Becoming a SCIE trustee: Joining up the dots and different coloured marbles

Featured article - 08 February 2021
By Clenton Farquharson MBE, Chair of Think Local Act Personal and member of the National Co-production Advisory Group

Clenton Farquharson MBE, Chair of Think Local Act Personal and SCIE trustee

Maybe it’s my dyslexia but I use a lot of imagery to manage my understanding of the complex world of social care and the people who work in it.

SCIE recently invited me to become one of their trustees. To me that conjures up an image of a big jar of marbles. The invitation, the welcome, the trust in me – all of these small gestures represent different coloured marbles.

I’ve got a lot of experience of representing the voice of lived experience of disability for different organisations so you can imagine I go to a lot of meetings. But in the early days I was trying to boil the ocean. I wanted social care transformation, and I wanted it now. I had the same attitude to racial inequality when I went out on to the streets of Birmingham to join the Handsworth riots.

With the help of my family and my social worker I learnt to channel my anger and use my courage to speak up about injustices. If you want to help bring about meaningful transformation, it has to start with relationships -with one conversation at a time. So now when I sit in trustee meetings I imagine lots of little dots, and joining them up one by one.

Practical approaches needed

What will I be bringing to the SCIE trustee table? As the chair of Think Local Act Personal, my knowledge and experience of good co-production for starters, and a continued commitment to endorsing community-based support- what we refer to as ‘innovations’. I’d also like to understand what good looks like for SCIE. I want to avoid getting lost in theories about being an improvement agency and be practical with my suggestions.

For me improvement is all about co-production, and in my mind’s eye that’s a giant jigsaw puzzle with three sections. The bottom section is coproduction with the person -talking to me about my care like I’m a human being and not a potted plant; the middle section is inviting me and others to design the ‘service’ or ‘innovation’, and the top section to complete the jigsaw, is coproduction at the strategic level -like me joining the SCIE board as a trustee.

I believe all three sections are essential components for improvement in health and social care. I hope I can support SCIE effectively, and see more of those coloured marbles in that glass jar.

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