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Working and Steering groups – Deciding Together

Some of our work needs guiding either in it's development or delivery. A working group consists of people who bring the specialist skills and expertise you need to a project, this could be a number of people with lived experience or a combination of staff and people 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 make up and the sharing of decision making however the role of this group is to steer work being 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 make 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 wider mental health policy and practice.

Things to consider:

  • Have you created a role description? This 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 decisions are made by everyone within the group? Be aware of how everyone interacts and think about what you would do if group members are feeling excluded.
  • What training and support will you provide to help people to participate equally?
  • Remember – you will need to use additional methods of influence to provide information to your working or steering group, the information gathered will help the group make the decisions required.
  • Can the group guide this work as well either by talking to people themselves or working with the organisation to define how this is done?


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 so that expectations are clear.

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