Bury St Edmunds: Mental health charity leading by example with budget initiative

A SUFFOLK mental health charity praised a new funding system which has allowed it to provide its vital services to a wider range of people.

Workwise, based in Bury St Edmunds, says the recent introduction of personalised budgets – for people needing to access health or social care – has led to a huge increase in the number of people accessing its services across Suffolk.

Personalised budgets were first introduced in the UK in 2008 and rolled out nationwide in 2010 as part of the Government’s much heralded ‘personalisation’ plan. The plan aimed to give service users greater choice and control over the care and support they receive. Under the new system once an individual’s needs have been professionally assessed they are provided with a budget to spend on a range of care options, leaving them able to choose their preferred service provider.

Since the introduction of personalised budgets Workwise has seen an increase of 438% in referrals to its service. Of all those attending the various Workwise training centres 54% have utilised their personalised budgets to pay for their support, a testimony to the value given to the charity’s work.

Val Beresford, Workwise chief executive, said: “When personalised budgets were first introduced there was a lot of scepticism and there was a lot of fear of how charities like us may be effected. However, we decided to grasp the nettle and by working closely with commissioners, care co-ordinators and clients we have managed to turn the new system to our advantage. Our performance proves personalised budgets can work in the mental health arena, we really our leading the field in this aspect, an achievement we are very proud of. Of course the most important outcome is more people are now benefitting from the services we provide. Another bonus is that now we are working directly with care co-ordinators we can now offer our services to people across the county, where as previously we were restricted to supporting those in and around Bury St Edmunds.”

In the past 25 years the charity has helped 5,000 people with long-term mental ill health back into work, gain qualifications or to take part in community activities.

Workwise can be contacted on 01284 755261 or email admincro@workwisesuffolk.org.uk

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