Participation - finding out what difference it makes
Practice site 3: People First Rhondda Cynon Taff (RCT)
1. Characteristics of service users involved
People First is a service-user led organisation for self-advocates (people with learning disabilities). There are about 200 members.
2. How self-advocates’ participation within the organisation is ensured
There are meetings of self-advocates once a month in each of three counties. An over-arching Executive Committee includes self-advocates. A participation guideline has been developed to guide local statutory services.
3. What policies on self-advocates’ participation has the organisation formulated?
There is participation at all levels from individuals to a three-county strategy. Selfadvocates receive training to participate in interview panels. There has been a recent bid, jointly with a local university, to undertake research, in which self-advocates will participate as co-researchers.
4. How are self-advocates supported?
The self-advocates support each other. Staff offer support on a group basis.
5. How are the effects of participation monitored, audited, and evaluated?
Evaluations are undertaken as part of the terms of the funding for various projects within People First. An independent evaluation was conducted in 2004 and another is due, though it is not specifically evaluating participation. The AGM and annual report are important for public audit of the project and the effects of participation. There are occasional questionnaire surveys. However, self-advocates generally say they prefer group discussions to writing things down. There are tracking forms to see whether all parts of the learning disabled community are participating – to understand whether some of the ‘seldom heard’ groups are being included, too.
6. A particular example of participation making a difference
Training around participating in interviews has been important and has made selfadvocates’ participation more meaningful. RCT train people with learning disabilities to become co-tutors which enables them to deliver disability equality awareness training.
7. Contact details
Contact person: Emma Alcock (Project Coordinator)
Address: Old Bank Buildings, The Square, Porth RCT, CF39 9NP, Wales.
Telephone: 01443 683037
Web address: www.rctpeoplefirst.ik.com