"Standing conference"

About: Collective Voice: North West Standing Conference

(as other),

I went to the standing conference in Liverpool in July. I've noticed someone else on here has mentioned it and I do think it would be great if more people would post about it. It might be a way of making sure they improve things for next time. I hope the organisers read this site?

The other person mentioned the lunch - lots of us didn't get any food. The queue was much too long and when we eventually tried there was none left. That's a good idea about putting sandwiches on the tables. I hope the next venue is better organised.

I thought the main point of the day was to find out what we wanted from the Mental Health Improvement Programme and for us to influence their work. I'm not sure if that happenned. There were some notes and points taken down by the organisers, but I don't know how these will be fed back to the Programme. Will they be in our own words with our emphasis? Or will it be manipulated to suit the agenda of the organisers?

We keep getting consulted about what we want - surely everyone knows by now? Isn't it time they started putting it into action?

I have some reservations about the day, but I hope its just teething problems. I will wait until after the second one to see how it improves.

Overall I enjoyed the day. It was good to meet up with such a wide range of people and I had some great conversations. Everyone was very friendly and there was a very positive atmosphere. The musical breaks were all very good - very talented people.

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Response from Mick McKeown, Principal Lecturer in Mental Health, University of Central Lancashire

Thank you for this post about the standing conference event in Liverpool. I'm really pleased that you enjoyed the day, despite teething problems. You are right to encourage more people to post messages about the standing conference. Like any attempt at democratisation, it will be more powerful the more people get actively involved.

Apologies again for the food, we hope to do better next time.

I think that the standing conference idea is a work in progress. If it is to truly be shaped to suit service users and carers it has to grow organically, based on what people say they want. This will be complicated, because large numbers of people can have divergent views, and people's opinions can change over time. That said, I think the idea of a standing conference to bring in a range of views is a good idea. I don't think my colleagues or me would be involved if we didn't think so. We are committed to supporting genuine and authentic involvement in decision making, and have some experience in doing this sort of thing in our own organisations. We may not get everything right immediately, and we may almost certainly not be able to please everybody, but we do promise to work hard at doing the best job we possibly can.

Our team has no prior agenda, and no inclination to manipulate peoples views. We hope, with everyone's help, to develop sysytems of consultation that really get to the heart of what people want. We also hope that this message gets conveyed to MHIP in a form that has been agreed by those who have voiced it. It may be that issues have to be prioritised, or information has to be summarised or clarified, on occasion. We hope that systems for putting together such messages are developed agreeably in this project. Future consultation and negotiation will address these points.

Your point about moving from consultation to action is the big question. We will have to wait and see whether the standing conference developments do make a difference, but we certainly want them to. Everyone who is involved has a stake in making this happen, and are also in a position to hold us and MHIP to account if this potential is not achieved in the long run. I hope we can work together to maximise the extent to which we can make a real difference.

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