Working with academics: from the perspective of Expert Citizen Phil Parkes
In this blog Phil Parkes, Volunteer Coordinator for Expert Citizens, discusses how his experiences have changed his mind set about working with academics to achieve systems change. Phil has worked on many projects with Staffordshire University staff, the Centre for Health and Development and individual PhD students; including Get Talking/Keep Talking and Experiences of talking to GPs about suicide.
I believe we are starting to enter a new stage where lived experience and learned experience can stand together on the same platform with solid foundations. To put that into context I also believe there has been numerous missed opportunities in the past to do this because of preconceived stigmatised ideas from both sides.
I put myself firmly in the lived experience category there and I have heard so many different reasons why people like myself are difficult to work with so therefore the work never got started. To name a few – we are disorganized, we are erratic with our actions and we are not focussed. These are stigmatised stereotypes that if we’re being honest could describe people from multiple backgrounds which adds substance to my view that acting in a person centred way and treating everybody on their individual merits would be beneficial. This also works the other way around as years ago if you had asked me to work with somebody from an academical background I would have flat out refused. The stereotypes I held on to were that they had no idea how to talk to people, they would instantly have a superiority complex and they would ignore any input I made. I now know that these views are flawed, and I like to challenge preconceived ideas.
Quite recently I have been a part of multiple research opportunities with Staffordshire university and those stereotypes have been rubbished. I have grown to realise that actual co production between the two camps can and does work. I have worked with PhD students as part of their public involvement teams and in doing so noticed multiple learning opportunities on both sides which reinvigorated my new stance on ways of working. This in turn has strengthened my belief that in order to create positive systems change lived experience and learned experience need walk hand in hand.
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