THE PROVIDER ’ S VIEW
By Michael Webster , Forward Trust
INDIVIDUALS WITH LIVED EXPERIENCE and those who have experienced our services can have a significant contribution to make in supporting others to make transformational change in their lives . At The Forward Trust we support some of society ’ s most marginalised people to achieve transformational change , including individuals with histories of profound disadvantage and hardship . We believe that anyone , regardless of their past , can move forward with their lives and we also believe that those who have accessed our services can inspire hope and motivation among others that recovery and rehabilitation is possible . Volunteer placements for those with lived experience also provide a platform to integrate with their communities while further establishing their recovery .
For individuals who want to use their lived experience to support others in a voluntary capacity it ’ s imperative that the provider ensures that they have a thorough understanding of this relationship and robust system in place to so that all parties benefit . When done well the results can be amazing for all involved .
These benefits are starting to become more apparent across the country and can be seen in the growth of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations . However as can be seen in this new report , not everyone always gets it right . The guide is a great place for grass roots organisation that are starting out or established organisations wanting to improve their services . I would definitely recommend a read – it ’ s a great reference point for service providers looking to deliver the best service possible .
THE LIVED EXPERIENCE
By Bernie Carr , national volunteer , Change Grow Live
WHEN I FIRST HEARD A TEAM WAS BEING ASSEMBLED to co-produce a new guide for the sector on peer volunteering my interest was sparked on two fronts . The subject matter itself , which naturally affects all I do , and the co-productive process , which our national lived experience group ( NLEG ) at Change Grow Live has strived to embed into our work . I was delighted to hear that my application to join the team was accepted , as was another colleague ’ s from NLEG – Neil Hipkiss .
We all met Russell Webster separately to discuss the way forward and to establish the skills that we each brought to the project , and the day then dawned when we all first met ( online of course , given the COVID pandemic ). I was so impressed by the enthusiasm displayed at that first meeting , and excited at how that potential could be harnessed into the co-production of a really meaningful product .
We established the process , and were fortunately not starting from a blank piece of paper as a
survey seeking the views of about 250 volunteers across the sector had been commissioned and analysed . After introductions and discussions on the way forward we all separately reviewed the first parts of the survey that would form the basis of the opening section of the guide , with a view to bringing our thoughts to the next meeting for an open discussion on how the text should look . We were aided throughout by Russell ’ s penmanship , suggesting a possible structure section by section .
As the weeks rolled by and we met to discuss the guide section by section , I became acutely aware of how well we were bonding as a team , and that the natural synergy of a group of likeminded individuals was coming to the fore in the creation of our goal . It ’ s amazing to see how wide a range of transferable skills can be gathered together in a group of about ten people . It quickly became apparent that a guide published in 2022 needed to be available on as wide a platform as possible and make use of all forms of media , so a website and new accounts on Twitter , Instagram , YouTube and LinkedIn were created .
Volunteers were sought to
An immensely sad occurrence transpired between our first and second meetings – one of the team , Jahmaine Davis passed away . We were incredibly inspired by Jahmaine ’ s energy and enthusiasm , and amidst the sadness of his loss redoubled our efforts to make the guide an inspiring piece of work in his memory . This final version is dedicated to Jahmaine .
make video contributions to the website and YouTube channel . With much trepidation I agreed to do this , so feel free to skirt round that bit ! We now have a good stock of videos available from across the sector , and the site is also used to advertise volunteering opportunities .
A professional designer ( with lived experience of course !) was brought in to design a logo , and much time was spent on choosing the logo ’ s final design and the colours and layout of the website . I had previously been quite cynical about time spent on these issues but appreciate now how satisfying it is to get it just right , and to have overwhelming pride in the final product .
I ’ d like to also mention the quality control provided by a steering group established by Russell and including providers and commissioners . A couple of the team met with them during the co-production process , and their views and guidance were incredibly supportive in the emergence of the final product .
Please read the guide and pass it on to all you know who may have an interest . We are immensely proud of it and hope it will be of use to you all .
You can find more information as well as job and volunteering opportunities for people with lived experience on the accompanying website : https :// peervols . russellwebster . com /
WWW . DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS . COM MAY 2022 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 21