Caring Town: Fiona Ward

Fiona Ward is the co-ordinator for Caring Town, an initiative to make sure people in Totnes and the surrounding parishes have access to the health services they need. Since 2014, Caring Town has been laying the foundations for a fundamental shift in how people look after each other by bringing together the voluntary and private sector at a time of swingeing public sector cuts.

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m the co-ordinator for Caring Town. Before that, I set up the Reconomy Project five or six years ago. I’d been involved in Transition Towns on the business and economic side and the economic blueprint work in Totnes and then internationally. I loved it but I decided to do something a bit more local. To me it’s all still Transition stuff but a bit of a different side of things. Before all of this I worked as a management consultant in London.

What’s the point of Caring Town?
Basically it’s to make sure that people in Totnes and the 14 surrounding parishes have access to health services they need. 

What’s been your proudest moment?
The occasion that comes to mind when we are doing the public events where we have the organisations in the network together. The energy and the buzz that’s created by convening enthusiastic people who feel they can do something about it. I feel I help with that convening and the processes that enable that to happen.

What’s been the hardest?
It’s a lot of plate spinning. Everyone that I’m dealing with is under pressure. It’s that irony that these are all people delivering withg health and related services and many are struggling with their health because of the pressure being put on them.

What keeps you going?
I  love it! It’s challenging, it’s useful, it’s inspiring, I learn new stuff all the time, it feels on the edge of things.

Given the state of the world, all you can do is do something where you live or within your community, that’s the scale at which most of us have the most influence. 

What’s next for Caring Town?
The main thing is to get some new services designed and underway in the autumn, starting to meet those priority needs. Until we do that, we’re not really having an impact people.

How did you vote in the EU referendum and why?
I voted to remain. It was a tough call, but it felt like we were better together and we could address isssues better from within than without. 

How will the result affect what you do?
Yet to be determined really. It’s going to have big impacts, but who knows, other than the need for our work seems even more important.

What would you say to someone looking to do something similar?
Get going. Absolutely. And do it with others. You have to convene the right group of people, don’t do it on your own. It has to be collborative from the outset, really.

What does community mean to you?
It’s the place I live and the people and the organisations and the environement that I interact wiht on a day to day basis.

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