The theme was impact. In a series of wide-ranging presentations and breakout sessions, delegates and speakers considered how as a network we can secure greater impact for both carers and for our services that support carers.
After a welcome from Carers Trust CEO Giles Meyer, the conference began with a video message from Minister of State for Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, Caroline Dinenage, MP. After reflecting on projects already delivered, the Minister said: “I look forward to continuing our collaboration on behalf of carers”. And referring to the long-awaited Social Care Green Paper, she said it would be “coming soon, I promise”.
Taking up the theme of impact, Sally Cupitt – Head of NCVO Charities Evaluation Services – then delivered a much anticipated presentation on evaluation and how charities can use it to create real impact in the services they deliver. She also emphasised how charities can use the data they gain from evaluation work to inform funding bids, giving them a much greater chance of being successful.
Carers Trust’s Programme Lead on the Working for Carers Project, Tanya Sealey, spoke about what impact looks like in a real project setting. Tanya noted how working in partnership can of course throw up challenges but emphasised how these are more than offset when judged against the impact the project is having in getting hard to reach and isolated London carers back into the working place.
Day two of conference moved the focus of impact on from theory to practice. In a series of breakout sessions, practitioners from across the network explained how they were bringing real impact into their areas of work to better support carers. This included demonstration of a Social Value Engine to get a real sense of how much social ‘value’ is created by our services; workshops on influencing with impact at a local level; and workshops on how to get messages out through impactful local media.
Looking back on a hugely successful conference, Kathryn Hill, Director of England at Carers Trust, said: “It was wonderful to see so many people from the network at this year’s conference. They were treated to speakers who presented some really fascinating ideas on how as a network we can create more impact in our work. And it was great to see how that fed through to the delegates who were buzzing with excitement as they shared experiences and new ideas to take back to their organisations and put into practice.”