The participation of adult service users, including older people, in developing social care

Practice example 14: People in Action (Leeds)

Characteristics of service users involved

Local voluntary organisation representative of the diverse communities of Leeds. It supports people with learning difficulties, and people with mental health problems and/or challenging behaviour

How service user participation within the organisation is ensured

The management committee includes service users so they have a direct input into the way the organisation is run from the very top. Service users also work in the office and do various jobs in the field as sessional workers and as volunteers. The organisation gets feedback from service users at an annual members’ meeting. There are steering groups that consist of people from particular local communities, along with professionals and local residents, who suggest what they might want specifically for their community.

What policies on service user participation has the organisation formulated?

The organisation has developed policies and procedures which are person centred and this is the basis of all funding applications. An interactive accessible website and a regular newsletter promotes achievements of service users. Other initiatives include involvement of service users in training, giving presentations at meetings conferences. Employment opportunities have been created through the establishment of a Community Interest Company.

How are service users supported?

People in Action (Leeds) employ sessional workers and support workers to help people depending on the type of group or project in hand.

How are the effects of participation monitored, audited, and evaluated?

All projects produce regular, monthly reports for the management committee. The organisation aims to build in external evaluation within all its funding applications, especially those that run over a number of years.

What makes organisations succeed in participation?

One measure of success should be the ability of the organisation to attract people from diverse cultural groups. People in Action (Leeds) has developed an expertise in involving service users from diverse communities such as the African Caribbean and Asian communities. It is important to make the service as flexible and as open as possible, and make it friendly so that anyone feels that they can approach that organisation or service no matter what their cultural background.

Contact details

Aqila Choudry (Executive Director) Oxford Chambers, Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3AX 01132 470411