These types of activities are useful when you need to gather views and influence the shaping and direction of a particular project on a long-term and/or ongoing basis. Service User forums meet regularly and are usually based within a service, they are able to make decisions regarding the service they use or help guide the organisation that runs it. They can also feed into organisations strategic service user forums that help organisational development. Advisory groups are often used when planning a conference or event, they meet regularly and provide staff with advice based on information provided to them.
If you’re asking people to join a one-off focus group or discussion event, a group agreement lets everyone know where they stand and helps to create a safe space for openness and honesty. If you’re setting up a regular forum, make sure you have some terms of reference in place so that expectations are clear.
Charlotte talks about the SCRAP advisory panel that advised Time to Change in the direction of their work.
"They come with local knowledge their own networks and their own groups of people that maybe can’t best be reached by those stakeholders. The people on the lived experience panel really steered the whole direction of the hubs and it wouldn’t have been a success if they hadn’t been on board."