Collective Voice: Statement of Purpose

Alcohol and drug services in this country are amongst the best in the world. The investment which has underpinned this is under significant threat. Most of our service users live in our poorest communities where the multiple and overlapping consequences of austerity are concentrated. The wide range of services on which their current well-being and future potential for recovery depend are being withdrawn or curtailed. The already announced £200m cut to the Public Health Grant, the need for Departments to deliver further savings of 25/40% in the Spending Review and the competing demands on Local Authorities and the NHS, will combine to place alcohol and drug services under ever greater strain.

This is the context in which Collective Voice has formed. A collaboration of eight of the largest providers of alcohol and drug treatment and recovery services in the country, we have come together to promote and defend the interests of those who need our services.

To do this most effectively we need to build an alliance of service users, other service providers – particularly those in the NHS – and policy advocates from related fields.

Over the next six months we want to demonstrate that through Collective Voice we can help shape the context in which alcohol and drug services are delivered for the better. This experience will inform proposals for the establishment and funding of sector wide representation into the future.

Our focus will be on influencing outcomes. We will therefore be working closely with key government departments:

  • The Home Office on drug policy and the wider crime agenda.
  • The Department of Health on the contribution of alcohol and drug services to health outcomes.
  • Public Health England on local authorities’ stewardship of alcohol and drug treatment and recovery systems.
  • The Ministry of Justice on treatment in prison and as part of community sentences.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions on routes to employment.
  • The Department for Communities and Local Government on how our services can contribute to local authorities’ overarching responsibility for their communities.

To support our influence we will seek opportunities to explain the benefits alcohol and drug services deliver to the wider community and the contribution we can make to help central and local government achieve its aims and ambitions.

We will collaborate with those providing services for people with mental health problems, homeless people, offenders and other excluded groups because of the significant proportion of our service users who need to draw on these services. Together we will seek to present a powerful value for money argument to government to support investment to address multiple needs

Engaging service users to identify how their interests can best be promoted will be integral to the project. In the past, service user engagement has too often been tokenistic or a reflection of the sector’s ideological schisms. To overcome this we will seek to engage with the multiplicity and complexity of different service users voices.

At the same time as reaching out to related fields we will be making every effort to engage colleagues working in all of the many settings in which alcohol and drug services are delivered. Collective Voice’s purpose is to advance the cause of service users and advocate on behalf of all those providing the interventions they need to stay alive, stay healthy, and promote their recovery. It does not exist to advance the sectional interest of its funders. We will therefore be seeking to work closely with colleagues in NHS services and those delivered by other third sector bodies. The route to influence is to achieve the widest possible support for a tight set of objectives strategically chosen to achieve the greatest impact and sustain the widest support. This cannot be achieved by the eight founding partners working in isolation.

Collective Voice believes that the largest providers of services have an obligation to try to influence events nationally and locally to protect what is currently delivering well, and use the opportunities that will emerge from change to improve outcomes where we can. We have begun to discharge that obligation by creating a space for the entire sector, service users, and our allies to come together to use our collective experience , knowledge, networks , and moral force to shape events and help make the future. We hope as many of you as possible work with us to achieve this shared purpose.


4 Responses to Collective Voice: Statement of Purpose

  1. David Mackenzie 18/08/2015 at 7:35 am #

    Where does Drug and Alcohol Treatment sit in the list of priorities for Public Health? Way down the list I suspect.

    The other questions that I would have are:

    “How much does it cost to run a Tender for the provision of D and A treatment?”

    “When a new provider wins an award, how much of their budget goes on ‘the changes’ – stationary, business cards, changing sites, personal job changes, Tupeing (is that a word?) meetings,etc etc etc?”

    What is more important – the improvement of service provision or saving some money?

  2. angela scully 18/08/2015 at 3:00 pm #

    The whole idea of “Tendering” to provide services for drug and alcohol treatment creates so much wastage. To take apart a service and build up another is totally unworkable. The insecurities of jobs for workers, creates an environment of uncertainty. To take apart a service that has taken years of hard work and commitment and finance, only to start from scratch, is not sustainable, and is not in the interest of the service user/client. In 3 – 5 yrs this will happen all over again. I’m not sure what the benefits, of this stupid method, are.
    What I do see, as a service user/client, is great big seams showing in the lack of continuity in treatment.

  3. Jon Royle 19/08/2015 at 3:49 pm #

    congratulations on this important initiative and thanks to its funders. The lack of sector representation and a strong voice to advocate for the rights of some of our most vulnerable citizens has never been more noticeable since the demise of the NTA and more recently Drugscope.
    I’m looking forward to hearing how those of us who work with drug and alcohol users can get more involved

  4. J South 24/08/2015 at 8:07 am #

    Angela Scully makes an excellent point about tendering. The process is not about getting the best quality services nor about service user needs. For commissioners it’s about getting cheaper, homogenous services across the country – preferably those with excellent data management teams to make their jobs easier – and for providers it’s about ‘growth’. Since when was ‘growth’ a charitable object?
    Collective voice wants to ‘help government achieve its aims and ambitions’. Do they mean those of Iain Duncan Smith? Has no one noticed the increase in drug related deaths recently? Has no one looked at where these are concentrated and who is providing services in that locality? Would be interesting to see if CV are going to ‘collectively’ raise any of these issues. Somehow, I think they may have other priorities.

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