(Our sub-titled pitch video is located here.)
Imagine a world where social care is given in an unhurried way, where caregivers are chosen by the people they’re helping rather than being allocated by someone on the basis of who’s free, not who’s best equipped to help?
Imagine a world where those caregivers are well paid and supported to deploy their talents rather than constrained by a broken system that fails them and the people they help?
Imagine this wasn’t a pipe dream, but something we can start to make happen, right now?
We are Equal Care. We’re not imagining this world, we’re building it. And we need your help.
We want to change the balance of power that exists in services and between care providers, families and people getting support. We want to re-centre the power, choice, and control for the most important people involved: the person receiving and the person giving support (whether paid or unpaid, family member or professional). When you get right down to it, nothing else is more important.
There's no single solution to a problem this complex, so we are going to do this in several ways:
1. We are incorporated as a multi-stakeholder co-operative, giving our primary members (the givers and receivers of care and support) ownership of the company, technology, dividend and decision-making.
2. We are using platform technology to enable workers and people getting support to choose one another and be in control of their lives and livelihoods. This gives us the ability to share the co-operative with other neighbourhoods, give care receivers much greater control over who supports them and how, ensure low running costs, and allow workers to be paid better and be in control of their day.
(By the way, combining those first two makes us a "platform co-op", a term gathering a lot of momentum in America and which has started to emerge in Europe. Just imagine if Uber were owned by its drivers - if they got to make decisions about how the company is run and shared in the end of year bonuses?! We are the first platform co-operative working in social care in the UK).
3. We are using alternative ways to govern ourselves and make decisions, avoiding the pyramid structure of most social care organisations. We have been inspired by a system from the Netherlands called Buurtzorg, dynamic governance and, more recently, the work of Buurtzorg-inspired wellbeing teams in the UK. Care workers make decisions locally, supported by coaches and training.
4. Care work is a profession. It has qualifications associated with it and it takes time to learn. And yet, caring for one another is human. Lots of people can care, including the people who receive support themselves. Through a combination of the platform and extra training, we will enable people who get support to share their experiences and help others. This is called peer support - it's one of the most powerful ways anyone can get help. Everyone should know about it and it should be normal and integral to all types of social care.
We need funding to help us fully launch our pilot project in Hebden Bridge and work out the best ways to help other communities take charge of their own care and support. This CrowdFunder will allow us to:
- Bring in developer expertise to adapt our existing platform, adding the functionality we need to offer consistent, regular, excellent support. We expect to spend between 8 to 10 thousand pounds doing this.
- Create support and training materials for independent workers so that they can make an informed decision about what it means to be independent and how it can work for them. This will cost around a thousand pounds.
- Develop co-operative membership materials and training, allowing our new members to experience a comprehensive and well-supported introduction to shared decision-making. Together with the training, this will cost about five thousand pounds.
- We need to continue building our service with the people who'll be using it daily. That means supporting more people with complex health needs to join our board. It also means training and developing care workers and people getting care to work on the design of the service and technology, working right alongside developers and designers as equal partners. This is difficult and expensive to do. It's also fundamental. We think we'll spend around four thousand pounds on making this work.
This is an All or Nothing Campaign - we are really putting ourselves in your hands! Please help our project (and tell others who you think would want to know...!)
If you like the sound of our plans, then please help us by supporting this crowdfunder - we’ve got some great rewards.
If you want to know more about us, about our rewards and the plans in more detail, then read on….
We have been working away on this for over a year now. We are being advised and supported by Co-operatives UK through the UnFound project and Bright Ideas programme as well as having received several small grants from established funding bodies (Nesta, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Reach Foundation) to get us to where we are now. As we said in the video, we have an office and a small team. We have our website up and our invitation-only platform is shortly to be trialled by a small, select group of caregivers and people getting support (we're recruiting now if you're interested and live locally). We didn't build the platform - it's low-cost and 'off-the-shelf' from the lovely people at ShareTribe, so it doesn't do all the things we want it to be able to. Alongside this we are working with Ayup, a small tech-for-good development agency who are helping us create our big vision prototype.
We are working slowly and carefully and we want to get this right. We're not remotely interested in record returns (or world domination). But we are very interested in the social good that platforms can bring to the world of care and support.
Here we are - pleased to meet you:
Emma Adelaide Back (Founder)
Emma has worked in social care and community development. Previously trustee for community based charity Stepney City Farm, then working for major mental health charity Richmond Fellowship and advocacy charity VoiceAbility, she offers insight into how support services are designed, developed and commissioned. Emma saw that power over how services are delivered always sits with commissioners and managers. It's really rare for people on the front-line to be in charge. Emma is leading on setting up Equal Care Co-op.
