Collaboration and service user involvement were very much to fore during our recent Ideas Generator workshops, both of which centred on gathering the many opinions of those we support.

Building on the success of the roadshows in 2022 and 2023, the first two Ideas Generators of this year welcomed in excess of 150 people across two venues: the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena (in April) and Dunmurry’s Balmoral Hotel (in May).

These are now well established as a highlight of the Inspire calendar, providing everyone with an opportunity to get involved in the life of the organisation. By connecting services with each other, we exchange ideas and create new ways of doing things.

As ever, all members of the Inspire community were invited to discuss a range of topics, from political engagement to the power of personal testimony – both good and bad – and we were especially pleased to welcome individuals from our addiction services. Their contributions remain vital in delivering Inspire’s three-year strategy.

Asked to identify the things they would most like their local elected representatives to address, attendees offered up a rich tapestry of experiences and insights, each one its own story. This feedback has proved invaluable in the crafting of our general election manifesto, Inspire 20Four.

Then, earlier this month, the Tullyglass Hotel was again the venue for another important event. Our biannual wider management symposium brought together managers from every Inspire scheme, along with all assistant directors and the executive leadership team, for a series of conversations about the power of the Inspire voice.

Each of the 88 attendees was first asked to identify key themes for inclusion in the election manifesto, an activity they embraced with enthusiasm. Their input proved vital, supporting the points made by the people who use our services and bringing fresh perspectives to the process.

Later, we convened a panel of experts for the afternoon plenary session, which was chaired by our CEO, Kerry Anthony, and made up of the Managing Director of Confluence NI (and former MLA and Minister for the Economy) Simon Hamilton, BBC journalist Kelly Bonnar and Inspire Group Director of Intellectual Disabilities and Autism Dunia Hutchinson. Two members of our Aspen service in south Belfast, Billy and Gavin, also joined the discussion.