Lived Experience. Marcus Rashford. MPs.
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Ok, so I’ve been a bit silly in this blog before, but this week I’m feeling more serious. It’s been a difficult week for lots of reasons and reading/watching the news continues to be really upsetting.
So here we go again. It seems like a few days ago I wrote about Marcus Rashford. How he was pushing the government to change their mind about extending Free School Meals into the summer holidays. He succeeded then, because there were so many people behind him, from experts in child development and education to celebrities to the general public. Back then the government changed their mind.
At the moment they haven’t, but pressure is building. But, what sets this apart from any other celebrity campaign? Well, I think the main thing is “lived experience”, but what is that? You may have heard this term being used and I only came across it a few years ago when I heard someone on a course use the term.
It seems obvious on the surface.
If an issue applies to or affects a particular group of people, then they are best placed to comment, advise, support and campaign on it. Their “lived experience” allows them to understand the issues in way that anyone who has not got that “lived experience” simply can not.
This doesn’t mean that you can not comment, advise, support and campaign on an issue unless you have “lived experience”, but that you should take into account the lived experience of people when you are commenting, advising, supporting and campaigning about an issue.
So, it is saying that you are in a good position to support/comment on/advise/campaign for others if you have experienced the thing yourself.
You see if often in charity. Often the most successful personal campaigners are those that have been directly affected by an issue, those that have “lived experience”.
Using doctors as an example could work to help explain why the second part is necessary.
A doctor can advise and support patients without having personally suffered from a particular disease or illness. But the doctor’s knowledge will have been informed by the “lived experience” of others who would have had the disease/illness. I just made that up, so sorry if it doesn’t work for you.
Marcus Rashford has lived experience. He has lived a life where he knows what is like to go without food, to struggle, to worry, to fight for survival.
He has the “lived experience” that entitles him to make informed and balanced comments on this complex issues of poverty, food and hunger. He also has the platform of being a professional footballer and has the connections to influence other key people.
Many Members of Parliament do not have “lived experience”. And they have not listened to those who do have “lived experience”. What a shame.
Hopefully happier hours henceforth,