Gwenda Thomas AM, the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, has now officially launched the Citizen’s Panels for Social Services. The panels will bring together people of an even geographical and age spread, who will meet quarterly to inform the Deputy Minister and her National Social Services Partnership Forum of their opinions of current issues around social services.
The last of the regional panels to run was the South West panel, which took place in Gorseinon. It was really great to hear the panel members’ perspectives on the way forward for social services in Wales. Andrew Hubbard’s personal assistant was ill on the day, so I offered my services. It’s fair to say I learnt lots about accessibility and ensuring that Andrew felt he could take part. Andrew was a great trainer, and he was very understanding about my lack of experience! You can hear Andrew’s perspective below.
After the last meeting I had a chance to sit down with my Manager Mandy Williams, who said that the project “feels extremely privileged to be a part of this important work. Having held the first round of adult panels and begun to engage with children and young people’s groups we are impressed and humbled by the views and experience that people have been willing to share with us. I am in no doubt that the Deputy Minister and the Partnership Forum will benefit hugely from the input of these citizens. This important work of creating sustainable social services for Wales cannot be achieved without them.
“We’ve met some lovely people without exception. Everybody seems to be really positive about the difference they can make and that they can influence at the strategic level that social services are moving forward in. They feel particularly passionate about having representation on the partnership forum and we’ve been discussing ways in which that can be done.
“The make-up of each of the regional panels is very mixed, there are some people who have direct experience of social services, some who care for people who receive social services and there are others who have a professional background in social services either currently or in the past, so collectively they bring a wealth of experience and opinions to bear on the future direction of social services in Wales.
“We look forward to working with them as we’re convinced that this is the right way of working and that we need to ensure that the voice of citizen is heard.”