Join The LEAG
The Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG)
Helping the people we support to shape our coronavirus response
The Covid-19 Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) ran between 2020 - 2021. This page contains legacy information about the background and achievements of the LEAG.
What was the LEAG?
The British Red Cross always aim to better understand the needs of the people we aim to support.
So, in 2020, we set up the LEAG (the Lived Experience Advisory Group). This group of people came from across the country and experienced the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic in different ways.
Members of the LEAG drew on their own personal experiences to help shape our coronavirus response, so that our Covid-related services were inclusive, accessible and reached the people who needed them most.
We also used their experiences and insights to raise important issues to the government and media, to show how different social groups are affected by coronavirus and to campaign for wider support.
Speaking to other LEAG members and volunteers, I've become aware of how the coronavirus and lockdown have created so many different experiences. It's helped me feel like my situation is actually real. And it's reassured me that I'm coping with it all right and that I can keep going.Tom, a Lived Experience Advisory Group member, Exeter
How did it work?
All LEAG meetings happened remotely through individual and group phone and video calls.
We contacted participants at least once a month for as long as the pandemic lasted to see how they were getting on. We also got in touch when there are opportunities to influence and advise on our services.
Who could join the LEAG?
We wanted to hear from people particularly vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19, living in any part of the UK, including Northern Ireland. We asked them the following questions:
- Do you have a long-term health condition? This could be something like diabetes, cancer, or asthma.
- Are you having a hard time with coronavirus because of your living situation? For instance, are you a single parent or an older person living alone?
- Do you have mental health difficulties, such as loneliness and depression?
- Do you have money problems? Perhaps you are on a low income, waiting for Universal Credit or seeking asylum.
- Are you disabled? This could be the result of a health condition or something you were born with.
- Do you have a long-term physical health condition?
- Are you from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background?
Joining the LEAG - Carol's story
When Carol's husband died, she felt alone with her terrible grief. Then, isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic made this even worse. The Red Cross supported Carol through it all, phoning several times a week to chat and check she had enough food and medication.
We then approached Carol about joining the LEAG. As a member, she draws on her own experience of the pandemic to help shape how we help others. Carol feels the LEAG has given her a sense of purpose and helped her talk more openly with her son about their grief.
In this podcast, Carol shares her experiences with Dreanne, another woman dealing with the loss of loved ones.
It made me feel that I was at least reaching out and trying to help somebody, and at the same time that I was helping myself as well by talking about it, getting it out.
Carol, a Lived Experience Advisory Group Member, Newcastle
LEAG: successes and impact
The Loneliness Line explored loneliness through a series of phone conversations. People from across the UK share what it really means to be lonely and what they're doing to get through it.
LEAG members also influenced other loneliness resilience materials, including a wellbeing pack and kindness wellbeing boxes and a virtual cycling fundraising event.
And members from BAME groups, especially those on low incomes, those living alone or those with young children, also helped shape our influential policy: The Longest Year - life under lockdown.
The time and skills our participants gave us were very valuable, and we recognised your contributions in different ways.
These included thank you letters, records of contribution that participants could use in applications for jobs or courses, or giveaways related to the projects they supported.
The LEAG makes me feel valued because people want me to join their project or share my opinions. It's really kind of them and I feel like they care about me. They really want me to help, and I feel much better - valued.Mika, a Lived Experience Advisory Group member, Birmingham