2.3 Consumer Participation

How

Creating specific opportunities

  • Include opportunities for LGBTIQ+ people to be involved in the planning and development of facilities, and review process (Ecker 2017).

  • Establish an LGBTIQ+ lived experience advisory group and support leadership opportunities.

  • Create and promote specific roles on lived experience advisory groups, and ensure that intersectional identities and experiences are included.

  • Create an LGBTIQ+ portfolio and liaison officer and/or peer mentor role, to help coordinate activities and disseminate inclusive practice knowledge.

Referrals and consultation

  • Ensure that feedback loops are in place, to increase client confidence that making a complaint results in action for improvement.

  • Develop and review complaints pathways and avenues for feedback with lived experience advisory group.

  • LGBTIQ+ people and secondary consultations should not be automatically referred to particular staff who specialise in LGBTIQ+ cultural competency without prior discussion and recognition of this as specific work.

  • Promote consultation with and involvement of LGBTIQ+ community groups, and partner on projects where possible.

  • Reimburse consumers and community groups appropriately for their involvement.

Example of consumer participation.

A new crisis accommodation facility was being developed. In order to hear what might work best for LGBTIQ+ people with a range of experiences, a large roundtable was held. People who attended were reimbursed for their time. A survey was also conducted. By engaging LGBTIQ+ community organisations and people with lived experience of homelessness in this discussion, the service was able to gain a more informed view about what organisational change was needed and how best to support LGBTIQ+ clients within the new development.

Based on example from VincentCare

Why

Valuing consumer participation is important in strengthening connections with diverse communities. In particular, providing multiple opportunities for feedback and input from LGBTIQ+ people with lived experience of homelessness, and engaging with LGBTIQ+ communities more widely – especially intersectional identities and experiences – has a critical role to play in developing policies, procedures, and facilities that are accessible, safe, and inclusive. This can involve:

  • Lived experience advisory groups with specific roles;

  • Peer mentoring, leadership, and traineeship opportunities that help build capacity of the LGBTIQ+ workforce;

  • Consulting with LGBTIQ+ community groups for feedback and review concerning policies, risks, procedures, and facilities;

  • Partnering with LGBTIQ+ community groups on new initiatives that promote co-design principles;

  • Reimbursing consumers and community groups for their time, and

  • Establishing an LGBTIQ+ portfolio and liaison officer role within mainstream services.

Introducing paid LGBTIQ+-specific roles – such as an LGBTIQ+ liaison officer – can be a helpful means of coordinating activities, supporting other workers, and disseminating knowledge around inclusive practice. Additional funding may be needed to establish this, or if funding is lacking it could be formally integrated into another role. In order to implement organisational change, however, support is still required across the whole organisation rather than leaving this to one staff member who might be tasked with the LGBTIQ+ portfolio (and LGBTIQ+ clients should not be referred automatically to this person without discussion, as the member of staff may not have capacity or be able to assist with all issues).

When creating lived experience advisory groups and peer mentoring or other leadership opportunities, remember that one person cannot speak for an entire community, so include a variety of roles and intersectional identities and experiences – for example, LGBTIQ+ people of multicultural and multifaith backgrounds, and different cognitive and physical abilities. Participants should also be reimbursed for their time in exchanging valuable knowledge and skills, and for contributing to organisational change.