Pleased to meet you!

Paul Astley, Queens Cross Network & Enabling Community Support
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A day in the life

Hi! I’m Paul Astley. I manage Queens Cross Network, a vibrant community hub offering co-produced support in partnership with people who have a physical/sensory disability in Dudley, West Midlands.

We scaled down the network and set up a telephone/email support line called ‘Pleased to meet you’ as soon as the virus broke.  Since the helpline started on 23rd March, we've achieved over 6,000 contacts supporting vulnerable members of our community.

Our response to COVID 19 hasn’t changed – it’s strengthened. Daily our team of dedicated staff offer community-based, personalised support that’s completely tailored around the needs and wishes of the individual.

Through our helpline we offer daily friendly, quick-responding social care support, aimed at vulnerable adults who need help with shopping, medication, or access to other essential support such as falls prevention, and Telecare. We’re also “someone to talk to”, if people are feeling lonely.

Without a doubt, this pandemic has been the biggest challenge of my 33 years working in adult social care. This unprecedented time has confirmed to me that communities are our greatest asset. As social care professionals at times like this, we really can think outside of the box and be creative in how we answer people’s support needs. Every day we  are breaking down barriers to work in partnership with the community- to serve the community. We are imaginative, responsive and truly personalised in our approach.

The legacy I would like to see for adult social care after the virus subsides is that we retain the very best practices which we’ve  observed during the pandemic response. The sector needs a truly co-produced future where everyone we’re here to help is presented with great opportunities in order to realise their full potential as valued citizens within their local community.  The challenge has been to maintain the local, personalised approach during what has been a very difficult time for everyone. Nimble, responsive organisations like Queens Cross Network have done just that, and are a life line – virus, or no virus.  


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