Previous Events

What is ‘user led’?

Exploring how being ‘user led’ can have a positive impact in disabled people’s lives.

Two workshop events: May 9th (Bournemouth) & May 30th (Southampton) 2017

Given the pressures on the disability social care sector and the demand for more person- and community-led support, we hosted a free two-part event to discover the opportunities that user-led practice can bring to community disability organisations, researchers, service providers and commissioners.

SPIRIT User Led Flyer

Aim of Event

The aim of the two workshops was to create a space to share and learn ideas together about:

  • what being user led means in practice
  • how being user led can have a positive impact on the lives of disabled people, particularly people with learning disabilities.

Who attended?

Community disability organisations, disability researchers, service delivery providers, and social care commissioners.

What did people get out of it?

Participants had the chance to:

  • meet other people working towards being user led in different ways and different types of organisation
  • examine how user led principles could be applied within their contexts
  • explore ways to co-produce solutions to improve disabled people’s lives
  • learn from others about how they have applied user led practices and found solutions to barriers.


Workshop 1 – Internal Focus

SPIRIT workshop image 1

What does being user led look like now within your role/organisation/sector? What should it look like? How can we improve on thinking about principles to address how organisations function?

Link to short film showing the highlights


Chris Mellor and Lisa Dixon, People First Dorset talked about how they have sought to embed user led principles within their work. Link to presentation

Ian Loynes, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living talked about his personal experiences of running a user led organisation. Link to presentation

Clare Tarling, Dorset Advocacy talked about how a homeless organisation re-modeled how it worked to be more person-led. Link to presentation

Workshop 2 – External Focus SPIRIT workshop 2 image 1

How can being user led help to co-produce solutions that improve the lives of disabled people? How can user led organisations, researchers, commissioners and services reach out and work with others? This event is more about finding out ways to embed co-production and an asset based approach.


Adam Fitzgerald and Chris Skinner, Dorset County Council both spoke about their efforts to embed the principles of community engagement and co-production within their commissioning .

Barod Community Interest Company (, which works with people with learning disabilities and helps organisations to think about ways to be more inclusive). They gave an interactive session about the different ways that coproduction can work in practice.

*Links to presentation coming shortly*

In both events, there were talks by individuals from organisations who have sought to embed user led principles and co-production within their work. There were also workshop sessions where people met and shared ideas with other people in different sectors (community disability organisations, researchers, service providers and commissioners).

Collectively, identified solutions to the growing challenges facing disabled people and the organisations/sectors that seek to support them. We are in the process of collating the responses from people and providing useful guidance on being more user led.

Where the events took place?

Part 1 took place at Citygate Centre in Bournemouth, two minutes walk from Bournemouth train station.

Part 2 took place at Wide Lane Sports Ground in Southampton, two minutes walk from Southampton Airport Parkway station.

If you would like to find out more, please send enquiries to Andrew Power, University of Southampton (