Sunday, 27 January 2008

Remaining open, humble and connected

Some things can never be said enough and the importance of asking the experts - in Brook's case young people - can never be stressed to often.

Some people and organisations involve their clients better than others. For me it is a matter of principle and professional credibility, and our responsibility to open ourselves and the way we do things for questioning if the existing structures do not enable effective participation. If we do not involve those we seek to serve in all of our work, we potentially get the questions, the answers and the messages wrong. This was demonstrated recently where young people were asked their views about different forms of contraception - one asked, what is contraception. We had taken some knowledge for granted - what does sexual health mean to young people and how important is it?

In the evaluation of a sexual health project several years ago, some recipients of the work were very clear - talk to us about HIV if you like, we might even enjoy it, but unless we get to think about our experiences of racism and other discrimination it is unlikely to impact on our behaviour and our sense of empowerment.

We must be sure that we are open to changing the way we do things so we can truly get expert opinion and be willing to listen to what they say, so what they say influences the things that we say on their behalf.

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