It is going to be a difficult winter for many people. Users of charity services are expanding and their needs are becoming more complex.
Putting lived experience at the heart of decision-making can help charities be more relevant, credible, and better meet the needs of those they serve. NPC guides and empowers people across the sector to embed lived experience in organisational culture and practice. Against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, this is more important than ever.
Just being asked about the challenges me and my family face day to day was amazing. Feeling listened to and taken seriously, without judgement, made me feel like things could change for the better.
Hannah, Focus group participant
There are three key reasons why user involvement not only matters, but is imperative for both charities and funders to adopt as part of their planning and delivery.
1. It can lead to better decision making and improved services
For your organisation, involving the people you’re there to serve at all stages in the planning, implementation and evaluation process means you have real-world insight into the challenges and opportunities facing your users.
This means that decisions can be based on evidence rather than instinct and you can design and deliver support that is better suited to them.
2. It benefits the people involved
For the people involved, the process of contributing can build confidence, experience, engagement, social connections, leadership skills and provide access to information and training they may not otherwise have. Although, it is important that their experience is a positive one.
As a result of being involved, people should feel listened to, valued and gain knowledge and skills in the process.
Be mindful not to ask people to relive trauma or reduce their contribution to representing the sum of challenges and barriers, without the framing of possibility and optimism.
3. People should have a say in the decisions that affect them
Nothing about us, without us. Power imbalances exist between philanthropists, funders and frontline charities, and the individuals and communities they serve.
There is an ethical imperative for the social sector to find ways to redistribute power, so it is shared with the people most affected.
Encouraging greater user involvement across the sector requires championing and coordination.
NPC is at the forefront of changing how we all operate, encouraging more organisations to involve users throughout their work. But we need support to make this happen.
If you would like to contribute to this work financially, get in touch. We would love to hear from you.