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Top tips

Below is a summary of the Top Tips from the planning section.

Top tips for Planning

  • Supporting lived experience-led activities requires wholehearted commitment to the principles of influence and participation.
  • It's important to recognise that people with lived experience have skills, knowledge and experience that enable them to contribute on an equal basis with staff at all levels.
  • It's important to take an 'asset-based' approach – focus on what people can do rather on what they cannot do.
  • Be clear about the nature of the work that people can get involved in. Be specific about what people can and cannot influence.
  • Focus on the outcomes you want to achieve and minimise all activity that does not relate to these outcomes.
  • Adhere to the principle of reciprocity – people should get something back for putting something in.

Top tips for developing your opportunity

  • Use plain English, avoid jargon and avoid acronyms.
  • Aim to include all relevant information on 1 page of A4, any more than this and people lose interest. If you need to give more information direct them to a webpage or person that can explain more.
  • Be clear about the skills and experiences you are looking for – having these listed as 4-5 bullet points makes it easier for people to see if they meet your criteria. Go to the Recruitment and selection page for more information.
  • Write a role description for all opportunities that will require several meetings or interactions. This clarifies what both parties can expect in advance and specifies skills / knowledge that is needed, this helps people to make an informed decision about taking part.

Top tips for recruitment and selection

  • Be clear in your promotion what skills and experiences people need to take part, ensure they know how to explain these to you and that you will use this information to make your selection.
  • Try to select as diverse a group of people as possible you want to have a wide range of people and experiences influencing your work. Bear in mind that by making clear you are seeking a diverse range of people and will provide reasonable adjustments you are more likely to attract a more diverse set of applicants.
  • Remember not everyone will have internet access or will be able to use a computer; ensure there are a variety of ways to apply including postal and over the telephone.

Top tips for support to offer

  • Training (for longer term roles).
  • Holding a pre-meet to discuss agenda items and answer any questions.
  • Reminder texts / e-mails / phone call.
  • Offer to support them to create a plan that details what to do / who they can contact if they become distressed.
  • Accompanying people to interviews or events.
  • Booking and paying for travel in advance in case the cost of this is a barrier to them taking part.

Top tips in Diversity and Difference

  • Ask other teams or people who have worked with marginalised groups for advice if there's anything you're not sure about.
  • Think carefully about who you need or want to take part and what methods you'll use. Make sure your methods are appropriate and engaging for your participants.
  • Build relationships with influencers and key people within the communities you want to engage with.
  • Everybody has individual experiences and perceptions of what having a mental health problem means. This is sometimes called a model of reality. Work from within the community's model of reality; don't try to impose yours.
  • Being inclusive doesn't mean treating everyone in the same way. It is important to think about how your activities or materials should be adapted to be relevant for different group you are trying to engage with.
  • Don't make assumptions; it's better to ask questions than think you know what's right for somebody.
  • It's OK to ask people what they need and want.
  • It's OK to say you don't know.
  • It's OK to get things wrong; you won't be expected to know everything.
  • Make sure you plan thoroughly; never underestimate the scope of what you might need to factor in.

Tools in this section

Annual influence and participation planning

This tool can help you identify how people will take part in each stage of your work and ensure people can meaningfully influence your work at the earliest opportunity and beyond.

With instructions | Without instructions

Application form

This tool helps those interested to tell you about themselves. It will help you make informed decisions about who should take part.

With instructions | Without instructions

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.

With instructions | Without instructions

Developing your opportunity

To make sure you're taking everything into account when planning your activity, you might find this 'Developing your opportunity' template useful. It takes you through all the things you need to consider to promote your opportunity and attract the people you want to reach.

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Identifying participants

You can use this tool to help you to think about which audiences and particular groups you would like to take part in your work, the methods you need to use and who can help you do this.

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Invoice for involvement

You could use this invoice template as a guide when paying people to be part of your participation activity or develop your own.

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Thinking about your timeline

Use this tool to situate your influence and participation activities into the bigger picture of your work. This will help you run meaningful initiatives that have the maximum level of impact.

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How menu

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

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