Amplifying the voices of people with lived experience

Lost Voices

Charities must work towards centering the voices of lived experience at the heart of their digital campaigning

Lost Voices aimed to seek out and amplify the voices of people with lived experience of social problems, voices which are too often drowned out of public debate. Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the project brought together over 150 organisations from across the sector, politicians and technologists collaborating with the goal of putting lived experience at the centre of digital campaigning.

Our research highlights the breakdown of trust between the key players in the digital campaigning space: decision makers, charities, technology providers and those with lived experience. Our report suggests that while this is largely a result of the overuse of unfocused email campaigning techniques, it is exacerbated by factors such as metrics of success, the tools used and the availability of resources.

The report acknowledges that decision makers are influenced positively by contact with those with lived experience and in theory, digital campaigning should allow for greater contact between the two groups. Charities have an important intermediary role in voicing the concerns of the lived experience to those in power.

digital campaigners often work in silos, away from those with lived experience

However, we suggest that the rise in digital campaigning techniques has led to a general degradation in the relationship between charities and decision-makers. The voices of those with lived experience are often inadequately represented in charity digital campaigns: digital campaigners often work in silos, away from those with lived experience (and even organisational colleagues); those with lived experience are inadequately supported in participating in campaigning; and charities are often poor in identifying which of their campaigning supporters are able to offer lived experience.

The findings in this research are especially important because they shift us from problem understanding towards practical solutions
Baljeet Sandhu, author of The Value of Lived Experience in Social Change

The impact of these has been to undermine the trust of people with lived experience in the campaigning process and to cause considerable harm to the relationship between charities and decision-makers, reducing the effectiveness of the former’s campaigning efforts in general. In order to reverse this erosion in trust, we developed a toolkit to enable charities to interrogate their digital campaigning practices to enable the voices of people with the lived experiences to be heard better by those in power. The key recommendations for charities can be found in our full report here.

Download our Lost Voices toolkit for charity campaigners [Free resource]

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