Service User Involvement

Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) is a unique alliance of eleven women and girls’ organisations from across Leeds. Between us we have specialisms in domestic violence, mental health, sexual health, sex work, trafficking, child sexual exploitation and education. Click here to read more.

We are guided by the fact that people who access WLL services are ‘experts by experience’. It’s important to hear your ideas and get them out there to change things for the better. We believe this can help other women along their journey to lead fulfilling lives.

Getting involved can be as much or as little as you like; from sharing your thoughts in a monthly Advisory Board meeting, to recruiting staff or attending wellbeing activities led by your peers.

Join us to share your skills, ideas and experience and be a positive influence on the lives of women and girls in Leeds! Below are a variety of ways you can make this happen and the benefits it can bring…

Positive Changes to Your Life

Positive changes to women & girls using WLL services

Positive changes for all women and girls in leeds

contact us

Service user impact

Positive Changes to Your Life

Positive Changes to Your Life

‘I’ve grabbed every opportunity that’s been given to me, attended all the courses and meetings. It’s a very nurturing family and they are helping me build myself back up. I’ve grown so much in my mind and personally. It’s given me more confidence and I knew it would, that’s why I joined’  Member since June 2020

Take the next step on your journey to personal and professional development. Join our inspiring group of women to help run the Women’s Lives Leeds (WLL) Advisory Board.

A few of the benefits of becoming a member:

  • Build your self-confidence and meet new people
  • Find mutual connection, acceptance and understanding
  • Access training and learn skills like public speaking, event planning, minute-taking and more
  • Share your opinions and ideas in a welcoming and friendly space
  • Helpful for looking for future volunteering or paid work, references can be provided

You set the agenda and decide how much you would like to be involved. No experience is necessary as all the skills needed, can be learnt. Usually there are between 4-8 women attending, it is not a large intimidating group.

We provide a lunch to share and can repay expenses for women to attend. When it’s safe to do so, we can meet you for a chat about your own situation, interests and how you want to be involved.

Women who have attended the Advisory Board have gone on to sit on recruitment panels, attend senior management meetings, develop and run events and have fun! Some members have found volunteering and job opportunities thanks to their experience on the board. Find out more by contacting us.

Positive Changes to Women & Girls Using WLL Services

Positive Changes to Women & Girls Using WLL Services

‘’We celebrated International women’s day and I was given the opportunity to deliver a speech for which I am very thankful. That was the first time ever I got to express myself. It improved my self-confidence and my social life.” – Nari Ekta service user

Through the Advisory Board you will hear about ways for you to shape and influence the service:

  • Learn about the project and the wider impact it has on women in Leeds
  • Hear about opportunities to get more involved in WLL and in strategic decisions affecting women and girls in the city
  • Have an equal say with the WLL project board and Alliance meetings; share your ideas to increase service user engagement and improve the service
  • Support your Advisory Board peers to grow professionally and personally
  • Help run plan events and meetings for service users, like our International Women’s Day event on 5th March 2020
  • Have a say on who gets recruited into WLL staff roles
  • Train staff and volunteers in WLL; get training and support to help WLL improve its service delivery by proposing and delivering training and information sessions to staff and volunteers
  • Talk to small and bigger groups about your experience, or what you think needs to happen about an issue you’re passionate about
  • Join the board of trustees or volunteer with another WLL organisation

Positive Changes for All Women and Girls in Leeds

Positive Changes for All Women and Girls in Leeds

‘I joined the Advisory Board because I get knowledge of what’s happening in the community, get to know other points of view and learn new things. You give your own views to make improvements there, you can raise your voice about anything and meet new people. I gain knowledge of how meetings work, how to take ideas and make changes’  Advisory Board member since May 2020

Find support and encouragement to take your issues wider and get your voice heard by politicians and local leaders. Meet people who you can influence and collaborate with at the above events and meetings.

We can also support you to…

Peer-Led Activities

Peer-Led Activities

‘I learnt what we can do to bring changes among us and also how can we make an improvement. There’s a piece of mind sharing our problems in the group and getting solutions for that..it was really great joining this group’ Asha peer support participant

Women’s Lives Leeds defines Peer Support as:

“..a mutually beneficial exchange which is based on women sharing their experience. It can be both formal and informal, and whilst it constitutes different activities, at heart there are core values of shared identity, safety and trust, reciprocity and mutuality, empowerment and agency and a woman centred approach.”

We adopted the above core values from the Mind Side By Side 2017 toolkit and we also designed our own Group Contract to help guide our meetings.

Peer support projects are running across WLL organisations. Whether you have used WLL services in the past or still do, you can run or attend activities ran by service users, also known as peer support.

  • Read about some WLL peer support activities and barriers to moving online in this WLL remote peer support toolkit, created in May 2020.
  • Contact us about joining a current group, or if you’d like support setting up your own activity; get support with this.
  • WLL is a steering group member of the Leeds Peer Support Network. Find out more here to add your voice, share your experience and learn from others to improve the way peer support is done.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Ready to find out more?

If you have completed your support with one of our complex case workers or have accessed any WLL organisations in the past, you may be ready for the next challenge. If you are interested speak to your worker; if you have finished your support feel free to contact us directly.

