Blog: From Advocate to Leader
Former Advocate and Voscur Board member Dan Lyus shares his experiences as an advocate and one of the activities he has undertaken as part of the new Sector Leaders Network.
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For me being an advocate has challenged me to think harder about how to effect meaningful change.
When you work for an organisation you usually think only about how your role progresses its mission. When I became an advocate I realised I needed to seek to think about how I could effect change for a much wider more diverse group of people and employees.
In the beginning I found it difficult because I was attending strategic meetings with health and social care ‘leaders’ but feeling a step behind because the papers would be sent to me late and it often appeared as if most of the people in the room knew the information shared to a depth that I could not and sometimes it felt as if the decisions I was there to be part of had been made.
With the support of Voscur and the other advocates I began to realise that if I was to have a better experience and help the VCSE sector be recognised for what it does and can bring to enabling health and wellness then I needed to adopt a different approach.
I therefore started requesting time on the agenda to present items with colleagues and this started to make me feel like my ‘Advocate’ voice could be listened to. Once I started to notice that the audience wanted to hear what I was saying I began to make ‘asks’ of them and to explain what the sector needed.
The biggest win was when we requested funding to draw up a falls prevention plan. We got funding from the NHS and LA that paid for the time of people from within the VCSE sector to work on research and preparing an ideas paper. This paper was then used to influence commissioning policy. The best thing however was the recognition that our time is valuable and we can’t endlessly give it for free. This is an area I am really glad to see Voscur is seeking to take further.
Emboldened by the success above I have now started to seek to convene sector leaders before I engage with the NHS/LA so I can be sure I can speak on their behalf, I also have another motive and that is to seek to get those sector leaders to also help me share key messages. I think the sector working in this way is vital if we are to have an impact and ‘punch to our weight’. To this end in January this year I gathered 14 health and social care leaders together and we had a curry and an information sharing and relationship building discussion. I am confident that as a result of just a single two-hour get together over food progress was made that will deliver returns for all of us working in and around the health and social care space over the coming months.
In early February I attended a BNSSG frailty program board meeting and will be going to at least a further two.
If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed at the meeting then please feel free to – I will be pleased to talk you through it.