Equinox Care has a cross-cutting range of plans for responding to climate change; from developing existing services to help users identify coping strategies, to exploring potenial joint working opportunities and encouraging others in its field to take the issue seriously.
About the organisation
Equinox provides residential and community based care across London for people with alcohol, drug and mental health problems. Its services include treatment, rehabilitation centres, hostels and supported housing, and other support services. Its annual budget is £15 million.
Before The Big Response project, the organisation had a range of initiatives in place for reducing its carbon footprint, such as recycling office materials and a travel policy. Some staff were also talking to service users about climate change as part of their support with life skills, but this was down to staff members’ personal interest rather than an organisational policy. Members of the trustee board were also keen to see the organisation develop its thinking on this topic and had created a statement of intent.
What the project group did
The working group included the chief executive, several senior managers and three trustees. Each session also involved some service users, in line with the organisation's ethos of beneficiary inclusivity. The project:
- identified the trends most likely to affect beneficiaries and the organisation's operations
- explored ways for incorporating climate change into the organisation’s new strategy.
Climate change will become a formal part of Equinox's life skills programme for service users, to help protect them against related risks but also to enable them to play their part as active citizens in reducing carbon emissions.
In order to mainstream climate change and help embed the topic across the organisation, understanding of sustainability will now be included in staff competencies.
Having addressed relevant climate change related trends within its own risk management processes, Equinox will also explore whether it can work jointly with local authorities and other agencies to be part of local contingency planning - for example, during drought, which could pose serious potential threats to service users taking methadone, who need to remain fully hydrated.
The organisation is also keen to share its learning from the project with others in its field and to encourage other providers to take this issue seriously.
Equinox identified lack of funding as a potential barrier to its work on climate change. But the organisation also appreciated that it couldn't afford not to take action either, as service commissioners are already asking for information about environmental performance and requirements are likely to get tighter.
Involving some of Equinox's service users in the project sessions required a fair bit of flexibility from the facilitators and meant that at times, progress was quite slow. But the information from the process about user need was much richer as a result and the beneficiaries who took part also gained directly from the experience and were able to develop their own responses to climate change, both in terms of understanding the impact it could have on their lives and also considering whether to champion the issue.
Advice and support
- Funding and finance
- Coping with cuts
- Addressing needs
- Managing change
- Planning for the future
- Involving people
- Public Service Delivery
- Governance and leadership
- Compact Advocacy programme
- Campaigning and influencing policy
- Collaborative working
- ICT (information and communication technology)
- Climate change
- People, HR and employment