Nothing about me without me – Mat Southwell

One of the highlights of the RCGP/SMMGP Conference last week was Mat Southwell’s talk ‘Nothing About Me Without Me’. There were a number of nuggets in there and his comments on the derisory and often tokenistic nature of service user involvement hit home for lots of folk in the audience (and not just the service users).

The speech is entitled “Nothing About Me Without Me” in acknowledgement of INPUD’s (International Network of People who Use Drugs) founding statement “Nothing About Us Without Us”. In the speech Matthew explores meaningful participation from his time running a participative drug services in the national health service for ten years through his work as a drug user activist and most recent engagement in the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board. He explores the nature of meaningful participation from clinical practice, through staffing and onto engagement in management and policy fora. He draws on reflections and illustrations from his time as health service manager and professional head of service, his time leading the UK drug user movements engagement with the NTA and his current work with the United Nations, to illustrate his argument.

It often helps if you are prepared to be a little bit sweary and his direct criticism of the NTA was refreshingly honest in a world of bland political manoeuvring. I’d recommend you catch Mat in person if you can.