There are four Beneficiary Ambassadors at Opportunity Nottingham, we each have lived experience, and take a lead in specific areas including; housing, offending, homelessness, mental health, women Beneficiaries, BME specific work and substance misuse. However, depending on diaries we do sometimes work across areas too!
Trying to explain our role in full is not easy. A key part of it is working with our Expert Citizens (existing and former Beneficiaries of Opportunity Nottingham). We arrange regular meetings, and discuss project development and consultation work with them. We will often meet with Commissioners, who may request feedback from our Expert Citizens on a proposed service or changes to a service. A good example of this is the CDP (Crime and Drug Partnership) meeting, which we attend with at least one of our Expert Citizens. Through this meeting, we are currently providing input into a project that aims to support entrenched drinkers, and we recently participated in meetings regarding the newly re-commissioned drug and alcohol service NRN (Nottingham Recovery Network). We also provide training opportunities for our Expert Citizens, and plan social events to thank them for all of their effort and hard work as part of the Expert Citizen Group.
We regularly deliver presentations, and attend conferences across the country. This helps us keep up to date on current affairs, and a good example of this is the recent Crisis Conference where we learnt more about the Housing First approach. We also actively support campaigns such as International Womens’ Day, for which we recently packed over 60 goody bags with pamper products and helpful information, to give out to our women Beneficiaries.
We also support the Opportunity Nottingham project through training and research. We are currently conducting local interviews for the Big Lottery Fund, working with Nottingham Trent University and Peer Researchers, to better understand the experiences of those facing multiple needs. We are also very actively involved in a new workshop titled Engagement – Why Bother? Working with other members of the Opportunity Nottingham Team and Senior Management from our Lead Partner Framework Housing Association, the workshop demonstrates the value of involving those with lived experience in the development and review of services. Aimed at future policy-makers and professionals, we hope the workshop will help to make a difference to the way the system works in the future.
We also support key pieces of work within the Opportunity Nottingham project, including the Practice Development Unit and our work on Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE). We sit on interview panels, provide content for project communications, and support the data requirements of our Learning and Evaluation Lead.
And finally, we are working towards the roll-out of one of our key pieces of work; The Pledge. Developed with Expert Citizens past and present, The Pledge aims to improve the experiences of those accessing services and also frontline staff in Nottingham City. It considers the way in which we would all like to be treated, and identifies some key approaches that we can all follow.
If you want to find out more about our work, or would like to discuss anything in more detail, call us at Opportunity Nottingham on 0115 850 4128.
Opportunity Nottingham Beneficiary Ambassador