As March draws to a close, here's what our Better Lives Forum members have been up to this month:

2021/2022 co-production plans

BLF members, Juliana (Head of Volunteering, Coproduction and Corporate Partnerships) and Sophie (Coproduction Manager) facilitated a meeting to discuss ideas and vision for the BLF and coproduction at Hestia in 2021/2022 and onwards. Juliana and Sophie then fed the outcomes back to Nahar (Director of Operations) and Gemma (Operational Project Lead). This informed a further meeting which was then held to make plans for going forward and shaping a new coproduction plan. There are follow up planning meetings to be scheduled which will involve BLF members.

Sharing experiences on domestic abuse

BLF member Jasmin* attended a meeting with Sophie and Eve (Digital Innovation Manager) to plan their involvement in a virtual meeting with a minister, scheduled for April. The meeting will involve senior management presenting the facts on Hestia's provision of domestic abuse support through Covid, current campaigning and fundraising. Jasmin will talk about her experiences as a survivor and her involvement in developing the Bright Sky app.  

Performance Review Committee

BLF members attended the Performance Review Committee meeting with trustees and directors to report on their involvement in the annual survey. A number of discussions were had around key recommendations in the report and coproduction and BLF team involvement in the resulting actions. These will be to improve communication with service users to ensure they are aware of the BLF, volunteering and learning and development opportunities.

Shaping services for single women in refuges

At the BLF Directorate meeting in November BLF members raised concerns that there are less activities for women without children at refuges. To act on this feedback, the BLF worked with the Domestic Abuse Area Transformation manager and Domestic Abuse Area Manager to plan how Hestia can enhance its offer for single women. The BLF members facilitated a single womens' Zoom discussion which gained the views and opinions of six women from refuges. Two main themes were highlighted.

Feeling isolated: 

  • “Single women fleeing to a new location creates more mental health issues. They can feel isolated in a refuge full of mothers and children. There needs to be more  activities for single women as a group so they have a chance to empower each other and develop friendships.”

Mental health struggles:

  • “Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common. Having children running around, screaming and crying is very triggering for PTSD. Single women need their own separate activities and spaces to recover.”

A report was produced from the discussions and is shaping follow up questions which will be circulated to a wider pool of single women in the refuges. All women who attended were sent a well-being box as a thank you for their time.

The Hestia Approach: 5 ways to recovery development

The BLF have reviewed and reshaped The Hestia Approach: 5 ways to recovery training into a more compact training program. It includes the principles of coproduction, The Hestia Approach and 5 ways to recovery activities for staff to work through with service users. Staff from four services have provided their feedback to shape the new training. The BLF have reviewed the recovery focussed activities to ensure it is accessible and service user friendly. Once approved the training will begin to be co-delivered in spring by the coproduction team and BLF members. The progress of the staff and service users completing the activities will be recorded on our client database system so they are able to reflect on their achievements and progress.

Interview panels

The Coproduction team and BLF ran interview panel training, via Zoom, for service users on 4 Feb and 18 March, giving them knowledge of coproduction opportunities and skills for how to participate on a panel.

As part of our coproduction at Hestia, all our staff interview panels should have a service user involved, participating in asking the questions and contributing their views on the candidate and their answers. This should be a service user from within the service which is recruiting. In the last few months BLF members or other service users have sat on interview panels for every level of the organisation from frontline workers to directors.

Having service users on interview panels sends a strong message to candidates, making a clear statement about the significance it attaches to involving people who use their services. It involves service users in making important decisions within their service and ensures we are coproducing our support provision. It is empowering and confidence building for the service user, with the opportunity to develop new skills and experiences.

All service users who participate on an interview panel are entitled to a £10.00 gift voucher and £5.00 lunch reimbursement. We send out thank you cards to all those that volunteer their time to make sure we recruit staff who demonstrate the values and behaviours of The Hestia Approach (THA).

If you are a Hestia service user interested in joining the BLF, please email [email protected].