Getting Involved


Firstly, we’d like to thank you for your interest in becoming involved in the Social Work programmes here at Northumbria University. On behalf of staff and students here – welcome! We hope that you enjoy working with us and that you quickly feel that you are part of the team.

Secondly, a note on language. The term ‘service user’ is often used, but we know that there are issues with his term. As a group, we have talked about this and acknowledge that it is a controversial term that many people dislike. One size does not fit all and the line between being a ‘service user’ and not being a ‘service user’, if indeed it exists, is blurry. Over the last few years the term ‘Expert by Experience’ has emerged, which some argue carries more positive connotations and recognises and legitimises the person’s experience and knowledge. Again, however, some people dislike this term. This note is to acknowledge that there are difficulties with the language that we use and to confirm that this conversation is ongoing. As a team we acknowledge and value the expertise, knowledge and experience that all of our educators bring and so have decided to use the term ‘educators by experience’. We hope that by using this term your knowledge, understanding and experience feels valued and appreciated. Your involvement enhances the quality of our social work programmes and we are incredibly grateful that you have decided to become part of our teaching team.

The guidance on this website has been created to share with you some of the key information that we think will be useful to support your work with us. This is not an exhaustive document so please do talk to us and feel free to ask any questions that you might have.

Thank you once again.

Steve O’Driscoll (Chair of the Educator by Experience Committee) and Sarah Lonbay (academic lead for Educators by Experience).

Principles and values underpinning involvement
  • Educators’ input into the curriculum is thoughtfully planned, managed, and implemented based upon equity, respect, and trust
  • Careful consideration is given to ensure that involvement of suitable and relevant representation is achieved which matches the person’s expertise and experience to the curricular content and student learning
  • There is acceptance of the role of the educator in choosing their lifestyles and means of meeting their own defined needs
  • There is recognition that not all needs can be met by health and social care professionals
  • There is adherence to the DH publications which provide benchmarking and guidelines
  • The standards of confidentiality are maintained at all times
  • The rights of the person will be upheld as set out in the Data Protection and that any personal details will be stored with due regard to good practice.
  • The infrastructure of systems and processes ensures that educators:
    • Have sufficient information to consent or decline the invitation to be involved
    • Are valued, empowered, and supported
    • Are treated as equal partners
    • Are fully recognised and their expertise acknowledged
    • Are not exploited in any way
    • Have full access to any documents to which they have contributed with the right to edit, if necessary, their contribution
    • Have the right to withdraw from involvement
    • Are remunerated for their contribution
    • All information offered by Educators by Experience will be as a result of informed consent and will be treated with confidentiality
Creating a positive and inclusive environment

We have some ground rules that underpin all of the interactions that take place in teaching sessions. These include:

  • Confidentiality (nothing will be shared outside of the session, unless we are told something that constitutes criminal behaviour or potential harm to yourself or others. If we need to break confidentiality, we will speak to your first).
  • Respect
  • Active listening
  • Valuing each others’ contribution
  • Opportunities to ask questions

If you feel there are any other ground rules that you would like to establish, please speak to a member of staff. This might include, for example, how you would like to be addressed within sessions or particular areas that you are or are not willing to be asked about by students. You will be told before the session what topics will be covered and what the format of the session will be. This is to allow you to make an informed choice about whether you wish to be involved or not. Please do ask further questions if anything is unclear.

You can also find lots of the information on this page and others within this welcome document and within this accessible version of the welcome document.


We value your time and efforts and as such, all Educators by Experience involved in the activities described above will be offered payment for their time and effort. It is down to the individual if they choose to accept it or not.

We offer four different options for renumeration.

Option 1- No payment, involvement is entirely voluntary

Option 2- Payment of expenses- bus fare, car parking, tunnel fee etc (where agreed)

Option 3- Direct payment to you (1 month in arrears)

Option 4- Payment to an organisation

If you choose option 1, you will sign a declaration stating you do not wish to be paid.

If you choose option 2, you will agree expenses with your University contact before attending and then they will help you complete claim form- please keep bus tickets etc.

If you choose option 3, we will need your bank details and national insurance number and your University contact will help you fill in the claim form. You can claim expenses (option 2) as well as the hourly rate (option 3).

If you choose option 4, we will need the details (finance department) of the organisation you have chosen, and your University contact will help you fill in the claim form. You can use this option and then claim money back from the organisation, if agreed with them (for example, for your expenses). 

We have two rates of pay for involvement.

The first rate of pay is £10 per hour and applies to any activity that does not involve you directly teaching or assessing students and does not require preparation time. So, for example- attending meetings to develop the new curriculum; recruitment of students/ staff.

The second rate of pay is £30 an hour and applies when you are working directly teaching and/ or assessing students and there is some preparation needed.

