Reconstructing a Broken System

Mayday Trust believes that the support systems for people going through tough times need to radically change. It uncovered and clarified its ambitious mission on the Scale Accelerator.

Mission

Mayday Trust believes one of the biggest challenges for people going through tough times, like homelessness, is the system itself. After listening to people accessing social care services through its Wisdom from the Streets inquiry, it heard that their experiences were often negative, humiliating, and at worse, institutionalising.

The system is failing people and it doesn’t work. Tweaking this broken system, making it work more efficiently, or bringing in the latest new interventions will never be enough. Instead, a complete paradigm shift is required.

— Lynn Mumford, Director of Development and Strategic Partnerships at Mayday Trust

Challenge

When Mayday Trust joined Scale Accelerator it had undergone a radical transformation of its entire organisation, approach and strategy.  Following its Wisdom from the Streets Inquiry and the many systemic barriers it identified for people accessing services, it changed direction from a traditional housing-related support provider, to a ‘person-led, transitions organisation’.

Through its ‘Personal Transitions Service’ (PTS) – emerging on the back of years of prototyping – Mayday works with individuals facing challenges like homelessness, leaving prison, care, psychiatric hospital, or coming off drugs and alcohol. 

We work alongside people to identify their strengths and abilities, listen to their story and experiences, and focus on how they can take back control to transition out of their situation, rather than providing a service led response and expecting people to fit into ours or our funders’ boxes,” explains Lynn.

After initially scaling the approach with seven PTS Innovation Partners, Mayday wanted to explore how to share learnings further and attract more like-minded partners. With an ultimate aim to change the overall system, it needed more organisations and individuals on board with shared goals to create a tipping point where this style of approach becomes the norm. 

Change

During the Scale Accelerator, Mayday Trust underwent an intensive nine-month programme of exploration. This helped to uncover and clarify its mission and identify different ways to grow this in partnership with other organisations. 

As Lynn explains: “It was enlightening going through the Scale Accelerator as we had someone shining a mirror back at us all of the time. The light bulb moment was actually our ability to reflect on the vision, mission and the problem we were trying to solve. It really helped define who we are – an organisation striving for systemic change.”

From Mayday’s experience of radically transforming its own organisation, it knew that the change needed went beyond a delivery approach. The PTS is a behavioural and cultural shift that requires organisations to flip the power dynamic, listen to and be led by people they work with and PTS practitioners at the grassroots. 

Boosting the number of organisations able to deliver this type of approach is also not enough on its own, without also building a wider movement to disrupt the system, which requires a broader fundamental change to the way services are commissioned and perceived. 

Action

Spring Impact helped Mayday Trust to identify the best way to continue to scale impact, while retaining fidelity of approach and remaining fully mission focussed.  This led to the development of the first Accreditation for person-led, transitional and strength-based approaches. 

This is not a traditional quality mark, instead it aims to gather evidence around three themes – providing a person-led, and strength-based approach, transforming organisational culture and influencing and disrupting the wider system. By sharing the data, learning and impact from delivering in this way organisations are also ‘influenced through doing’.

Impact

To generate the impact and scale of change needed Mayday Trust has since been able to scale this impact as a UK wide movement. The New System Alliance is a collective of individuals and organisations creating a paradigm shift in the systems available to people going through tough times. 

Through attracting over £2m of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund over five years, Mayday, in partnership with Platform, Changing Lives and Homeless Network Scotland, is now rolling out the PTS through the New System Alliance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Alliance includes the New System Lab, which provides an Accreditation and a toolbox of resources for systems change. The lab also offers training and consultancy to shift toward a new person-led way of working, including the first qualification in this space – a level four PTS Qualification with Coventry University. 

Lynn explains: “This creates a real opportunity for individuals, organisations, funders and commissioners to be part of making the mission a reality and to practically work together to learn, reflect and adapt to finally make the systems work for people going through tough times.”  

Mayday Trust’s journey also presented a special learning opportunity for Spring Impact. Its unique scale challenges around system disruption informed our decision to trial a new version of Scale Accelerator in 2020, focused on scaling the impact of projects that provide holistic support to adults facing multiple challenges. 

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