The purpose of the review and the peer workshops was to seek service users’ views, thoughts and ideas about the voluntary sector mental health services commissioned throughout Hertfordshire by the Community Wellbeing Team (CWT). The feedback contained in this report from service users will be used in the contract review meetings for all the services reviewed to enable them to share good practice and identify areas of need in what they provide and potential gaps in service provision.
Viewpoint and the CWT wanted to ensure that there was authentic service user involvement throughout all aspects of the review process with a meaningful opportunity for peer led workshops and for people with mental health needs to be supported in getting their voices heard.
We ran a Peer Reviewer’s planning workshop in early January, to look at the context and background for this review. We were also able put in place an agreed structure for how these workshops would be run and agree a consistent approach to how we would capture the information generated and approve the development of an information pack for all peer reviewers inclusive of what support they should expect from Viewpoint.
We organised, advertised and ran peer led workshops across the county, from late January to early March 2015. These workshops were focussed on the organisations commissioned by CWT (High Town Praetorian, Mind in Mid Herts, Turning Point, Herts Mind Network, Guideposts Trust, Herts Young Homeless, New Hope, Rethink and Viewpoint). We also ensured that other voluntary sector organisations not commissioned by CWT were able to give their service users the opportunity to complete the questionnaire and have their voices heard.
We also informed service users of the opportunity to be supported by a peer reviewer on a 1:1 basis, for example face to face or via a telephone interview, and communicated this opportunity via our social media platform, emails, text messaging and in our forums.
Throughout the review is was shown that the third sector organisations often provided service users with a vital safety net of support for long periods in their lives where statutory services have limited contact. The social aspect of the services reviewed enables people to build up their self-confidence and have a sense of belonging.
As detailed in the report, there are areas where improvements can be made. Consistency of provision across geographical areas, communication with service users and the recruitment of new clients can be enhanced but we have heard many times that the third sector adds support which is valued by its service users.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of the peer reviewers for the immense work they put into this review and in particular the workshops they facilitated. Also the support, patience and understanding they gave to fellow service users which I believe contributed to the richness of the feedback we received.
I would also like to thank all the voluntary sector organisations who took part in this review for their support, access to individuals who use their services and use of their premises for the peer led workshops. Viewpoint continues to value our collaborative relationships.
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