In a fascinating blog ‘Putting People with Lived Experience in the Lead’, Darren Murinas, CEO of Expert Citizens sets out what he sees as the challenges and opportunities of participation by people with lived experience.
He feels encouraged by the fact that so many people are talking about user involvement but challenges some of the language often used, saying it puts up barriers and can be tokenistic.
In order to cut through some of the mystique, Expert Citizens has developed a peer led evaluation approach – Insights. This offers an interesting way of assessing an organisation’s performance at four levels of user involvement. At the first level, a service can be welcoming to people with lived experience. Then it can listen to them, and even better learn from them and make changes. The fourth level is putting these people in the lead.
Murinas welcomes the work many organisations have done on power sharing but says there is further to go, particularly in staff training and organisational capacity:
“We challenge the idea that people with lived experience are “hard to reach” or that they “don’t engage”. Actually, sometimes we don’t try hard enough to ask them. Another way to think about ‘hard to reach’ is that the organisation saying that has ‘insufficient skill’.