Let me introduce myself...
My name is Ricarda King better known to my colleagues as Rio. I was introduced to Revolving Doors in November 2016 by a friend who was already involved in some of the projects.
My professional background is in frontline support work. My personal background includes experiences of homelessness, substance addiction and the criminal justice system. Throughout my recovery I have accessed many resources: detox, rehabilitation aftercare services, homeless shelters, hostels, mental health teams, counsellors and keyworkers. However, as much as I say I was able to access services/resources, I found many flaws in the system. Fortunately, I was able to work hard for my recovery and came out the other end. It took some time, but I was able to re-educate myself through various health and social care courses, and various frontline voluntary work.
Although I have now accredited myself with various qualifications and merits nothing comes close to having had LIVED EXPERIENCE.
My journey with Revolving Doors started when I attended a forum relating to the health and criminal justice system presented by Paula Harriott. I was hugely impressed by the members that displayed their skills of presenting and attempting to make real change for people experiencing multiple disadvantage. I left the forum feeling inspired, motivated and encouraged. Most of all I wanted to take part. I could use my vast experience to help make things better for those currently moving through the system. I could find my voice, I could be seen, and I could challenge the system, and Revolving Doors can support me in doing that.
In my work with Revolving Doors I am a member of the Liaison and Diversion Lived Experience Team (the LET), and am a Peer Researcher. My recent work with Revolving Doors includes presenting at a conference tackling multiple disadvantage (400+ attendees), combining lived experience, research and policy. Our work in the LET helps people that present with mental health issues, substance misuse issues, and other vulnerabilities more suitable options than prison if possible. The LET was involved in the design and the model of this national Liaison and Diversion programme and been able to see it work in various locations in the country.
I am also working together with Birth Companions as a peer researcher, creating a model designed to improve the lives of mothers and babies facing severe disadvantage. Our aim is to improve the emotional and physical welling being of pregnant women and new mothers, as well as improve local and national policy and practice to enable new mothers to give their babies the best possible start in life. I have been involved in the design of the research, the training, code of practice and will also be involved in the execution and delivery.
I have gained so many skills since working with Revolving Doors. I have more confidence, understanding and knowledge that I can now put into action. Knowing and understanding the importance of co-production as well as being aware of the value of promoting service user involvement. As a peer researcher I play a vital role for a new culture for those experiencing multiple disadvantage.
If you’ve been affected by things like homelessness, mental ill health, substance misuse and/or contact with the criminal justice system, and you’d like to become involved, please get in touch to find out how you can get involved and become part of a movement for change.
More information on involvement can be found below.