A working group consists of people who bring the specialist skills and expertise you need to a project. The working group could be several individuals with lived experience of mental health problems or a combination of staff and individuals with lived experience. It will be their 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 undertaken by others. Members of steering groups use their experiences, skills and knowledge of specific topics of sectors to help make strategic decisions.
Groups of this kind 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 - be it the design and delivery of services, or influencing broader mental health policy and practice.
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.