April 2021 was a huge month for the College of Lived Experience Recovery Organisations (CLERO). After more than a year of building relationships, trust and a sense of shared purpose in the group of 12 members, we have finally reached a position where we have invited both LEROs and other interested parties to join us.
We now have more than 50 members and we are continuing to grow and expand, in spite of our cautious approach. This culminated in a Recovery College event on 23 April, where we were delighted to welcome Dame Carol Black to address more than 100 delegates. She spoke of the central role that she sees lived experience playing in the treatment and recovery system of the future, and her optimism of achieving genuine and meaningful change.
We also used the event to start consultation and LERO engagement in our work to develop quality standards for lived experience recovery organisations. Our framework for this is inclusive and strengths-based and so our initial plan is to have standards – two for each of the letters in the acronym CHIME:
Participants at the Recovery College were asked to provide examples and principles from their own lives and work to inform the initial iteration of the standards, and we will continue to engage with those who volunteered to be part of our working groups as we develop and test these models. This way of working allows us to have a bottom-up approach that means everything we do is informed and developed by the people we serve.
This links to our second key work theme for which we are delighted to have received funding support from the Big Lottery. This project has four aims for the CLERO:
- To recruit and train people of lived experience across the UK to be the first cohort of peer researchers
- To undertake an audit of innovation and good practice in LEROs across the UK
- To undertake fieldwork that will inform the development of our quality standards
- To set up a CLERO website to engage with LEROs and with other key stakeholders
To support this, on 27 and 28 April we ran the first two of four days’ training over Zoom and in the offices of the Well in Barrow in Furness. Thirty-one people with lived experience participated from across the UK, and will become a cohort of lived experience researchers who will design, carry out, analyse and write up the audit and the standards fieldwork. We will look to run another round of this training in 2022, drawing from the membership of the CLERO (our tier 2 partners).
The event was hugely successful and we will use the follow-up two days late in May to finalise our research work and to start the process of measuring what it is LEROs do and achieve – please join us and contribute to our journey. For further information about joining please contact LERO.firstname.lastname@example.org
David Best is professor of criminology at the University of Derby. Dave Higham is founder of The Well Communities