After thinking long and hard about what the future should hold for LinkAge, the Board of LinkAge West of England have approved a new focus for the organisation which will be renamed “The LinkAge Network”.
Why the Changes?
Like many organisations working in communities with older people, LinkAge West of England has to secure funding to operate. Discussions with various organisations have resulted in an agreement for LinkAge West of England to build on its work as a strategic organisation, working with and enabling local partners, but not actually delivering activities itself in local communities. In short LinkAge has to change in order to survive.
These changes fit with the work being undertaken by Bristol Ageing Better and the City Council, both of which have to think about longer term sustainability.
What will be different?
Staff directly employed by LinkAge West of England will stop undertaking community development work in Shirehampton/Avonmouth, Lawrence Weston/Sea Mills, Lawrence Hill/Easton/St Pauls and Henleaze.
They will focus instead on working in local communities for a period of time to help support and develop activity for older people, with the aim of moving on to work in other communities.
This change will be managed over the coming months with the intention of avoiding activities suddenly stopping, and enabling activities to be sustainable for the longer term.
When will the changes take place?
Changes planned for the new LinkAge Network will start in September and will be gradually phased in over the coming months. The intention is to minimise disruption and manage the changes over a period of months.
What will this mean for the staff?
The new organisation has to reduce the number of staff it directly employs. Sadly one of these posts is that of the Chief Executive, held by Claire Miller. Claire has been instrumental in establishing the profile and reputation of LinkAge and will be greatly missed. Likewise two community development worker posts and the healthy walks coordinator post have had to be cut. Without these cuts LinkAge would not be able to operate within its means this financial year.
To minimise the impact of these changes Laura Burchett will be employed on a temporary contract until the end of March to oversee the withdrawal of direct community development in Lawrence Hill/Easton/St Pauls, Shirehampton/ Avonmouth, Lawrence Weston/Sea Mills, and Henleaze. Sadly we do not have the resources to retain Raj Lalla who has done excellent work for older people in the inner city wards.
Cheryl Martin will be employed on a temporary contract to help the walking groups get to the point where they can sustain themselves.
So what stays the same?
LinkAge activities in Bedminster and Stockwood (St Monica), Whitehall & St George (Bristol and Anchor), Henbury and Brentry (Bristol Charities), Hengrove, Knowle and Filwood are not affected and will continue as before.
Likewise any specific projects that have ring fenced funding will continue for as long as the funding remains in place.
Rest assured that the LinkAge Network will be looking to minimise and avoid changes wherever possible.
A lot of the very positive things people say about LinkAge are to do with their confidence in LinkAge supported activities, the quality of the “What’s On” and similar brochures, knowing where to go for information, providing support and advice, and links with local businesses. These are the exact sorts of things that the LinkAge Network will be focusing on in the future.
For further information please contact the LinkAge Network office.
Tel 0117 353 3042.