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Lewisham Link (Local Involvement Network)

When I first began volunteering for Disabled Parents Network, they asked me to get involved with the local LINk. LINks are supposed to be a way to get feedback from people about local services, meaning NHS and Social Care. Much of volunteering for LINk is about giving out leaflets and asking service users to write down their thoughts and opinions on forms. These are then put in a database which is supposed to analyse trends and highlight areas in need of further investigation.

I found LINk to be rather toothless when it came to problems with Social Services. This is no surprise given what I was to find out later:

LINk is funded by the local Council.

Therefore, they have no wish to irritate their bosses. Unfortunately as LINk providers have to tender for a contract, if they piss off the Council, they might find the contract goes elsewhere.

Being a volunteer for LINk, Disabled Parents Network and also sitting on the Maternity Services Liaison Committee, I started to wonder about the role of all these organisations. I think they serve a purpose which is not what is stated:

  • To create the illusion that local people can really have an input into local services and that their complaints are listened to. They are not!

  • To prevent disgruntled service users persuing complaints or legal action.

  • To prevent service users forming groups of their own to lobby for change.

  • To identify local activists and render them less effective by diverting them into time-wasting activities like endless training sessions.

On the last point, one might even be minded to rename LINk as:


They have two members of staff responsible for recruiting and organising volunteers, one of whom has a naval background. His name is Kevin Trowell. If anyone is able to tell me whether Kevin is a member of the local Freemasons, I would be very interested to know. ;-)

LINk seem to be spectacularly useless at anything other than running aimless meetings and training sessions, with plenty of biscuits provided. Their powers to "Enter & View" establishments and provide some sort of quality control are rarely used to any effect and the outcomes are rarely any better than an individual would achieve through using the complaints procedure. My advice to anyone involved is to start your own campaign and avoid expending your energy on LINks.