Taking Part

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Taking Part's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Taking Part is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
CEO Julie Mellor
Taking Part staff team,
including board of trustees
Taking Part is an organisation that never stands still. Since
their foundation some 24 years ago, Taking Part have
served as an agent of change and a champion in support
of some of society’s most vulnerable citizens facing an ever-
changing health and social care environment. A crucial part of
their function is to serve as the intermediary between statutory
bodies and those to whom they cater. Chief Executive Julie Mellor
The Parliamentary Review
of the need for organisations in
this sector to work not in isolation but in strong collaboration.
Making ourselves heard and known
Established in 1994 as a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities,
we moved out of the control of social services and became an independent
registered charity in 2002. By 2015 the range of our client group had evolved to
embrace all vulnerable people with health and social care needs. We operate within
the geographic area of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, but we also provide
some services for surrounding areas and national organisations such as the NHS.
Although only a relatively small organisation, we boast a knowledgeable,
dedicated, diverse and adaptable staff team and are proud of our team of eight
“Experts by Experience”, who all have learning difficulties. Indeed, one of our
co-founders sits on the NHS England Advisory Group for Learning Disabilities and
Autism and represents disabled people on the Disability Independent Advisory
Group (DIAG) for West Mercia Police. Our Experts by Experience are a valued
reference and focus group in the development and co-production of materials,
publications and information. Their informed opinion and personal experience
»Board of Directors – 4 Trustees:
John Godfrey, Sue Godfrey,
Peter Simmons and David Willett
»Chief Executive Officer:
»Established in 1994
»Located in Shrewsbury and
Telford, Shropshire
»Services: Information, advice,
advocacy and training for
people with health and social
care needs
»No. of employees: 7 – 1 full-
time, 6 part-time, 4 part-time
»65 volunteers, including 8
with learning difficulties
»The co-founder, Michael
Ratcliffe, was previously a
representative of the National
Forum for Learning Disability
Taking Part
We offer:
»22 social nights a year for adults with
learning difficulties at local venues
»respite (via the Local Offer Short
Breaks Programme) for families of
children aged six to 18
»paid relevant person’s representatives
for clients under the Deprivation
of Liberty Safeguards standard
»Information, Advice and Support
Service engagement forums for
young people aged 14-plus
»easily read documents
influences the content, layout and
accessibility at a local and national
level. Furthermore, they are our
representatives on the Shropshire
Learning Disability Partnership Board
and local health forums and act as
trainers for professional staff.
Equally filling us with pride is our
contribution to the development of
an Easy Read Mental Capacity Act
Card and the production of the SCIE
film. This collaborative project was
undertaken with Taking Part, SCIE
and Shropshire Joint Training, and
the final work has received positive
recognition by the national lead for
MCA, BaronessFinley.
At Taking Part, we’ve become
members of the National Council
for Voluntary Organisations, British
Institute of Learning Disabilities,
Shropshire Partners in Care, Shropshire
Providers Consortium and, in 2017,
we were the proud recipients of the
Advocacy Quality Performance Mark
Award awarded by the National
Development Team for Inclusion.
As a registered charity, our board of
trustees is made up of volunteers with
varied and insightful backgrounds,
including the police force, nursing,
telecommunications and catering.
Their experiences, skills, knowledge
and business acumen enable them to
support me as chief executive officer to
drive the organisation through periods
of change and challenge.
Doing everything we can to
In terms of advocacy, we provide
one-to-one advocacy to clients who
have specific issues and who need
support to speak up, have their voice
heard and have their opinions taken
into consideration. This is why we
facilitate group advocacy sessions which
enable individuals to speak up about
services they attend, receive and take
part in. Through group advocacy, we
encourage and support individuals to
become peer advocates who support
each other to be more in control of
everyday activities such as independent
travel and going out socially. Our
information and advocacy services focus
on helping people to help themselves
and to remain independent for as long
as possible. During 2017 and 2018,
we provided information, advice and
advocacy to 2,117 clients resulting in
5,379 interventions. Our volunteers
gave up 3,408 hours of their time,
which equates to £26,684 of value-
added provision to our funded services.
“Escape” – Taking Part’s
social night
Equally filling us
with pride is our
contribution to
the development
of an Easy Read
Mental Capacity
Act Card and
the production
of the SCIE film
Highlighting best practice
Where government needs to
pay attention
For the past four years, there has
been uncertainty regarding the
funding available to voluntary sector
organisations like Taking Part due to
the financial constraints placed on local
authorities by central government.
We’ve managed to retain funding
from both Shropshire and Telford
and Wrekin local authorities as we
have shown that we are providing
cost-effective services with good
outputs and can evidence added-
value outcomes which have a positive
impact on the lives of the most
vulnerable clients in our communities.
Indeed, historically, our advocacy
service has been recognised as the
“golden thread” which runs through
statutory service provision. Advocacy
is seen as the “glue” which holds
things together, as we work at all
levels – from strategic development to
obtaining grassroots voices.
Having a static staff team has meant
that we have good knowledge of
our clients, service provision and
development. Sadly, this knowledge
and information has been lost in
statutory services; advocacy has been
the only continuous voice.
The secret to our success and survival
has been our willingness to work in
partnership with other voluntary sector
organisations. In both Shropshire and
Telford, Taking Part is now a delivery
partner in a consortium model of
working, whereby one lead body takes
responsibility over one contract for
the delivery of a range of services by
different organisations.
In Shropshire the consortium is
known as the Community Advice
and Advocacy Network (CAAN) and
in Telford it is known as My Choice.
Both models have proved to be
very successful in serving our local
people with the services they require
in their communities. All partners in
both consortiums are local providers,
well established with proven track
records of good delivery and strong
positive reputations. These consortium
arrangements have developed well-
respected working relationships
between the voluntary and statutory
sectors. There is a deeply positive
willingness to work together to
continue to provide local solutions to
local issues which are both affordable
and achievable. This model of working
has been recognised and praised by
other local areas and statutory bodies.
Taking Part are very proud to be a
delivery partner in these consortiums
and feel that working with others
is the best way forward for survival,
overcoming challenges and adapting
to change.
There is a
deeply positive
willingness to
work together
to continue to
provide local
solutions to
local issues
which are
affordable and
Our team are dedicated,
diverse and adaptable
Julie engaging an


This article was sponsored by Taking Part. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister