Hundreds of people who use Turning Point Scotland services have gathered at three unique events across Scotland.

TPS Connects took place in Aberdeen, Clydebank and Glasgow throughout September 2011.

They were created to give the people who use our services a chance to get together and share their views on the support they receive. As well as getting a say in many aspects of the services provided by Turning Point Scotland, there was a strong emphasis on bringing people together and having fun.

The first event was held in Aberdeen at the Citadel for services based mainly in the North on September the 1st. The learning disability event was held at the Beardmore hotel in Clydebank over two days on September 14th and 15th and the final event for service users was held at the Scottish Youth Theatre in Glasgow on the 29th of September.

Each event had a planning group with service users on them, involved in the main parts of the decision-making progress. So this put the service users firmly in the driving seat as the events were created for them, and by them.

Commenting on the learning disability event at the Beardmore, Roberto Pieraccini, from Mile End, said: “The conference went smoothly, the way the planning group wanted it to.”

Lorna Glen agrees: “It went really well and was really informative.” The events were very interactive and instead of a room full of people listening to speeches and presentations all day, service users got the chance to mix with their colleagues and friends, and try out a range of workshops and activities based around music, drama and IT.

Encouraging service users to have their say in a way they felt comfortable and confident with was a key element of each event, either by writing on the Talking Wall or recording a short interview as part of a Video Diary. The Question Time event was very popular and allowed service users the chance to discuss real issues that were important to them with a panel of key figures within the organisation and social care sector.

The events also gave board members and senior management a chance to catch up and chat to service users and staff in a relaxing environment, away from the usual day to day routines.  As the learning disability event was over two days there was also evening entertainment including karaoke.

All of the feedback and opinions about the events and the wider issues relating to Turning Point Scotland will be gathered in and considered.

Aileen Reid, Inclusion and Access Coordinator, said: “People really appreciate being given the opportunity to ‘have their say’ and to feel listened to.  We can improve the services we deliver if we listen to people who have received support from us”.

Turning Point Scotland Chief Executive Martin Cawley paid tribute to everyone involved:

“Involving people we support in decision making is a fundamental aspect of our activities. Our person centred and recovery focus approaches ensure that this is delivered to an extremely high standard on an individual basis and this underpins everything we do.  However these conferences have provided an ideal platform to achieve this at an organisational and collective level.

“I have been hugely impressed by these events. The level of engagement has been fantastic and they have generated a highly inclusive and exciting atmosphere. I very much hope that the people who have attended will take something away to help them on their own journey.

“I must also comment on how staff who have attended have supported people in an extremely respectful, dignified and discreet manner. I would like to thank you all in this respect. A special thanks must go to anyone involved in the planning groups. Their hard work and commitment have paid huge dividends. In particular Aileen Reid, Inclusion and Access Coordinator, has to be congratulated on coordinating everyone’s effort to make the events such a huge success.

We will continue to explore creative ways to meaningfully involve those who use our services in helping us deliver supports to help them fulfil their needs and aspirations.”