What We Offer

A Philosophy:

“He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”
George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman.

LivesthroughFriends works with existing and emerging organisations, with groups, and individuals who share our aspirations for a kinder, more interdependent, and sustainable society within which we can all make our contribution and be responsible citizens. We have accumulated lots of knowledge and experience on our journey in pursuit of these goals and forged many working relationships with others who have and continue to innovate along the same road.

However, alive to GBS’s irony, we have resisted the temptation to recast ourselves as exclusively consultants and trainers and continued to practice – as support brokers,  community workers and campaigners – in order to ‘keep grounded’.

Similarly, we have reservations about training alone, especially in the form of one-size fits all courses, as a medium for supporting and sustaining change. We tend to the view that training and associated coaching and consultancy support should be co-produced with our customers and tailored to their circumstances. Indeed some of the most impactful work we do happens during this process with the leaders who commission our involvement.

Our 'Core Competencies'

Contact Bob or Colin at info@livesthroughfriends.org or ring +44 (0)1594 826700 for an initial discussion.

Supporting people to Self-Direct

“focus upon the whole individual without ignoring collective action”

LivesthroughFriends supports people to Self-Direct as one of an inter-related diversity of activities that are required if people are to be genuinely assisted to plan and implement the support arrangements that are most likely to deliver the life outcomes to which they aspire. LivesthroughFriends’ principals (founders) have accumulated more than six decades experience in leading and delivering social support services and have been engaged in supporting people to self-direct through the medium of individual service funds and individual/personal budgets for the last 16 years. This has been (and should continue to be) an iterative piece of action research. Amongst the key lessons learned are the following:


Having learned the need for a diversity of approaches from our evolving experiences in supporting people to self-direct, we looked on sadly as, in the main, public authorities commissioned sterile, often “county-wide”, ‘one-size fits all’ arrangements to support people with Direct Payments. The effect of this was too often low take-up and cynicism.
LivesthroughFriends’ approach is to engage in a range of activities that both deliver a high quality intensive support brokerage service to those who need such assistance (by reason of complexity or urgency) while concurrently building local capacity at both the demand and supply ends of the equation.
Hence LivesthroughFriends offers a strategic, holistic, and we hope culture changing continuum of support offerings that assist people to self-direct and take ownership of their own social care support arrangements. Along this continuum we offer (inter alia):

Leadership – An Enabling Organisation

LivesthroughFriends is an avowedly small and agile organisation that is committed to empowering and inspiring leadership. Having coined the motto, “you can’t empower the disempowered with disempowered staff” more than 2 decades ago, its founders have spent many years action researching what it takes to structure, nurture, and culture a human services organisation that delivers integrity, creativity, tenaciousness, sensitivity, and good outcomes that aspire to evolve into even better ones. We have iteratively tested the concepts surrounding a loose-tight organisation and arrived at a point where we have a good grasp of the point of balance and had this recognised in the form of awards and accolades.

Working with and through hand-picked associates, partner organisations, families and self-advocates, as well as employees, LivesthroughFriends nurtures:


LivesthroughFriends was, above all, established to model and action research best practice in respect of supporting people self-direct. We came into being because we have a lot of practical experience that says that people can get hugely better lives when they have some funds (generally less than would be the case if the ‘system’ was in control) and can employ these to meet their needs in the context of the rest of their lives. Essentially, we believe in the innate resourcefulness, goodness, and inventiveness of people, families, and organised/and ‘disorganised’ communities. And, because we engage in community social work, nurture these ‘resources’, and  coordinate rather than direct or control them, they are available to us.