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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Keep calm and co-produce: we’re going virtual!

By Niccola, on 17 April 2020

So… times have changed a little haven’t they? We are still here though, and very much still working on co-producing the Centre. We hope that getting involved in co-production activities will provide you with a welcome distraction from the day to day. On the other hand, we totally understand if getting involved at the moment isn’t really for you. These are exceptional times in relation to coronavirus and we all have to deal with it however best works for us. You can read a little more about our thoughts on the situation, and where co-production fits, in our recent blog – “Reflections on a changing world: the importance of co-production”.

We are still on track to launch the Centre officially in October, either virtually or in person (although this does depend on how things develop in coming months in relation to the coronavirus lockdown). The plan is that we will run virtual co-creation and networking sessions in during the summer (and by this we mean online but also using other methods as we are aware not everyone has nor wants to use a computer or phone). Outlined lower down in this blog is info on how to get involved in these upcoming sessions. We’d love to have you join, and will be on hand to help with any tech questions or irritations!

Thanks and see you soon I hope!

A group of people sat around a table of orange post-it notes (with writing on them) having a discussion – our old reality!

So what next for the Centre?

Well… there is lots to do. We’re at a really important point of development for the Centre, where we need to focus on our future – get specific about what we’re working towards, how we’re going to do it, and how we’re going to make sure we’re sustainable financially. There’s some big decisions to be made about our strategy, our approach to partnerships and fundraising, and our identity and profile.

And that means one thing – we want to work with you! As you know, we’re not just interested in encouraging others to co-produce, but we’re walking the talk and co-producing the Centre itself, as a community. We usually do this through face-to-face sessions (as seen in the photo above), but obviously that’s not possible at the moment, so we’re getting creative and are going to do things a little differently. But that also means that we can get even more of our community involved than we’ve been able to before, and hopefully continue using this variety of methods after lockdown is over.

We’re starting by setting up some virtual co-creation and co-production network sessions. By ‘virtual’, we mean using both online platforms where we can get lots of people together, and also using other methods. One of our ‘Principles we live by‘ is ‘being accessible and inclusive of all’, and we know that not everyone is able to meet online, or may not feel comfortable doing so, so we’re going to make sure we have multiple ways to co-produce with us. Whether you’re a researcher, a commissioner, a medical professional, a patient, a carer, a service user, or simply keen to get involved in something a bit different and inform how research is carried out, then you are more than welcome to be part of our community (this blog explains what our co-creation sessions are like, if you’d like to get an idea of what to expect: “What’s a co-creation session like?”).

We’re also really keen to keep offering the chance for anyone interested in or doing co-production to come together and learn from each other, so will be continuing to run virtual Co-production Network sessions too. These will focus less on the development of the Centre itself and more on meeting others, sharing co-production experiences and getting ideas.

Come and join us!

Opportunities to get involved

As a community we are working on lots of things at the moment and so have a variety of opportunities coming up. Have a read of the document below, see what interests you and find out how to get involved. We’re looking forward to working with you!

We ran a poll on Twitter and called or emailed as many people as we could to find out how you would prefer to join these virtual sessions. The winners were Zoom for online, and conference calls for offline. However, we are aware that these methods will not work for everyone so we are also planning to share what we are working on as a community in other ways, so you can input that way too. At the moment we’re thinking Google docs, or printed and posted papers, but we’re open to using other methods as we get used to working this way.

If Zoom or conference calls don’t work for you, but you’re still keen to get involved, then we still want to hear from you – please get in touch for a chat so we can work out the best way to get you involved.

Part of graphic illustration of the work and discussions to date about the visualising the Centre (Photo and design credit: Debbie Roberts, Engage Visually)

Photo and design credit: Debbie Roberts, Engage Visually

Payment for taking part in co-creation sessions

Another of our ‘Principles we live by’ includes ‘commitment to addressing power imbalances’ and so we have been paying for the time of our co-producers who do not attend our co-creation sessions in a paid capacity (i.e. as part of their job or who are employed in a full-time role). We do this in line with INVOLVE guidelines, as this was the decision made in our early co-creation sessions, back in 2017/18, to ensure fairness in who is paid, what for, and how much.

However, as the Centre has developed, our activities diversified and our community grown, we know we need to co-produce our own payment guidelines in time for the Centre launch – that’s on our list for this summer.

In the meantime, if you are joining one of our co-creation sessions (not the network sessions, as these are more informal) as a member of the public and would like to receive payment for your time and contribution, please get in touch and we will get you set up on our payment system.  We can also offer support with paying for phone minutes, landline call charges or phone data in order to take part in conference or video calls – let us know what you need.

Security and accessibility

We know this can be a worry with online meetings, but we’ve checked with those in the know to ensure that that our Zoom login settings are safe and secure. We’ve also made sure that we can enable closed captioning for those that would like them to support their participation. In addition, Zoom has several other accessibility features in place as standard.

However, if you have any questions or concerns please just ask. We hope to see you at a session soon!

Get involved in the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research

Info on signing up to the specific sessions is in the document above.

Email Rory coproduction@ucl.ac.uk if you’re curious about the Centre. Or:

  • Let us know if you’d like to join in collaborating on our blog! You could tell us a bit about yourself, share learnings from co-production projects, or let us know if you have any other ideas.
  • Send us resources to feature here next month, or tag us on Twitter @UCLCoPro

If you’d like to keep hearing about what we’re up to and what we’re learning at the Centre, feel free to sign up for our newsletter.

Please email Rory at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk if you’d like a PDF or Word copy of this blog.

(Cover image description: A picture of a laptop, phone, plant, coffee cup . Image credit: Ben Kolde, Unsplash )

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