Eleanor Broadbent, Equality Diversity and Client Involvement Officer
Lyndsay Swales, Quality and Safety Lead
The Experts by Experience group met with Lyndsay and I for the first time this week at St Anne’s Head Office building in Leeds. The group now has 20 members – all people who are supported by St Anne’s services.
People are from Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield, Gateshead, Newcastle, Seaham and Durham. As we’re working in a Person-Centred way, we are being flexible with everybody’s participation in the group and for this reason not everybody will come to every session.
This week was the first time that many of us had met altogether and we were joined by 10 clients. Our colleague Jacqueline who works in our Learning and Development Team also came along to help. People travelled by car, taxi, train and on foot to meet with us. Some people came by themselves, with their support workers or with another person that they know from their service.
Some people told us that they were feeling a bit nervous about coming to a new place and meeting so many different people, so we made everybody feel welcome by chatting in small groups and introducing ourselves. Lyndsay chose some excellent biscuits and healthy fruit to help us stay energised and motivated! We had quite a lot of work to do together in our first session. Clients chose the ground rules that we’ve all agreed to abide by each time that we work together, and we discussed different ideas about how the ‘Experts by Experience’ role should be developed. Most importantly we needed to choose our group name. Clients suggested different options and then we put them to a vote.
We can now reveal that the name we’ve chosen is…
St Anne’s Expert Voices and Experience Network or S.E.V.E.N for short!
We also got all our paperwork out of the way and everybody left with their own work folder. Everybody in the group is now a Casual Worker for St Anne’s and will be paid for the contribution that they’re making to the organisation as a certified ‘Expert Voice’!
At the end of our session, Philip and Mark agreed to be in a spontaneous podcast with us to help capture the work we’re doing in a variety of formats. Mark reminded us that not everybody can see or read information, so it’s important that we record our work by audio as well. We’ll now do this each week as a mini podcast. You can listen below:
Next week we’ll be focussing on ‘what makes us who we are?: Telling our Stories’.
This blog is part of a series from Eleanor and Lyndsay on Client Involvement. As we blog about our progress in supporting St Anne’s first ever Experts by Experience group, we’ll be reflecting on successes and challenges for inclusion, advocacy and the service user experience. We hope you’ll read along with us.