Team positionality statement
A website is a window on the world of a research project, a place where goals, findings and resources are displayed. It is also a window on the many people involved in the different phases of the research, from the initial proposal development through to dissemination of the findings.
Diversity of voices
We believe it is important to recognise the diversity of voices that have contributed to the project and that are made visible in the project outputs. This recognition, however, is not simply a matter of listing names on a website. Rather it is an ongoing process of critical reflection about how we interact with significant interlocutors, about the implications of our team make-up for the way we frame and carry out our research, and how we respond to risks and put in place mitigations as the research evolves.
These reflections are shaped by our project goals and the agendas that we seek to influence both in adult social care services and in academic research. They are also shaped by societal shifts in the way in which matters of diversity and intersectionality are attended to in public life.
Advancing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Through our theory of change (ToC) plan, we have made a commitment, among others, to advancing the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda in MHA reform beyond race, culture and gender to take account also of language. Advancing this agenda is productively shaped by understanding how the various structures of oppression, discrimination and social empowerment are experienced through open dialogue between everyone that has been and continues to be involved on the project.
A thread that runs very consciously through the project is how we can best embody and articulate the change we want to see and how we determine the mechanisms and opportunities that support this in the short, medium and longer term. The various constellations of voices within the project described below provide an insight into how we are developing our approach.
Our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) group plays a vital role in bringing to public attention experiences of service users and carers from diverse cultural and language backgrounds, whose lives have been impacted to a greater or lesser extent by assessments under the Mental Health Act, whether directly or indirectly.
Our project team is multidisciplinary, involving academic experts from the disciplines of social work, translation and interpreting studies, mental health and deaf studies. The team brings together individuals from both Deaf and hearing groups, and has engaged the paid professional services of under-represented groups, for example in the creation of the project website. Most of the project team also have professional experience of mental health act assessments (either as an Approved Social Worker or an Approved Mental Health Professional) or professional experience in translation and (spoken / sign language) interpreting.
Our advisory board is made up of professional AMHPs, AMHP educators, professional interpreters, representatives of professional interpreter associations and the Department of Health. AMHP practice in different geographical regions of England is represented and the board includes Deaf and hearing individuals, individuals of different ages, levels of professional experience, gender and ethnicities.
Our collaborators in resource creation include actors involved in TIPP, a social justice theatre initiative, professional AMHPs and interpreters. Resources have been developed in conjunction with the advisory board, the PPIE group and reviewed by a range of critical friends of the project and their creation involves individuals from a range of language and cultural backgrounds, representing different genders, ages and ethnicities.
Changing team dynamics
Although visitors to the site will likely remark on the whiteness of the core project team, it is important for us to publicly acknowledge that this has arisen as a result of happenstance and not design. Changes to the make-up of the team at the start of the project occurred as a result of changes in researcher availability; while such changes impact on the mix of ethnicities in the project team, they have at the same time enhanced the diversity of the team in other ways, which are equally important to the achievement of the project goals.