IF Group attends National Expert Citizens Group Event

IF Group Bristol News

Four members of the IF Group Bristol executive board were in attendance at the National Expert Citizens Group meeting, hosted by Voices of Stoke, our local partner in Stoke today. As part of the Golden Key Partnership in Bristol, we form part of the national project of scrutinisation and evaluation with a view to promoting system change. What we do in Bristol can be taken to the rest of the country at these quarterly events. This year is set to be a ‘boom’ year for National Expert Citizens Group.  Our first 2015 general meeting in Stoke set the tone for things to come.  Expert Citizens from Voices invited us all up to the 8th floor in the YMCA to have our meeting in the Sky room.  Views across the city was a perfect platform for us all to catch up with our pre-meeting coffee.

There were four of us who attended from the IF Group (Independent Futures) Bristol.  Matt and Peter to represent Bristol’s Golden Key Fulfilling Lives project and give updates on the group.  I came along as the Communications Lead for the NECG with Benny, our Bristol Lead Online Communications expert. Our objective was to see how we can improve the united voice of those with lived experience.  Our hotel has given us plenty to get the blood pumping for the day – dead flies, broken tap, mould on walls, no heating… but we don’t let these things get the IF Group down now do we?!  We turn it into entertainment and a good laugh for the journey home.

Voices of Stoke advocates of system changeAndy Meakin from Voices introduced the day beautifully with the inspirational story of Josiah Wedgewood.  Someone who went from a disadvantaged boy to man of innovation, meaning and lasting change.  I speak from the IF group when I say that we all have that inner drive to make a difference.  To see how our hard earned gritty life experiences can help to transform and shape better services for people who come after us when in need of accessing help.

The day was packed with future projects like the 1001 stories, the possibility of being involved in a documentary and how we may get extra support with support for NECG, we did workshops.  We were split into mixed groups where we did workshops.  After watching two video clips of service users talking about their journey we scribbled our comments on bright post it notes to present to the room.

This is where we get to really share ideas, see where the cracks of existing systems are and gather possible solutions for problem areas.  We cannot make changes over night but he fact that the IF Group are involved with a National forum of people who are like us, brings hope to the future for systems change.

Next NECG Meeting is to be held in Liverpool in May.