Caranua & ROP/SC Meeting minutes - 13/06/2017

*Please note the minutes are comprehensive as we wanted to give a fair and true reflection of our meeting* 

As everybody is aware our organisation is committed to transparency and accountability and last week we met with Caranua in their offices. We have received a couple of enquiries regarding this meeting and agreed these notes would be added to our Social Media channels to ensure everybody had a visual on our ongoing discussions.

The main purpose of this meeting is outlined below, but we have it broken into two main areas, namely 1) Issues/Difficulties Survivors have raised with us that we would like to see addressed. 2) What are updates that Survivors should be aware of.

The detailed notes/minutes of our discussion can be viewed below;

Date: 13/06/2017

Attendees: ROP/SC:    Micheál Walsh (Director of Services)
                                      Michael Walsh (Chair) 

                    Caranua:   Mary Higgins (CEO)
                                      Sinead Fennell (Head of Communication & Engagement)
                                      Rachel Downes (Director of Services)

Where: Caranua Offices, Dublin City


Caranua invited Right of Place Second Chance to meet in the context of discussing their Terms of Reference of their review of 2016 Services and as part of consultation with other survivor groups and Survivor Service Providers. Additionally, Caranua wanted to get feedback from us in relation to ongoing services based on our experiences with those who contact us looking for help.

General Overview

Generally, the meeting was a positive one. Whilst we discussed Caranua services and areas we would like to see improvements in, the difficulties Survivors are faced with that we brought up were understood, respected and noted.


Difficulties raised by ROP/SC

We raised the following issues that Survivors have experienced that we would like to see reviewed;

1. The introduction of a cap on services


We noted that whilst most Survivors are happy who are now making a first application, those who were told the services would be "no limit on the services you can apply for" remain unhappy. Resulting, it was appropriate that this personal Limit (Cap) be reviewed having regard for the information people got at the beginning.



2.  Survivors who wanted white goods, funeral expenses at the beginning are now not eligible

We made a case that this was unfair on Survivors who applied at the beginning of the process as they were simply never given the option to get support in this, because it wasn't available to them (or approved by the Minister). We argued that this was not Survivors fault and that as a minimum any Survivor who had reached their limit/had their application completed should now be allowed to reapply, particularly for the new items.


3.   The letter sent out to Survivors upon "completion" of application was unacceptable

We said that the letters sent to Survivors about how happy they were to have offered them assistance was uncaring and came across as "shutting a Survivor off", making them feel there was no more support for them. We also advised that it is at this point they should be told about other specialist Services so that Survivors know there was still support there for them even if they have reached their limit with Caranua. There was an understanding to review this and potentially give a leaflet to each Survivor on their case being completed and to review the completion letter with a view to re-wording it.



4.   The inability and delay getting through to them on the phone was still ongoing

We advised there was still an unacceptable delay in getting through to them on the phone and sometimes calls were not returned. We advised that whilst this had improved it was still an ongoing issue and they advised with the move to the new Premises and a new phone system this should help to address those issues.






5.   Survivors were unsure of what a move to their new premises represented and were unhappy at the cost of the proposed premises

Caranua explained that this was a necessary expense as the OPW had stopped leasing their current building, meaning Caranua had to source alternative, independent offices. This means they had to secure alternative accommodation and this was approved by the Minister.
It was also noted that the new office will facilitate face to face to meetings with applicants on an appointment basis. The current office structure in place (i.e. no Drop-In service etc) would remain the same.


6.   We reiterated that Survivors were angry, hurt and upset by the CEO's comments on a recent media article.

Mary advised that she did apologise for any hurt or offence that she had caused and reiterated that the comments were taken out of context completely.



7.   The lack of liaison officers is a missed opportunity to promote Survivors and get them priority in health, housing etc and this needed to be reviewed with Urgency

Caranua agreed that there is more they can be doing in relation to this part of the legislation and they advised they are currently reviewing Liaison officers. They continue to use them on a day to day basis but accepted there was more work to be done in this area. They believe this to be multifaceted, i.e. how they can be trained/support to understand Survivors and how this would then be followed up on by both Caranua and other partners.
We noted our worry that these liaison officers who have the potential to really impact on advocacy work and getting priority in services for Survivors will cease once Caranua does and advised appropriate specialist services should be both consulted on this development and included so that the impact lasts past when the fund is finished.



