Last update 5th. November 2004


Impressions of the Meeting of London Forum Members Held at Friendís House, November 2nd 2004

The meeting arose from independent suggestions from Forum members in the London area. Actual figures are not yet available, but probably 60 people attended and 43 or more Forums were represented, though most people made it clear that the views expressed were their own, rather than those of their Forum. CPPIH had two people present (one recording events), but they kept a low profle.

The stated agenda was quite long with the main topic of the first part of the meeting devoted to whether a pan-London Group was needed. The meeting was facilitated by Andrew Woodgate, of the Framework Consultancy, who quoted 15 years of experience working on such events in the voluntary sector. Andrew stressed that "this is your meeting" and allowed people to state their views at the beginning of the meeting. It was clear that members are passionate about some of the issues. It was disturbing to hear of two Forums collapsing in Kent, with a third about to follow; it is widely recognised that there are major problems in at least three other London Forums. Some, though, are clearly running smoothly and have good numbers. Many comments were made about under-resourcing. There was criticism of some FSOs, and some of the CPPIH.

After this preliminary exchange of views a vote was taken about the need for a London-wide group, only a few people dissented. We moved on to more detailed timed discussion of "pros and cons" in smaller groups. When time was up Andrew asked each table in turn for a point until we all ran out. It was a good approach which worked well. There were far more pros than cons with much agreement on the need for far more communication and cooperation at every level. Among other suggestions: there could be a need for similar Forums to get together: all PCT Forums, all mental health Forums etc. It was suggested that different structures might be needed on different occasions. It is important that leadership and power to influence opinion at DoH and Government level should shift from CPPIH to Forum members. The hope was expressed that groups would form in other parts of the country (some are already doing so) and eventually a country wide association led by Forum members themselves would develop. All agreed that there could be problems but most if not all of them could be avoided.

During all this papers were circulating collecting contact details: apparently everyone was happy to be included.

It was agreed that we will go ahead. A working party was established to meet soon to organise another meeting. Andrew asked for volunteers: About a dozen people came forward, but some have dropped out.

We were running very short of time, and Forum members had suggested a dozen items for discussion. Most of these were postponed to be considered by the working party. A brief statement on funding was made: there was general assent to the demand for information and transparency from CPPIH and FSOs.