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We’re In This Together

Matthew Weatherall

On Wednesday (29 March) we held our second – and largest - Membership event. In fact, we were overwhelmed with the response from members wishing to attend and filled the Great Hall at Belfast City Hall to capacity with 400 members from all across Northern Ireland.

Sadly, we had to limit numbers for safety reasons and tickets were allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, which meant that we had to disappoint some of our members who wanted to attend.

The theme of the day was ‘Working Together’ and we had a big focus on co-production – essentially a more meaningful type of involvement, where service users have equal power to professionals in the planning, development and actual delivery of health and social care services.

Hosted by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Mary Ellen Campbell, guests were treated to a lovely lunch, followed by interesting and engaging talks from our guest speakers - some of whom had travelled from England and Scotland to give their presentations.

Belfast surgeon Mark Taylor told us that health and social care services in Northern Ireland needed to embrace new ways of thinking and working, while Gerry Power, the People Powered Health and Wellbeing Programme Director of Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, gave a presentation on co-production from a Scottish perspective.

Sam Cunningham, local coordinator of the Living Well Moyle project in Co Antrim, spoke about helping people with chronic conditions to reconnect with their community, while Tory Cunningham and Briege Quinn gave a presentation on the Recovery Colleges in Northern Ireland for people with mental health issues.

The event ended with a presentation by Capita’s Dr Catherine Howe on the power of social movements and how, by working together and sharing service user and service provider experience, we can unleash a much greater force for change.

I would like to express my thanks to Belfast City Council for allowing us to use of their fantastic Great Hall at no charge. I’d also like to thank our speakers for sharing their ideas and expertise.

Finally, I would like to thank each of our members who attended on the day and hope you enjoyed yourselves. It was great meeting people and being able to put faces to the names.

As the PCC’s Head of Operations, Louise Skelly, mentioned on the day, our members are like our extended family and it is great to see so many of you engaged and willing to give up your time to help improve health and social care services for everyone.

Make sure you keep an eye out for future events in our UPDATES newsletter, such as our Coffee Connection meetings, which are coming up in April/May, and if you aren’t already a member you can sign up by visiting this link:

Could we have done anything differently at this year’s event?

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Stephen Kennedy 16-Apr-2017 at 08:12 hrs

This was my first PCC meeting and I have to say thanks for lunch.

Whilst I found this interesting I was dissapointed that crucial faults in the H and SS provision was not addressed. Long waiting lists, not enough stress on prevention of illness's, hospital waiting times, lack of bed-spaces, GP underfunding,I have personal experience of a patient being sent home yo social isolation without even a visit from a Social Worker.

I do understand that citizens can self help and that it is a great thing to do,but we pay our taxes to allow a manage our H and SS provision. If they fail in this it should be encumbent on the PCC to hold them to account and Challange our Health Minister or Secretary of State on these issues.

Stephen Kennedy MIHEEM


Jean 03-Apr-2017 at 20:24 hrs

Excellent event and presentations were well delivered and very informative.


Jessica 02-Apr-2017 at 13:40 hrs

Overall it was good but this year the members were unable to speak and ask questions. Also some of the speakers spoke too long and lost attention of the audience.


Norah Brown-Davis 02-Apr-2017 at 09:01 hrs

Sorry I couldn't be there, hope you got my apology, was hit by bursitis of thigh, couldn't walk! Need to highlight this very painful condition I had not been aware of!



Anne 01-Apr-2017 at 06:59 hrs

I'm so pleased that you had a great gathering of like-minded people working for the health of the country, and all enjoyed the comradier and lunch.

Unfortunately I had to cancel as I was hospitalised for a week, just the week before the meeting.

One item that I would like to bring up and bring up quite forcefully is, why are there no intermediate homes where people like myself can have up to two weeks to convelesence. Not everyone has family to go home to and not all are nursing care, just a stepping stone where you can have your basic care, food, social aspect, to build your resistance up to then let you home feeling that much stronger.

Yes I was offered placement in a nursing home, but with no disrespect to nursing homes and their patients, I, at the moment am not nursing home criteria. If I had been offered a placement in an intermediate facility I would have clasped it with both hands. Having had to come home and lie on my own, try to make myself eat and being isolated in a country area, it was anything but pleasant.

So please give this some thought, as it'll help reduce the amount of re-admissions to hospital. And as they say we can then go on our merry way for a healthier life.

I have discussed this with some nurses and lay people and they are in agreement that it is a project that should be looked at in a serious way. Yes, the higher powers can argue there is no money, however I think productivity and much less waste would be a lesson to be imprinted on all kinds.


Irene 31-Mar-2017 at 16:28 hrs

I would like to have had the opportunity of some time in between the presentations, for some facilitated, if possible, discussion around our tables. One presentation after another was a bit challenging for some peoples powers of concentration. I know that a friend of mine, said she had had enough after 3 presentations after another, and went off.