Adjusting the focus

Change, grow, live’s executive director of health and social care, Mark Moody, tells DDN about the organisation’s change of name and what it signifies.

‘I think it’s much more representative of who we are,’ says Mark Moody of the name ‘change, grow, live’ (CGL).

CGL’s change of identity is pragmatic and positive, says Mark Moody.

It’s coming up to a year since the organisation, which had developed through working with people who accessed it via offender housing or arrest referral schemes, decided to stop calling itself Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI). ‘The scope of what we do had grown massively beyond that and the old name wasn’t representative,’ he says. ‘With alcohol services and young people’s services particularly, it’s quite a low number of people who come to us via a criminal justice route.’

Perhaps surprisingly, the people who most felt a name change was in order were the staff. ‘Service users would sometimes say they didn’t much like it, but if their experience was good they got over it quickly. But we did identify that for some it was a barrier – just one more thing to make them wonder “do I really want to go to this place?”’ Everyone refers to it as a rebranding, but for me the name should be what you do. It’s just calling it something that makes it more attractive to people who might need us.’

As well as moving away from the original criminal justice focus, ‘change, grow, live’ reflects a belief that change is something anyone is capable of. Was this more positive slant in any way a response to the ongoing challenges facing the sector? ‘It’s more about the way we choose to deliver the services,’ he says. ‘All providers have gone through the journey of much more recovery-focused services, with an emphasis on doing things with people rather than to them. I strongly believe that the way we deliver services now is just better than it was ten years ago, even if there was more money in the system then. I think we would be doing things this way regardless of the challenges, financial or otherwise. So it’s more about the opportunities.’

The new identity could be defined as a ‘pragmatic and realistic positivity’ for both service users and staff, he says, and it’s been well received. ‘There’s been a bit of joshing on social media – I’ve heard us called ‘Eat Pray Love’ and someone told me we sounded like a charity for disenfranchised horticulturists, but I haven’t spoken to anyone who thinks we should have hung on to the old name. We consulted staff, service users, external commissioners, and people really do think it articulates what we do and how we do it.’

So has it led to a renewed sense of focus or energy? ‘It’s already a very focused and energetic organisation, but I think there was a relief to get past something that had become an unwanted distraction – occasionally we’d find ourselves having the whole “this is why we’re called that” conversation – and it does provide an opportunity to get the message out there to the people who need us. When you do something like this you’re kind of forced to put your head over the parapet a bit, so it’s probably encouraged us to be more outward looking. Despite the size of the organisation, historically we’ve probably been less visible on a national scale than some other organisations. All the emphasis has been on local services, and even now a lot of people accessing our local services won’t have a clue who’s running them, because they have branding that’s relevant to their community.’

So how would he define the organisation’s vision and strategy for the coming years? ‘I think the most important thing is that we continue to focus on delivering services of the quality that people really require. It’s no secret to anyone that there are cuts to funding, but I think if you continue to do things the way you always have, but with less funding, then simple arithmetic tells you that you’re going to have a worse service. So it’s the importance of really looking at what works and at innovation – investment in technology to allow us to work more out in communities and so on. Just getting a lot smarter about the way we use resources and stealing some business practices from the private sector but retaining the charitable ethos. It’s about being prudent, innovative, looking at different ways to do things.’

Part of this comes from ‘truly embracing the recovery ethos’, he states. ‘For me, running a recovery-oriented organisation is not about being an organisation that just deals with a narrow set of problems, but one that exists to help people get past their immediate challenges and move on to have the kind of life they wanted. We’ve never been solely a substance misuse organisation – we’ve always done other things, like domestic violence, family services, homelessness. Even if someone’s presenting problem is substance misuse, living the life they want is about a whole lot of things beyond that – housing, social connections, jobs, the stuff that makes it possible to be a happy person. Mostly the substance misuse part is a symptom.

‘So the way we do things would have changed whether there was a change in the funding scenario or not. You learn as you do this work that the way you’ve always done it might be OK, but there’s always a way to be better.’