October 28, 2021
On the afternoon of Friday 22 October, just over 50 of us came together to celebrate the 1st birthday of Co-Production Collective, explore what we’ve achieved and learnt together, share #CoProHighlights and look ahead to the year to come. Though the party is now over, you can still add your own highlights to the interactive document 'Our Co-Pro Highlights: 2020-2021 edition', see what others have shared, take a look at our slides, and even watch the whole event back!
The planning of the event started in early autumn, when the opportunity to help plan the event was announced and many of you got in touch to participate. We used a random selection tool to pick three co-producers. This group played a crucial role not just in developing the event but also delivering it.
I attended just one session before I joined the planning team. The planning session I found to be a ‘baptism of fire’ which took me some time to understand exactly what I could contribute. However, one soon learns that we all have a valued contribution to projects, be it planning or brainstorming ideas.
The most successful way of working I have found is in a co-production team, embracing diverse perspectives, giving all involved a recognition of how differing perspectives can culminate in a healthy and fair outcome. The hard part for me in being a member of the planning team was ‘finding my feet’ so to speak, allowing my mind to be taken to the vision and purpose of Co-Production Collective. This embraced not only peer working and networking but also the chance to informally talk over a get-together event. I was surprised to learn how being involved worked to develop personal confidence and self-esteem.
I am new to co-production in a formal sense but have been using that approach for over 15 years working with many diverse communities across London.
I was also new to planning and helping host a party over Zoom. It was lovely to meet the Lizzie and Rory plus Sylvia and Al who were also helping prepare the party. We had a few sessions to discuss the aim and structure of the party: such a lot to fit in to two hours!
The party itself was wonderful with more and more people joining us from across the UK and even appearances from Dubai and America! It felt like a huge community coming together, all from different sectors and disciplines, but joining hearts and minds over our approach to working with people. It was interesting to hear how Big Lemon, who created the Collective's website, changed their way of working to a co-production approach as a result of working with the Collective. Anyway, what a great celebration, thank you so much for such a lovely experience. I hope to see many of the attendees again at the regular Cuppas.
I was on the planning group for the launch event in 2020, so I was very excited to be part of the continuity from a year ago when the Collective launched.
Working with the Collective, I feel they make it so easy for me to come up with creative ideas and really letting my imagination soar. I don't think you get that from other people... Other people decide what the plan is or they have a rough idea of what's going to happen and it almost ends up being tokenistic. Whereas with the Collective, people are open to listening to us and incorporating our ideas as they actually came out of our mouths. The approach is very much: 'This is how we do things and if you want to something different, that's great, let's all explore it together.'
I think the #CoProHighlights was a fantastic hashtag - I've seen a number of posted highlights online and I think it's a great way of giving feedback and highlighting certain co-producers. I received some feedback on one of these Twitter threads, and I was just in awe, thinking to myself 'When have I ever done that? Have I actually really done that?'. Seeing that onscreen and watching how other co-producers were also mentioned specifically, made me think of confidence. And you may disagree with me on this - and that is fine - but I think a lot of co-producers have lived experience of struggling with mental health and cognitive issues, which can be quite debilitating because of the negative self-talk and low self-esteem that comes with it. When we see people highlighting others, it actually proves the opposite of the negative thoughts, and aids in our recovery. To tell you the truth, I'd love it to happen all the time whenever we're highlighting really good practice or whenever we're highlighting each other - use the hashtag!
Looking back over the last year, I definitely learned a lot from the Collective, especially online, from people like Mark and Cristina. They have boosted me up and I now feel able to really contribute, and actually feel as though I am ready for the next step. Having the right people around you does spur you on and you want to do more, gain more knowledge, and I'm just glad that it has happened in that way.
if you would like to get involved in our work, be sure to stay in touch and hear about opportunities first-hand by signing up to our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter - if you use the platform. You're also always welcome to drop us a line with questions, ideas or to find out more about how you can get involved.
Here's to another year of co-producing together!