SMK responds to concerns raised over lived-experience project

10 May 2023 News

Sheila McKechnie Foundation 'It's All About Power' report cover

The Sheila McKechnie Foundation has responded after concerns over its research project on lived experience and social change were reported.

SMK has led the Power Project since 2020 and published a report last year urging charities to think differently about power and stop “tokenistic” approaches to working with people who have first-hand experience of inequality.

This week, Charity Times reported concerns raised by a freelancer, with lived experience, working on the project.

SMK published a response to the article, disputing some of its details but admitting that work for the project had “not been without its difficulties”.

Charity: ‘We are responding to concerns raised’

SMK said in its statement that some participants in the Power Project had raised concerns internally last year and that the charity’s board had responded.

“While most participants feel the project was a success, a small number of the core learning group, set up to informally guide the work, felt the project had not lived up to its aims. They took their concerns to our board in July 2022,” it said.

“In the nine months since, SMK’s board has led a process to understand and respond to those concerns. They centred on valuable questions around ownership of knowledge and the opportunities for people with first-hand experience to be involved in SMK’s work.

“Detailed proposals were shared last November, setting out how an organisation like ours works with different types of knowledge and experience and offering clear ways for those with first-hand experience to be involved.

“Other members of the core learning group responded positively, but the board has yet to hear back from those who raised concerns. New criticisms were made, to which the board responded in March. It has not received a response to these either. SMK did receive a subject access request last month, which we responded to as required.”

‘We have owned our mistakes’

SMK added: “Equitable collaboration in social change is an ongoing process of sharing, mutual understanding, negotiation, support, and learning.

“We continue to learn, recognising that ‘getting it right’ isn’t a one-size-fits-all template.

“We have owned our mistakes on the way and will continue to do so.”

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