The start of a new calendar year is often a time of reflection, of reviewing progress and thinking about the road ahead. For public bodies and organisations such as Surrey Choices, which operate in the third sector but are closely tied to the public sector, it is also a time of frantic activity as we develop our business strategy for the next financial year and work out how our budget is going to be sustainable and support our key priorities over the next period. We started the year with a whole organisation team development day, and I would like to share some of the reflections from the day about Surrey Choices’ recent developments and upcoming priorities.
Surrey Choices has for the past 3-4 years been on a mission, the watchword for which is ‘Inclusion’. To our organisation this means transforming services to make sure that the people we support have opportunities that enable them to be included and to make a contribution to communities, making meaningful connections with people and places. In brief, a move away from segregated services towards support for independence. This has meant adopting an entirely different way of working, and our colleagues have been on a journey of learning and discovery alongside the people they support, informed by our Core Values. So much progress has been made that the Changing Days programme will be formally winding up at the end of the year, and the new ways of working will become business as usual, whilst we relentlessly pursue practice improvement, financial efficiency and continue to innovate.
Two of our key priorities are co-production and partnership. As an organisation we are focused on partnering with other organisations, people and places in order to bring about new opportunities. We have learned that we are stronger when we are part of something bigger, when we share resources, ideas and talents with others, such as when we assist employers to progress their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programmes by helping them to become inclusive workplaces for people with disabilities, when we work with public transport providers to support individuals to travel independently for the first time, or when we work with the Duke of Edinburgh scheme to develop an inclusive programme for young people with disabilities.
Our change programme has been both broad and deep and we have asked a lot of our colleagues. Hence, making sure that Surrey Choices is a great place to work is crucial to our sustainability and to delivering on our ambitions for an inclusive society. This year, Surrey Choices became a Real Living Wage employer, and we continue to develop our colleague welfare and support structures. We are a Disability Confident Leader and a Mindful Employer, and this year we have signed up to the Workplace Menopause Pledge. We take staff welfare very seriously and have initiatives planned for 2023-24 to make sure Surrey Choices remains a fantastic employer to work for.
For more reflections on Surrey Choices’ progress, please have a look at our Impact Report for 2021-22.