|Fri 28 Mar 2014 |
Good News for the Children and Family Centre
on Friday the 31st of March, our CEO Steve released the following statement;
Firstly I want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding over what has been several difficult months for our Children and Family Centre. It's been a tough time for everyone, staff, children and parents.
But I am pleased to be able to announce that we have secured two years funding from BBC Children In Need which will allow us to keep Sam Jarvis in her current post! This is great news for all of us, Sam included! It means that we will have one full time staff member working in the centre and consequently this will only allow us to operate a reduced service, but the important thing is that we can start to build a new future for the centre.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Nicky, Rif, Hannah and Sam for all the hard work they have put in to make the centre so successful and also to the BBC CIN people for saving the day!
We are currently in the process of putting together a new timetable, so please bear with us during this time.
We will be looking for parent/carer volunteers and contributors to help lead the direction that service takes in this new and exciting phase. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer at the centre or has any ideas to share please contact Sam on
we have had an amazing response to the announcement and we look forward to what the future brings!
|Tue 18 Mar 2014 |
Greater Manchester Fire and Resuce Service and Independent Options work together!
On the 7th of March, we were invited to the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) Headquarters for a partnership Sign-off Agreement Event. The aim of the day was to highlight the official agreement between ourselves and the GMFRS to work together to protect our service users and prevent situations that could cause a fire or injury.
Created by Jax Effiong , the Community Safety Manager, and Sarah Heaton, our Service Manager, the key components of the agreement include information sharing, mutual referral pathways, integrated working, monitoring and reporting and an agreement to share resources. The session was attended by several support workers from our services here at Independent Options, members of staff from GMFRS, our CEO Steve and the GMFRS Stockport and Tameside manager, Jon Heydon.
The afternoon went off with a hitch and the official signing of the agreement for 2014 to 2015 was completed, followed by a chat over a cup of tea and cake to celebrate!
All at Independent Options are excited that the partnership, although our relationship is many years old, is now official and we can use our combined resources to help the more vulnerable people in our borough. As Steve said during his speech; ‘I’m sure that Independent Options and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service will get on like a house on fire!.’
|Wed 12 Mar 2014 |
Hallfield Guest House gets Refurbished!
Our Guest House Hallfield undertook a major refurbishment in November 2013, so we popped round there this week to have a peek at the finished product and caught up with the Short Breaks Manager Amy.
‘it was pure chaos’, laughs Amy. ‘At one point we were stuck in the office for 3 hours whilst they screeded a floor!’
The agreement was made with the board for the money for the renovation back in 2012, however following a particularly busy period for Hallfield, the week for the majority of refurb to be undertaken was booked in for November 2013. Madeleine Hennessey, our then Finance Director, took the project under her wing, to ensure that the transformation was done to the best standard but within budget.
For that week, Hallfield closed whilst the floors were put in and the walls were decorated, whilst the skirting boards were glossed and doors were sanded, whilst the hallway was revamped and the dining room re-carpeted, but the refurbishment isn’t finished.
‘We’ve still got bits ongoing, for example the bathroom floors are still being done,’ Amy tells us.
Hallfield Guest House was a working B&B when it was taken on by Independent Options, so Amy, Dom (the manager of our Short Breaks Service at Beech Avenue) and Heather, the short breaks co-ordinator all spend their office hours up on the second floor which used to be the owner’s living quarters, which is now an office with a little kitchenette for staff. It was the only place in the house that hasn’t been touched during the redecoration. It’s in their cosy little office that we chatted with Amy, Dom and Heather.
‘I’d really like to thank Madeleine, she did all the groundwork for the refurbishment and organised everything, really. I was just there!’ Amy says.
Nestled in Offerton just outside of Stockport, Hallfield Guest House is a welcoming homely place, and the staff are really friendly. We visited during the day, when there are no guests in as the guest house closes between 10 and 3. This is when Heather showed us around. Each room is beautifully decorated with nice little touches to each room that match the colour scheme. Hallfield has 6 bedrooms, a large living room and kitchen and a dining room for the meals. Each room has a lovely en-suite for privacy and the property is fully staffed whenever there are guests staying.
The refurbishment has gone down well with everyone who has visited the property, and as Amy said, the improvements are on-going. But for the time being, Hallfield is a warm, hospitable, caring place that as the improvements continue, it can only increase in popularity and reputation.
the newly decorated living room:
our light and airy hall:
an example of our newly kitted out rooms:
and our beautiful kitchen:
|Thu 27 Feb 2014 |
Saying Goodbye to our Director of Finance
On Saturday the 2nd of February, we donned the retirement banners and balloons to say goodbye and thank you to our Director of Finance for 26 years of wonderful service to Independent Options.
Madeleine started with us back in 1988, when the first ever Red Nose Day was being put into production, when work had just begun on the Channel Tunnel, and the £1 note had been withdrawn from production.
She started on our admin team, as a short term resolution to working whilst the kids were in school. She thought she’d only be with us for a couple of years!
She thought she’d only be with us for a couple of years! 26 years, grown up children and a qualified acountancy later, she was still here and a fantastic job she did too.
So as we say goodbye to Madeleine, here is her final interview:
What are your first memories of Independent Options?
