Meaningfully involving people with lived experience in your work takes time and resources, sometimes people embark on fantastic projects that fizzle out because these resources are no longer available. This is disheartening for all involved and can be avoided with careful planning before work starts, completing a timeline (With instructions | Without instructions) and annual plan (With instructions | Without instructions) helps to ensure you are allocating enough time and staff to the work however it’s also essential you understand your available budget and organisations payment policy and apply it in your planning process.
Think about whether the work you have planned fits within the time you have available and the budget allocated, if not you may need to scale back your plans or speak with your line manager.If you don’t have the time, budget or other resources to involve people in a meaningful way that will genuinely add value, it’s time to re-think your plans. Involvement should be meaningful, have scope to make change as well as benefit the recovery / development of those involved, if the resources available to you don’t allow for this it’s important to raise it with senior staff in your organisation to ensure things will be different in the future.
Sarah-Jane talks about the way the Mind equality improvement team works to make the organisation more accessible for different communities, including within the Side by Side programme.
"I think the way that Mind is really benefiting from this piece of work is really to increase our understanding, strengthen our connections within those communities so that they know Mind is actually an organisation that they can go to and feel welcomed feel supported and get the help they need"
More information on working with diverse communities is available in the Diversity and difference section of the toolkit.
It is incredibly important to be inclusive and make reasonable adjustments whenever necessary, to enable everyone to participate. But fear of not having the resources to be able to offer the support people might need during the process can be a barrier.
Working with people from varied and diverse backgrounds is essential to Mind’s work. However some people said that they were afraid of getting things wrong. In this situation, it’s often easier to avoid reaching out to people if you don’t understand the barriers they encounter or adjustments that may need to be made. Worrying about additional resources that may be required can create an additional barrier.
Asking the simplest of questions is sometimes all that’s required and will help you allocate resources where they are needed. It’s likely to be much less damaging than making assumptions about what people need, and it’s definitely better than inadvertently excluding people because your budget hasn’t been allocated appropriately or due to concerns about saying or doing the wrong thing.
You may also want to think about different participation activities that can meet the cultural and / or religious needs of everyone whose views you’re seeking, rather than trying to cater for everyone at the same time with the same activity. This may impact on the resources you need including staff time, skills and money however you may find that by planning effectively you can maximise the resources you have and reach a greater diversity of people in a way that’s meaningful to them without overstretching your budget and time.