You can ring, text or WhatsApp us for a chat on 07584 132757 or email us. When it’s safe to do so, we can also meet you for a chat about your own situation, interests and how you want to be involved.

We welcome your involvement big or small and will try our best to be flexible around your commitments and needs.

We can reimburse childcare and travel expenses and provide refreshments. Meetings are usually in a fully accessible venue, but please let us know if there are any specific requirements to enable you to attend and feel included.

Stay in touch:

  • Join our WLL mailing list – keep updated of activities and events by joining our email mailing list at the bottom of this page. We can post you updates if preferred.
  • Keep informed: check out WLL’s impact on our learning page & read our news posts.
  • Keep us informed! Even if you’re unsure you want to formally take part, we still want to hear from you, so contact us to share your ideas. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Service User Impact

Service User Impact

Take a look at the timeline below to see some of the ways Women’s Lives Leeds service users have influenced and change things for themselves and other women & girls in Leeds…

2017

  • 5 service users took part in the recruitment process for Community Development and Complex Needs Workers. 50% of women who showed an interest in participating in the recruitment process actually took part (5/10); this was heavily due to the presence of staff/managers familiar to service users. All those that partook said they enjoyed it and would like to be further involved with Women’s Lives Leeds.
  • January – An evaluation of the recruitment process for WLL Community Development and Complex Needs Workers emphasised the need to involve service users from initial stages of recruitment e.g. job design and adverts, to shortlisting, interviewing and finally decision-making.Read more
  • Recruitment of four initial Advisory Board members and first meeting held.
  • Service users from two groups, one of which for young mothers, helped to create the WLL Engagement and Engagement Expenses report policy, to reduce barriers to accessing support, such as; childcare, accessibility, lunch and travel.

2018

  • 2 WLL advisory board members and 6 WLL staff and volunteers completed peer support training ran by Leeds Mind. This led to 4 initiating peer support activities and supported two people already engaged in peer support activities were able to share learning, reflect on their activities and impact.
  • June – WLL Advisory Board hosted a free creative day for women in Leeds city centre. As part of the centenary of suffrage celebrations we worked in partnership with students from Leeds Arts University, resulting in a day for women to take part in creative activities; zine making, needlecraft and rope basket weaving. Women brought their children who also took part in craft activities; sharing stories of womanhood, using our voice, suffrage celebrations and Women Friendly Leeds. Advisory Board members shared their experiences of how they got involved and what they get out of it. Everyone who attended said they felt it was fun and that they were welcomed and valued.
  • November – Leeds Peer Support Network Annual Practitioners took place; aimed at those who are at the grassroots of peer support delivery or those for whom facilitating will be the next step. WLL peer support practitioners helped to deliver sessions.
  • November – An exhibition event of the July centenary of suffrage celebration creative project. This included a Q&A with local councillors, to challenge them what they were doing for local women in their constituencies. The event was attended by over 100 different women and also had a theatre performance. Some of the AB chose to be involved in planning, some in set up and some chose to attend only. They also invited women to join the AB.

2019

  • Sept/Oct- Nari Ekta started their first pilot peer support project and co-produced a Peer Support Toolkit with WLL’s peer support development worker
  • March – Leeds Peer Support Network – Next Meeting Date Announced “Focus on Funding”
  • November – Advisory Board members shortlisted WLL Peer Support & Inclusion worker role applications; peer support facilitator on recruitment panel and staff member successfully recruited
  • December – Members of the WLL Service User Advisory Board gave a talk and Nari Ekta staff spoke of the success of their peer support pilot at the third annual WLL learning event in front of a 100-strong audience.

2020

  • January – Nari Ekta commenced the second cohort of their peer support project
  • February – Recruitment of WLL Sex Worker Inclusion & Participation Worker job role, with Basis service users a part of the shortlisting & recruitment panel
  • March – WLL International Women’s Day event organised by Advisory Board members and designed for all WLL service users. Over 90 past and current WLL service users joined us for a day full of talks and activities. Some helped setting up the event, one designed the poster and two helped in deciding on the day’s events. 4 past and present service users from 3 different organisations gave personal talks and another read out her poetry. Read more.
  • March – Start of Asha’s peer support pilot; this moved online due to COVID-19 social distancing measures with continued engagement through phone and video calling; “It’s good to know what’s happening and how others are keeping themselves safe.” – Asha peer support participant.
  • March – Start of Basis peer support activities. This moved online due to COVID-19 social distancing measures with continued engagement through a Whatsapp social group and weekly Zoom meeting, focused on creating a Sex-workers stigma toolkit to be given to professionals and sex workers to help identify what is stigmatising and how to respond.
  • April 2020 – re-design of Leeds Peer Support Network website, which WLL is a steering member of. Creation of social media accounts and shared information platform continually shaped by what peer support network members want
  • May 2020 – Online WLL Peer Support toolkit created with the collaboration of WLL service users and peer support facilitators, including Asha, Basis and Getaway Girls. WLL remote peer support toolkit
  • July 2020 – The Advisory Board decided on it’s own Group Contract to get the most out of meetings
  • August/September 2020 – Collaboration between WLL staff and AB members to create a new WLL Alliance agreement; which states Advisory Board will have a representative with voting rights on the WLL Alliance board!
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