Praxis took part in our EBE Project Development mini course, we spoke to them about their experience of the course and how the project they designed has worked in practice
The aim of the project was for Praxis to provide more accessible and meaningful voluntary roles for people with lived experience of the immigration and asylum systems.
We wanted to create opportunities for EBEs to use their knowledge and expertise to help guide others, whilst also gaining further skills and experience to be able to prepare for future employment.
The additional aim was to increase the Welfare Project’s casework capacity and support more service users to navigate complex systems. We also wanted this project to be the starting point for further EBE roles and focus on lived experience within Praxis.
The Peer Navigator programme has been a driver in expanding further roles and opportunities, and formalising a ‘service user volunteer policy’. This procedure ensures that there is adequate support for service user volunteers while also loosening some of the current barriers to volunteering.
The Peer Navigator roles will now play a central role in the 'Move on' project. This project aims to increase service user involvement, build capacity, resources, and partnerships. 12 Peer Navigators will take part in workshops facilitated by our current Peer Navigator and the welfare team, to compile resources which map out the different stages of the immigration/asylum systems; exploring what steps need to be taken, and the services to access, once leave has been granted. These resources will then serve as guides to train the Peer Navigators to become Peer Mentors, working directly with clients navigating these systems.
We are working on establishing a volunteer exchange with other organisations. This idea was proposed after some of our group members raised concerns about confidentiality and the proximity and need for boundaries between group members becoming Peer Mentors.
When consulting on this role, concerns were raised by group members around privacy and data sharing if fellow members volunteered with the Advice or Welfare team. Our current Peer Navigator is an NRPF Action group member. We have overcome this issue by using a Record Template instead of the database. Peer navigators also only support clients who are from a separate group. This limits the casework capacity, but we want to ensure everyone is comfortable and that this role does not create new barriers to people accessing support.
There are some challenges in terms of the work being difficult and potentially triggering. We have open discussions around this, and have regular check-ins. We also have formal supervision every 6 weeks, where we discuss the impact and how we can adjust the role to make things more manageable. We also have a working document to note down any issues or things to consider or change.
Praxis already involves people with lived experience across our services, in different capacities. This project has expanded our volunteer roles, and cemented our policy and procedure on volunteer roles for service users, and those with lived experience.
This project has provided us with vital experience and learning, and means that we can continue to grow service user involvement and increase roles (both voluntary and paid) for people with lived experience across our services, and continue to learn and share our experiences.