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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Share your Co-pro Story!

By Lizzie, on 27 August 2020

Do you have a co-production story to share? If you’re reading this blog, then we’re guessing you do – and we want to hear from you!

We’re launching ‘Share your Co-pro Story’, a campaign to collect experiences of co-production – the good, the bad, and everything in between. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lived experience expert, facilitator, researcher, practitioner, decision-maker, student, or simply someone who is dabbling in the co-production world; we’re interested in exploring co-production from as wide a range of perspectives of possible.

Read on to find out more….

Why stories matter

As part of this project, we’re going to be working with People’s Voice Media, founders of the Community Reporter Movement. Lauren is one of the team and she shared with us why personal stories are so important in bringing about change.

“Community Reporting puts stories at the heart of everything. It involves using peer-to-peer interaction to support individuals to tell authentic stories about their own lived experiences. Stories are vehicles that build bridges between people and support common understanding. By listening to people’s stories, we understand their world, stand in their shoes, and re-evaluate our perspectives. Digital storytelling in particular helps to connect communities and has thrived as a tool for social transformation and justice.”

Shelf with books and a plant, above the words 'we are all made of stories' written in red lights

c. Unsplash – social cut

Culture change and celebration  

As a Centre, we are working towards changing research culture to one where diverse voices and experiences are recognised and valued; that’s why your stories are so important.

We want to learn more about how co-production really works, and what value it has to people, organisations, research and society, in order to encourage more of it. Your stories and real experiences can strengthen our understanding of the difference co-production makes, and so the difference we as a Centre and community can make. They will help us demonstrate why co-production is needed, and the kind of problems it can tackle, as well as building our learning about what helps co-production take place successfully, and what gets in the way. We know people can have very different experiences of co-production, so creating this story collection will help us make sure that we’re supporting more of the positive ones.

In our strategy co-creation, the need for us to champion co-production to organisations and individuals (especially decision-makers) came through loud and clear. What better way to do this by grounding our work in the real stories and lived examples of our diverse and dynamic community?

That brings us to another important driver for this work, as you can see below – celebrating and showcasing you and the Centre!

Also emphasised time and again in the strategy co-creation was the need for the Centre to “get ourselves out there”, in order to raise our profile, increase our influence and secure future funding. But the Centre IS our co-production community, so getting ‘ourselves’ out there includes you and all of us! As we launch properly this October, we want to be able to bring together the stories of our amazing community to celebrate all we’ve done so far, and show the world what we have to offer, together.

'Co-pro stories' surrounded by 4 squares explaining the why we're launching this work

Diagram showing how we think sharing our co-pro stories can make a difference

Your co-pro story

So, what counts as a co-pro story? It can be anything that you want to share that is rooted in your own experience of co-production (whether it was labelled that or not). We’d love to have some stories about your involvement in the Centre, but we’re also interested in co-production experiences more broadly.

Use the following question and prompts to start you off:

  • Tell us about an experience of co-production, whether as part of the Centre or elsewhere:
    • Did you learn anything?
    • What – if anything – changed in your life or work?
    • What was challenging?
    • What did you achieve, or find rewarding?
    • What surprised you?
    • What else do you want others to know?

This could be about your most recent or your first ever experience, a tiny moment or an ongoing project – that’s totally up to you.

How to share your story

There are two ways you can share your story as part of this campaign. The first is open to everyone and ongoing, while the second is a specific project leading up to our launch.

1. Share your ‘snapshot’ story

Anyone who wants to is welcome to share a ‘snapshot’ story of their co-production experiences . By ‘snapshot’ we mean keeping it fairly short, so more like a couple of pages or a minute or two long rather than an essay or a whole documentary! If you have more to say, then you’d be welcome to share multiple stories, but we want to keep them brief so that they’re engaging and accessible.

There’s nothing more powerful than people sharing stories in their own words, so it’s totally up to you in what form you choose to share it. You could:

  • record a short video clip of yourself
  • record an audio clip
  • write it down
  • draw or paint it
  • …. any other creative way you can think of!

We’re keen to be able to share your stories as part of our new website, at our launch event, and in future resources, so it would be great to have some visual elements such as a photo if possible.

Remember we don’t need anything too long, so don’t worry if you don’t think you have a lot to say. It will still be really valuable.

How do I actually share it?

So, you’re all ready with your story but how do you actually share it? You can do so on Twitter, tagging @UCLCo_Pro and using the hashtag #CoProStories, or you can send it to us at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk. If you have any questions or would like help to share your story (e.g. we could record you over the phone) then please do get in touch.

Unless you tell us otherwise, by sharing your story with us we’re assuming that you’re happy for us to use it in our resources, events, and online platforms going forward. If this is not the case, or you would like to be anonymous, then please let us know. You can also withdraw your consent at any point.

2. Be a community storyteller

Finally, as part of the campaign, we’ll be working with Community Reporters Lauren, Sally and Isaac, who we’ll introduce in another blog. This will involve exploring 10 stories in more depth through interviews and a workshop. Lauren explains more:

“Community Reporting is a three-part process: stories are gathered from storytellers, curated by bringing them together and analysing their messages, then used in different ways to create change. When used like this, storytelling, as Durose et al (2013) argue, allows for the representation of “different voices and experiences in an accessible way”. We’ll be gathering stories via dialogue interviews. A dialogue interview does not have pre-determined questions, but instead invites the storyteller to begin to communicate their experiences and tell their story, with the Community Reporter asking questions as they occur and flow from the story. The storyteller determines the agenda of the discussion, the reporter facilitates. It’s a conversation, not an interrogation.”

Nominating yourself to be a storyteller

As well as sharing your snapshot story, you can put yourself forward to take part in this project. It will involve:

  • Taking part in a one-to-one dialogue interview over Zoom or the phone
    • a very informal, free flowing conversation to take place in mid-late September 2020
  • Joining a ‘sense-making’ workshop with the other 9 storytellers on Thursday 8 October 2020.
    • This will involve reviewing all the stories together and identifying key learnings, co-creating the content for a report and video package

If you’re interested, please email us at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk by Monday 7 September. Feel free to pass this opportunity on to a friend or colleague if there is someone else you think would have a great story to tell – we want to hear from them!

Unfortunately we are limited by numbers at the moment, and do need to make sure that these stories represent the diversity of our co-pro community (in terms of types of involvement, different perspectives on co-production, as well as people from all backgrounds). This means we will need to choose which stories are part of this process initially, so we can’t promise that you’ll definitely be able to take part this time.

However, we hope to do much more of this in future, including storytelling workshops and much more – this is only the start….

Thank you!
We can’t wait to hear from you and share your co-pro stories.

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