Last month St Mungo’s held its annual Client Festival organised by Outside In, our client involvement group. Liam, a member of Outside In, tells us about his role helping to organise the Festival.

St Mungo’s Client Festival is a festival for clients by clients. The theme this year was ‘Elements’ and aimed to bring together the different elements that will empower clients to learn thrive, and contribute to their communities.

I got involved with the Client Festival accidentally. I had intended to enrol at the St Mungo’s Train and Trade Centre, in South London, which offers training in various trades like bricklaying and painting and decorating. Whilst there, I was introduced to Nathan Rosier, the manager of Outside In, a group which is made up of clients who work in partnership with St Mungo’s to improve its services.

‘Like a flower blooming’

Outside In do a lot of different things so I was able to dip my toes in a lot of different things. It was like a flower blooming. I’ve gone from knowing one person to knowing many people in different departments of St Mungo’s. I’m getting to know the different things that interest me.

Organising the Client Festival was intense but fun. I think I brought a fresh perspective when I was helping organise it. I wanted people to engage with the stall holders at the festival. So I came up with an emoji style quiz, which got people walking around.

‘ I had something to bring to the table’

I took the lead on our raffle quiz, which required people interact with the stall holders. I would probably change how I engaged with the donors of the raffle prizes. I don’t have that much confidence so ringing the donors and the face to face conversations were a bit challenging.

It’s the first point in ten years where I felt that I had something to bring to the table. It was stressful long days. Hectic! Really hectic! It gave me a routine because I had to manage my personal stuff as well. It made me feel like a professional. I miss it. When I was packing away the stuff at the end of the day, I was thinking, ‘this is all done now’.

‘It was a big hit!’

The Festival went really well. I think it was a big hit! What I hoped for was that clients got more aware of what happens in St Mungo’s and what the different departments do. It was the high level of client involvement from members of Outside In, and volunteers who helped out on the day that made it special.

Clients took control of the Festival, we decided on the small things, the decorations to the trees on the stage – that’s what made it a success. It wasn’t St Mungo’s coming up and telling us what to do. It was our ideas. It was the engagement from the clients that made it a success.

‘The clients’ perspective’

Client involvement to me is those who live in St Mungo’s properties or use their services getting involved from the smallest things to the biggest. It’s their perspective. It’s their views recognised and listened to by St Mungo’s. It’s the clients acting proactively in everyday things from meetings to events.

Involving clients is enormously important. I don’t think St Mungo’s would grow or learn without a client perspective and understanding what works. It gives clients motivation, a sense of being, achievement and something to grasp onto. They learn. They grow. They’re inspired. It’s fundamental to what St Mungo’s is.

‘The year ahead’

I’m looking forward to next year. I have applied for a volunteer role at St Mungo’s. I’ve also been speaking to St Mungo’s head of diversity and inclusion about the new Client Involvement Strategy, which is something I am really into. I am keen to find out where I can get most involved next.