IGPB

Institute for user participation and user policy (IGPB)

IGPB is an independent agency for research, development and training, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We take experiences of people who are, were or have been on the receiving end of services as our starting point of our approach. Involvement of people on the receiving end (for the remainder of this outline we will use the term ‚users‘) in all phases of our projects is a very important principle of our work.

Many of our projects are commissioned by organisations of users, ex-users and or survivors of services. Funding is acquired from a range of public authorities and funding agencies.

When providers, purchasers of services, public authorities or other agencies approach us with a request to do research, we always involve people on the receiving end as soon as possible. Not only does this change the role users may wish to play, it also enhances the ownership of the research. Thus users are invited to take part, not only as providers of information but also as co-producers of knowledge and expertise based on experience.

Research and development

Research by IGPB is mainly focussed on gathering, ordering and systemizing knowledge which is founded on personal experiences with social, psychological and health problems. We developed new understanding about these problems and intervene in theories and practices that do not take the experiences of users as part of their knowledge base. We develop and test approaches and methods which empower the users and create opportunities to manage your own life and get control over disrupting circumstances. We design and crate specific small scale social experiments to find out about the difference a new way can make. We name these methods “userlanguages”. One of the results of our 30-year practice is a vast theory on expertice by experience and peer support. We support users who want to develop themselves as researchers. We intervene in social and health systems in such a way that these become less paternalizing and acknowledge the existing chances for recovery and empowerment.

Training

Training and education are another important part of our work. In 1995 we developed an approach in training which was innovative in mental health in the Netherlands. Users were invited to take part in developing training for professionals and (ex)users were invited to take part in this training as trainers.

After that we focussed on training peers/ experts by experience, in order to create a new profession in social and mental health services and to stimulate user led services. IGPB has developed various curricula, designed to support users to become experts by experience in several capacities, i.e. as a researcher, a trainer or as a support worker.

We participated in the Ex-in project and in The Missing Link project, both funded by Leonarda Da Vincy program of the European Union. In both projects we further developed the concepts of experts by experience. Also we contributed to the development of more training and education for experts by experience and their employment.

For information please visit the website of the Instituut voor Gebruikersparticipatie en Beleid B.V.