"We want to enhance Southdown’s reputation of putting clients at the heart of what we do"

Client Involvement Advisor

Client Involvement is the involvement of clients in the management, design and delivery of services.  It’s also about clients getting involved in whichever way they choose and the level that best suits them.

I am Southdown’s Client Involvement Advisor.

Client Involvement is the involvement of clients in the management, design and delivery of services.  It’s also about clients getting involved in whichever way they choose and the level that best suits them.

This is a brand new role that was created to advise staff and clients on client involvement in Community Support Services. I will be enabling staff to strengthen the way they involve their clients, and I will be working with everyone who needs support in the area of client involvement.

We want to enhance Southdown’s reputation of putting clients at the heart of what we do.

I will be recruiting and working with existing staff Client Involvement Champions who I will support to meet regularly and who will be trained in client involvement good practice and how this can be implemented in their service.

I will also be developing a Client Reference Group where Southdown clients will be encouraged to be very hands-on in giving their input around the needs of clients who use our services and feed into the governance structure.

Another part of my role is to map local client involvement initiatives and to support services in developing new initiatives.

I am also a member of the Client Involvement Monitoring and Evaluation group. This group, made up of staff and board members, is the strategic lead for the work I am carrying out.  

Those clients who want to be involved in these initiatives will be trained and supported to do formal client involvement activities. This will develop their confidence and for some it will enhance their employment prospects.

Southdown’s mission statement is what attracted me to this role - that the organisation offers vulnerable people the support they need to live a fuller life and that it is responsive to the changing needs of clients and local communities. This has really been the driving force for all my work over the past ten years and I was really interested in supporting clients with mental health challenges, learning disabilities, and people who have experience of being homeless or are at risk of homelessness.

I was ready to move on from my work at a local authority and wanted to be closer to my family in Sussex. Southdown seems really family-friendly, and as a lone parent it is really important that I have a good work-life balance where I can work hard and have time for my son as well.

Since being in post, I’ve noticed that everybody is committed to the role they play in lifting up other people when they need it.

My career in community development and involvement really began with volunteering just after my son was born eleven years ago. I was invited to become a Peer Supporter for other new mums and to start attending the local children’s centre.

I tried different groups but felt more isolated after attending because everybody’s life seemed to be in a happier place than my own. My relationship had broken up when I was due to give birth, my father had recently passed away, and my confidence was rock bottom due to being in an abusive relationship. I had major anxiety issues resulting from being selectively mute as a young person and was at risk of becoming homeless.

At the centre, I met another woman who was also a lone parent and we talked about how there was no group at the centre for women that were raising children on their own. We fed this back to managers who told us to set one up if we wanted!

This group really set me off in a new direction in life because I was able to meet other women in similar situations who all ended up supporting each other. The format of this group was rolled out to other children’s centres in the town as being a service that was needed.

Volunteering helped give me a new perspective on life and I began helping out at local charities for low income families, schools, victim support and even walking neighbour’s dogs and cleaning their houses!

I hope that in this role, my Southdown colleagues feel they can be open and honest with their ideas about how they would like to see client involvement develop. I really want staff to have access to more resources around client involvement, strengthen good practice across the organisation, and I’d like to see staff learn about which client involvement initiatives work for other services.

I am most excited about meeting clients and empowering them with meaningful opportunities and training, and I would like them to have a greater say in the organisation.

 

At Southdown the people that use our services are at the heart of everything we do. We believe that their views, knowledge and experience should have a real influence on reviewing and shaping our services to ensure they meet people's needs. We increase the opportunities for our clients to help shape how we deliver our services through Client Involvement activities.