Being kissed in the kitchen at the Pines by one of the guests while waiting for my interview and not being sure if it was one of the tests.
How has Independent Options changed over your time?
Enormously, there were only 16 staff and one service (Short Breaks at The Pines) when I started and everything was very casual, handwritten etc. I didn’ t even have a desk and chair, but I did have an Amstrad computer (thanks Sir Alan!) not that it did very much. Today I think we are very professional and I would be pleased to show any of our services to anyone.
What has been the highlights of your career?
This is quite difficult because there are loads, but I was very proud when we finally purchased The Pines from the council, after 2 years of legal wrangling, as this meant that we would always have a firm base to run the services from.
Who is the most memorable person that you have worked with and why?
because he rescued the organisation from decline and set up every service, other than Short Breaks, that we run today, and he did it for the service users.
What will you miss the most?
All the friendly staff we have.
What are you going on to do next?
I’m going to relax at first then I’d like to do some travelling and maybe I will do some voluntary work. Possibly apply to the Great British Bake off (after a bit more practising)
Any funny stories?
Some that I can’t put in here.
From all at Independent Options, we wish Madeleine a happy and relaxing retirement! .
|Tue 04 Feb 2014 |
Children and Family Centre Closure
It is with a heavy heart, that I can confirm that we will be closing our Children and Family Centre this year as our planned 5 year Big Lottery funding will end on the 31st of March and we have been unsuccessful in avenues to secure further funding.
For those that don’t know, the Children and Family Centre has been at our head office in Hazel Grove for the past 5 years and provides groups and interactive sessions for children between 0 and 10, and support for the parents.
It’s important to us to acknowledge the good that the Children and Family centre has done in the past 5 years and the continuing influence it has on local families. We are proud of all it has, and continues, to achieve and we have not taken this decision lightly.
I also want to reassure everyone that the rest of our services to families and individuals are not affected by this decision and will continue as usual.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the staff for providing such a wonderful service for the families, the families for their continued support and finally the Big Lottery and Children In Need for their funding which has made the past 5 years possible.
|Sat 01 Feb 2014 |
A Visit From The Local MP
Whilst it was all cold and rainy in Hazel Grove yesterday afternoon, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for us as we had Mark Hunter, Member of Parliament for Cheadle, visit us here at The Pines.
After hearing about growing concerns regarding budget cuts around care, we hosted an afternoon between Mark and some of the parents of our service users to discuss the parents worries.
Mark really appreciated that the worries that plague parents when planning for their children’s long term care as they rely heavily on the money allocated to them by the local authority. So with this in mind, Mark spent a few hours here listening closely to these reservations, and to show his support to the parents.
Mark was happy to spend time discussing the options with the parents, advising them as best as he could and pledged his support for future.
Steve, our CEO, who was in the meeting as well, said afterwards; ‘I think everyone really enjoyed it, and found Mark to be very supportive.’
So after a cup of coffee with our parents, Mark was kind enough to pose for a couple of pictures with (from left to right) Angela Beagrie (trustee), Derek Fisher (parent) and below, with our Chair of Trustees Jim Grassick.
We enjoyed having Mark to visit, and hope to welcome him back to The Pines soon!
|Mon 27 Jan 2014 |
The Care Quality Commission Inspection Results
As some of you may know, we are regulated by the Care Quality Commission. .
The CQC’s aim is to make sure that all care-providing establishments are clean, safe and effective, and they do this by setting standards of quality and safety, and then monitoring, inspecting and regulating these within care services.
We had our latest inspection at the end of last year, and we are pleased to announce that the reports are in and we were fully compliant to the CQC standards across the board.
As the CQC has a transparency policy, they ensure that all their reports are published online, and visible to everyone, so the outcome of their visits to Independent Options can be viewed here.
It is rare that we have time to reflect on these things as an organisation as we are always looking at ways to improve, but it’s with pride that we can say that our staff have achieved this outcome, our services are still the best they can be and we continue to deliver excellent care to those who use our services
|Tue 21 Jan 2014 |
An update from our CEO
So it’s a new year, and like so many others around the world, here at Independent Options (North West) we are looking forward to a new start.
I'm all settled back into my routine here at our head office at The Pines, on Chester Road, and now able to share a quick update with you all.
2014 looks to be an exciting year for us, with a lot of changes to look forward to. To kick start us, we are now available on all digital platforms, with a new Facebook group, Twitter page and our services can be found on LinkedIn.
We have started 2014 with a new Marketing Officer, Natasha, who will be looking to promote and advertise Independent Options and all of the good things we do to a wider audience, and I’m very pleased to say we will soon be releasing an advert for a Fundraising manager to come on board so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Our services continue to flourish, with exciting projects in the pipe line, and we continue to grow our teams, both those on the front line and the teams behind the scenes at our head office.
Whilst 2014 looks to be a very prosperous year for us with the organisation continuing to expand, grow and transform, I think it’s important that we take this time to remember our roots also.
Independent Options was built on family values back in 1977, and we will continue to be true to our principles and beliefs, putting the families and community first, to ensure that we never lose sight of the values we started with.
For now i sign off, and leave you in the capable hands of Natasha, to keep you all updated on our news, going-ons and events.