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Last week I spent two days participating in the ‘Being the Difference’ Training Workshops delivered by Expert Link:

I have to say that this was a genuinely wonderful training experience and I had the privilege of spending time alongside people with lived experience of multiple complex needs. Together we learned about how to participate meaningfully in co-production opportunities; recognising that we all have a wisdom to contribute to the process.

The purpose of the training was to support us in our efforts in Blackpool to bring about grass roots inspired system change. In Blackpool, as part of the Fulfilling Lives programme, we have agreed the following as a definition of system change:-

System Change will have occurred in Blackpool when through collaboration and partnership, a culture change for life occurs so that people at every level, experience honesty, integrity, flexibility and kindness and then practise this with those asking for help, whoever they are, however they present, and whatever their need.


The key to this ambitious aim is having empowered people with lived experience confident and enabled to work in collaboration with the people who design, commission and deliver services.

At the end of the two days, the question was in my mind…. ‘Ok, we’ve had a great training experience but…. What next??’ So, all of us who attended the training have decided to get together again next week, to agree what we can do together, to build a movement of people in Blackpool committed to system change. We have to ensure this happens!

As a footnote, one of the participants in the training said at the end; thank you to myself and Ian Treasure, Fulfilling Lives Partnership Manager, for, ‘taking time out from our normal work’ to attend the training. I was really struck by this comment, my first thought was that it was very nice to be thanked, but… the truth is that spending time alongside people with lived experience, and learning from them, should be my normal work!



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