Participation - finding out what difference it makes
Practice site 2: The Skillnet Group
1. Characteristics of people involved
The Skillnet Group is an organisation where learning-disabled people and nondisabled people work together equally.
2. How participation is ensured
Self-advocates have control in all aspects of the Skillnet Group. Participation is about ‘voice’, ‘choice’ and ‘change’. Self-advocates’ participation includes:
- team and training days (each project or service)
- planning meetings (new projects, services or ideas)
- communication days (all employees – includes learning-disabled people)
- internal reviews
- Speaking Up Network
- a board of trustees
- funding bids
- policies, procedures and risk assessments – everyone involved
- website – message board, suggestions/new ideas area, emails.
3. What policies on participation has the organisation formulated?
Participation began at the beginning, with the attempts to seek funding for the project. The Skillnet Group has developed Steering groups and a ‘Decision team’ to embed participation throughout the organisation; these groups have members who are learning disabled and members who are not. A website is used to feedback findings as well as feedback forms. Each project/service produces its own action plan every year – everyone works on these together. These feed into the overall three-year plan (monitored by the Decision team) which is composed of about 20 people, ten of whom are self-advocates.
4. How are people supported?
The Skillnet Group directly supports about 150 self-advocates and 300 others indirectly to become more independent in all parts of life, including; learning, work, housing, health, money, transport, leisure and relationships. People are supported to develop their own person-centred plans and to make sure their plans are put into action and taken seriously.
5. How are the effects of participation monitored, audited, and evaluated?
In addition to the activities already mentioned, two evaluations have been conducted by self-advocates from another project, the most recent was completed in December 2006. Self-advocates were part of the evaluation team.
6. A particular example of making a difference
Self-advocates have always made the decisions about staff recruitment and this has been a significant step.
7. Contact details
Contact person: Jo Kidd (Director)
Address: Second Floor, Maybrook House, Queen’s Gardens, Dover, CT17 9AH
Telephone: 07968 105862
Web address: www.skillnetgroup.co.uk