This is the University of Essex’s first ever service user, carer and volunteer involvement blog. We will be using this blog to keep staff, students, volunteers and the wider public up to date on involvement work across the School of Health and Social Care. Following our collaboration with the disabled people’s organisation Shaping Our Lives , service user and carer involvement in the School was relaunched in November 2018. We started by organising and running the University’s first Involvement Matters Event. The conference was a huge success and gave current members a chance to showcase the work they have been doing, while enabling us to recruit new members.
A short film showcasing four digital stories was played at the event. These stories were developed as part of the Digital Storytelling Project being run by the School of Health and Social Care in collaboration with the University’s Technology-Enhanced Learning Team.
The blog will updated every few weeks and will consist of staff, students and volunteers from both the Southend and Colchester campuses discussing various involvement activities including:
- Teaching sessions;
- Service user involvement in student interviews;
- Curriculum development;
- Research activity;
- Any School activity where members of the public are involved.
We hope that the blog content will be informative, educational and entertaining. It is a sign that the involvement of service users, carers and volunteers is growing across the school and is a top priority for staff and students alike. We know that when it comes to improving the quality of health and social care education that involvement really does matter!
So please subscribe to the blog in order to get regular email updates when new content is posted. We hope to build up a regular audience both inside and outside the University. Also, feel free to get in touch with comments on blog posts or with suggestions for future articles—we want you to get involved too!
We wanted to finish our first blog with some material from the Involvement Matters Event. Suzi, one of our new members, kindly wrote us a poem that she delivered at the end of the day. It is about the importance of having a voice. We feel it is a stirring endorsement of why people engaging in health and social care is an important thing, both for the students and for themselves.
Today I ask you to join me
In a celebration of hope and truth
For healing and acceptance
Of someone’s distressing youth
We celebrate the opportunity
To challenge the spoken word
It does not mean it’s true
Just because it’s heard
We celebrate the joy of achievements
Though to others they are small
We celebrate those moments
Of feeling safe and standing tall
Of challenging deep seated beliefs
With patience and exploration
With the lesser feelings
Of hopelessness and isolation
We celebrate the teachers
Who have reached out their hand
To offer inspiration, hope and clarity
To heal and understand
Today I can truly celebrate
Of my freedom of speech
Anything is possible
Nothing is out of reach
Today I embrace opportunities
That once I would have feared
Because I am worthy, I am able
I deserved to be revered
I believe in the gift of safety
That these support groups can bring
To know you are not alone
As you search within
My mind is so much clearer now
As I end the speaking of my truth
I am no longer a victim
Of the traumas of my youth
I am hope, I am truth,
I am love, I am free
I am all the things I needed
And ever wanted to be
But I was them all along
I just never believed it to be true
Believe in who you are
There is no one better than you
Thank you for reading our first blog post. Expect another one soon.
Dr Danny Taggart
Service User and Carer Involvement Lead