My Year as NECG Lead for Expert Citizens, Stoke

Theresa Tainton

From January 2016 to February 2017 I was the lead for Stoke for the National Expert Citizens Group. I attended five conferences in this period with different members of the Stoke group joining me. I’ve had a brilliant time seeing the different areas and made some good friends in the process.

Being involved with the national experts I’ve had some fantastic opportunities the highlight of which was when I spoke at the CFE Evaluation conference about stigma and received a standing ovation. It was the first time I had spoken to an audience and I found it terrifying! However it was also a huge boost for my confidence and has led to me speaking at other events. It taught me that my opinions were worth listening to and that professionals valued what I had to say.

In November 2016 I was fortunate to take part in two days of chair training in Birmingham. On the first day we learned skills and on the second all involved got to either speak to the room or lead table workshops. I found my administrative skills coming in handy when it came to organising the skills and attributes which everyone in the room had compiled about themselves. It was thinking of my own attributes which was the most difficult part of the day and the experience was quite overwhelming in a positive and affirming way.

From these experiences I’ve been lucky to form close links with Manchester Fulfilling Lives and I now sit on the Media and Communications group for the NECG, so although I’m not the Stoke lead anymore I’m still able to play an active role in the national group.

If anyone was interested in getting involved with the NECG I couldn’t recommend it more. It is good fun, you meet some interesting people who are passionate about improving the lives of people like us and you get to see your words become actions.