When we first met as a Commission, we were clear we wanted to place lived experience at the heart of what we do. We all believed that incorporating the unique perspective from people living with poverty would make our work more informed, credible and influential. However, we also discussed how we weren’t sure that we knew the best ways of putting the insights and experience of people living with poverty at the heart of our work.
Therefore, we asked Poverty Alliance to work with experts by experience to give us guidance. We wanted the experts to tell us how they wanted to work with us. Working over a number of months, they have now produced excellent guidance which translates their insight into practical steps on how to create genuine channels of influence. Today we publish this guidance and make public our promise to follow this guidance in our work.
The guidance document has some excellent ideas for us and clear instructions on how we should work. We commit to meeting each of the 10 steps laid out in the guidance in the following ways:
1. Financial Support to participate: We are developing a policy for reimbursement and payment of experts by experience.
2. Accessibility: We will ensure we have a clear equality impact assessment process and regularly review who we are and are not including in our work.
3. A digitally inclusive approach: We will support experts by experience to be involved digitally.
4. An independent facilitator: We are exploring our options here.
5. Terms of reference will be provided to experts by experience prior to their involvement in the work of the Poverty and Community Commission which sets out their role and responsibilities and what they can expect from their involvement.
6. Tailored training: We will explore how we can provide opportunities to undertake training to support members to undertake their role and for personal development.
7. Transparency on the work of the Commission: We will provide clear information on what the aims of the commission are for newly involved experts by experience and fully brief experts on expectations and timescales.
8. Flexible opportunities to be involved: we will provide experts by experience with a range of options to be involved that meet their individual needs.
9. Regular review: we will regularly review and reflect on the involvement of experts by experience.
10. Legacy and continued engagement: We will explore what opportunities there might be for experts by experience to still be involved in the work of the Commission when their role comes to an end and will consider opportunities to recognise involvement (e.g. by providing a personal reference or a certification related to their role).
Over the next couple of months, we will continue to develop our approach on ensuring that experts by experience shape and inform our work. For example, this week we are working with organisations across Scotland to deliver a series of workshops with experts by experience which will inform the work of the Scottish Government’s Social Renewal Advisory Board.
There is so much to learn from the guidance that we are calling on other organisations to read it and consider how it is relevant to them. It is not just us that should be placing expertise by experience at the centre of what we do. All levels of decision making, policy and practice should be informed by the perspectives of people living in poverty and, during Challenge Poverty week, we encourage others to do what they can to ensure this is the case.
The guidance was written by The Poverty Alliance with Innocent Jakisa, Derek Kelter, Caroline Kennedy and Jackie Stockdale. It is available here.