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Drawing of four people coming together to hold the pieces of a puzzle together. One person is holding a loudspeaker. They are all smiling.

Introducing Co-Production Collective’s Allies Group

August 25, 2021

As you may know, Co-Production Collective has had an Allies Group since 2018 and our very early days as UCL Centre for Co-Production. This group have been acting as our advisors and sounding board, bringing their different experiences and expertise to guide our development. We meet a few times a year and they support us to make connections, identify opportunities to raise awareness of our work, and help us ensure our future sustainability.

As part of the original funding agreement from Wellcome Trust we committed to having a strategic advisory group including senior researchers from within UCL, as well as the team who manage our funding. Although this means that the Allies operates a bit like one of ‘traditional’ structures that we exist to try and change, it has also offered us a really useful opportunity to showcase our work and approach to those with the influence to actually bring about change from the inside.

This slow and steady approach, demonstrating that it is possible to do things differently, is paying off! Our Allies Group has come along way over the years– for example, we recruited two members from our wider co-production community in 2019. Other members have completely changed their understanding of co-production as a result of their role and now advocate for co-production in their wider work too.

However, we know that there’s still a way to go in terms living up to our core values in this area, particularly in terms of transparency and inclusivity; for example, the number of Allies from inside UCL is significantly greater than those from outside.  

Montage of three screenshots, each from videos made by Allies Members: Ian, Laura, and Simon.
From left to right: Simon, Laura Crane, Ian. They are Allies Group members who also participated in the CoPro Stories video series in 2020

Moving Forward

As we shared a few months ago, Co-Production Collective is at a stage where we need to rethink how we make decisions, who is involved and what this looks like. This is pretty complicated and so we want to make sure we take the time to co-create this in-depth. At the moment, we’re hoping to have a new structure in place by October 2022, as we reach the end of our current strategy (Our Direction 2020-2022) and transition into a new phase of our work. There’s a lot to do before then, and we’ll be continuing the conversation with you over the coming weeks and months.

But in the meantime, one small step we can take is to increase the visibility of our Allies Group. We’ll be developing a new page on the website to provide a proper home for this information, but for starters, we wanted to share the notes from our latest meeting and properly introduce the Allies Group to you.

Introducing the Allies

At the moment, the Allies Group has 9 members, aside from Niccola and Lizzie. Some of them will be familiar faces to any of you who’ve been to our sessions, explored our Co-Pro Stories videos or read previous blogs.

  • Graham Hart (Chair) – Graham is an academic specialising in sexual health and HIV research at UCL and a senior leader within UCL’s health research faculties.

The Allies will be sharing their person reflections on being part of this group in future blogs. First up is Laura, Sarah and Laura – read their thoughts in ‘Reflections on being a Co-Production Collective Ally’.

Meeting notes

The Allies Group meets 3-4 times per year for a couple of hours. We always start with an update and go onto some key issues we need support with, e.g. funding or building strategic relationships.

From now onwards, we will share the notes after every Allies meeting; the only content we won’t publish relates to sensitive financial or personal information. You can read the notes from our latest Allies meeting (23 June) here as a PDF or a Word document.

If you have any feedback or questions, then please do get in touch: coproduction@ucl.ac.uk. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

What next?

We’re doing a lot of thinking about what Co-Production Collective might need from a ‘governance’ structure and processes – advice and support, critical friends, accountability and most importantly, sharing power and decision-making with our co-production community. We also want to make sure we do this in a way which is human, inclusive, transparent and challenging.

We’ll be setting up some co-creation activities soon, but if you’d like to help us think this through or have any relevant knowledge or experience of working in this way, then please do let us know – drop us a line at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk

(Attribution for the illustration used for the cover image of this blog: source )

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