APLE Collective introduces LIFE.

 A shout-out to APLE and a snapshot of LIFE…

LIFE is delighted to be part of the APLE Collective and would like to say a huge thank you. A thank you for the opportunity to amplify the voices of those with lived experience. To share knowledge, experience, ideas and innovation with a Collective striving to affect change and eradicate poverty.  We are thrilled to be starting our journey with the APLE Collective and hope that we can bring some ideas and movement and to support the other members of the Collective with their missions. We are stronger together after all.  

We arrived here through connection. Miles, our founder member, kept bumping into various APLE Collective members in York MCN network ZOOM meetings in 2020 and being curious, he followed up to find out more about the Collective and realised the value of becoming a member. 

LIFE – Lived Insights from Experience… 

Life is an emerging organisation comprised of people who have lived insights from experience. Experiences of addiction, homelessness, mental health challenges and poverty, which of course, is not an exhaustive list. LIFE knows that there are a myriad of individual challenges and systemic failures within our current support systems that keep people in a position of weakness. LIFE aims to work with individuals, in partnership, to enact change.  

How we came to be

LIFE has been brewing over the last 18 months, following Miles’ participation in York Systems Changers. York Systems Changers, funded by Lankelly Chase, are people with a keen interest in wanting to explore radical ways of improving outcomes for people experiencing multiple complex needs across York. It brings together a diverse group of people who are passionate about creating a healthier system for those experiencing multiple disadvantages across the city, a community of change makers.  

Today, the organisation has expanded to include two more core members, Ian and Astrid who have both participated in York Systems Changers. LIFE aims to co-create at every stage, taking every opportunity to include more people and hear more voices. Diversity of thinking and experience is important to LIFE and as a result we are engaging with and supporting more people, people who have fresh ideas, different perspectives and hidden talents. For us, it serves to showcase the wealth of skills and talents that people who are often stigmatised by society have and how they can be galvanised to affect real change. 

What are we doing?…

In September 2020, LIFE was the lead into a project called “A Place For me” in York, where hostel residents shaped their vision of a virtual hostel and what it should provide, feel and look like. This involved engaging and shaping the thoughts of providers, designers and architects who had previously never considered working in this way, to give them real insights. The presentation findings are now shared with architects across Europe as a model of working and are still being developed further as we write.  

LIFE followed this piece of work with another looking at what residents of York feel a “service hub” should provide and look like and we’ve been gathering views across the board to help shape its anticipated delivery in 2021.  

Miles has and continues to participate on numerous steering groups within the York MCN Network around work such as commissioning future services contracts, understanding a commissioned cultural values survey of York’s residents, the hub development as above, bringing together creative ideas for enhancing delivery of support to people experiencing multiple complex needs and the systems that they have to deal with. 

We have much work to do here in York and the wider community to make real differences to people’s lives. Opportunities that previously have never been considered are starting to evolve and no longer should people be ignored or simply accept they should be grateful for anything they receive, however demeaning that is. We aim to deliver these changes. 

LIFE see the poverty of opportunities… 

The current lack of opportunities for people with lived experience often leads to cycle of being trapped within the system and consequently, trapped in poverty. LIFE aims to support and empower, to enable people to transcend poverty. To feel empowered to have choices and to embrace ambition. Part of that is to facilitate; can we move forward together? To ask questions; what do you think should change? Can we open-up and start to make things, simply, fairer? Can we work with and agitate the current systems that construct barriers and impede choices?  

We really want to hear and amplify the voices of those who feel ‘stuck’. To understand what the challenges are and to help knock down the barriers that are in the way. To magnify the voices of those who have been trapped in the system and help support those that have been held in a position of weakness towards empowerment.  

Towards empowerment…

In the course of our conversations with individuals who have experienced disadvantage we have heard narratives such as; 

“I need help”…”Why don’t you care?”…I hate myself”…”Always alone”…“What do I do now?” 

But with accessing some support, in this case with addiction recovery services, the narrative can change. 

“There is hope” “Family” “Happy” “Free” “Choices” “Love” “A FUTURE” 

LIFE knows that there is more to be done, that current services can only support an individual so far and in many cases impede the individual’s opportunities. We will continue to listen to people’s voices, to engage with systems and try to help shape the systemic changes that are needed to truly lift people out of poverty. How can we together, realise people’s aspirations? 

The Future… 

We are excited about our future with the APLE Collective and are looking forward to growing together with APLE. We believe that there is so much potential in working together, in fact, that it is vital to strengthen relationships and forge diverse and inclusive collectives to tackle the issues around poverty and to truly shape positive change. There is a real opportunity here and we would like to thank APLE from the bottom our heart for welcoming us to the Collective. We are looking forward to what the future holds and for the opportunity to help shape a fairer, inclusive and kinder society.