After visiting The Mill, a local Mind in Oxford, it became clear that feeling equal to others was very important to people with lived experience who engaged in their work.
When consulting with services users – formally known at The Mill as 'members' – it was clear that the collaborative approach of engagement led to a mutual respect that enhanced people's sense of equality and inclusion in the development of services. Members said that 'engagement' is such an integral function at The Mill that they didn't really think about it. They share much of the workload with staff and are involved in all meetings about their services.
For example, members attended meetings with the organisation that funds The Mill and were invited to speak to the funders separately, without staff. This allowed them the time and space to give honest feedback without pressure or influence from staff.
This exemplifies an approach that fosters positive and equal relationships between members and staff.
"Although the staff were busy, they always made time to talk to us. They were always honest about things like funding, even if they had to share difficult news. This made members feel they wanted to really support staff wherever possible."