Community gets a stronger voice

Merton Council has awarded a three-year contract valued at over £300,000 to the Merton Voluntary Sector Council to set up a voluntary network which will give Merton residents more of a say in shaping health and social care services in the borough.

The network will bring together community and voluntary agencies, groups and individuals from Merton. It will provide a platform for people from all communities to get involved in and influence the planning, commissioning and delivery of health and social care services in Merton. This will be done in a range of ways including meetings, surveys, interviews and by keeping people abreast of what is going on.

Cabinet member for Housing, Adult Care and Health, Councillor Linda Scott said:
“The network will help to ensure that local health and social care services reflect the needs of the community, are well co-ordinated and offer value for money.”

Lola Barrett, Chair of the Merton Voluntary Service Council said:
“We are delighted to be involved in establishing this network. It is a unique opportunity for all of the local community to get involved in shaping services to meet their needs.”

Notes to Editors:
· For more information on the Local Involvement Network for Merton go to http://www.merton.gov.uk/community/merton-local-involvement-network.htm or contact the Merton Voluntary Sector Council on 020 8685 1771 or email info@mvsc.org.uk

· The Local Involvement Network for Merton is not the same as the LINK in the Civic Centre. It is a central government initiative to involve the community in shaping health and social care services. Once established it will be given a distinct and recognisable name.

· Following the passing of the “Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act” in October 2007, all local authorities with social care responsibilities in England and Wales are required by law to ensure that a Local Involvement Network (LINk) is set up by April 2008 in their area. The LINks will replace existing Patient and Public Forums and will influence public health and adult social service design, enhance accountability and feed in to the scrutiny and regulatory processes.

· The Act also requires the councils to contract a support organisation, known as the “Host”, for the LINk in their area by September 2008. The funding for the Host and its support for the LINk comes directly from central government via the local authority.

· Ten “Expressions of Interest” in being the Merton Host were received from across the voluntary and private sectors. These candidates were short listed v