Local Solutions reaches out to and connects with thousands of people.
The charity, launched in 1974, recently appointed Chief Executive Tom Harrison in an ambitious move to further assist people in leading fulfilled lives and realising their potential.
We spoke to Tom to find out more.
Q: How proud are you to have been appointed Chief Executive of Local Solutions?
I’m very proud. I started working for Local Solutions 14 years ago in the young peoples’ hostel service – it was something I cared a lot about. I come from a background of working with young people who suffer from emotional and social difficulties, in community support and managing education. I found working for the charity sector really inspiring.
Q: Are there any services you’re particularly proud of achieving?
The things that make me proudest are about people, it’s not really about the services. I see people who have had some really difficult circumstances come through our services and do wonderful things.
When people start families, find themselves feeling safer, more secure, happier and playing their part in society or when I see the young people with really difficult backgrounds come through the hostel and they get into a great place in their life – that’s amazing. There are lots of services and it’s great getting money in and doing the big structural things, but it’s always the people that make me smile.
Q: What backgrounds do these people have?
A lot of the people we work with could be struggling with trauma. Whether that’s childhood trauma or trauma through life, either through environmental or economic reasons or through relationships and family reasons, we are there for them and we stick through it.
When you see them feeling a sense of self-esteem and self-worth, purpose and security to move forward, that’s the nicest bit. It doesn’t matter if it’s our young people, unpaid carers, elderly, domiciliary care clients or whether it’s victims of domestic abuse. When we do that part and people make the sort of progress they want, that’s the best bit.
Q: What are your biggest ambitions?
What we want to be is truly transformative for people. We want to be creative, innovative and flexible – primarily to help people feel empowered and achieve their own goals. That’s the big idea. We don’t want to create big institutional structures. We want to work with people, co-produce and then help them be in charge of what they’re doing.
Q: What are the biggest challenges?
It’s empowering people to make their own choices, which can be really difficult because the behaviour of charities and society follows funding. So, it’s trying to get that independence to help people feel empowered and to make their own choices. I think that’s always the biggest challenge.
Q: Could you sum up why Local Solutions is so important?
We’re important because we deeply care about empowering people in communities because we are those people, and we live in those communities. We recognise the importance of people and relationships being transformative in everything we do, and we’re committed to helping people by empowering them to make decisions. I think that sets us apart. We’re at the start of a really exciting period.