Employing the experience


Employing someone who has experienced support from services directly can be seen as an opportunity by some and a challenge by others.

An opportunity to positively grow and develop their services.

But a challenge where organisations take a more tokenistic or self-gratification approach.

"Poster children are not now or never where positive, often having detrimental effects on the poster child and on those who hold them up."

Understanding issues

People who have experienced support from services often have a lot more empathy and understanding of the issues faced by those accessing support.

Diverse teams that can share and learn helps organisations have a greater understanding of those they support and to grow and to deliver better services. A little humility goes a long way!

“I lived with my organisation for over 2 years, and have worked for them for nearly four years now. My apprenticeship ended last week and I'm happy that my employer is working with me to find a job role within the company that fits within my skills and abilities.”

REMEMBER - how people are treated within services as a beneficiary will have a direct impact on their motivation to engage with or join the organisation as an employee.

Change can be scary

People with lived experience of using services can bring that “sing from the hearts and spirits” attitude. That can easily put off those with fainter hearts or those fearful of losing something; but change can bring lots of benefits with it.

It can also be too easy for people’s negative experiences to be blamed for fault or as an excuse not to listen. But the experiences that they have had are part of the journey of learning that they are on. By separating any negative behaviour attached to experience and focusing on the learning and skill sets acquired you can reap the rewards of the wisdom.

“I'm proud of the label former prisoner, it is a part of my journey, I can't change my history but…..”

Getting the policies right

An important part of employing anybody, whoever and whatever their background, is to have the right policies in place. These policies are there to protect everyone within an organisation.

Although policies should go beyond Human Resources [HR], getting the right HR policies in place when employing those with loved experience is important, especially if the organisation is avoiding tokenism. Policies should reflect and recognise that people are people and that we have all had challenges in life, and for some they could will appear again.

Organisations should also have policies around training and support that creates the right environment for everyone when employing those who had previously been beneficiaries. It should not just focus on negative possibilities, but on personal development too.

Great policies develop existing staff to become better managers of people so that they know how and when to get the best out of others whilst at the same time recognising and having empathy to personal history.

“It is too easy for employers to not offer the correct training and then place the blame on the employee when things don't work out”

A lesson from the past

COVID-19 forced us all to think about our values and rethink the way that we work. Whole organisations had to find new ways of delivering their services and supporting those that they are commissioned too. Individuals had to develop new ways to engage. Technology was suddenly thrust upon us with no option to avoid it.

Yes it was tough, yes it was scary and people were and still are fearful. Yet we did it. We are here today, four months later changed as individuals and organisations.

If we can create and manage such a massive change over a very short scale of time, how is it we haven’t done that for co-production? Why is it that ten years down the line we are still dragging our feet? Why aren’t services designed, delivered and managed with those who have direct experience of the issue?

We can do it if we choose to. We just need to “Give it a go”

Brought to you courtesy of all of the attendees of our “Conversations on Co-production