The Better Lives Forum (BLF) was established by Hestia Service users, for Hestia service users. The BLF is open to all Hestia services users to join as members, and has meetings every month. At meetings have a say in what they want from Hestia services. Members choose the variety of projects and activities which help improve people’s empowerment and wellbeing. The BLF has been established with 2 aims: 

  1. To enable service users to co-produce Hestia services so they are high quality and are focused on service user needs.
  2. To ensure that the “Hestia way” of wellbeing and recovery is actively promoted and practiced by all Hestia service users, staff and volunteers.

What is co-production?

To co-produce Is a way of working whereby citizens and decision makers, or people who use services, family carers and service providers work together to create a decision or service which works for them all. The approach is value driven and built on the principle that those who use a service are best placed to help design it. In co-production we:

• Define people who use services as assets with skills
• Break down the barriers between people who use services and professionals
• Build on people’s existing capabilities
• Include reciprocity (where people get something back for having done something for others) and mutuality (people working together to achieve their shared interests)
• Work with peer and personal support networks alongside professional networks
• Facilitate services by helping organisations to become agents for change rather than just being service providers.

Definition taken from the Social Care Centre for Excellence

The Hestia Way

The Hestia Way is based on a single principle: in order to add real value to people’s lives it is essential that we work with them as equals. Our expertise and experience of working with people on their recovery journeys is valuable, and we believe this gives us a great deal to contribute, but we never impose our ideas. After all, our service users are the experts in their own lives.

Our vast experience, however, enables us to maintain hope for recovery is possible when our service users are without hope. Against common misconceptions, it is our view that people are not trapped as a consequence of traumatic past experiences, their circumstances, or by labels imposed on them by other organisations, but instead we believe in the healing power of positive human connections and endeavour to develop therapeutic relationships that empower.

Everything the Hestia Approach encompasses, every value, behaviour, action and attitude, is solely for the purpose of helping us more skillfully unlock the potential of our service users so that they are empowered to forge their own recovery and can create fulfilling lives of their own choosing.

BLF members get involved in a range of co-production activities throughout the year which helps the BLF achieve it’s 2 aims. They choose what they would like to do based on what skills, talents and interests they have.

Aim 1 involvement activities 

To enable service users to co-produce Hestia services so they are high quality and are focused on service user needs.

• The BLF coordinates Service User Regional Forums 3 times a year in each London region. The purpose of these is to engage a wide and diverse range of Hestia service users so they are involved and have input into Hestia coproduction activity.
• In collaboration with the Customer Insight Officer, BLF members carry out Hestia service inspections, plan and participate in Service User feedback gathering, monitoring and reporting on service quality.
• BLF members participate in Hestia decision making committees, working groups and team meetings to represent the voice of service users.
• BLF members sit on interview panels for every new Hestia recruit.
• BLF members meet with the Hestia Board of Directors four times a year to influence senior management decision making.

Aim 2 involvement activities

To ensure that the “Hestia way” of wellbeing and recovery is actively promoted and practiced by all Hestia service users, staff and volunteers.

• BLF members create promotional materials and visit Hestia services to engage service user’s, volunteers and staff to raise the profile of “The Hestia Way”
• Members work with the Hestia Best Practice Lead to develop wellbeing and recovery toolkits and staff training
• A BLF newsletter is created to share stories and report on coproduction and recovery activity across Hestia services.
• Peer support networks, friendships and connections are identified and developed across Hestia services.
• Members organise enjoyable activities and events which promote health, wellbeing, learning and development.
• Members design and deliver workshops for people to map their personal skills and talents, and external resources and opportunities (asset mapping)

Getting involved with the BLF – just some of the benefits for service users!!

• People’s stories are told and heard, their experiences are used to improve other people’s lives.
• Getting involved increases people’s self-confidence and personal development
• BLF activities are fun and enjoyable! – service users do what is fulfilling for them.
• Celebration and recognition events are held throughout the year to thank people for their time and effort.
• There are plenty of occasions for people to socialize, connect and make new friends.
• Training, learning and development and employment mentoring is available
• Getting involved gains people work and volunteering experience with valuable references.

Established by BLF Members

BLF Charter
• Provide training for all according to their needs
• Adopt a non-judgmental approach to all individuals
• Use a wide range of communication methods and styles to share good practice, celebrate success and build a rapport
• Acknowledging all suggestions and input if something can’t be done explain why
• Ensuring changes are communicated to allow people time to prepare
• Taking a collective responsibility for the wellbeing of the group
• Make sure that everyone knows who they can go to with a problem and how others can help them
• Respecting each other differences, beliefs, culture and needs
• Have fun!

BLF Values
• Laughter and humour
• Respect
• Valuing everyone as an individual
• Delivering support to staff, people who use our services and carers
• To develop skills and lead healthier lifestyles
• Communication – act as a bridge between staff and service users
• Self-satisfaction through help others
• Building social networks
• Creating safe and welcoming environments
• Sharing experiences to gain skills and help others
• Allowing people’s voices to be heard
• Taking people seriously
• Make people feel valued
• Reaching those who are most isolated

The Better Lives Forum is looking for new people to get involved! Everyone has skills, talents and attributes no matter your circumstances there is a place for everyone.

If this sounds interesting please contact [email protected] call +44 (0) 2073 783 150 for a chat, we would love to hear from you.