This study reports on a project which aimed to encourage and support debate among service users and/or benefit recipients about the future of the welfare state. Called ‘Our Voice in Our Future’, the project was set up by Shaping Our Lives, an organisation set up and run by service users to influence and improve service provision.
Our voice in our future explores how the project was set up, and reviews its findings. The project worked at two levels – nationally and through two local projects, one in Sheffield and the other in Shropshire – to promote and facilitate discussion of the long-term future of welfare by service users and user-led organisations. It focused on support services, benefits and mental health and addressed the need for holistic services, benefits fraud, standards of services and charges for services, and the medicalised approach to mental health issues. User involvement emerged as one of the key issues and the work itself showed many of the challenges to achieving full and proper user involvement.
The report particularly highlights the lack of structures for involvement in many areas, and at the same time it gives useful indicators on good practice in user involvement.