Interview with Freedom from Torture
We think Freedom from Torture's approach to involving current and former service users in the organisation is gold standard!

Jonathan Kazembe, Service-User Engagement Champion, tells us about their approach and its impact

"Service-User Groups are made up of current and former service users and exist at all Freedom from Torture centres. They were set up to give voice to service users, to ensure the service is up to date with their needs, and to use their expertise and experience to make improvements. The groups meet once every month and anyone who receives or has received support is welcome to come along.

Each Freedom from Torture centre has group. Travel, childcare expenses and interpreters are booked to make the meetings accessible and inclusive. The meetings are facilitated by Service-User Champions and Administrators who record the discussions.

Each group appoints two representatives to attend the organisation's eight yearly strategic meetings. They feed back to them with recommendations, suggestions and good practice. The location varies so that each group has the privilege to host and chair strategic meetings. The Strategic group make decisions which assist in the development of services in the organisation.

The introduction and development of our approach has had very positive impacts. Service-User Groups are consulted on and asked to input into any major decisions being taken. Service Users really feel heard, as they receive feedback on a regular basis on what is happening across the organisation. Service users take an active role on recruitment panels and there are other opportunities for volunteering and working at the organisation. Finally, Service Users can raise and campaign on issues that affect them if they feel able to do so."