Artwork of one thing that will stay with us after our event in July! Four overlapping purple hearts made of Play-Doh on a post-it that says "Passionate People Coming Together!"

Dreaming big at Phase 2 Pilots Kick-off

Susan Anderson and Mandy Rudczenko share their reflections from the recent Phase 2 Pilots Kick-off event and co-creation session. Susan’s starting this off!

I really enjoyed attending my first co-creation session in July as part of my role at the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research. It was great to be part of our co-producing community. The afternoon felt like an exciting whirlwind, and I appreciated how understanding everyone was that my brain foggy day sometimes made it hard for me to communicate clearly. Thank you for the warm welcome!

The room was a mixture of people who are brand new (like me!) and people who have been contributing to the Centre since the beginning. It was great to congratulate some of the new pilot project teams, though if I didn’t catch you in person please know we’re all cheering you on! Each team shared a bit about what they’ll be doing, and got connected with a buddy who can throw around ideas with them and share what they’ve learned about co-production so far.

Kate from Common Room encouraged us to find concrete ways to address big issues like power dynamics in our own co-production projects. At my table, the Hearing Birdsong team had lots of tips to share, since many of them had experience co-producing their earlier Phase 1 Pilot project. One key strategy: find an accessible way to keep in touch and discuss big decisions as a team so the broader team can stay connected to whoever implements each part of the project. It struck me how a tool as simple as a WhatsApp group had made all the difference for them!

Lizzie sharing the evaluation ideas we have co-created so far with a room full of co-producers

Lizzie sharing the evaluation ideas we have co-created so far with a room full of co-producers

Later, we zoomed out to think about the bigger picture when Lizzie and Anna shared how far earlier co-creation sessions have brought us in planning how to evaluate the Centre work. Anna started us off by sharing what the team she was part of learned through the challenges of completing and evaluating their Phase 1 Pilot project. Building on ideas co-created in earlier sessions, Lizzie, who is working on developing the evaluation plans for the Centre, presented a menu of issues the Centre could keep an eye on to measure our success. I enjoyed our table’s debates about which ones to prioritise. We each made tough choices to vote on our favourites, though in the true spirit of co-production, one table came up with their own way of voting as a team! Hearing so many new ideas from everyone got me thinking about how I can make sure that I focus on implementing what our whole community values, and not just what I think. Our next event to keep refining how to evaluate the Centre and imagine what success looks like will be Thursday 26 September 13:30-16:30, so if you’re interested in coming please email Niccola n.pascal@ucl.ac.uk or me – Susan coproduction@ucl.ac.uk.

Now for Mandy’s reflections on the event:

I was delighted to join the Centre for Co-production to hear about their refreshing new projects. I had the chance to hear about one pilot in particular, the ‘Bridging Gaps’ project.

I was struck by their genuine egalitarian culture, and their determination to tackle the difficult issue of barriers to accessing primary healthcare. We had a transparent chat about power, and how to keep an eye on where it sits in a co-produced project. I took advantage of the Lego available on the table, and found myself building something which reflected the joy I get from co-production. It was not a standard recognisable shape; it was multifaceted and multi-coloured; it had a firm base; it stood tall and proud; it was fun!

One thing I love about going to the Centre for Co-production workshops is the facilitation. There is always a great balance between structure, humour, and spontaneity.

Here's Mandy's abstract and colourful Lego sculpture! A post-it shares the caption: "Co-production - what is it?"

Here’s Mandy’s abstract and colourful Lego sculpture! A post-it shares the caption: “Co-production – what is it?”

Susan’s chiming in again!

As a lifelong doodler, I shared Mandy’s excitement that playing with Lego and Play-doh was not frowned upon, but encouraged! At the end of the day, we tried to express what we were taking away from our afternoon together. Our table got really into it: Marie and Rebekah made a window of opportunities and an open door; Tom added a brain to make it an open mind; and Angela and I combined our squiggles to represent the questions we were all taking back to our communities. Our inner artists came out as you can see in the pic below! We’ll post more artwork pictures on Twitter soon.

Our table's artwork: a post-it says "keep an open mind!" in front of an artwork that shows a brain made of Play-Doh with a Lego door next to it.

Our table’s artwork: a post-it says “keep an open mind!” in front of an artwork that shows a brain made of Play-Doh with a Lego door next to it.

Thank you all for making this a great event. We can’t wait to see what comes next as we keep learning together and creating the Centre. Good luck to all the Phase 2 Pilot project teams! You can read about the other 2 Pilot projects not mentioned here (BAME Voices and Autism Access) in one of our previous blogs.

Remember – if you’re interested in joining us on Thursday 26 September from 13:30-16:30 to keep refining how to evaluate what success looks like for the Centre, please email Niccola n.pascal@ucl.ac.uk or me – Susan coproduction@ucl.ac.uk. I’m looking forward to seeing you some of you there!