Simon Duffy talks to Varun Vidyarthi, Glasgow 2014

Simon Duffy social Innovator and originator of Self Directed Support in the UK in Conversation with Varun Vidyarthi in Glasgow.

In front of an audience of people in Glasgow, Simon Duffy and Varun Vidyarthi identified parallels between their work in the social care sector in the UK and with the rural poor in India respectively. In the UK, Simon has written widely about how the model of Self Directed Support he devised several years ago has been distorted by government and some social care organisations. By design, the system was intended to help people with support needs get greater control over their support by being open and transparent and by letting people identify the resources they had, both financially and in skills they had.

Simon Duffy talking to Varun at the Partners for Inclusion conference.

The idea was that they could have greater control if they had a full picture of all the resources at their disposal, including their own natural assets and the money health and social care officials invested in special services for them. Simon regrets that in the hands of government and other vested interest, Self Directed Support has morphed into a complex system that few people understand and in some instances is a mask for  cutbacks. This is a long way from it’s intention of giving people control.

Likewise for Varun, People Based Development in India, which was pioneered by Manavodaya, was adopted on a much wider scale by government and other vested interest bodies – but in name only. Instead of people using self-help schemes to improve both their own and their community’s situations through local management, schemes developed which were distant from control in villages. This resulted in people being encouraged to take on personal debt they couldn’t afford and decisions becoming more distant from those who were seeking to take more control of their lives.

In both instances Simon and Varun reflected on the importance for approaches that seek for people to have greater control in their lives, to be managed locally; with integrity and have processes that can be understood by beneficiaries.

One of those in the audience who has experience of using support services later said:

‘I hadn’t thought of it this way before – that people on the other side of the world have many of the same problems as us with “them” [social workers and officials]…..  thinking they know best all the time and twisting words round so it’s hard to understand things’.