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Imagineer: founded on inclusive principles

This case study forms part of the What Good Looks Like report on people with a learning disability and autistic people. This co-produced report was commissioned from the Building the Right Support (BTRS) Advisory Group, as part of the wider action plan developed by the Building the Right Support Delivery Board. It has been supported by Partners in Care and Health.

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Imagineer was founded on inclusive principles and was set up to work with any person making contact with the organisation. It was founded with the intention of developing a community of self direction and not recreating the silos of the health and social care system. Imagineer helps the person be in the driving seat of their own lives and to  identify the resources available to them starting from a place of community.

It is a social enterprise based in the North of England with a national reach. In the past 10 years, they have developed as a skilled and knowledgeable organisation, providing support brokerage and brokerage management support to people who wish to plan, arrange and self-direct their own care and support arrangements using direct payments, individual service funds, personal health budgets or other personal budgets.

  • Graphic facilitation: the provision of graphic facilitation and also training in using visual thinking and creative planning processes
  • Support brokerage mentoring: coaching and mentoring for independent support brokers
  • Support Brokerage training: Training in support brokerage, person-centred and strengths-based approaches.


The challenge

Although some very innovative ideas and solutions were found in the community, the social care and health system structures were initially very slow in engaging with these conversations. When these conversations did start to happen, it resulted in trying to fit people into processes and provision which already existed, rather than embracing what could be possible and exploring new ways of doing things.

Since its establishment, Imagineer has developed a team and a network of many people who have supported innovation, new ways of working and developing proof of concept- bringing on board skills and experience of many others from around the sector.

Read Monica’s story.

The solution

The first seeds for Imagineer were planted when their founder Liz was designing and delivering a person-centred planning project. This experience showed how person-centred planning can make a real difference in unleashing people’s imagination about what a good life looks like for them.

Liz's initial work demonstrated that the existing systems were locked into the limitations of what was available, and the constraints of the existing structures and processes. After learning about local area coordination, asset based community development and support brokerage, she soon realised that adding the principles of these approaches together with the practice she had been developing could be the key to unlocking the fuller potential of the community.

Through the years of experience, gathered through the community developed around self direction, Imagineer seeks to work through the inadequate understanding or misunderstanding of the regulatory framework for assessing care needs, direct payments and personal budgets by holding onto two beliefs:

  • Everything is possible: the prime meaning here is to think beyond what is available via service structures to think about what is possible from a place of community and a wider perspective on resources
  • Asset based viewpoint: how do we make and create new resources with individuals rather than fitting them into what just happens to be available – and avoiding the square peg round hole scenario?

The conversation starts with ‘what does a good life look like’ followed by 'how can we make that possible?' Rather than 'this is your level of budget and how do you wish to use it?' People are good with their money and make it work for them.

Some people may have big ideas of what they want to achieve – but they do not expect their personal budget to pay for them .”

What makes it good?

Through their work and championing of community-based solutions, they strive to help bring about a fairer society.

Imagineer embraces the following values in its work:

  • Togetherness: We like to get together with the right people, both in the direct support and training we provide and in our own team, to support Imagineer’s ongoing development.  We will work collaboratively, ensuring everyone’s thoughts and views are heard and respected. We know that it is together that we can all achieve so much more than we can on our own.
  • Empowerment: We know people are the experts in their own lives and should be able to lead on making their own choices to make real change happen. We also live out empowerment within our team too. We trust in our team, embedding the confidence and freedom to think creatively and take chances in a supportive, mission-focused environment.
  • Positivity: We believe that anything is possible if we are determined enough to find the right solutions. Some people we support may not easily be able to tell us their story, but they do have a story to tell, and we will help them do this in their own way. As a team, we will create a positive working environment that recognises and accepts difficult situations. We will not dwell in them but encourage each other to find our way to the answers.
  • Integrity: We won’t make promises that we can’t honour and will be willingly accountable to those we support, to each other and to all those who support us. We know we are deliberately seeking to support people who may feel quite vulnerable and so we will always be honest, open, and transparent in how we work so that mutual trust and long-term relationships can be built.