Tuesday, 26 August 2014

A Remarkable Journey

The other members of the West Norfolk Self Advocacy Project and I have been on a remarkable journey the last two months.

In July we were told by our major funder, the Norfolk Clinical Commissioning group, that we had to become a registered charity in order to ensure that their trustees did not suffer if we here at WNSAP made any wrong decisions and that our being a registered charity would protect them.

We were told that we would have to adopt a different constitution to the one we have been using since we formally set up in 2003 and that it might be 'better' if we have some able bodied people on our committee. These two suggestions were non starters firstly we have been using our constitution since September 2003 and it has worked very well for us.

The second issue was of the utmost importance to all of us here at West Norfolk Self Advocacy Project. We are a TRUE user led and managed organisation. Under our existing constitution only people with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues can vote, can be members of the Management Committee and can sign cheques. Years ago we had tried s mixed management committee but it did not work as those who are able bodied gradually took over control until we stopped them.

We spent a lot of time being very angry about all this until David, our Coordinator said STOP and lets look at this differently!. So we spent many hours thinking and working out what exactly we wanted. We contacted the Charity Commission and asked for their views on our current constitution. They thought it was very good although a bit wordy in places and suggested shortening our aims bit. As their suggestion said exactly what our old aims said but using fewer words we agreed with this. At the same time one of the people who help us fund raise said it would open more opportunities if we were a registered charity.

We had a special meeting and everyone talked about becoming a registered charity and everyone at the meeting voted yes to registering. We talked again to the Charity Commission and on the (insert date) we got our registered charity number – so HURRAH for us, as West Norfolk Self Advocacy Project is still owned and managed by those with learning disabilities and/or mental health issues and HURAH for us doing it ourselves

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