Participation - finding out what difference it makes

Practice site 1: NIUSE SEA project (Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment, Supported Employment in Action project)

1. Characteristics of service users (‘beneficiaries’) involved

Service users are called beneficiaries in the project and they are disabled people with physical, learning, sensory or hidden disabilities, or a combination of these.

2. How service user participation within the project is ensured

The SEA focus group consists of 13 service users who have accessed employmentfocused services across Northern Ireland. The project aims to strategically review services for disabled people – more specifically the gap in employment service provision. Participation in the project gives disabled people access to policy review through focus group and conference activities run by disabled individuals.

3. What policies on service user participation has the project formulated?

The beneficiary focus group has contributed to the review of employment-focused services in Northern Ireland. They will have valid input into key policies effecting disabled people accessing, maintaining and retaining paid employment. Through the research methodology it is hoped the project will impact or influence future policies related to service user participation.

4. How are service users (beneficiaries) supported?

Service users are supported with transport, accessibility, follow-up contact, member organisations and consent issues.

5. How are the effects of participation monitored, audited, and evaluated? Who carries out the evaluation?

The evaluation of participation is taking place from individual to policy levels using focus groups, life histories, case studies and photography projects. The Rickter motivational assessment tool has been deployed in a group format to further the evaluation model used (this measures distance travelled) (Toolkit 8). An external evaluator is involved and the final evaluation is expected in summer 2007. Beneficiaries (service users) are involved as participants in the research.

6. A particular example of participation making a difference

Disabled participants now have the capacity to form opinions on their individual lived experience, identify their difficulties and relate this to structural barriers. At a strategic level, this group using the information they have produced on structural barriers now engage with senior government personnel and other key stakeholders making recommendations for change. This project is still on-going and the impact of service user participation is still to be determined and will continue beyond the completion of the project in December 2007.

7. Contact details

Contact person(s): Edyth Dunlop, Regional Manager; Lorraine Boyd, Project Facilitator

Address: Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment, SEA Project NICVA Complex 61 Duncairn Gardens Belfast BT15 2GB

Telephone: +44 (0) 28 9087 5014

Textphone: +44 (0) 28 9087 5014

Fax: +44 (0) 28 9087 5008


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