Below we hear from Chris Belle, one of our experts by experience, about the work he has done with us
After coming out of prison I felt humbled by my experience and needed to keep move forward. By giving something back in order to stay grounded, I have reached stability within my life. To keep motivated and grounded I volunteer at two organisations: SUIT in Wolverhampton and Revolving Doors in London.
Since attending Revolving Doors 18 months ago and talking about my experience freely at forums, I was approached and asked if I would like to join the liaison and diversion Lived Experience Team I agreed. The team consist of 15 members from across the UK who all have one or duel lived experience of mental health, probation, substance misuse, incarceration, homelessness, alcohol or drug misuse.
Opportunities have arisen for me to be involved in different projects across the country make new friends and learn new skills. I attended a Public Health England market engagement stimulation event in September at Leicester PCC and gave a prisoner’s perspective into improving the healthcare for prisoners upon, during and on release from prison. The event went down well and I was approached by two NHS managers who said that they would take my view on board after seeing it from a different perspective.
A few lived experience members and I have been involved in the Health and Justice East Midlands NHS Commissioning Board project. We have had a brief insight into commissioning and what it entails. As a group we were able to look at client bid questions and answers and use a scoring system plus our unique perspective to obtain a better understanding of the client’s ethos.
I was then asked to attend the 10th anniversary of Social Justice to give a lived experience insight in commissioning. I attended with Vicki Cardwell (Revolving Doors’ Director of Policy and Research). It was good to stand up and talk about prior experiences and listen to people from different organisations who have come up with pioneering systemic ideas at a level to make changes.
I implemented and helped structure the second Revolving Doors forum in Birmingham which took place in January 2018- many thanks to all who attended also a special thanks to Ian Dexter from HMIP probation for taking our views seriously. I have taken part in a meeting as a silent listener at a Health and Justice devolution in practice meeting by the Greater Manchester combined authority health and social care partnership and listened to ongoing and up and coming structured implementations for Manchester and the North of England. This meeting was very interesting as it made use of people with lived experience in its plans moving forward.