A chapter ends — A new chapter begins

Mark Golledge
6 min readJul 15, 2019

So after almost five years working with the Local Government Association (LGA) I’m getting ready to move onto a new role working across City and Hackney leading and supporting their neighbourhoods programme.

I started with the LGA working on what was previously then the Integrated Care Pioneer Programme. So much has happened during those five years and in many ways I hope I have played my own small part in helping move some things forward.

It hasn’t been an easy decision to make. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the LGA but I know it is time to go back to a local area and also onto something that, whilst still in health and care is a new step for me.

I remember when I worked at Essex County Council having a visit in 2009 from the LGA and wondering what it would be like to work for them (as you do!). When the role came up at the end of 2014 I jumped at the chance and have thoroughly enjoyed those last five years. It has been a mixture of many miles around the country visiting and supporting local areas as well as work nationally with the likes of NHS England, NHS Digital, Department of Health and Social Care and the now NHSX.

I leave the LGA on 7th August and am looking forward to a couple of weeks break with the family before I start my new role in City and Hackney. As I close one chapter and start another I wanted to share a couple of highlights from those five years and then share a couple of things I’m excited about for the new role.

Looking back — my highlights

In many ways what I have been involved in at the LGA has been very much a continuation of my previous work in the NHS and before that at Essex County Council. At the LGA I have led our digital work supporting social care and health and care integration. There have been many highlights from those five years and wasn’t easy to pick out individual projects so I’ve mentioned a few themes…

  1. Getting to work with some amazing people. One of the highlights of the role has been getting to work with some wonderful people and organisations both nationally and around the country. Most of those have been in person but I’m also a believer in the use of social media to connect with people too (@markgolledgeLGA). Over those five years I’ve met lots of people passionate about what they do and have met some really inspiring individuals. It strikes me that despite pressures that people are often under in health and social care that there is, for the majority of people, a heart-felt passion to make things better.
  2. Starting not with digital but with people’s experiences. In all that both I and the team have done we’ve tried to encourage work that puts people first. We re-shaped our Social Care Digital Innovation Programme so that it took a much more person-focused approach and we launched our Design in Social Care Programme to encourage ways of working that started with understanding people, their experiences and the problems to be addressed. Last week we held a ‘show and tell’ about this work and it was great to be able to share some of the stories we’ve heard along the way. We’ve loved seeing more that councils and local areas have been doing in this area. We didn’t get it right all the time but when we did it was great to see the results!
  3. Supporting innovative work in local areas. Over the last five years I’ve had an opportunity to be involved in and support many wonderful programmes of work. The innovation programme has supported 40 or so councils in a range of different areas. But beyond that it has been exciting to see how councils are working with other local partners to re-shape areas of social care. Whether it has been about making better use of data or looking at how digital can support more personalised and integrated care there have been plenty of great projects we’ve been able to contribute to.
  4. Shaping some of the national approach. My final highlight has been in having the opportunity to help shape some of the national work around digital health and care. Lots has gone on over those five years from the early days of the National Information Board to now the work NHSX are taking forward across both health and social care. It has been a pleasure to work on behalf of councils as well as social care more widely to raise importance of the work they do. I’ve had the opportunity to both work on programmes dedicated to supporting social care but also those that are seeking to take a place-based approach (such as work around information sharing). A particular thanks to those organisations who both I and the team have had (and of course for the team, will continue to have) the opportunity to work alongside.

Looking forward — my hopes

Last year I read a book by Hilary Cottam which connected with me on so many levels. ‘Radical Help’ talks about the need to start with people and listen to their everyday perspectives. Its focus is very much one of working with communities, valuing what is important to them and working together to make changes which have an impact on people and communities.

It provokes us to rethink the role of public services whether they be health, local government or other areas.

What was also exciting was that Hilary’s approach has service design principles at its roots. She talks about how she has used the design process in much of her work and through the stories that she tells. It is an approach which values and recognises the strengths that people and communities have and builds on those to make things better.

At the same time as I was reading this I also started connecting with the likes of Wigan, hearing about what is happening in Gateshead to shift to a more relational way of working across public services whilst also connecting with similar principles through our Design in Social Care Programme. More recently New Local Government Network and Collaborate for Social Change have also been promoting these approaches to community engagement.

And of course the NHS has similar aspirations through the Long Term Plan whether it is in the work happening on Primary Care Networks, social prescribing or in personalised care. The focus is very much on encouraging people to take a much more active role in their own health and wellbeing and encouraging organisations to work together to support this. In all of this it starts with empathy and listening.

What has struck me already in the conversations I’ve had with colleagues across City and Hackney is both their commitment to really engage with people and communities alongside their desire to work together. Yes every part of the NHS including primary care but also Local Government (such as public health, social care and housing) and voluntary sector and in doing so to take a more integrated and relational approach to health and wellbeing.

I’m under no illusion that this will be an easy task but I’m keen to get started and keen to start my time by listening to people, professionals and clinical leads, local elected members and wider communities about their experiences and identify the areas where I will hopefully be able to help make a difference. Whilst the role is employed by Homerton Hospital it’s very much about working across organisations rather than within an organisation. The aim is to bring care closer to home and to help people access and take control over the things which can help keep them well and improve their wellbeing.

I look back with many fond memories of my time at the LGA. It has been thoroughly rewarding and I have met so many fantastic people. In particular I would like to say a big thank you to Abby, Ed and Caroline. I have worked with such an amazing team that I will really miss.

But I can’t wait for the next chapter in my move to working across City and Hackney.

I’m intending to continue this blog so come along for the ride…

--

--

Mark Golledge

Neighbourhoods Programme Lead working across health and social care in City and Hackney | Previously: NHS and Local Government |