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Working and steering groups

A working group includes people who bring specialist skills and expertise to a project. On this page, learn more about the difference between working and steering groups.

What's the difference between a working and steering group?

A working group could be several individuals with lived experience of mental health problems. Or, it could be a combination of staff and people with lived experience.

It's a working group's responsibility to identify and fulfil all tasks, sharing decision making as they go.

A steering group is similar in its makeup and the sharing of decision making. However, the role of this group is to steer work done by others.

Members of steering groups use their experiences, skills and knowledge of specific topics of sectors to help make strategic decisions.

Groups like this focus on specific topics and are invaluable to making sure the voice of lived experience remains at the core of our work and decision making. Whether that's designing and delivering services, or influencing broader mental health policy and practice.

Things to consider with working and steering groups

  • Have you created a role description that will set clear expectations for everyone involved?
  • Do you have a diverse range of people with relevant skills and experiences taking part?
  • How will you ensure power is shared and the group makes collective decisions? Be aware of how everyone interacts and think about what you would do if group members feel excluded.
  • What training and support will you offer to help people to participate equally?

You'll need to use additional methods to give information to your working or steering group. The information gathered will help the group make the decisions needed.

Consider whether the group could guide this work, by talking to people or working with the organisation to define how they do it.

Tools for working and steering groups

Creating a group agreement

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 to set expectations.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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