In July 2019 the Scottish Recovery Consortium successfully applied for funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to continue to develop Leaders with Lived Experience. Over 600 applications were made to this fund, 10 were successful across the UK and the SRC are one of only two organisations in Scotland to receive funding.
Our project, the Lived Experience Development Representative Network (LERN) is designed to respond to aims outlined in Rights, Respect and Recovery to ‘make the voices of people with lived and living experience central to our work to develop, design and deliver recovery services and interventions’ (R4).
A key element of LERN is that members are representatives i.e. they are tasked with gathering the views of individuals with lived and living experience (and those affected by the problematic substance use of others) to reflect collective rather than individual voices. LERN is also designed to ensure that people who share their experience can do so safely and within a supportive community. LERN also provides training and learning opportunities so that representatives can better understand the policy context.
Stage One of LERN was launched in December 2019 with 80 representatives from across Scotland in attendance – from Shetland to the Borders, from rural to urban areas and with a diverse mix of recovery pathways. A significant proportion of representatives have experience both of receiving and delivering services (as employees within the sector) and therefore bring a unique perspective. The purpose of this event was to co-produce the development of the network.
Working on the definition of lived experience outlined in the Stand up and tell me your story’ report (SHAAP 2020) by Sandhu (2017) that Lived Experience is ‘the experience(s) of people on whom a social issue, or combination of issues, had had a direct personal impact’ Stage Two of development will be completed by July 2020. This involves gathering data on the lived expertise currently within the network to better target involvement, identifying training and development needs and developing an ongoing recruitment strategy to continue to both grow the network and ensure current experiences are reflected alongside more long term recovery.
It is important to note that while problematic substance use remains the central theme LERN members have significant experience of linked areas such as criminal justice, social services, housing, benefits etc.
Lived Experience Engagement
Since the launch of Rights, Respect and Recovery, and alongside the development of the LERN network the SRC has facilitated a significant growth in engaging the voices of Lived Experience. Alongside numerous events, recruitment for academic studies etc. this has included input into: