Sharing women's lived experience and expertise
Women who have experienced disadvantage and deprivation during pregnancy and early motherhood are at the heart of every part of our work at Birth Companions. They play many key roles in the charity, including:
Shaping our services
Working as peer supporters to help others through similar experiences
Working as peer researchers to gather evidence and shape recommendations
Serving as members of our board of trustees
Building awareness and understanding by working with journalists and producers in a range of media
Shaping policy by contributing to research, consultations, expert reference groups, advisory panels, inquiries and conferences
Improving practice by meeting providers and commissioners, facilitating training and conducting service evaluations.
Our Lived Experience Team (LET) is made up of more than 40 members committed to using their personal understanding to benefit others. This team has been developed over several years. Together with the staff supporting them, they have developed sector-leading expertise in responsible, safe and meaningful engagement.
The LET has worked on projects with many organisations, including:
- Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service
- The Ministry of Justice
- Care Quality Commission
- NHS England
- Women's Mental Health Network
- Public Health England
- Revolving Doors Agency
- The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care
- Nuffield Family Justice Observatory
- The Chief Social Worker for England
- What Works for Children’s Social Care
- Social Care Institute for Excellence
- Royal College of Midwives
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- Magistrates Association
- Prison Reform Trust
- VCSE Health & Well Being Alliance
- Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford
- The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute, University of Cambridge
The LET has also been integral in the production of many of our own publications, including:
- Your Inside Guide to pregnancy, birth and motherhood in prison
- Birth Charter for women in prison in England and Wales
Being part of the Lived Experience Team helps women make their voices heard, builds their confidence, and supports them to develop new skills and help others facing challenging situations.
"It is welcoming to know that the voices of people that have been through the system are being listened to. Not only does it represent reality, for people living the situation, it is also encouraging to know that service providers value the input we are giving."
Lived Experience Team members are trained, supported through every activity, and receive payment for their time and to cover travel and childcare costs.
If you have faced challenges in pregnancy or early motherhood and would like to discuss joining our team, or if you are an organisation interested in working with the team, please contact our Engagement Manager Kate Chivers.