27 March 2023
When did you join the group?
From the very start, I’m a founding member with someone else.
Why did you start in this group?
I started in this group because I wanted to make a change with certain services, like housing, doctors, mental health services and the council.
I knew it was going to be difficult, changing people’s perspectives which can be quite difficult to do.
Can you define the project?
We are a group of life experience and knowledge which helps decide what to do. We make decisions and in the end we all come up with the same decision even though we all have different views.
We agree to disagree.
It’s going to leave a legacy, even if we’re not around. People can always look at our work.
How has the project changed since you first joined?
We’re doing more. When I first started there were only four members and it was quite difficult to pin down what we wanted to do. It’s quite difficult when you only have a few members and we didn’t know what we were going to do. It felt weird. At one point I kinda thought it wasn’t going to work. We didn’t have the maps. I didn’t think I was going to stay because I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. You start a new project and you don’t know what it’s about or where it’s going to go. You start with one thing then it turns into another.
How have you changed since you first joined?
I’ve definitely changed. I can be in big groups, and have a voice when I didn’t from the start . If you saw me right at the beginning I didn’t say a lot, I stepped back. I felt my points weren’t that important. I’ve definitely grown. I can speak more. I feel more confident.
Just in the project or outside?
Life. It has helped me in life in general. I don’t have to worry about what I say or what I don’t say. I say it as it is. It’s definitely changed. I help other people in the group.
Talk to them, give them good advice – I used to feel anxious when I first started. I’m still working on it.
What advice would you give someone who was joining this group?
Just talk. And if you’ve got any issues we’re quite open and able to give my experience. We all start from the start.
What do you see your role in the group?
I’m a joker in the group; got to have a joker in the group. I think I’m a role model because I’ve been there from the start. You can approach me. I haven’t got all the answers but I like to think I know enough to support other people.
What has been your favourite part of BHCA?
Getting our map work and website out, I think that’s quite important. We get noticed because we’re actually doing some good. It’s been hard. It’s definitely helped us as a group. Especially our presentations. Doing different events and speaking about what we do.
What have you learnt on the project?
What I’ve learnt is: You have to work hard to get things done. You’ve got to keep pushing certain people to make them realise. And coproduction! I’d never heard of that before we started doing it.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
Being in the group for as long as I have and doing pieces of work that I didn’t think id do before the group. Having a purpose. It’s quite a highlight of my week.
What do you like about it?
Meeting up with mates and workers and being part of something new. It must mean a lot because I’ve done different things in life and when things have gotten too tough I tend to not show up again/. It’s like empowerment, being part of this change is quite exciting. Like the manifestos, I certainly wouldn‘t have done that before the group. It’s making change innit.
I found the frontline workers event really interesting because they’re the people that need to know. They work in services – or new staff members. They’re our future, like the uni students.
The check-ins and checkouts are really helpful. You can kind of explain how you feel before and after the group. Sometimes it can be two different feelings. We also always work in a trauma-informed way.
What does trauma-informed mean to you?
It means doing things in a safe way, in a safe place. We can always step outside if things get too triggering which is a really good idea.
Is there anything you have found challenging?
Hearing other people’s stories can be a bit mind-provoking, it can bring up a lot of stuff for us. I found it challenging because it kind of hit home. Sometimes you can read a piece of work and think I’ve actually been through that myself. That’s how we make change, it isn’t always going to be that nice. It’s always going to be triggering work. On the other side, it’s been quite good to work with other services and the events we’ve done.