Accessibility Text Size A A Contrast High Normal
A Social Enterprise providing community based support for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism and mental health in the South West
Celebrating 10 Years of You First CIC

Celebrating 10 Years of You First CIC

16 February 2024

You First autism learning disability Around 35 years ago, I was listening to an inspirational speaker who said “I knew someone once who aimed at nothing, and guess what? They hit it!” I’ve not forgotten that! This document is the antithesis of this, it is a clear and detailed plan that provides all who direct or manage You First with a clear steer for the next five years. I have approached this document with the thought “what would I want to happen if I were no longer around?” therefore there is some detail to this document, but this is important as it is a working tool for all who are responsible for the Social Enterprise.

This Strategic Plan is the product of consultation. You First consulted with all our stakeholders around what’s important to them, what is working for them and what isn’t, and what changes they would like to see. We also held an Away Day with managers and Directors. The findings from these processes have been captured here.

For 10 years You First has been a local beacon of difference, demonstrating that people thrive when they are heard, have control over their support, and where Micro-Teams provide the fertile ground required for relationships of mutual trust and respect to flourish. From this firm foundation of relationship, support enables people to build and grow their lives in ways that are meaningful and purposeful to them and that support their own values and world view. This is what makes You First unique: person-centred support is provided through an in-depth understanding of who the person is, achieved through our Design4Life! process. This leads to bespoke support being provided by a bespoke, matched team. This ensures that the person supported is the architect of their own support and that they are at the centre of their community of support.

For many years the cry in social care has been that “one size does not fit all”. We cannot squeeze people into services, yet because commissioning often operates from crisis, this is all too often the case, with support breakdown being the inevitable outcome. In a bid to resolve short-term crisis the longer-term outcomes are not considered. People cannot build and grow their lives if they live in a state of constant flux with their home and support constantly changing. People will naturally become cynical of the commissioning process and of providers of social care if they are consistently provided with short-term fixes that do not address their long-term aspirations. This approach is not conducive to life building.

Our approach to both commissioning and support must change if we are to deliver consistent support that empowers people to exercise genuine choice and control over their lives and this means a genuine embracing of self-directed support where people are in charge of their personal budget, who supports them, how and when they are supported and what that support looks like. You First has been quietly doing this since February 2014, but now it’s time to make more noise about it.

You First’s Workforce Plan will ensure that our structure delivers a clear career pathway with a robust training programme that includes nationally recognised formal qualifications, establishing a clear succession plan. You First has always embraced the recent key findings of Skills for Care that reveal the pathway to consistent teams which is:

• Being paid more than the minimum wage
• Not being on Zero-Hours contracts
• Being able to work full time
• Being able to access training
• Having a relevant qualification

And we will continue to do so.

You First was founded by people with Personal Budgets choosing us as their support provider and we have demonstrated that people thrive when they are in charge of their support. Our commitment, therefore, is to see people holding their own Personal Budgets in the form of a Direct Payment or securing them in the form of an Individual Service Fund (ISF), ensuring that the point of decision making is always with the person supported. We are committed to embracing Self-Directed support where the voice of the person supported is at the heart of everything leading to genuine choice and control, including how their Personal Budget is spent – “nothing about me without me.” Empowerment cannot be real if power sits anywhere other than with the person supported.

You First has demonstrated that Micro-Teams are key to delivering Self-Directed support and that Micro-Teams play a key role in retaining quality team members. People supported will not be supported by strangers who change from day to day, but rather they will have a real community of support around them from which genuine relationships of mutual trust and respect grow. This is the only way to ensure consistency and continuity and deliver on the personal outcomes the person supported has set.

Our experience has been that housing is often a barrier to people experiencing the support they need. The “one size fits all” approach, when applied to housing for people whose needs are complex, results in service failure. The immediate environment of the person supported is as key to achieving genuine outcomes as much as the nature of support itself. For many people nothing short of bespoke housing will do and this can be key to preventing the collapse of effective support which can often result in hospital readmission. Through our relationship with property developers and investors who share our values and commitments You First is dedicated to seeing people living in housing appropriate to their needs which supports consistency and longevity of support. Our membership of the Supported Living Property Network is a key strategic relationship to making this a reality for people.

The creation of the Innovation Hub is key to this five year plan. The Innovation Hub will be a place where autistic and disabled people experience genuine employment, have access to training and support and who through this can meaningfully contribute to their local community and economy. The Innovation Hub will not be a silo where people become stuck in some kind of never ending support service, but rather one where people enter and remain in the world of work in a meaningful and sustainable way.

This Five Year Strategic Plan is a blueprint for action, one that will see You First expand into other areas within the South West where our Four Pillars: Engagement, Enablement, Opportunity, and Progression will become living realities in the lives of many more people.