Borders SDS Forum

In 2017, Encompass Borders, an independent SDS support organisation, established the Borders SDS Forum to be a space for local people using Self-directed Support, and unpaid carers, to influence the development of SDS in their area.

In 2018, Self Directed Support Scotland offered to support the Forum’s development, by holding a workshop for group members. The workshop enabled members to consider how they could develop the Forum, what the aims and purpose of the group would be and how to encourage local people to join.

Becoming a constituted organisation

As discussions with the Forum developed, it became clear the group would benefit from becoming a constituted organisation. SDS Scotland supported them with this, including offering advice on developing a governing document, identifying officer roles, and considering how to identify and support future membership. The Forum became a formally constituted group in 2018, which among other benefits has opened up opportunities to apply for funding they would not have been able to otherwise.

Scottish Borders SDS Forum logo

Working with the Local Authority

As an example of the support we provided to the Forum as a member of SDS Scotland, in 2019, members of the Forum became aware of Scottish Borders Council’s intent to introduce pre-payment cards for people using SDS Option 1, without prior consultation.

With support from SDS Scotland, the Forum challenged the decision via a Participation Request under the Community Empowerment Act, eventually successfully changing the decision.

As a result of the lengthy engagement with the Local Authority throughout this process, the Forum feel they have developed their relationships with local leaders, with Forum secretary Elspeth Critchley saying:

“An interesting outcome of the process has been I think an increased respect from the Local Authority for the SDS Forum and a greater willingness to involve us in anything to do with SDS and to see that as positive. For example – the SDS Lead recently retired and I have been involved with Social Work staff, on behalf of the Forum, in drawing up the job description, the shortlisting and I will be involved in the interviews.”

Ongoing opportunities through membership

As the Forum continues to develop, membership of SDS Scotland has afforded them further opportunities to showcase their work and grow their influence.

They delivered a workshop sharing their journey and describing their now well-developed, positive and productive partnership with the Local Authority at the SDS Scotland annual conference, SDS National Voice, in March 2023, inspiring another group of social care users and unpaid carers in West Lothian to establish their own Forum to influence local delivery.

The Borders SDS Forum also recently developed a video to explain how each of the SDS Options works, featuring local people in receipt of SDS, which has been featured on our online SDS Handbook.

The value of SDS Scotland membership

Describing the value that Forum has found in being a member of SDS Scotland, Elspeth said:

“The ongoing support and advice we have had through membership of SDS Scotland has been invaluable to the Scottish Borders SDS Forum. Mark, as Membership Development Executive, has always been very approachable, helpful and supportive and thoughtful and thorough in his responses. At the time we were setting up the Forum he helped us greatly with our vision and gave us confidence in developing the group.

“He put a great deal of work in to supporting us with our Participation Request helping us to stay confident and determined through a long drawn out process. His national perspective was always useful and productive. I doubt we would be where we are now without his support and it is good to know we can approach him at any time and receive a positive and helpful response.”

Find out more

If you’re interested in finding out more about membership of SDS Scotland, contact us at

Self Directed Support Scotland

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