User Voice Conference 2013: ‘A Marketplace of Ideas’

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On the 9th October, User Voice held its ‘A Marketplace of Ideas’ Conference at Parliament, in Portcullis House. Delegates arrived from across the country and included Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, academics and policy executives, those from the Prison, Probation and Youth Offending sectors and representatives from national charities and social enterprises.

UV83 (800x532)Guests were invited to move around the various stalls organised and staffed by User Voice employees and volunteers, who gave short presentations. The stalls covered 4 aspects of Service User engagement: ‘what is it?’, ‘why should we do it?’, ‘how do we do it?‘ and ‘what is the impact of it?’. 

UV137 (800x532)Delegates were then able to discuss each of the issues and suggest ways to develop Service User engagement. Each proposal was written on a post-it note where guests could then vote on the recommendations they thought were best by placing stickers on them. This ‘dot-democracy’ is also used in User Voice community, youth and prison councils.

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Engagement between all attendees brought everyone’s diverse experiences and expertise together, producing a very creative environment in which each person’s views were valid and valued.

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Various high-profile guests, including Sir Tony Baldry, gave inspirational speeches and a collection of User Voice films, which were broadcast on screens around the room, told the moving stories of some of our staff.

By all accounts the conference was a great success: the enthusiasm and dedication to Service User engagement, that was evident from all who came, was extremely encouraging. We’re sure that the passion and innovation from our ‘A Marketplace of Ideas’ will mean User Voice continues to grow, ensuring  more Service Users can have a voice in improving the institutions they’re involved in.