8.   We said that it was unclear if a Survivor could reapply for Services and this needed the be cleared up as Caranua staff were giving conflicting information

Caranua said that they would review this and try to make the process clearer and inform people of exactly what this. Caranua encouraged any individual receiving conflicting information to contact them so that any potential misunderstanding could be understood.



9.   We said that Survivors were calling us angry with Caranua and this was reflecting on our services as some were mixing up what we do and what Caranua do.

Caranua accepted that this may be the case based on some negative feedback they had received and advised their review of 2016 Services is to see how or why people remain angry/upset, alongside a review of all other aspects of the criteria. Caranua is also committed to consulting us and other service providers on these findings for ways we see of improving some Survivors experiences.



10.   We said that the appeals process is currently too long and the time it takes to hear a decision back is unacceptable.

Caranua stated they agreed with this but have no control over it since the Appeals Office is independent, however two new (as opposed to the previous one) Appeals officer have been identified by the Ministers department. This should help to speed up Survivors appeals and quicken the appeals timeframe on them reaching a decision.





So, these were the general areas that we brought up that needed to be reviewed by Caranua. As you can see there was some agreement on some immediate areas they could change and agreement that as part of the wider scale review an appropriate consultation would take place relative to this.


Updates:


⦁ Caranua are moving into New offices
Caranua will be moving into New offices and the cost of this will come out of the fund. The building that they are currently in is leased by the OPW who are not renewing the lease and Caranua will have to find alternative accommodation. A new premises has been identified and this new building is located close to their current building in Dublin and will not have a Drop-in Service attached to it.



⦁ Strategic Plan (Caranua)
Caranua hope to launch their strategic plan from 2017 - 2019 by the middle of July. This shows their path and plan for their remaining two years and will be launched after the New Board have agreed and signed off on it.



⦁ Home visitations/ one-one meetings
This is something that they are currently looking into providing over the next two years. They have not yet formulated the plan and expect to enter discussions on what this process looks like soon. It may mean that they will meet Survivors in their homes or arrange one to one (face to face) meetings with some identified clients. They are also reviewing the potential for Outreach clinics in community settings.
I will state that this is currently under review.



⦁ How long does Caranua have left?
They fully expect the fund to be used by the end of 2019 at the latest and are beginning to look at plans for their closure by this date. We noted this was a major issue and a plan needs to be formulated, consulted on and delivered to ensure the positive legacy of the fund.



⦁ Liaison Officers
The liaison officers are something that they are currently reviewing as they know this is an area that is currently underutilised, particularly having regard for the legislative powers they possess in this area. Caranua will enter consultation with other Service Providers about how this is to be promoted and maintained after they have gone.


⦁ Training for main stream services
They do plan on creating a plan to train, inform and support mainstream services to understand Survivors and their needs. We argued this needs to be done in conjunction with us and other service providers so that this support is maintained for Survivors after they have closed their operations.




So, this was the general update on the meeting. As I said, within Caranua’s remit, we noted some issues Survivors were angry/upset with and recommended them to review and change. There were also other areas that we required change in but this is regarding the legislation and therefore can only be approved by the Minister (and again our request for these changes can be seen on our website).

All in all, we do believe, that Caranua are funding many items that the state has a responsibility to support but are currently not and still reaffirm that to change Caranua, as requested by some of our clients, can only happen with the changing of the Social landscape and changing of laws such as enhanced medical care for Survivors, priority in housing, pension entitlements etc.

We will continue to highlight difficulties with Caranua as and when they are identified and try to inform them of these difficulties. Equally we help to highlight positive aspects of their services when this presents itself to us from Survivors who access their services. We will continue to try and make other changes, through the Minister that can have a real impact on all Survivors lives.

Having spoken with many Survivors since the 13th, I can see you are happy that we used your information, your ideas based on your experiences with Caranua to inform them of areas you would like to see changed.

We will continue to try and improve Caranua through direct contact with them and through communication with the Minister for wider more impactful changes.

Remember we launch our After the Spotlight document by the end of the year (2017) and we hope this brings about an even bigger change in societal level for all Survivors of Institutional Abuse and their families and this would then allow for a complete review of Caranua and what services it is offering.