Paying for involvement – Why it matters

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This blog is written by Ruth Pryce, the Head of Programmes for Young People at the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

The value of lived experience

Paul Hamlyn Foundation is able to provide funding in the way we do because of the expertise offered to us by those with lived experience of the issues we seek to address. These individuals provide feedback, act as advisors, sit on committees, steering and focus groups and their insight is critical. We have always acted with good intentions and paid people for their time and contribution but over the last five years our understanding of how we gather, use and recognise lived experience has grown and with it our commitment to ensuring we pay people appropriately for their contributions and expertise. For example, one of our funding programmes (Act for Change Fund 2019-2022) threw up lots of learning and questions about involving young people in design, delivery, decision making and leadership. We learnt that passion and payment are not opposites and that a focus on ‘volunteering’ has sometimes led to the assumption people who really care about something will do it for free. However, this isn’t possible for many people who face economic and other injustices.

Paying for involvement

Our work focuses on equity and social justice and so the issue of equal pay for equal work – and pay that doesn’t inadvertently lead to further oppression (by interrupting benefits entitlements for example) is front and centre. As a funder focused on equity, inclusion and justice, we do not want people experiencing an injustice when they are sharing their lived experience of injustice with us. It is that experience, which is often inherently linked to being in receipt of benefits of many kinds, that is hugely valuable in supporting process and systems change, and in raising awareness of what needs to change based on lived experience. Many organisations are seeking this critical insight to inform their work and to design and transform systems and processes for a better future. We need to understand how we can appropriately remunerate people for this critical insight.

The Payment for Involvement Playbook

The Payment for Involvement playbook created by The Social Change Agency is an important step in supporting good practice in paying for involvement. It aims to support charities, local authorities and a range of other organisations in building their practice and policies for paying people for their involvement. It focuses on keeping people safe, especially those in receipt of benefits, not risking their entitlements. It recognises the importance of paying lived experience experts for their time and expertise, sets out the considerations in terms of the impact of payment and aims to set an industry standard. Paul Hamlyn Foundation is pleased to have supported The Social Change Agency in putting this playbook together.

Are you part of an organisation that wants to know how to pay people for involvement? Learn more about our work on this issue and join our learning community here.

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