A pioneering scheme an Ilford charity which sees service users help to train the staff who provide their care and support is going from strength to strength.
Leading social care charity Vibrance currently has nine service user trainers who help to deliver training sessions to its workforce.
Vibrance supports 850 adults throughout London and the South East with learning disabilities and mental health issues.
The internal trainer scheme, which started in 2011, encourages service users to join the charity’s staff training team as co-trainers. The service users are qualified trainers in their own right and participate in the development of learning programmes that range from Support Planning, sharing their experiences as part of Vibrance Corporate Induction, environmental and health and safety audits. They also deliver short targeted courses locally at their services.
Head of Learning, Catherine Brewster, who oversees the internal trainer programme, said the benefits for all were clear to see.
“To have service users delivering parts of training sessions and hear things directly from their point of view is incredibly powerful and it really makes staff stop and think,” said Ms Brewster.
“New staff are often blown away by it at their induction sessions, because they will have never experienced anything quite like it before.
“The scheme also benefits those service users who decide to become trainers too. It boosts their confidence and gives them great pride to be involved. It can even help them overcome their own personal barriers. One of our trainers had a fear of travelling prior to getting involved; since joining the programme and having to travel to various venues to deliver the training, he has been able to overcome his fears.”
Ms Brewster said she hoped the scheme would continue to grow in the future.
“Our ambition is to have a service-user trainer helping to deliver each of our 18 internal training courses in the future. Longer-term, by 2018, we hope to be in a position to offer our unique training to external organisations.”
Vibrance chief executive, Paul Allen, said: “At Vibrance, we ensure our service users are fully involved in the organisation’s decision-making processes and the running of the services they use. We believe our service user internal trainer scheme is quite unique and we’re incredibly proud of everyone involved.”
The organisation currently employs around 400 people and was named in The Sunday Times ‘100 Best Companies To Work For’ in 2012.
Vibrance provides a wide range of social care and support services across London and the south east – all designed to enable people with a range of disabilities to have a greater voice and presence in their community. Its goal is to support vulnerable people to lead their lives as they wish and to challenge barriers that prevent individual choice and fulfilment. Find out more at www.vibrance.org.uk