Friday, 17 August 2012

Taking risks to engage service users

My colleague Freda Lacey, who is the Development & Participation Worker in the team, recently attended a networking event run by Participation Cymru to talk about engagement and mental health. She drew upon the team's recent experience planning and running an event called Making a Difference Together, which was held in Newtown on 16 May 2012. You can find out more about the actual event here on our website.

At the networking event Freda spoke for about 30 minutes on the innovative approach taken by the team to engage with people who experience mental distress. She particularly highlighted the importance of taking risks - and "thinking outside the box" - when planning events so that people can really let their voice be heard.  You can listen to a recording of her presentation, and see her slides here, on the Participation Cymru website.

The conference Freda describes was one of three events held throughout Wales and supported by the Stronger in Partnership network and NLIAH (National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare). Individuals had the opportunity to talk to representatives from social services, the police, Citizens Advice Bureau, psychiatric and psychology services and say exactly what they thought about the services provided. One of the people who attended wrote passionately about his experience of the day:

"I came home yesterday absolutely shattered but full of hope.  I learnt more yesterday about Mental Health and indeed myself  in what seemed like a few very short hours, than all of my ten years fighting the illness and the system.
I don't normally write letters of praise but you and your team have taken the system and given it a good old shake up and to give us "a voice" - fantastic!  Until yesterday I thought I was a "Victim"..... 

I know the hard work that goes into an event such as this. What impressed me was the "loose format".  The fact that all of the Survivors, who like me struggle at social events, it is a great testament to you and your team that we were still there for the close of the event."

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