Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A movement for a city

On Friday 5 September, York Street Health Practice had a very special visit. Two members of the Australian Parliament visited the practice. Our visitors were Steven Marshall, State Liberal Leader and Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly in the Parliament of South Australia and Stephen Wade, Shadow Minister for Health, Mental health and Substance Abuse, for Ageing, Suicide Prevention and the Arts. Sandy Biar the advisor to Mr Wade was also part of the visit.

The event was part of the work organised by Leeds and Partners. Leeds and Partners were represented by Tim Straughan, the L&P Director of Health and Innovation. Tim is a good friend of York Street. He supported the practice obtain funding for digital technology to support vulnerable people access healthcare in a faster more effective way. Leeds and Partners is based on the delivery of three strategic objectives. These are - promoting and raising awareness of the city of Leeds locally, nationally and internationally, work with partners to promote the city as a great visitor destination and work with partners to drive up the volume and value of inward investment in the city. 

Facilitating the visit were John Farenden and Tim Keenan from the health team of professional services firm Ernst & Young here in Leeds. John worked on the original development of the Leeds Innovation Health Hub and it was through him telling his international colleagues what wonderful work is going on across the city that the Australian politicians heard about it and specifically asked to come and learn more as part of their fact-finding mission. The meeting was joined by the Councillor Bill Urry, the Lead for Homeless issues on Leeds City Council, Helen Kemp, the new Chief Executive of Leeds MIND and our own, Neil Franklin, Chair of LCH. Anna Green, one of the new innovation leads at LCH, and Lynne Jones, our senior admin / medical secretary at York Street, hosted the visit.

The visit started with a short tour around the practice. We then met to discuss our work and the work of the city. We shared what we try to do. We spoke of the five areas of work we do. These are what we do as a health team, the services that come into York Street to make a difference such as benefit and legal support, where we go out to reach out to homeless people via outreach clinics and street work, our work strategically across the city and lastly our digital work using modern informatics as a tool to help people access good care. 

We also spoke about the model of care we use. This is not so much what we do as how we do it. It embodies three elements - the creation of positive space, therapeutic relationships and supporting people make the inner change to a more empowering vision. This was followed by a good and helpful discussion of health and social care, reaching the vulnerable and how to be build best possible care. Councillor Urry spoke of his work as an elected representative of Leeds going out into the streets with homeless workers and being deeply impressed by the passion he sees in those agencies working to engage with the homeless. Neil Franklin shared on how integration, inclusion and innovation were at the heart of what Leeds services do and how it was making a real difference as well as offering much opportunity for the future. The visit was  a special event and this blog expresses our thanks to Stephen, Steven and Sandy for visiting us. We would also like to express our thanks to Tim, John and Tim for including us on their visit.

The visit pointed to something bigger and much more important than York Street. What the visit expressed is something that is taking place across this city. Leeds like all cities has its strengths and challenges. There is in Leeds a consciousness emerging and moving in many places. It covers academia, health, the council, business, the third sector, the faith sector and a 101 other places. This consciousness is based on people seeing something bigger than themselves and their sector. This consciousness is with the city and for it. There are several aspects to this vision and movement across the city. It is an alliance of talents. It brings together people from all walks of life who bring their gifts to create something new and fresh. An analogy would be people all bringing different skills and ingredients and meeting to create a meal. Daily across Leeds services and people are meeting and working in innovative ways to make a difference for the better. We see it everywhere across the city. This coalition of care and development is real and meaningful. It is a learning community where no one claims to have all the answers. There is a humility and openness about it that is both inspiring and attractive. Although none of us claims to have all the knowledge we know that together we can create solutions and support each other to make Leeds the best city we can imagine. There is a vision and focus in this movement which is for the greater and common good. People come together to construct answers and projects to tap into the gifts and energies Leeds has.

What lies at the heart of this movement and consciousness are people who care and seek the good of others. There is also, in the most difficult of times, a sense of hope. What is amazing about this movement is that no one controls or even co-ordinates it. That is why we use the term 'consciousness' as this is an invisible network which visibly expresses itself and engages in the life of the city. Many of the people do not know each other and may never even meet. What is certain is that when they do there is a common vision, commitment and connection. This offers a potency, promise and possibility that means a great future for Leeds. We are proud, humbled and honoured to be able to play a part in this vital work. In this citywide movement which has no name is a model of what a city can do and be. It tells of what each and every person and each and every business and service can offer. In this energy and work together we co-create the future.

Anna Green, Innovation Lead, Specialist Services, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust 
John Walsh, York Street Health Practice, Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust  

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