Service User Involvement Guide

This guide is for staff, trustees and volunteers of any organisation wanting to involve service users in the management, design and delivery of their services. It is a structured and accessible introduction with examples of good practice, checklists and links to further information and support. This volunteering and mentoring guide will also support service users in their involvement in a Service User Involvement (SUI) project. We hope it will also be of interest to commissioners and funders.

Voluntary and community organisations, statutory agencies and others working with offenders, ex-offenders and their families are constantly looking to improve their services. It is widely accepted that service users are experts through their life experiences and involving them helps service providers get things right. SUI – where an organisation involves service users in planning, managing or delivering the services that it provides – is recognised as an effective tool. This guide sets out SUI’s many benefits.

There is good evidence that SUI can make services more effective and there are many ways to involve service users. SUI can also have positive benefits for the service users involved, from raising their self-esteem to opening the door to paid employment. This guide aims to help organisations ensure that their SUI project is more than another ‘tick box’ exercise.

There are six main sections in this guide covering:

  • basic information about what SUI is and why it can help both service users and organisations
  • the issues that organisations need to consider before embarking on an SUI project
  • the different opportunities for SUI within an organisation and covers project planning and delivery
  • how to find, support and retain your service users
  • sample policies and good practice
  • sources of further information and support.

We hope that this guide will show how involvement can work by sharing experiences and examples of good practice.