care plan and carefully balanced with the growing independence of individual clients. This is a great strength of Field Lane’s approach to care.
What are the key challenges facing the social care sector?
The biggest challenge for social care is the lack of funding – there’s not enough money to go around. This is aligned to the challenge of finding staff and ensuring that the staff we do have are supported and feel valued – emotionally and financially. Field Lane is somewhat protected due to the nature of the work. The need for support for people with disabilities is clear, although there is still a need for good advocacy to secure resources. Other organisations in the sector don’t have the same level of advocacy as we have here at Field Lane. Although a smaller charity than others in the sector, with fewer people, Field Lane is excellent at advocating for its clients. There is a blind spot nationally about social care. There remains a huge question mark over what will happen in the future – how will we solve the widening gap between the growing needs of the nation for increased social care and the lack of resources to fund and staff the sector?
What is your hope for the future?
I want us to continue doing what we do so well – person-centred support and care in high quality accommodation. I want more people to benefit from our approach, but any expansion should be slow and steady, without losing sight of our purpose or our attention to detail. As the past two years have shown, Field Lane has been good at reflecting on is practices and bringing forward positive change – capturing lessons learned and put into practice. I think we should be raising our voice and sharing best practice. I believe other organisations could benefit from our experience and learning about our approach to care and support.