If you are involved in research or other project work, the payment may vary from this and will be negotiated with the project lead. Your University contact will organise payment directly with you by providing you with the claim form to complete on the day.

If you are in receipt of benefits and are unsure how payment might impact on these then you can visit or your local Job Centre for further information. Payments made through our Payroll system will come to the attention of the Department of Work and Pensions, thus there may be implications for your benefit payments.

You can find information about our payroll system and payroll deadlines here. 

If you have any queries about payment please contact:


We run regular training days for anyone who is involved on the social work programmes. If you have a particular idea about what you would like to see included, please get in touch and let us know. Details of training sessions are shared via the ‘News and Events’ page on this website and via the email contact list. If you would like to be added to this please let us know (there is a contact form on the home page of this website).

Peer support can also be offered by other people who are involved on the programme. We also offer the opportunity to shadow in some of these roles before you undertake them yourself. For example, if you would like to be involved in interviewing you can sit in a watch some take place before you are formally involved on the interview panel. If you would like to shadow some of this work then please let a member of staff know so that they can make arrangements with you.

If you are on campus and require first aid or other emergency support then you can contact our security team. Their contact details are:

  • EMERGENCY NUMBER: 3200 (0191 2273200). Please note, this number is for emergency use only.
  • General enquiries: 3999 (0191 2273999)
  • Email:


Fire Evacuation Procedure

We want to know that you are safe when you are on campus. Therefore, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the Health and Safety and Fire Evacuation procedure (below). If you are a wheel chair user or unable to respond quickly in an emergency situation, please ensure that your University contact is aware of this and they will prepare a personal plan with you.

Detailed below is the Fire evacuation procedure that EVERYONE must follow in the event of a fire.

On activation of the alarm everyone should leave the building through the nearest available exit and proceed to the designated assembly point.

On discovering an indication of fire occupants should:

  1. Operate the nearest fire alarm point
  2. Dial 999 and request the Fire Service (9-999 if internal phone)
  3. Inform Security (Ext. 3200) of their observations
  4. Proceed to assembly point

On no account must anybody re‑enter the building, leave their assembly point, or attempt to move their vehicles without the express permission of the Fire Service, a Senior Officer of the University or the Health and Safety Department. If you are unable to evacuate due to mobility issues, follow your Personal Emergncy Evacuation Plane (PEEP) and proceed to your nearest Refuge Point. DO inform a member of staff, fire marshal or student of your Location. Use the ‘Refuge Call Point and/or Vocall Phone’ This will alert Security to come and get you. A fire evacuation lift or chair will be used by staff to evacuate you from the building.





The department has a central committee that oversees Educator by Experience involvement on the social work programme. The aim of this group is to have a strategic overview of the development and implementation of involvement in social work education at Northumbria University. The group helps to raise the profile of people’s needs, views and interests in the way that they are engaged within core elements of the social work programme. Steve O’Driscoll chairs the committee and membership is open to anyone who wishes to be involved. The committee are available to provide support and information and you can contact them via Sarah Lonbay ( All staff within the department will also offer support and guidance around your involvement. Please see the website ‘News and Events’ on this website for details of the next committee meeting.


Please note that most sessions will take place at Northumbria University’s Coach Lane Campus in Benton. You can find details on how to get there here: How to get here. There is also a campus map available to view here: Coach Lane campus map.

Staff at the university can help to make transport arrangements for you to get to and from the campus if this is required. Please let the member of staff you are working with know if you would like them to advise you on travel arrangements or to help you book a taxi. You will be reimbursed for any travel expenses you incur.

If you are driving to the campus then please contact a member of staff so that they can book you a parking space as Coach Lane Campus is permit holder parking only.

If you have any additional requirements  (for example, a quiet or break out room to use or any medical issues that we should be aware of) please let the member of staff know about these ahead of the session. When you arrive on the campus someone will meet you in an agreed location and show you to the room.




If you would like to contribute to the website please contact Sarah Lonbay ( We welcome all contributions in many different formats. Please see the website or speak to Sarah if you would like further information about this. We also host regular discussion groups, our Social Work Whisperings, where we get together to discuss different topics in a friendly and informal manner. All are welcome to attend these and details are shared via email and via the website.

To find out what opportunities are upcoming you will need to be added to the contact list as these are sent out via email. If you are not currently on the contact list and would like to be, please contact Sarah Lonbay (details below). You can ask to be removed from this list at any time (without the need to give an explanation) by letting Sarah know. You can also find out what is happening by checking the ‘News and Events’ page on this website.

We welcome your feedback so please feel free to contact us at any point with your comments and suggestions.

If at any point you are not happy with anything related to your involvement at Northumbria University then you can discuss this Sarah Lonbay (0191 215 6771/ or with Nancy Kelly who is the Social Work subject head at Northumbria University (0191 2156302/