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OFTTI- Redesign Update


Letter received from Iain Macaulay, Chief Social Work Officer

Following the consultancy work undertaken by Hall Aitken on the OFTTI Service, the Comhairle, on 30 October 2008, approved the implementation of a restructured model of service delivery.

To take forward the initial work of the consultation, the Comhairle established a Transition Working Group under the Chairmanship of Councillor Charlie Nicolson.

With ESF money no longer available to the OFTTI programme in its current shape and the Comhairle having limited resources, it was widely acknowledged change was necessary.

The Comhairle has, in principle, agreed the redesign proposals for OFTTI which can be summarised as follows:

  • The current OFTTI service will be replaced by a new and different service model named HILLS (Hebridean Independent Living and Learning Services). This is presently timetabled to take place on 1 April 2009, although it recognised that this is an extremely tight deadline to meet.
  • HILLS, to all intents and purposes, will be an employability/training and support initiative similar to other organisations that exist in many parts of the country to stimulate community regeneration.
  • The work of the Transition Working Group is now being taken forward by the recently established Employability Partnership.
  • To develop and drive these changes, engage and liaise with service users, families and carers, agree referral and assessment processes etc, the Comhairle is currently finalising arrangements for the secondment of a member of staff to do this work. The postholder will have the title of Employability Manager and will be located within the Leisure and Learning section of the Social and Community Services Department.
  • Another key task for the Employability Manager will be to set up three Lead Agents from within the Western Isles Voluntary Sector, located in Barra, Uist and Lewis & Harris. Each Lead Agent will provide the employability and training service in their area.
  • The existing OFTTI service will therefore be split into two parts: one supporting provision for service users more suited for day care provision (Social Work), the other focussing on improving employment and training capabilities (HILLS).

We wish to help all people achieve their potential, moving towards qualifications or employment, where at all possible and we are hopeful that the new service, once established, will be able to attract additional funding from a range of external funding agencies.

This is also an anxious time for existing staff concerned regarding the potential implication for jobs as a consequence of adopting a new service. The Comhairle and the College are considering how best to address this issue.

I hope that this communication update is helpful. There will be further engagements with existing and potential service users and their carers to discuss HILLS, the new service being introduced, in the New Year so that everyone is clear about the assessment and referral processes, explain the role of Lead Agents etc.