The rain in Spain, #MatExp ABC, Sherpa Union, whatever next… ???

The last few weeks have seen some interesting developments in all areas of my work… as well as a rather misty walking holiday in Spain…


The #MatExp campaign seems to have taken on a life of its own – fantastic energy and with more and more women coming forward not only to say what needs to change but to take active leadership roles.
Are you following our #MatExp alphabet, spearheaded by Florence Wilcock a.k.a #FabObs Flo, now on Day 7?

Flo and I are also working now to use Whose Shoes? more widely across Kingston Hospital, but that is definitely another story…

There is another new project underway, in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital and Common Room using new Whose Shoes? material compiled through some excellent focus groups, to improve communications between Healthcare professionals, children and young people and their parents.

The pilot workshops have now been completed and I thoroughly enjoyed joining the last one today in London and seeing the great conversations. I have promised to write a dedicated blog about this project – but I haven’t said when… 😉

There was an added poignancy due to the sad death of young, talented Adam Bojelian, aka @adsthepoet, a long-term Twitter friend who spoke out so eloquently (by blinking witty insights transcribed by his family) about his experiences of life and of healthcare services. Adam was a fan of our project, regularly tweeting comments and support. Rest in peace, Adam and I hope we can build on your legacy.

I also spent a week in Scotland. I had two very interesting invitations to run Whose Shoes? workshops – one for NHS Education for Scotland and the other to launch the spotlight series for Alzheimer Scotland.

The other three days of my week in Scotland were spent with Ken Howard at the ‘We chose to climb’ international conference in Glasgow.

We were invited to give a TED style presentation there on one of the ‘wee stages’. I think our presentation will be going online soon so I will aim to add it to the blog.

Ken was diagnosed about eight years ago with younger onset dementia and we do a lot of work together raising awareness of dementia and combatting stigma and stereotypes. As part of this, I am particularly thrilled to be able to get Ken involved in more and more non-dementia specific events as this reinforces the removal of labels and recognises that people have a contribution to make wider than any condition or diagnosis.

Ken loved the ‘We Chose to Climb’ conference – probably more than any other event we have been to. It was genuinely inclusive, just people who want to make a difference. Ken summed it up:
“It was the most unconference-like conference ever! The people. The venue. The energy. Fresh ideas. The feeling of community. You could go and talk to anyone, regardless of position and qualifications and be listened to as an equal. This is often kicked out of you by social workers. Ground-breaking conversations. Everyone wanted to be involved with everyone. And there was a fab band !”

I loved it too. It was organised by Charlie Barker-Gavigan, and the fab people at SCIF – the Social Care Ideas Factory – and the whole ethos is very much in harmony with my Whose Shoes? work. We go back a long way as SCIF were one of my earliest champions and have enabled some great work, relationships and opportunities in Scotland, for which I am very grateful.

Ken said “The biggest thing I have taken away from the ‘We Chose to Climb conference’ is language and how it makes everything feel so different. The difference between support and care – I had never really thought about that before. I certainly cared for my parents during the last months of their lives but before that it was more about providing the right support – and that is what I need myself. If I am honest, I am jealous of the level of support/care available in Scotland compared to my experience in England.”

We were privileged to be invited to the meeting on the first night to learn about the new Sherpa Union – a social movement of leadership and empowerment, enabling ‘ordinary people’ to ‘JFDI’ and support each other, building stronger communities and networks for positive change.

Ken was very taken with the idea of the Sherpa – what it is and what it should represent. He promised Charlie he would give it some thought and come up with some key words and images. “If it embodies everything the Sherpa is to the climber, it should be fab”, he said. “It is completely in tune with the ‘peer support’ ideas we have been promoting through the #NHS ChangeDay campaign” (that we launched in 2014).

Ken had some great ideas and we promised to write a blog sharing them. Here they are…

Ken - Sherpa acronym

Ken’s acronym – what can we expect from our Sherpa?

SCIF logo - Ken

Ken using the SCIF logo … a bit creatively!

Ken - diagnosis without support - cliffJPG

How Ken felt being diagnosed with dementia…

Ken - diagnosis with my Sherpa - cliffJPG

“Diagnosis with my Sherpa – a whole new ball game!” – by Ken Howard

 Do you have a Sherpa? Or perhaps you are a Sherpa? Or do you have a reciprocal Sherpa arrangement? I find that Twitter is brilliant at finding Sherpas. Tell us what kind of peer support works for you!

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About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives. http://nutshellcomms.co.uk
This entry was posted in Blogs, co-production, community engagement, dementia, in my shoes, mental health, personalisation, social care, well-being and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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