This year, as part of a new community and citizenship strategy, Wesleyan has introduced a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP).
The role of the LEAP is to provide a platform for people who use charity services to share their views on the challenges and difficulties they are currently facing. This includes services that do or don’t work well in their communities, and ideas for improvements that could be made.
In 2023, LEAP consultations have been carried out with three groups of people, including adults with learning disabilities, survivors of domestic abuse and young people who live in areas with high levels of deprivation.
Issues raised included needing more support to find 'meaningful' employment that people can feel proud of. They also included not having access to health or housing, and trying to cope with ever-increasing stress as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
Action plans have been drawn up from the consultations, and further consultations are being planned for delivery in 2024. We want to take proactive action, and as a result, outcomes achieved so far include:
- Funding young enterprise to provide business enterprise support for Special Educational Needs (SEN) students through our equality grant.
- Working with Fircroft Adult Education College to help signpost career and education routes for survivors of domestic abuse.
- Planning the implementation of volunteering opportunities for Wesleyan staff to support our communities with employability and achieving a meaningful career.
- Wesleyan Foundation Grants have been re-designed to include LEAP consultations views and to enable their ideas to become realities.
Speaking about the LEAP consultations, Jacob Ayre, Wesleyan’s Community and Citizenship Manager, said: "This has been an important step in creating a meaningful community and citizenship programme at Wesleyan.
"It’s essential that when we are making decisions as a funder and business that we understand our communities and the issues they are facing. We can only know we are doing this by including our communities in the conversation, listening to and acting on their views.
"The LEAP programme is only in it’s infancy, but we are already helping to support with some issues and create better outcomes for our communities."
Those who participated in the LEAP consultations were recruited through our charity partners WAITS domestic abuse support services, CASBA learning disabilities advocacy service and Wildhearts' schools programme.
Participants with lived experience of learning disabilities said:
- "The meeting was really useful for me. I felt really listened to and was treated like an adult and with respect."
- "It was a really good workshop. I can’t wait for the next one."
Participants with lived experience of domestic abuse and homelessness said:
- "The session was informative and we were listened to."
- "There should be more meetings like this with people you fund."
- "Have thoroughly enjoyed today’s meeting."
- "Excellent service. Carry on supporting others that are in need."