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Top tips

It’s important in any influence and participation activity – even if you’re not sure how to go about things or have concerns – that you don’t shy away. Seek advice, ask questions and above all else, don’t worry. Influence and participation is not without its challenges, but very few problems are insurmountable.

Overcoming challenges video

In this short film, Sarah-Jane and Charlotte from Mind discuss some of the problems and challenges explored in this section. Including working with a new local area, evaluation and making reasonable adjustments

Sheffield User Survivor Trainers top tips

These top tips for a successful project have been compiled by Sheffield User Survivor Trainers (SUST), a network of mental health trainers with lived experience of mental health problems and using mental health services.

  • Before you begin, make sure you’re fully committed to the principles of influence and participation.  
  • Recognise that people with lived experience may have skills and experiences that some staff may not.
  • Take an asset-based approach – recognise the skills people have and what they can offer, rather than what they can’t.
  • Be clear about the work and activities people can be involved in, and specific about their scope of influence.
  • Focus on the outcomes you want to achieve and minimise or eliminate any activity that doesn’t work towards them.
  • Remember the importance of a reciprocal arrangement – people should get something back for the time they put in, be it payment, training, a reference or some other benefit, which should be made clear from the start.
  • Make sure the workload is fairly shared out throughout.
  • Make sure all of the activity or work is monitored and evaluated. 

You can read more about Sheffield User Survivor Trainers and its members’ experiences of influence and participation in their case study.

The Qur’an & Emotional Health project Top tips

The Qur’an & Emotional Health project was established to learn how to engage more effectively with people from Muslim communities, and to better meet their needs in culturally appropriate ways.  

These tips have been compiled as a result of the work and the feedback that was gathered afterwards.

  • Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Challenge your assumptions by asking questions and listening to people’s responses.
  • Keep in mind the community’s needs and work towards them – not your own.
  • Don’t be scared of getting things wrong. If you make sure the people you’re working with know you’re there for them, you can gain their trust and they’ll be understanding and supportive.
  • Be clear about what you can offer and agree on common objectives.
  • Develop links with community-based organisations and community leaders. Creating strong, reciprocal relationships will enable you to ask for advice and support from authoritative people. This will be useful, because sometimes you’ll need to ask others to carry out your activity as they have influence among and command the respect of the communities they serve. 

You can read more about The Qur’an & Emotional Health project in their case study.

Risk tips

  • Think about physical and emotional risks and what you can do to reduce the likelihood of an accident taking place or someone being triggered and becoming distressed
  • Make sure you think about staff and the people taking part, everyone’s safety is important!
  • After filling in the managing risk tool ask others for their thoughts and opinions, they may think of something different or see risk differently. It can be really helpful to hear other people’s perspectives
  • Share the completed tool with the people running the activity with you, they will need to know what to do should a risky situation occur

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