Lived Experience Advisory Panel
Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP or ‘the panel’)
Panel members: 12 local people who have diverse experiences with substance use and/or supporting a loved one who uses substances.
Panel established: 2018
Goal: The panel presents a platform where people with lived experience (PWLE) of substance use are paid to leverage their experiences to help shape local programs, policies, and initiatives. The panel offers organizations an invaluable opportunity to receive feedback on their activities and make necessary adaptations to more effectively serve to the needs of individuals who have navigated experiences with substance use.
1. The panelists provide comprehensive consultations to organizations, enhanced by training opportunities which build capacity for panel members.
2. The Panel helped shape 13 unique project/policy/initiatives between July 2022 and July 2023.
3. Panelists are paid an hourly wage that is reflective of their expertise.
“Being seen, being heard, being valued. It is and has been life changing, lifesaving, and life affirming. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety – it is connection, respect, friendship, creativity, self-worth.” (Panelist, 2022)
Process: Local organizations present their specific policies, programs, or initiatives to a panel, seeking valuable feedback from the panelists on how to enhance their effectiveness in meeting the needs of people who use drugs (PWUD). In particular, the group productively and respectfully discusses the strengths, room for improvement, and the specific and/or structural ways it could change to better services across our community.
Organizations are expected to report to the panel on how what they learned in the consultation will impact their work.
“You could not replicate the feedback shared by the panel. Being able to interact with the panel firsthand was extremely beneficial to my learning… the feedback shared by the group heavily influenced our work.” (Presenter, 2023)