Douglas Guest, Development Manager for The Promise at family support charity Circle, sits on the Participation Network steering group. The Participation Network offers the opportunity for anyone interested in participation to share ideas and learn from each other. New members are always welcome. 

Douglas co-chaired the start of a recent in-person participation event in Glasgow and shares here what he valued most from the experience.

"It’s an honour to serve on steering groups or planning groups. I get a real creative buzz from turning ideas/thoughts/intuitions into tangible actions that come to life in groups or events. It utilises both my cultural antenna of what’s going on in life and for real transformational change. As ever, this really occurs when small groups get together with passion, values and integrity of making a real difference. 

That’s why I volunteered to co-chair the Participation Network's iteration under Staf leadership latest gathering. I love the modelling of gender equality and having a male and female co-chair at an event. I would love to see a more diverse range of chairs, yet understand the danger of tokenism on this endeavour.

When preparing for this event, I felt into my soul and looked at thirty years of activism for social change in the fields I had served in, and this emerged, which I shared at the beginning of the event.

'Participation for me is about the health of the village; it is looking to grow the village. We hold precious energies when we do our work. Not just giving voice, but allowing hope to flourish. Part of my post traumatic growth, healing, was discovering hope is my soul energy. 

Participation is about agency, being heard, speaking truth to power, so that systems and experiences can change. When we participate fully, we bring our whole self, our energies, our wounds, our joy, our values and our soul.

As Margaret Mead once said, "It only takes a few good people to act together to bring change". Often that’s how it begins; by us caring enough to ask to take part, to be heard and for power to act on it!'

I got quite emotional in writing it and delivering it and, most importantly, I felt heard and held when I spoke it.

For me, this is why like-minded people volunteer together to make a difference in their and others' lived experience. I am curious about how compassion, love and trust can emerge from our policy contexts, especially The Promise, UNCRC, trauma responsive services, and whole family wellbeing. For now is when we need the creative energies of all to come together for the greater good. 

Workforce wellbeing, looking at the Lundy model of participation, of not just lived experience but staff experience (potentially media and politicians too), needs to be grown, nurtured and this network needs investment so creative spaces can lead to creative change."