Case study

Influencing the national agenda: The National Expert Citizens Group

“The Expert Reference Group (NECG) kept my feet firmly to the fire and on the ground. The voices of those with lived experience of drugs have been urging us forward throughout, I hope not in vain, and I thank them for their invaluable testimony.” “Arising from such collaborative teamwork, the review recommendations take the form, “We recommend.” but I take full responsibility for them and their every word.”

 Dame Carol Black

The National Expert Citizens Group brings together the twelve Fulfilling Lives areas as a group to interact with government and service organisations. The interaction can take the form of questions coming directly from government and services while at other times the NECG raises an issue or topic to be passed back from the ground. NECG comprises two members from each of the Fulfilling Lives sites, all of which have lived experience. As well as the national NECG meeting, the groups divide into regional North, South and Midlands regional meetings where initial discussions on a question or topic takes place.  These discussions are then taken to a national meeting where recommendations are made and a report written and submitted to the organisation where the query began. Thus the model is layered with different opinions from different parts of the country culminating in an agreed national approach. 

The reach and the influence of the NECG is wide ranging including advising the Dame Carol Black Independent Review of Drugs where they brought the issue of dual diagnosis to the table and focused on highlighting the gaps in provision and the needs of those people struggling with addiction and other multiple disadvantages. In addition, one of the NECG Members sat on the house of Lords Panel on drug Policy change. Dual diagnosis became a focus of the discussions.

The influence of NECG has stretched to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government rough sleeping response team and the Housing Committee on responses to the pandemic.