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Hearing from people who know

27 September 2021 · Categories: Opinions and responses, People Can

Over the last few months Community Catalysts has been approached by the organisers of several care conferences or events. We were pleased to be invited to join a panel, run a workshop or speak about the work we’ve been doing.

In a couple of instances, we agreed to get involved but then took a look at the other speakers and thought perhaps the voice of people with personal experience of social care was missing. We asked the organisers ‘are people who draw on social care speaking’? We were disappointed to realise that people hadn’t been invited but pleased the conference organisers wanted to try and rectify that omission. One organiser told us they had approached people with lived experience to speak (at what stage wasn’t clear) but that the people they had approached were too daunted to accept. That led to a conversation with Anna and Martin at Social Care Future about the issues.

So where does that leave us?

We know from experience conference organisers, especially those organising the bigger, shinier, more corporate events, don’t always look for the voice of personal experience early enough or see it as a priority. We also know these events can be huge, with an array of suited professionals showcased. Anyone speaking would need confidence, a strong message and a real sense of authority in communicating that message.

We know there are there are many people able to undertake this role really well but wondered whether they don’t have the kind of profile that makes them easily found to be approached by event organisers? We are also aware of people who have important contributions they would like to make who might want various kinds of support to make this possible for them.

So we reached the conclusion that if we, and all the other organisations that have signed the social care future pledge – not to speak at an event that did not properly include the voice of people who draw on social care – want this to really happen, something might need to change.

What can we do?

We realised we might collectively need to find ways to identify and/or promote people with lived experience who are willing and able to respond to the call for speakers. We need to also recognise that some people who could be amazing speakers might not have the confidence or skills to pick up this mantle immediately. All sorts of practical issues arise of course including costs and payments.

If the pledge is to be transformative it must make event organisers think about involving people with personal experience better, sooner and more often. It must get people’s voices heard and their experience valued equally or more prominently than those other speakers. It must also give them ways to do it.

All of which brings me to a call for action. How do we all help to raise up and promote these unheard voices? We don’t have the answers quite yet but would love to be in a place where all this is discussed, and some possible solutions emerge. Social Care Future and TLAP have kindly offered to convene a space for those conversations to take place.

If you are interested in getting involved there will be a zoom discussion on October 21st 2021 for people with ideas and are up for taking and supporting practical action. See you there!

By Angela Catley – Director of Development

Blog also published by Social Care Future.

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