‘I feel privileged to be a service user rep as I feel it is a way to get service users voice heard and be a bridge between service users and staff . It is my way to give something back ‘.
MindOut is a much valued, and indeed, vital lifeline to the many people using its services. Something which makes MindOut particularly special is that service user participation and co-production are core principles of the organisation. Those of us that are in need of support may have encountered a kind of ‘us and them’ feeling that divides the providers of a service from the people that are being supported, a sense of hierarchy that can sometimes be a barrier to receiving effective support. MindOut is different. By ensuring that all of its staff members and volunteers are both LGBTQ identified and have lived experience of mental health challenges, an environment is fostered that promotes the similarities between staff members and service users, as opposed to the differences.
Last year MindOut appointed several volunteer Service User Representatives. This innovative project aims to further bridge the gap between service user and staff member, and offer another avenue by which service users can participate in developments within MindOut as an organisation, as well as more control and autonomy over their own recovery.
“I really feel I’m part of something important, as well as giving something back to MindOut, an organisation that has helped me so much.”
The role of a Service User Representative includes;
- Offering a service user voice and perspective at MindOut meetings
- Ensuring service users are consulted with and included in strategic planning and decision making
- Liaising with service users, gathering opinions, ideas and feedback, particularly if, for any reason, the service user feels unable to express this on their own. This information can be relayed anonymously, if desired.
“Being a Service User Rep has helped me feel more involved and less isolated.”
Service users who may be apprehensive about offering their input can be assured that they will not be identified in the process, so both positive and negative feedback can be freely given. If you have any issues, concerns or enquiries, regarding MindOut and its services, that you would like to bring to the Service User Representative team, who are Di, Elaine, Ren and Sonia, you can email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to help.
“I remember being a MindOut service user for the first time and feeling quite nervous and unsure. If there had been Service User Reps then, I might have felt comfortable more quickly and more able to express myself. I hope that, as Service User Reps, we can help people find their voice and assert themselves in a way that is positive and inclusive.”