Posted on: 21 January 2020

[Sabre, Service User Consultant, pictured left]

Members of the Grenfell community have been working with the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service (GHWS) to help shape and develop services offered to the community.

Their work includes everything from being on job interview panels for new NHS staff, supporting various projects such as groups, which help older adults access and engage with treatment; suicide awareness training; co delivering training in the community, and reviewing patient information materials like leaflets for the community.

The Service User Involvement (SU) Group is made up of eleven community members – men and women from different backgrounds, with ages ranging from early 20’s to 60 years old, who are paid for their time consulting on and contributing to different areas of the NHS’ work.  They are also paid to attend a bi-monthly supervision group.

GHWS had sent letters to everyone who had used the service, asking if they would like to apply for a role as a service user consultant.

Interviews were held, and eleven people from the community were recruited for the role.

 “We’re listening to the community”

Saana, who has lived in the Grenfell community for 42 years, is one of the Grenfell service user consultants.  She has worked on various projects with the Grenfell service, including the recruiting of staff and contributing to training events. She is also part of a team that meets regularly to review all communications materials the service publishes (such as leaflets and posters).

“I applied to become a service user group member because I would like to help people suffering from PTSD and other mental health issues within our community.

“We are listening to the needs of the people in our community, through working together and getting feedback from the public we are able to learn, listen and achieve the positive changes in our lives. I think this is important for our mental health within our community,” she said.

Joanna, a support worker from the Grenfell community has been involved in many of the projects, including giving feedback on presentations before they are presented to the public, and reviewing art and any environmental changes to Grenfell NHS settings to make sure that people feel safe and comfortable.

“I got involved because it was a good opportunity to give back, and good for my CV as well. I thought it would give me more opportunities for jobs. It’s good to be involved.

“I learnt a lot about therapy and they learnt loads about what happened on the ground. You hear all the perspectives and they definitely take it on board. I think it’s great,” she said.

‘I know what struggling is’

Sabre, another SU consultant knew instantly that he wanted to apply for the role of service user consultant.

“I saw an ad in the post and I was looking for a new job to help the community and it made sense.

“I knew a lot of people were still suffering and I knew where the work was needed and I felt I could do something, even a small bit could help a lot,” said Sabre.

Sabre has appeared in the media to share his perspective, as a Grenfell NHS service user.

“I just thought that we need to put it out there. There’s a stigma in the community and some people don’t want to hear anything about counselling or the Recovery College because it means there’s something to recover from – all because of the stigma,” he said.  

Sabre completed the Recovery & Wellbeing College’s Train the trainer course, and now works as a co facilitator at the Grenfell arm of CNWL’s Recovery & Wellbeing College, where they run workshops on topics like developing resilience and managing stress.

The College’s model is based on coproduction between people with lived experience and people with clinical experience. This equal partnership between clinical experience and lived experience creates something that is ‘richer than either kind of knowledge would be alone.’ The sharing of lived experience also helps to greatly reduce stigma.

“I didn’t even know what it was about but the Service User Involvement Team saw potential in me when I didn’t see it in myself.”

Sabre has co delivered workshops for the Grenfell community, with a mental health practitioner.

“It shows people that if I can do it they can do it too. They believe it is harder than it is. I was using the counselling service at Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service for eight months so I know what struggling is,” he said.

“Because of the fire I got hurt so much. I just thought I can’t be where I was. We all need a little help sometimes.”