Kate Hammon (Co-founder)
Kate ran and transformed a small social enterprise (the Feel Good Bakery) working with ex-offenders getting back into work. She has given front-line support in residential care settings. Kate has also had direct experience as a teen carer, being the main carer for her mum for several years before her death in 2007.
Kate is leading on our co-operative development, communication and eccoo platform.
Fran Watson (Co-Founder)
Fran runs Hebden Care, giving independent support working with older people. She managed the Moving into Work project for the learning disabilities social enterprise, Kerbside (Calderdale). She has also worked as Support Co-ordinator for social services.
Fran is leading on mentoring and supporting independent workers and user-led service design.
Amber Wright (Co-Founder)
Amber leads a team of Personal Assistants and has designed digital tools to facilitate person-centred support. Her work with small employers (people with disabilities employing their own staff) is award-winning and she has deep experience in creating support perfectly shaped to fit the person.
Amber is leading on our work around co-operative membership and setting up our first worker-led circle team in Hebden Bridge.
Kenny Lee (Co-Founder)
Kenny has experience
of both giving and receiving
care and support, activist
for human and non-human rights, equalities and
rainbow campaigner. Kenny is a wheelchair user and uses various other mobility aids and adaptations. Kenny is working on our social media. He is a peer supporter and all-round confidence-builder, using his experiences to mentor others.
Social care is about one human, supporting another human, with both humans supported and protected by a kind, respectful community of other humans. Simple as that?
Well, it should be, but building an organisation from scratch that works in a way that currently hasn’t been seen in the UK takes time and resources.
We are starting off in a small area in Hebden Bridge and the hard-to-reach rural 'tops' of the beautiful Pennines. We'll do this just by introducing people at first, but then move on to creating our first care workers circle. If you want to hear more about exactly what we're planning to do and the service we want to offer, take a look at our booklet, where we describe it all...
Our big dream is to enable other communities and neighbourhoods to not only take control of how care is run locally but own the technology used to do it.
A successful crowdfunder will be an amazing start but it won’t be enough to build a fully bespoke system. Showing your support for the project will help a great deal with our planned Community Share Offer we are launching in March. A Community Share Offer is a special type of social investment that's open only to co-operative societies and community benefit societies. The Share Offer will enable us to build the technology and fund the development of neighbourhood care in other areas.
A rose to help battle loneliness is exactly that. We will hand deliver a rose to people living in the Upper Calder Valley who are living in isolation, living in a care home or on a long term hospital ward. A small token to let people know they are not alone. People care.
Our tote bag, who doesn't love a good tote bag eh? Carry your vegetables/gym kit/laptop/lipgloss collection/trainers/apples/homework/marking in this socially conscious, screen printed on organic cotton tote bag all about human kindness and community. The Egg Factory, an amazing co-working space based in Hebden Bridge, have printed them for us, so by choosing this tote bag you are also helping to support a small locally-run creative hub. Win Win!!
Yan Preston calendar - Yan lives locally in Hebden Bridge and is an internationally-renowned artist. Yan has chosen 12 stunning images to donate to us to put together a calendar that will look amazing in any room of your home. This will also make an amazing gift. You won't find this in any shop!
Co-operative Membership (one year)
Help safeguard the values and influence the future of the Equal Care Co-op through your contribution. You will be invited to an Annual Members' Meeting (the AGM) plus three others over the year. You can also put yourself forward for board membership (there are two places available). This category of Co-operative Membership involves limited voting rights as we really mean it when we say power stays with the givers and users of care! Find out more here.
Think of it as similar to a club subscription. If you have any questions regarding this reward drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
De-clutter session with Sarah Myers
Sarah is very kindly offering a four hour declutter session. This can either be used by yourself or gifted to someone receiving care and support.
A little bit from Sarah:
Feeling overwhelmed by stuff?
I can help you live with less
Supportive, non-judgemental, confidential and professionally trained.
- Decluttering homes, offices, garages, lofts and sheds
- Paperwork & digital decluttering
- Wardrobe organising
- Managing collections
- Sorting photos in any format
- Help with downsizing, moves into residential care, packing and unpacking
- Preparing homes to sell
- Sensitive house clearances
DBS checked, fully insured and member of the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers.
This reward must be used within an hour's drive of Hebden Bridge.
Our very own Fran Watson's incredible mother, Jane Lynch-Watson, has donated 4 of her original pieces of art. There are only 4, once they are gone they are gone! Jane has been painting all of her life, she lives in Bambury and is a full time carer for her husband Graham (Fran's dad), who has always supported Jane in her painting. They will be delivered mounted and framed during January. These really are beautiful one off pieces of art.
Balcony- Jane Lynch-Watson Beyond the Clouds - Jane Lynch-Watson
Orange Squash - Jane Lynch-Watson White wine and Apple - Jane Lynch-Watson
This is Jane.