Recently I had to beg for a free place at a Holyrood Events conference on health and social care integration. I was successful. As an unpaid carer on £59/week I can't afford the cost of a delegate place, from £99+VAT. And then there's travel expenses on top of that.
However I know of other service users and unpaid carers who couldn't get a free place and were keen to take part. And there is another conference coming up in November, Mental Health 2013, which is discussing important topics, to users and carers, like the Mental Health Act, mental health tribunals, stigma, welfare reform.
I've sent an Email about this to the keynote speakers and forwarded to the Holyrood events managers. Had to google for names, guess the contact addresses, who knows if it will get to the appropriate people in charge.
I say to the Holyrood conference high heid yins that they should consider how to meaningfully involve and include unwaged service users and unpaid carers at their health conferences. It makes sense to have the people with lived experience at the table.
Otherwise it's just a chosen cohort of highly paid professionals talking to a bigger bunch of less highly paid professionals, justifying their existence.