What is the Lived Experience Panel?
The Lived Experience Panel are people who work with Breaking Barriers as consultants and are integral to the work we do. We define the term ‘lived experience’ as those who are seeking asylum with the right to work, refugees and those who have experienced Breaking Barriers support.
We want to ensure that lived experience is at the heart of our work. We believe that this is essential to develop effective policies, programmes, and services that are responsive to the needs of our community and the issues that they face.
The Lived Experience Panel is one of the greatest achievements for Breaking Barriers in 2023. Having a group of consultants from a lived experience background to help us truly place a client and data led approach at the heart and centre of our work is extremely vital to our mission, and we have already seen their significant impact on our services.
Abdulrahman, Lived Experienced Officer
What do the Lived Experience Panel do?
Our Lived Experienced Panel work in partnership with staff throughout the organisation, contributing to new and ongoing projects, events, and workshops along with shaping decision-making processes at every level. Their role can vary from strategic management and planning to front line service delivery.
In the first 3 months, the Panel has worked cross organisationally making many contributions, including:
- Assisting in the recruitment process for Breaking Barriers’ new CEO and the Director of People.
- Assisting in the recruitment process which led to hiring individuals with a lived experience.
- Sharing feedback and perspectives about our relationship with funders.
- Shaping and participating in events with our business partners.
- Managing and participating in group discussions that focus on the challenges that refugees face when trying to enter employment or education in the UK.
- Sharing their perspective on the accessibility of our storytelling process.
We worked with Abdulrahman and a member of the panel whilst recruiting for Employment Advisors in Greater Manchester and Birmingham. Both Abdulrahman and the consultant, Marsha, were extremely helpful, accommodating, patient, and brought some great insight to the recruitment process. They also supported us in a mini review of recruitment practices for Employment Advisors in Greater Manchester and Birmingham, through which we have recently recruited two new advisers from refugee backgrounds.
Amee, Programme Manager (Manchester)
The impact of the Lived Experienced Panel
Having the Lived Experienced Panel has significantly enriched our staff’s knowledge of the unique struggles and perspectives of the individuals we serve.
The valuable input from our consultants has had a profound impact on our team’s confidence when communicating with our partners and different stakeholders about the barriers our clients face.
We recognise that our Panel members are not just people with lived experience as refugees or asylum seekers, but more importantly, they are professional individuals with rich backgrounds.
As well as enabling tangible input from individuals outside the organisation, one of the main areas of focus for Breaking Barriers is to create meaningful and supportive employment and learning opportunities for panel members.
We are therefore committed to supporting all panel members through training and well being support so that they can contribute their best.