Category Archives: Service user and carer involvement

Film Festival featuring ‘experts by experience’

On February 22nd over 100 people came together to attend this unique event, which was held at the Dorothy Flemming Lecture Theater, Sheffield Hallam University.

The event was opened by Sarah Blackmore, of Social Work England and compared by Alison Haywood, Service User Lead for Sheffield University.

14 films from across the partnership from both childrens’ and adult service users.

Film name Where from
Who Cares Lincolnshire Children’s services
I am Sheffield Young Carers
Young Carers in Sheffield Sheffield Young Carers
Young Advisors Young Advisors in Doncaster
Our Stories Sheffield Young Carers
We Care, Do You? Sheffield Young Carers
Precious Things Rotherham Children’s Service
Messages for Social Workers Sheffield Children in Care Council
Strength Based Approaches Sheffield Adults
Luke Pickles Doncaster Adults
Sharon and Alexa Doncaster Adults
Pause Doncaster Children’s Trust
Carers Charter Sheffield Carers Centre
Recovery Sheffield Drug and Alcohol Team

A Sheffield Foster Carer reflects on the Film Festival…

I had the pleasure of being invited to a film festival held in Sheffield at the Dorothy Fleming Lecture Theatre, kindly made available by Sheffield Hallam University. I had no idea what films were to be shown, I was only aware that the films were the brain child’s of “experts by experience” i.e. local and regional service users and carers. There were 14 short films in total ranging from just a few minutes to around 15 minutes.

As a foster carer I was particularly looking forward to the films presented by children and young people. I really wasn’t disappointed. Four films from Sheffield Young Carers really brought home to me how wonderful these kids really are. There are children as young as 5 (yes 5!) who are carrying out caring roles in their family life. These kids and young people are also going to school/college and have little or no “normal life” experiences that many of our kids have. They are real heroes.

There was a great film from the Rotherham Children’s Service which highlighted the importance of personal possessions that kids coming into care bring with them. They are important reminders of where they come from, family memories and who they are. How poignant were the messages from this film.

A film from Lincolnshire Children’s Services depicted a single mom with 4 children, one of whom had autism. The mom had in the past suffered from a small stroke and had struggled to cope with looking after her family.  Up stepped the kids who made lots of personal sacrifices to care for each other, cleaning, cooking, looking after the child with autism and still maintaining their education. They were all clearly under pressure and stressed but they so cared for their mom and each other. Wonderful bunch.

Sheffield Children in Care Council’s film “Messages for Social Workers” focused around how children and young people expect their social worker to behave.  It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it.  The outcome from the film was that 10 Golden Rules for social workers were produced by the Care Council.

The second half of the Film Festival showed films dealing with issues faced by adults and services available for them.

As if the films weren’t enough, there was popcorn at the interval and a really nice buffet at the end enabling plenty of networking and finding out more about the people behind the films.

Film Festival – Featuring ‘experts by experience’

A FREE half day event hosted by the South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership

South Yorkshire Teaching Partnership are proud to be hosting a first… a Film Festival dedicated to showcasing films from experts by experience – children, young people and adults.  We are screening films designed to inform, challenge and inspire,  positioned within the world of social care or with transferable messages.  We will showcase films designed to impact on face to face interventions or on the development and delivery of services as a whole.

Following the screenings there will be a networking lunch with opportunities to meet the filmmakers, academics and social work colleagues from across the partnership.

Dorothy Flemming Theater, Charles Street Building, Sheffield Hallam University Friday February 22nd 9:30 – 1:00


9:30  Registration

10:00 – 12:00 Film Screenings

12:00 Lunch – Networking and ‘talk time’

Please share this invite with any colleagues or agencies that you think will want to attend.

For more information about the practicalities (including special dietary requirements) or how to get involved please email

To submit films suggestions or questions please email

To book your place please use this link:


Social Work Education Panel: Experts by Experience

Fiona Addison, the SYTP lead for Service User and Carer Engagement, talks about how SWEP’s ‘experts by experience’ are currently involved in Teaching Partnership activities:

With a record number of trained ‘experts’ including foster carers, adult carers, care leavers and young carers we are at the beginning of our busiest and most demanding time of year. Both universities have started their recruitment/assessment sessions for social work students and we represent the voice of children, young people and their carers at every event.  At the University of Sheffield we provide speed interviews and service user representatives on the interview panels; and at Hallam we participate in group observations alongside academics and practitioners and then score the students’ written insights on how they performed in the group activity.

In addition we provide workshops for students on placement, titled ‘It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it’ the workshop focuses on messages for social workers from children and young people in care, and uses the award winning film from our children in care council.  Foster carers facilitate the small group discussions throughout the workshop, and to date feedback has been excellent.  We participate in the annual ‘Living Library’ events at UoS, with 5 or 6 carers routinely joining 50+ students to share their ‘expertise’.   We also contribute on an ad hoc basis to individual lectures/seminars as and when invited by the academic lead.

Recruitment/assessment in numbers:

  • 14 trained foster carers
  • 1 trained parent/carer (from Rotherham)
  • 12 trained young people including care leavers, young carers and birth children in foster families (from Sheffield and Doncaster)
  • 19 selection events (7 completed)
  • Over 400 students predicted to be interviewed/observed

We’re looking forward to:

  • Attending lectures to get a feel for the social work curriculum and it’s delivery
  • More structured participation in social work education but with a clear focus on co-production
  • Becoming an ‘Experts by Experience’ resource linked in with individual academics’ areas of knowledge and specialism so we can contribute to the design and delivery of course content

Queries, questions, comments welcome to

Comments from service users and carers who have been involved in SWEP activities:

“Our work improves the jobs of the new social workers coming through, because we can pass on all our experiences, good and not so good, and what we think makes a good SW, and what children and YP expect, that makes them glad they have a good SW. Also what we or /yp/ think is a bad SW!”

 “I feel that the gap between social workers and foster carers is narrowing, both sides giving our own perspectives of the service, the pros and cons, and giving both sides a better understanding of the jobs we have and hold dear.”

Comments from students participating in ‘Service Users are People Too’ workshop, December 2016:

what a fantastic class, I really felt involved and respected”

“very good to hear the perspective of the people who support children for the large periods we are not there. How they deal with the repercussions of our actions/decisions”

“Really puts into perspective how important it is to explain what is happening to service users”