An innovative training programme for staff at Look Ahead Care and Support, designed and delivered by customers who have used their services, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Andy Ludlow Awards, sponsored by the London Housing Foundation.
The “Experts by Experience” Team provides user-led training to support and care staff. Developed and delivered by customers, it is based on their personal experience of homelessness and other related issues including substance misuse and mental health needs.
Ceri Sheppard, Transformation Manager at Look Ahead, said “Twenty of our customers have now delivered this half day training course to over 700 staff members. It works because they have a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight that our staff can learn from. Customers share their first hand experiences on topics such as rough sleeping, substance misuse and mental health. They give unique expert insight and help staff see how they can enhance their practice working with customers with these needs.”
Linda Chan is one of the trainers. She said: “Delivering the training to staff has been really enjoyable – there is a great energy within the Experts by Experience Training Team. Books don’t tell you about the experience of sleeping rough, being homeless or using drugs, or more importantly how to support people who have been through it. We can and it’s fantastic to see staff learning from those with real-life experiences”.
Martina Sliwo is a Support Worker at Look Ahead. She said: The training has been a great experience for me as a front-line support worker. The trainers were truly inspiring with their stories and I now feel I have a greater understanding of homelessness and how it impacts on people’s lives. This has armed me with the knowledge that I need to enhance my work and see homelessness from a different perspective.
Don Wood is the Executive Chairman of the London Housing Foundation. He said “This is an exciting project. Homeless people are the ones who know best what support they need and how staff can best help them. And it is very positive that over half of the customers who delivered the courses are now in paid employment. This programme empowers service users, benefits service providers and is a good model for others to consider.”