Hello, I have been the manager of CAPS, a local third sector independent advocacy organisation, for the past seven years. We provide advocacy for people with mental health issues and are very aware of the difficulties and health inequalities facing people who use health and social care services in East Lothian. It’s the role of the Integrated Joint Board (IJB) to make improvements so services are better for everyone and I would be glad to take the voice of the third sector, and the people it serves, to that meeting.

Being independent and not a provider of care services means that I do not have any other agenda or conflict of interest. I am confident to ask questions, to challenge when necessary and to assist in identifying solutions. I regularly attend the forums that Strive facilitates to bring third sector organisations together and would welcome the chance to hear what’s important to the diverse range of local charities. Finding new ways for more organisations to have their say is important for the future.

At the moment in Midlothian, I am the third sector representative on the Strategic Planning Group and have occasionally attended the IJB meetings in Midlothian as a substitute, so I have experience of speaking up in these formal meetings and of making sense of the volume of papers! This also has given me experience of other ways of doing things, new ideas and learning.

Apart from my work role, I have lived in East Lothian for 21 years and so it’s important to me that the services it provides are the best they can be. My family use these services. For many years I worked in the childcare sector in East Lothian and was involved in developing services and local strategic planning.   

It is very important that the third sector is viewed as a valued, equal partner in the future provision of health and social care services and that the unique benefits that third sector organisations can bring is recognised and respected.