As part of our work exploring how organisations can best adapt and embed the Early Action Principles - we held a workshop in London looking at what meaningful participation and inclusion looks like for the partnership organisations we represent. It was interesting that practice varied widely. All the organisations involved user's in their work in some way, but for some this was more structured and formalised than in others. Some had opportunities for people with lived experience to inform and influence all levels of the organisation. In particular we were really impressed with the organisations who had service user groups, strategic advisory groups and trustees on their boards with lived experience.
As part of Refugee Action's Covid Response project, some of us got involved in a 'design sprint' to find out what coproduction practice looked like across the sector. And how else organisations were increasing representation and shifting power to people with lived experience. We took part in a joint webinar with NACCOM, and then two of our members - Maha from Refugee Women Connect and Sipilien from PAFRAS, joined an Action Group, alongside Iman and Shukry - trustees with St. Augustine's Centre and NACCOM respectively, and Jonathan and Ana - Expert by Experience Manager and Coordinator.
The Action Group worked hard for 5 months, learning new skills, meeting online, researching with organisations and people with lived experience - including Ken and Beth from Bristol Refugee Rights! to develop guidance and resources for the sector on running user groups and recruiting trustees with lived experience. You can read more about how the guidance was produced in this blog.
We hope organisations will read the guidance and put some of it into practice as part of developing their early action work.