"Delivering hope in times of uncertainty"
Gary Rogerson took up the role as Director of Operations in April of this year. Gary reflects on how his career and experiences are supporting him to face the challenges the sector is facing.
I started out in Phoenix as a volunteer I think in 2002/3. Phoenix invested in me as a person, people saw I had something to offer and that worked both ways – it made me want to give more and challenge myself to be able to do more. I have been a sessional worker, key worker, team manager, service manager, head of operations and all those roles have challenged me in different way, enabled me to learn and grow from the different pressures and increased responsibilities of each.
This is no different in that sense, I’ll learn I’ll grow with the role – I’ll push myself, I’ll challenge the team, I’ll bring new ideas to the table. That will always be with one thing in mind - doing the best I can to deliver the aims of this organisation to as many people as we possibly can - and that is not just a role it’s an absolute privilege for me!
Knowing our strengths
The real challenge for me is balancing head and heart, I love this organisation and the work we do and ideally I would like Phoenix to tender for every opportunity that arises! But in reality we don’t go for everything, because we know what our strengths are as an organisation, we know where we are going and we want to maintain our good reputation with commissioners- but most importantly be certain that we can enhance the lives of those who need our support. So when we do go for new business be that prisons, community, housing or residential frameworks, it is because we truly believe we are the right people to do it and we have the right offer.
I have been around treatment services for about 20 years in total now – so I have seen loads of changes, good and bad.
The key for me is we know there is less money– and we of course have to challenge that appropriately and evidence our worth and the positive impact on so much more than just supporting people with their drug and alcohol issues.
But at the same time we need to focus on how we make the best use of what is available, by bring all the resources of all the support services together. It has gotten better- but there is so much more that needs to be done – to make sure that people’s needs are met quickly and safely whether that is about minimising risk and reducing harm or stable long term recovery and abstinence.
We have to forge the partnerships – share the load, develop that trust in each other’s expertise and deliver around the individual’s needs. For Phoenix that will mean continued innovation, listening to people’s needs, and understanding where we are not meeting them and doing something about it – through more partnerships with local trusts, primary care and other providers in the sector. At the end of the day we all have a common goal to support people to change their lives – and we have to be part of a bigger solution together.
Being in a position to shape the way that we help individuals, families and communities is enough to inspire me in itself. But day to day people are always the most inspiration to me, and by that I mean I find it in people around me, managers, staff colleagues, service users. When I see people who aren’t in services it makes me want to work harder to breakdown stigma and make our offer more accessible so they get the opportunities they need. When I see service users progressing and our support has played a small part in that there is genuinely nothing more rewarding.
I still experience that when I bump into people I worked with years and years ago. They and their lives are completely different and they want to share that. They don’t need my approval, but the fact that they are so proud of what they have gone on to achieve means I know we are doing good work. Colleagues inspire me and that is at all levels in the organisation – when you see people going the extra mile in their role – it makes you want to make sure you go the extra mile in yours. Whatever role I have had in Phoenix I have always found people around me who inspire me to be better and challenge myself.
There is a line in our new corporate strategy that says we will be ‘Delivering hope in times of uncertainty’ I think that really sums it up for me on all levels.
If people can come into one of our services; or talk to one of our staff; or read one of our leaflets; or see a blog or a tweet and be given a bit of hope when they are not certain about where they are going. And if with that we can sew the seed or hook them in to some further support. That is where it all starts. And if I can be part of an organisation achieving that at every opportunity then I’ll be doing alright!