So, I’m often asked to wear mine when engaging with various services, charities, research groups and even as I write this, who I report into, Groundswell😅
The expression ‘lived experience’ has been banded around for a while now and continues to be a ‘buzzword’, label, or a statement of ‘co-production’ across many research and various services communities.
I’m often challenged by staff working in various areas who, quite rightly, say they have lived experience of things I know of too, so what’s makes me ‘special’ or ‘an expert’🙄…and it’s right they ask!
WE ALL have our OWN lived experience…… in everyday life, work, friendships, and family and all have value.
I have ‘lived experience’ of accessing multiple services yet never worked in one. Staff have ‘lived experience’ of working in them and may or may not have their own personal experiences.
So I prefer, and this is only mine, to use the phrase ‘direct experience’ – its more accurate and defined.
I have ‘direct experience’ of being homeless, of poverty, of severe depression and suicidal thoughts, psychosis, living through addiction and recovery so when I’m asked to share it, I can with genuine insight.
I have ‘lived experience’ of a range of topics or themes through my conversations with individuals, their experiences when they kindly share them, when I’m reporting for Groundswell.
They help me to understand procedures, gain awareness, look into processes to help inform important changes needed and I’m not suggesting the whole narrative needs resetting, just the understanding that ‘lived experience’ is a broad statement, “direct’ is more accurate.
I may have opened a can of worms here, that’s not why I’ve written it, so if I’ve caused any offence, I sincerely apologise.
I simply ask you to consider which label, if any, you choose to wear.