27 February 2019

Sensory Advocates North West


Using their experience to benefit others.

We love catching up with people we have worked with. So we were delighted when Sylvia Dobinson, one of our ‘alumni’ from a Manchester Leadership programme in 2013, contacted us about developing the advocacy organisation she had founded.

Sylvia with her colleague, Linda Crooke, started Sensory Advocates North West 6 years ago. With her own experience of sensory impairment (both visual and auditory), Sylvia recognised that there was a real need for better information services for deaf and blind people locally. As they started to volunteer as advocates, providing accessible advice on a wide range of issues, they realised that it is often better if the person advising can draw on lived experience of the issues.

The organisation now has a BSL user advocate, Philip, who can communicate directly with his clients. And Philip is using his own experience now to mentor a new volunteer, Imran, who is also a BSL user. This is a perfect example of what is called ‘lived experience leadership’ – people who live and know the issues using that experience to benefit others. Part of this is passing on skills and knowledge to future colleagues with relevant experience. The process is empowering from all angles.

Sensory Advocates North West now wants to move to the next level and be able to develop more advocates who have sensory impairments. To do so, it needs resources. As an entirely voluntary organisation, so far, it finds it understandably difficult to provide a central admin and data function and to track the considerable successes the group achieves. But when we started asking the group questions about what they do, there was so much valuable information!

Result CIC is a social enterprise which holds an Inclusion Fund of any available surplus. We decided to use a little of this to enable us to support Sensory Advocates to bring together their ideas and make a first-stage bid for funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. This is a brand new Lived Experience fund whose aims we felt Sensory Advocates fitted well. We encouraged the group to do this in three stages:

  • Set aside time to sit together and brainstorm information and examples of the work they have done and get this together in one place.
  • Work with our colleague, Andy Hilton, to organise shape this information into a format which matches the funder’s criteria.
  • Make a film of the material in both English and BSL to submit to the funder.

Sylvia, Linda, Philip and Imran worked really well as a team to pull this piece of work together. As we went to press, they had submitted their funding bid. The participants commented that it had been a useful exercise in itself, just to make time to reflect on their work and how they organise the information they have.

We wish Sensory Advocates North West the best of luck with their work and development. It was a pleasure to support them.

If you or your organisation could benefit from some strategic support, get in touch.

NDA 2015 Power 100 iLM

We are Result CIC, a community interest company. We work with people who feel marginalised or excluded to become more confident about their abilities and to fulfill their potential. We also work with Directors, Managers and CEOs who need support to bring about positive change in terms of diversity and inclusion in their organisations. We each have personal experience of the issues affecting the people we work to support, including disability, immigration, mental health and sexuality. We have also worked in senior positions in industry and government.

Our vision is a society where every individual can achieve their potential, feel fulfilled and make a valuable contribution. 

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