Service users want to be heard. They want their experience and expertise to be taken seriously. They want to be involved in the systems affecting their daily lives, to influence decisions and play a part in the co-creation of new services and ways of working. They want to be a positive influence on the shape of these systems and services.
In a recent survey, 65 percent of respondents told us they struggled to find involvement opportunities. This difficulty was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic: some groups and organisations reduced their work, others moved to video meetings and conference calls, limiting the kinds of involvement available. When involvement is meaningful, it can be inspiring.
People are motivated to take part in involvement for many different reasons, but most commonly people say they want to improve things for others.
When people develop an equal relationship with a service provider by working together and sharing their expertise it can be very impactful.
Good involvement can have all sorts of positives for service users. It can encourage them to get further involved in their community and create paths for them to do so. It can even lead to voluntary or paid work.
It is also an undeniable positive for activity organisers. Proper involvement means that whatever organisers are working on – research, services, new institutions or organisations – can be shaped so that they better serve the service users. It means that they are no longer just designing for service users, but designing with service users.