DDN October2021 October 2021 | Page 18



Chris Lee , Lee Darling and Joe Alderdice describe Humankind ’ s new Working together strategy

We are Chris and Lee ( two residents at The Greens recovery community in Sheffield ) and Joe ( Humankind ’ s coproduction lead ). This summer we collaborated on and co-authored Humankind ’ s new Working together strategy and we want to tell you about how we ’ re putting this into action .

Working together is more than just a strategy – it ’ s a way of working that ensures our staff and volunteers team up with people who have experience of Humankind ’ s services to find solutions , share responsibilities , make decisions ( and occasional mistakes ), learn , grow and get things done . Some people call this ‘ service user involvement and influence ’, some people call it ‘ co-production ’, but we just call it Working together .
Our new strategy sets out some of the ways we will make this a reality . In particular , it ’ s about making Working together everybody ’ s business , so that every single colleague understands how it relates to their work . While we want to keep getting better at collaborating on big pieces like recruitment ( and writing strategies !) we also want to sew this ethos into the fabric of Humankind ’ s culture .
Sometimes the best ideas come from an unplanned ‘ corridor chat ’ with a colleague with no predefined outcome , and we want to ensure that those conversations are also taking place with people experiencing our services . As well as improving the work of Humankind , the strategy is also intended to increase personal development opportunities for people with lived experience , in more resilient , sustainable and supportive communities .
The non-profit sector is leading the way when it comes to involving service users in recruitment processes , and continuing to include people with lived experience on our interview panels is a fundamental part of the Working together strategy as it brings huge benefits to everybody involved . We were recently part of a recruitment panel for a project development manager post in Humankind ’ s new integration team – it made us feel valued , and we welcomed the opportunity to be in a situation where people showed us respect . We knew the value we brought to the situation too , because we were able to bring something out of people that an entirely ‘ professional ’ panel could not have done . This was the key to finding the right person for the job .
The idea of being interviewed by three people that have a history of drug or alcohol use
would frighten some people , but others relish the opportunity , which is essential if you want to work at Humankind . The best candidates took us all at face value , not as stereotypes , and we were able to ask questions that allowed them to demonstrate empathy and open up their human side , including sharing their own experiences of mental health challenges or family experience of addiction . For candidates who had not previously worked in drug and alcohol services it provided them with a different perspective and a chance to learn , and they thanked us for sharing our experiences .
Working together is about much more than one-off events like interviews . It is at the core of Humankind ’ s culture , where everybody ’ s strengths and experiences are valued . A great
‘ The idea of being interviewed by three people that have a history of drug or alcohol use would frighten some people .’