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Valuing Lived Experience – Learning with National Voices

Keymn Whervin, Rachel Matthews

"Courage calls to courage everywhere and its voice cannot be denied." Millicent Fawcett, suffragist

  • Voices for Improvement
  • Lived experience

We are delighted to be able to share our Valuing Lived Experience Learning Report, which details the steps we have taken to foreground lived experience and co-production in our activities at National Voices. You may remember our webinar event in February, where we shared early learning from our Voices for Improvement programme with 250 attendees. The Voices for Improvement project has been made possible with funding from the Health Foundation Q Community and support from our learning partner Co Production Collective at UCL. This report is a call to action: to reflect on working practices that are needed to better address inequalities in health and social care. Whilst there are many challenging systemic issues to address, not least the distribution and exercise of organisational and institutional power, we believe that change starts with ourselves, one conversation at a time.

In our summary report, you will find out what needs to be present to progress the work of co-production. And it is work. There are no short cuts to working collaboratively. It takes time, resource and above all, tolerance for uncertainty and risk. The main report, which represents just a snapshot of the accumulation of two years’ work and the strength of the community behind Voices for Improvement, explores what it’s like to work in this way, and from a range of different perspectives; fully embracing people who bring forms of knowledge and experiences that differ from our own. We don’t get it right all the time, and we continue to learn.

The development of Voices for Improvement has had a transformative impact on National Voices. Our journey is indicative of what happens when organisations shift their mindset and approach to learn from, and work alongside, those they exist to support. The most significant change experienced has been in the communities we are reaching and representing as an organisation. This is further built upon by a shift in language and approach, which is both created by improved diversity and inclusion, and reinforces it.

These shifts in practice, people and in reputation mean that National Voices is in a stronger position to support alliances between member organisations and others who want to promote the value of lived experience in making what matters to people, matter in health and care.

We know many are ahead of us in this transformation, some are poised to try something new, and others are not yet ready to take the leap. We’d love to know where you are in your own learning. It takes courage to step forward and we are here to walk alongside you.