Quick train from Cardiff to Heathrow terminal 4, a bit bog-eyed from late-night BIGSPD scheming, to learn that the three of us (Jan, Laura and myself) had been booked on AlItalia’s ‘minimum economy’ to Rome and business class for the return. Minimum economy means no bags, and we had one each: £117 lighter, we got to our hotel to find only one room available for the three of us. Thank goodness we had Laura with us as our translator – and I think after a bit of female sharing, everything was OK for the second and third nights.
This was the LegaCoop annual meeting of several different groups of visiting projects – the principle of which is ultimately derived from the Italian modifications of the RCPsych ‘Community of Communities’ – and we are the link between the two, and called ‘supervisors’. It is always a tutti Italian mixture of talks, heavy duty numbers, and celebrations with jolly team photos.
But this time we learned some interesting new things about the latest developments. First is the difference between the ways it is being done in Northern Italy with Mito e Realta (the national Italian TC organisation) – where it is much more like the British CofC membership, which any organisation can join for the visits, events and general collaboration. In contrast, the Sicilian network is much more like the British TC Accreditation process – where great trouble is taken by TCs and the auditors to ensure that the quality standards are precisely met: they have now been doing it for six years, and there is a great deal of detail in the exact process. I suspect, though did not directly ask, that the communities who were here in Rome for the day are closer to the Sicilian model – but either in the first or second year of it. But their hard work was recognised at the afternoon awards ceremony as all the certificates were awarded, amidst applause and many photos – thankfully not too many selfies!
The second interesting revelation was about the link to LegaCoop – which is the longstanding socialist organisation that promotes cooperative across Italy. Some of the organisation’s leaders were there, welcoming the work, and (now we have perfect translation!) it was explained to us how they are planning to use the principles outside the mental health field. They are particularly interested in Enabling Environments – as they can see the use of it in any setting. I slightly fear that, in Italy, these ideas might have just the sort of backing they needs to grow – that we don’t have in the UK. One to watch…
And business class home was quite a revelation – metal cutlery, china plates and real glasses of grappa behind the green curtain!