Get involved, get heard, get inspired

Posted by on 23 March 2012 | 0 Comments

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Service user involvement at Equinox is about our service users having a say in how services are run.

But how does this work on a day to day level?

Earl Pennycooke, Service User Involvement Manager at Equinox, explains:

Service User Involvement at Equinox“My role is to promote service user involvement across all of Equinox’s services.

“This starts at service level – all Equinox services elect a representative who holds weekly or fortnightly meetings in their service. Service level feedback comes into our central Service User Council, who then inform the Board about current important issues. This leads to decisions being taken by Senior Management and continuous improvement of Equinox policies.”

Equinox service users have a range of needs, including mental health problems, substance misuse and homelessness. There are many benefits of a service user involvement strategy for people with complex needs – such as challenging internalised failure, for example, and helping service users to develop skills. It can lead to greater social inclusion through positive interaction with peers. And service user involvement may also be therapeutic in itself, encouraging better self-esteem and motivation in wider life goals.

“There are also great examples at Equinox of service users bringing ideas for activities they would like to do at service level,” Earl says. “We then encourage service users to make those ideas happen.”

The Mayor comes for coffee...

At Woolwich and Plumstead Mental Health Service, for example, Equinox service users were involved in creating an open day, to which the Mayor and Mayoress of Greenwich were invited. Events like these can help service users to feel part of the wider community and to reduce feelings associated with social exclusion.

Project Worker and Service User Champion, Beatrice says: “With everything we do with our service users, we say to them – it’s your party, be part of it. We are always aiming to be more creative in our service user activities. For our open day with the Mayor and Mayoress of Greenwich, our service users decided they wanted to offer tea and coffee, home-made cakes and decorate the venue. There were also speeches on the day.”

Woolwich and Plumstead Mental Health Services, Mayor of Greenwich at open day

Assistant Service Manager, Patience and the Mayor of Greenwich Cllr Jim Gillman having coffee at the open day

“We are always looking for new ways to encourage service user involvement at Equinox,” Beatrice says. ‘From summer barbecues to seaside outings to our allotment scheme – our service users even challenged the Mayor of Greenwich to send along some gardening tools to support the allotment.

“We also have our service users sit in on monitoring meetings with commissioners, so they can give their unedited feedback about the service they are receiving from Equinox.”

Brighton service users get creative...

And in Brighton, service users set up a creative group and produced artwork which is being celebrated on the new Equinox website.

Equinox service user involvement - artwork

This piece is called ‘Shadows of the Past’ by service user Jackie.

For more information about service user involvement at Equinox, please contact us.

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