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In Expert Links experience, in order for any group to survive and thrive there are three critical elements.

  • Ownership. The membership must own it destiny. In our experience the majority of user led or lived experience groups that are set up by or within larger organisations rarely have the sense of ownership from within its membership. Where this differs is when the group or network feel that it has authority and control of its own direction.
  • Accountability. All members need to feel that they are responsible for their own actions within the group and that collectively they are responsible for the actions and outputs of the group.
  • Trust. Members need to trust one another and trust that the actions and outputs of the group are for the better good of the group.

Our approach is based around instilling and maintaining these three elements whilst acting as the facilitator and learning pool for the group to develop as it sees fit.

Our Model

This model includes a comprehensive package of training and additional support delivered over one year to equip local groups of actors to do effective co-production. That includes in-house training or facilitation, access to a peer support platform, monthly conversations on coproduction and regular support check-ins. The model also builds on Expert Link’s track record of national policy influencing, to encourage national and local government to support local co-production.

The initial support package includes everything that Expert Link will provide to local groups at the onset of their engagement. It is meant to minimise any requirement for further on-going support.

The ongoing support package includes everything that Expert Link will provide to local groups once they have completed the foundation training and familiarised themselves with the co-production guidance. The ongoing support package aims to support groups in sustaining high quality engagement and deliver impactful activities.

Expert Link’s foundation training

Expert Link’s expertise lies primarily in training individuals and groups of people to develop the right skills, knowledge and attitudes to engage in effective co-production. Their foundation training “Being the Difference” (2 days) and “Making the Difference” (1 day) combines personal and group development activities to allow groups of people to build the confidence, trust and cohesion needed for effective collective work. It takes groups on a journey to develop strong shared values and purpose and build their capacity to use a strengths-based approach in everything they do.

Additional bespoke training and support

Recognising that every group will have different support needs depending on its composition and priority objectives in their local area, Expert Link will offer each group and its member’s access additional trainings or support days.

Training modules include evidencing co-production, taking a strength based approach, best practices around telling personal stories, equipping people with lived experience to lead research about issues that affects their community, developing individual personal skills, best practices around employing people with lived experience in their services, equipping group leaders with knowledge, skills and tools to manage a local co-production group effectively.

Using facilitation techniques from Deep Democracy and Co-Resolve Expert Link can facilitate conversations that allow all participants to engage and all views to be heard.

Peer-support network

An essential part of Expert Link’s ongoing support package consists of its GB wide network, with peer-learning and support opportunities for local groups. With this initiative, Expert Link recognises that the biggest source of knowledge around effective co-production lies in experience.

Information and opportunities for national engagement

In addition to peer-to-peer interaction, local groups who are part of the Expert Link network will receive information and opportunities to strengthen their work and be part of a movement for national change.

Expert Link will curate regular tailored communications including fundraising alerts, updates on peer-support events, capacity building and other opportunities. Expert Link will also give priority to network members for consultations on national government inquiries and other influencing opportunities.

About Expert Link

Expert Link is a peer led organisation championing the voice of people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages, including homelessness, mental health issues, substance misuse, offending and domestic violence and abuse. We advocate for a world where people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages are treated as equal partners in decisions made about our lives.

We have a national network of people with lived experience of multiple disadvantages, using their wisdom to influence local and national policy. Our network is diverse, brought together by a programme of strengths-based training which supports people with lived experience to be involved in service development and influencing national policy change.

About your trainer

David has experienced childhood trauma, substance addiction, mental illness and homelessness, as well as having been on active service while a member of the armed forces.

He is the founder and CEO of Expert Link. He has over ten years’ experience in coproduction - working at individual, community, organisational, local and national government levels.

He has trained hundreds of people in the art of co-production, including individuals accessing services, frontline workers, middle management, members of senior leadership teams, commissioners, local authority leads and national Government officials.

David has developed numerous groups around the country, is a member of several panels and committees, including the Governments Rough Sleeper Advisory Panel and has been recognised internationally for the work he does.