Valuing people as the experts in their own lives

We love doing consulting work, providing policy advice, undertaking data analysis, writing reports - all those things and more. But there is one thing each of us has been doing for years, that we find the most rewarding. Listening to people. Our company very much works from our ethic of valuing people and their lived experience. Whether it is through talking to individuals or to the organisations that represent them, we have a passion for planning consultations and finding out people's real needs, views and ideas. Every session is unique and rewarding, and the insights shared so instrumental for many of our projects.

We always seek to demonstrate that we value people's expertise in their own lives. Recognition can take many different forms. It might be written acknowledgement in a publication, a meal, or money. We seek to offer recognition that reflects people's values and needs. Sometimes, we sit together before a consultation and prepare 'thank you' envelopes. It is a lovely moment where we think about the people we will meet, plan the consultation - and get to do craft like when we were at primary school!

We recently ran consultations with some socially isolated people in their 70s and 80s who obviously weren't used to being asked about their experiences. They were wonderful to sit and listen to. At the end, we provided a gift card to each person. One of them said, in surprise, "Why are you giving us these?". Our reply was simple.  "Because you know stuff we don't".