Hold Your Heads Up High! NSUA 2017 Judging Day

A guest blog from Wayne Saville, Expert by Experience, who was the acting Head of Service User Judges at the recent judging day for the 2017 National Service User Awards.

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Luckily for me…

Luckily for me, I travelled down the day before, after a meeting I had in Yorkshire. I say “luckily”, but in truth it is one of my coping mechanisms. I like many of you, was in secure services where I was diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorders.

Understanding your diagnosis is only part of the battle. Finding coping mechanisms that can help you lead a life outside in the community is imperative to your long-term recovery. For myself, I have found it much less stressful to travel the day before, on off-peak services, which are usually much less packed and cheaper (even with overnight accommodation factored in). I arrive with much lower stress and anxiety levels, than I would having to join a packed rush-hour commute. It really does make so much difference in how your day pans out.

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Always plan ahead!

“Oh ‘Eck” me thinks…

After a light breakfast, I was able to check that the conference room was ready for the day’s event, which it was. The hotel staff were on the ball and everything that we needed for the day was in place. Refreshments and lunch was already arranged in advance by Lou.

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But at 7.30 am, I started to receive messages from various attendees who were sitting stationary on the M1, M5, M6 and M42 due to a spate of accidents on the motorway network, as well as some messages from some who were not able to attend for various reasons.

“Oh ‘Eck” me thinks (yes I’m from Yorkshire). This could be a problem?

Worry not! Just in the nick of time, everyone started to arrive and were welcomed by a freshly prepared beverage and a bite to eat, whilst we made our introductions and got to know each other or re-acquaint ourselves.

And so the Judging Begins…

There were 5 separate judging panels to judge the 5 categories. I was asked to sit on the Outstanding Service User or Team category to cover the absence of a colleague. My fellow judges were Jon from Chadwick Lodge and Carmel from Cygnet Beckton.

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The OSUT category had 30 nominations. This was one of the largest categories on the day. The quality of the applications was very high and it made for some very interesting reading. Some of the nominations were about an individual service user and their personal endeavors, whilst other nominations were about a group or service led initiative.

Imagine my surprise and pride when we started to read about another individual, who’s name remained anonymous in the nomination. This individual was sitting on the same project boards that I sit on, the same steering groups as me, they were involved in the same service user groups that I supported and they …….. hang on a minute, that’s me! In the interest of fair play, I had to withdraw myself from judging my own nomination from a colleague at Cygnet, but it was nice to be nominated this year (thanks Nick).

By lunch time, we hadn’t even got through half of our nominations. But after a hearty buffet lunch, we set to it again.

Some of the applications were quite brief and to the point, whilst others were like a volume of War and Peace. But regardless of how much content was in the application, we read every last word, ensuring that if it was relevant to the application, it was relevant to be read by us. Rest assured, nothing was missed or skipped over.

We couldn’t help but to be hugely impressed by the amount of work, the insight and input from our Service Users and the support provided by their service providers. What was also evident, was the quality of the work, projects and initiatives. They had the right foundations in place, so as to be able to encompass as many people as possible in the future, ensuring that this work, project or initiative had the longevity to improve so many lives for years to come.

FINALLY…

I’d like to add my thanks and congratulations to all involved. I’m not going to mention specific names, because I’m bound to miss someone out.

Thanks to everyone who made the event possible. From the sponsors, to the staff and service users who spend an enormous amount of time and effort each year to bring us this event in the first place.

Thanks to the service users, their support staff and the service providers, who encourage our service to grow and bloom brighter each year, by embracing service user involvement and initiatives in all aspects of our care.

Thanks to everyone who sent a nomination to the Judging Panel. There is some very innovative work being done out there, some of which our wider community is unaware of, and it is events such as this which create a platform to inform the rest of us of new ventures, new ideas and fantastic outcomes.

Thanks to the many Service User Judges, their support workers and especially those who were able to join in with the day’s event from our High Secure Services via a phone link. This really can claim to be a truly all-inclusive event.

Finally, congratulations to the nominees. If you didn’t put in the effort in the first place, we wouldn’t have anything to shout about and celebrate.

Keep the momentum and motivation going, share what you do best with those around you, and let’s continue to make our service one to be proud of.

Good luck and all the best!
Wayne Saville
Head of Service User Judges NSUA 2017

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